Story By: PAUL ARUTE / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – Race teams are busy preparing for the Friday’s Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night Open Modified 80, the first Open Modified event of 2019. Over 30 teams are entered for Friday’s 80 lap shootout.
Highlighting the entry-list is Tommy Barrett, Jr. and Eric Goodale, both drivers who scored Open Modified wins during the 2018 season. Additional entries include 8 drivers who plan to run both the SK Modified® feature and the Open 80 and 2 drivers who plan to run the SK Light Modified feature and the Open 80.
Last season Tommy Barrett, Jr., a former SK Light Modified star, returned to Stafford in impressive fashion and thrilled fans with a late race pass on Rowan Pennink to win the Inaugural Twisted Tea Open 80. In July, Eric Goodale turned in a dominate run to win the Bud Light Open 80, proving that his 2017 NAPA Fall Final win was no fluke. Both Barrett and Goodale enter Friday’s Open 80 as favorites.
8 drivers plan to pull double duty running both the SK Modified® and Open Modified 80 including two drivers that have been known to have intense on track battles, Ronnie Williams and Keith Rocco. Williams, the 2018 SK Modified® track champion and 3-time SK Modified® Champion Keith Rocco are currently two of the top drivers in Northeast modified racing and will be ones to watch throughout the Open 80 event.
Other SK Modified® competitors who plan to run both features are Todd Owen, Joey Cipriano, Michael Gervais, Matt Galko, Andrew Molleur, and Marcello Rufrano. SK Light drivers Mark Bakaj and Robert Bloxsom, III also plan to run both features this Friday.
A total of 32 teams have registered for the event, some highlights include:
● #1 Andy Jankowiak – Upstate New York driver, coming off an ROC Modified Tour win last weekend at Chemung
● #1 Andrew Molleur – SK Modified® Rookie, 4 career Stafford wins
● #00 Chase Dowling – Former SK Light Modified driver, 13 career Stafford wins, 2 runner-up finishes in last season’s Open 80 events
● #09 Brad VanHouten – Long Island driver making his Stafford debut
● #3 Matt Galko – Two-time SK Light Champion, 2-time SK Modified® winner
● #4 Jeff Gallup – Wild Thing Kart graduate, coming off a Modified Racing Series win last weekend at Lee
● #8 Cam McDermott – Former SK Modified® and SK Light Modified driver, debuting his Open Modified
● #9 Tommy Barrett – 18 career Stafford wins including the 2018 Twisted Tea Open 80
● #20 Max Zachem – 4th place finisher in the NAPA Spring Sizzler®
● #27 Joey Cipriano – Made his Whelen Modified Tour at the Spring Sizzler®, 8 career Stafford wins
● #28 Kreig Heroth – Upstate New York driver making his Stafford debut
● #33 Michael Gervais – 2009 SK Light Modified Champion, current SK Modified® point leader
● #34 Dave Etheridge – Former pro-stock driver, 5 career Stafford wins
● #50 Ronnie Williams – Defending SK Modified® Champion
● #52 Mark Bakaj – Made his Whelen Modified debut at the NAPA Spring Sizzler®, 6 career Stafford wins
● #58 Eric Goodale – 2017 NAPA Fall Final winner, 2018 Bud Light Open winner, Instagram Celebrity
● #68 Marcello Rufrano – 2018 SK Light Modified track champion
● #81 Todd Owen – 18 career Stafford wins, currently 2nd in SK Modified® points
● #88 Keith Rocco – 3-time SK Modified® track champion, 2010 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion
● #99 Richard Savary – 1 career Stafford win coming last August
● #176 Dana DiMatteo – former Legend Car champion, brother of SK Modified® driver Corey DiMatteo
Packed Racing Card for Friday’s Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night
Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair Modifiedz Night returns to Stafford Speedway for the 3rd consecutive year, Friday, May 24th. Due to the early season rainouts, Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night is now a packed card of Modified Racing with 160 laps of Modified action including 40 laps for the SK Light Modified division and 80 laps for the Open [tour-type] Modified division. 6 divisions of racing in total promises a full night of racing at the Stafford half-mile.
First run in 2017, Dunleavy’s Modifiedz night was created to give the SK Light Modified division a special extra-distance event. Modifiedz Night is presented by longtime supporter of Modified racing Doug Dunleavy of Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair.
“I love the SK Lights because it’s all about the driver and their talent,” explained Doug Dunleavy. “They don’t have radios, they can’t make pit stops, and 40-laps is a long race where anything can happen. When Mark [Arute] and I talked about this event a few years back we wanted to create a special night for the SK Light division, I think we’ve done that and more. The competition is strong, the purse is high, and it will be another great night of Modified racing.”
Through the first 3 events of 2019 the SK Light Modified division has been dominated by Bryan Narducci and the #01 team winning 2 of the first 3 event. Narducci’s cousin Alex Pearl grabbed the other win, the second of his career. The story line throughout the start of the season has been big car counts with over 30 cars attempting to qualify in each of the first 3 events including 10 rookies.
Added to Dunleavy’s Modifiedz night is the first of 3 Open Modified races scheduled for Stafford in 2019. After two successful Open Modified 80 events in 2018, track officials decided to add a 3rd early season Open show. Over 30 teams have pre-registered for the event including both of last season’s winners Tommy Barrett and Eric Goodale.
“I hope everyone is just as excited for this race as I am,” continued Dunleavy. “My oldest son is finally going to be able to attend the race and I’m really looking forward to having him at the track with me. We have some great podium prizes lined up including a $500 cash gift from Dunleavy’s, $88 in scratch tickets from Rocco Racing, and a $100 Texas Roadhouse gift card courtesy of Rockingham Boat. The winner will get to pick first and I can’t wait to see the green flag, let’s get it done!”
With six divisions of racing on hand including 2 extra distance events Dunleavy’s Modifiedz night is shaping up to be a great value ticket for race fans looking for great short track racing action.
“We typically like to keep it to one special event per night but with all the rain early in the season the rescheduled Open 80 event fell on Modifiedz night,” explained Stafford General Manager Mark Arute. “160 laps of Modified racing with 3 full fields of cars will be a great show for the fans.”
Tickets for the May 24 Open Mod 80 / Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night are $30.00 for adults, $5.00 for kids 6-14, and as always 5 & under free. Reserved seating is priced at $32.00 for all ages. All tickets include 10% CT Admission Tax. General admission gates open at 5:15pm, with qualifying races beginning at 6:00pm and feature races to follow.