Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – Stafford Speedway returned to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing action with Five-Star Series program on Friday, July 27th with the Senior Champs from the Monday Night Wild Thing Kart Series joining Stafford’s five NWAAS divisions in action. Eric Berndt continued his hot streak of late, scoring his fourth consecutive top-2 finish with a win in the SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn tied Ryan Posocco as the winningest Late Model driver in Stafford history with his 9th win of the 2018 season, Andrew Molleur notched his third win of the year in the SK Light feature, Duane Provost came up a winner for the second week in a row in the Limited Late Model feature, Jason Lafayette was a first time Stafford feature winner in the Street Stock feature, and Brian Sullivan won the Wild Thing Karts Sr. Champs exhibition feature.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Tyler Hines and Tom Bolles were side by side for the lead at the start. Michael Gervais, Jr. did a 360 spin in turn 3 on the first lap but he kept going and the race stayed green. Glen Reen and Stephen Kopcik were side by side for third. Cory DiMatteo brought the caution out with 4 laps complete by getting into the turn 3 wall.
Hines and Reen were side by side for the lead but coming out of turn 4, several cars touched and Matt Galko, Joey Cipriano, and Matt Vassar all went through the infield with several other cars also involved to bring the caution out with 5 laps complete.
Hines took the lead back under green with Kopcik taking second. Eric Berndt and Reen were side by side for third with Galko and Michael Christopher, Jr. side by side for fifth. Chase Dowling was on the charge as he moved into sixth right behind Christopher, Jr.
Berndt got around Kopcik for second and he took the lead from Hines on lap-16. Kopcik followed suit and he went by Hines to move into second. Christopher, Jr. was now fourth with Dowling, Reen, Galko, and Ronnie Williams lined up in a single file line behind him.
Christopher, Jr. got around Hines to move into third on lap-24 and Williams was also on the move as he was now up to sixth with Berndt still leading Kopcik out front.
With 10 laps to go Berndt was still in command with Kopcik giving chase. Christopher, Jr. was third with Hines and Williams making up the top-5. Dowling was sixth with Galko, Dan Avery, Reen, and Keith Rocco making up the top-10.
Williams took third from Christopher, Jr. in turns 3+4 as they were coming to the white flag but it was all Berndt as he scored his second win of the 2018 season. Kopcik finished second with Williams, Christopher, Jr., and Dowling rounding out the top-5.
In the 30-lap Late Model feature event, Michael Wray went three wide with Trace Beyer and Chase Cook in turn 2 on the opening lap to come out with the race lead. Tom Fearn quickly moved up to third and he took second from Cook on lap-3 with Wayne Coury, Jr., Al Saunders, Tyler Leary, and Paul Arute all getting by Cook as he slipped back to the rear of the field after brushing against the turn 2 wall on lap-4.
Fearn was all over the back bumper of Wray looking for the lead but Wray was able to fend off his challenges. Fearn was able to get around Wray on lap-7 to move to the lead. Coury was still third with Al Saunders and Leary making up the top-5. Right behind Leary in sixth was Paul Arute.
Wray wasn’t going away quietly as he was hounding Fearn for the lead and he gave Fearn a small shot to the bumper on lap-11 as they raced through turns 3+4. Paul Varricchio, Jr. spun coming out of turn 4 to bring the caution with 16 laps complete.
Paul Arute backed into the turn 1 wall on the restart to bring the caution right back out. Wray was able to stay with Fearn side by side for a lap before settling back into second. Coury made a move to the inside of Wray on lap-19 to move into second. Leary followed in the tire tracks of Coury and he pulled alongside Wray for third on lap-19 and he took third at the line on lap-20. Leary cleared Wray on lap-21 with Glen Reen right behind Wray in fifth with Fearn continuing to lead Coury.
Wray got back by Leary to move back into third and Reen followed him through into fourth to drop Leary back to fifth. Fearn took the checkered flag to pick up his 9th win of the 2018 season. With the victory, Fearn tied Ryan Posocco as the winningest Late Model drivers in Stafford history with 45 career feature wins. Coury finished second with Wray, Reen, and Leary rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature event, there was a pileup of cars in turn 2 involving Teddy Hodgdon, Mikey Flynn, Alexander Pearl, Chris Matthews, and Todd Douillard that brought the caution out right after the race start.
On the restart, Brett Gonyaw took the lead but Andrew Molleur streaked to the inside of Gonyaw and took the lead at the line. Marcello Rufrano and Bob Charland were side by side for third with Bryan Narducci and Mark Bakaj quickly moving into a side by side duel for fifth.
With 4 laps complete Molleur was leading Gonyaw, Rufrano, Bakaj, Narducci, and Charland in a single file line. Wesley Prucker brought the caution out with 6 laps complete by coming to a stop at the exit of turn 2.
Molleur took the lead back under green with Rufrano behind him in second. Narducci was side by side with Gonyaw for third with Bakaj right behind them in fifth. Gonyaw got clear of Narducci on lap-10 and Bakaj got by Narducci on lap-11 to move into fourth and drop Narducci back to fifth with Molleur pulling away from Rufrano out front. The caution came out with 14 laps complete for a spin coming out of turn 2 by Pearl that collected the cars of Ed Chicoski and Glenn Bartkowski.
Molleur took the lead on the restart with Rufrano moving into second. Gonyaw and Bakaj were side by side for third with Bakaj taking the spot on lap-16. Narducci followed Bakaj around Gonyaw in the outside lane to move into fourth as Gonyaw’s car dropped off the pace with 2 laps to go.
Bakaj and Rufrano touched in turn 3 with Rufrano spinning to bring the caution out and set up a green white checkered finish. Bakaj was sent to the rear of the field for the contact with Rufrano.
Molleur took the lead with Flynn charging in to second and he nearly took the lead from Molleur as they came out of turn 4 to the white flag. Molleur led Flynn to the checkered flag to pick up his third win of the 2018 season. Narducci finished third with Matthews and Prucker rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature event, Steven Midford took the lead at the green flag with Gary Patnode and R.J. Surdell side by side for second and Duane Provost and Ryan Fearn side by side for fourth. Fearn moved into second on the outside lane on the second lap and he took the lead from Midford in turn 2 on lap-3. Surdell followed Fearn through and took second with Provost side by side with Patnode for third. The caution came out with 4 laps complete for a spin in turns 1+2 by Andy Marchese.
Fearn took the lead on the restart with Provost moving into second. Jeremy Lavoie moved into third with Surdell back to fourth and Patnode back to fifth. Provost was starting to close down the gap to Fearn for the lead with Lavoie closing in on the lead duo.
Provost made a move to the inside of Fearn on lap-9 coming out of turn 4 but he couldn’t make the pass stick and he settled back in to line in second. At the halfway point, the top-3 of Fearn, Provost, and Lavoie were running nose to tail in a 3-car train for the lead.
Provost again tried a move coming out of turn 4 on lap-16 but couldn’t make the pass stick. Provost made the move to the inside of Fearn stick on lap-17 as he was able to pull alongside Fearn and he took the lead on lap-18. Fearn and Lavoie were now side by side for second with Lavoie getting clear of Fearn as they hit the line for 2 laps to go. Provost led Lavoie to the line to pick up his second consecutive win and third win of the 2018 season. Fearn finished third with Surdell and Matt Clement rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Street Stock feature event, Samantha Anderson led the field to the green but she brought the caution out before a lap could be completed with a spin in turn 4.
Jason Lafayette took the lead with the race back under green with Meghan Fuller moving into second. Brandon Michael was third with George Bessette, Jr. all over his back bumper in fourth and Travis Hydar was fifth.
Bessette was able to make a move to the inside of Michael to take third on lap-9 after working him over for several laps. Fuller closed in on the bumper of Lafayette but couldn’t make a pass for the lead as Lafayette scored his first career victory at Stafford.
Following post-race inspection, Fuller’s car failed post-race weight inspection and she was penalized to the last place finishing car, one position for every pound the car was underweight. The new top-5 consisted of Bessette, Michael, Hydar and Mike Hopkins.
In the 20-lap Senior Champs Wild Thing Karts feature, Tim and Brian Sullivan took over the top-2 spots ag the green flag with Tim leading lap-1. Mike Perry was third and looking to split the Sullivans with Ryan Borges in fourth and Lucas Leone in fifth.
Brian Sullivan moved to the front on lap-xx with Tim Sullivan falling back to second. Borges was third with Nick Hadden up to fourth and Ryan Kendall up to fifth.
Hadden took second from Tim Sullivan on lap-12 while behind them, Kendall, Perry, Alex Colasanto and Lucas Leone were 4-wide for fifth place with Kendall coming away with the position.
Hadden couldn’t get close to Brian Sullivan as Sullivan took the checkered flag. Borges finished third with Tim Sullivan and Perry rounding out the top-5.
SK MODIFIED® (40)
1) Eric Berndt, Cromwell
2) Stephen Kopcik, Newtown
3) Ronnie Williams, Tolland
4) Michael Christopher, Jr., Wolcott
5) Chase Dowling, Woodbury
6) Tyler Hines, North Haven
7) Matt Galko, Meriden
8) Dan Avery, Somers
9) Glen Reen, Wilbraham, Ma
10) Keith Rocco, Berlin
11) Michael Gervais, Jr., Southbury
12) Tony Membrino, Jr., Berlin
13) Cory DiMatteo, Farmington
14) Todd Owen, Somers
15) David Arute, Stafford Springs
16) Doug Meservey, Jr., Chatham, Ma
17) Matt Vassar, Plantsville
18) Troy Talman, Oxford, Ma
19) Nick Salva, Cheshire
20) Tom Bolles, Ellington
21) Joey Cipriano, Waterbury
LATE MODEL (30)
1) Tom Fearn, East Longmeadow, Ma
2) Wayne Coury, Jr., Shelton
3) Michael Wray, Northford
4) Glen Reen, Wilbraham, Ma
5) Tyler Leary, Hatfield, Ma
6) Al Saunders, Stafford
7) Trace Beyer, Stratton, Vt
8) Mike Mordino, Southington
9) Cliff Saunders, Stafford
10) Paul Varricchio, Jr., Berlin
11) Paul Arute, Tolland
12) Chase Cook, Oakdale
SK LIGHT MODIFIED (20)
1) Andrew Molleur, Shelton
2) Mikey Flynn, Hampden, Ma
3) Bryan Narducci, Colchester
4) Chris Matthews, Stafford
5) Wesley Prucker, Stafford
6) Bob Charland, Stafford
7) Andrew Les, New York, Ny
8) Amanda West, Colchester
9) Cassandra Cole, Westbrook
10) Marcello Rufrano, North Haven
11) Joey Ferrigno, East Hartford
12) Mark Bakaj, Lebanon
13) Pete Lopuch, West Redding
14) Alexander Pearl, Salem
15) Brett Gonyaw, Vernon
16) Glenn Bartkowski, Manchester
17) Ed Chicoski, New Hartford
18) Teddy Hodgdon, Danbury
19) Todd Douillard, Palmer, Ma
LIMITED LATE MODEL (20)
1) Duane Provost, Palmer, Ma
2) Jeremy Lavoie, Windsor Locks
3) Ryan Fearn, East Longmeadow, Ma
4) R.J. Surdell, Willington
5) Matt Clement, Wethersfield
6) Steven Midford, Ellington
7) Andy Marchese, Tolland
8) Gary Patnode, Barkhamsted
STREET STOCK (20)
1) Jason Lafayette, Somers
2) George Bessette, Jr., Danbury
3) Brandon Michael, Granville, Ma
4) Travis Hydar, Woodbury
5) Michael Hopkins, Springfield, Ma
6) Chris Bagnall, Winsted
7) Richard Ciriello, Reading, Ma
8) Chuck Harrison, Woodstock Valley
9) Nicole Chambrello, Kensington
10) David Macha, Sr., Columbia
11) Chris Danielczuk, Goshen
12) Paul Bourdon, Jr., Jewett City
13) Eugene Forbes, E Hartford
14) Samantha Anderson, Wolcott
15) Vince Gambacorta, Ellington
16) Meghan Fuller, Auburn, Ma
WILD THING KARTS SR. CHAMPS (20)
1) Brian Sullivan
2) Nick Hadden
3) Ryan Borges
4) Tim Sullivan
5) Mike Perry
6) Ryan Kendall
7) Alex Colasanto
8) Lucas Leone
9) Sean Foster
10) Justin Dube
11) Adam Dion
12) Jordan Modiano
13) Joe Vilatoro
14) Chris Hirt
15) Ron Midord, Jr.