Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – As Joey Ferrigno embarks on his 8th season of competition in Stafford’s SK Light division, the East Hartford, CT native and driver of the #87 RH2Way Radio Communications machine is one win away from tying Chris Matthews as the winningest driver in Stafford’s SK Light history.
Matthews registered 17 wins from 2006-2008 while Ferrigno entered the 2019 season with 16 career wins. Ferrigno would like nothing more than to tie the win list mark with a victory in the biggest SK Light race of the season, the 40-lap Dunleavy’s Truck & Trailer Repair Modifiedz Night race this Friday night. Modifiedz night will see SK Light drivers racing for over $10,000 in total posted awards with the winner’s share at $2,025 between purse and contingency bonuses.
“We’re definitely trying for that mark and it would definitely be an added bonus if we could get that win this Friday night,” said Ferrigno. “If it comes and when it comes, it will be something that was earned. We’ve put the time in and done our homework and we just have to see what kind of luck comes our way. This race is one that everyone wants to win and a win would be big for us and it would also be a relief to know where our next few sets of tires are going to come from. We definitely want to do well for all of our sponsors and give them a good showing.”
It looked like Ferrigno would become the SK Light win leader with ease as he collected 12 of his 16 career wins from 2014-2016. The 2017 and 2018 seasons were lean years for Ferrigno with only 2 wins and 4 top-5 finishes combined in those years. Over the winter, Ferrigno and the #87 team put together a new car with a new engine and the results have been promising thus far. After working out some mechanical gremlins in the first race and soldiering to a 12th place finish, Ferrigno has a 7th and a 3rd place finish and sits third in the standings heading into the Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night 40-lap feature event.
“We started the year off with a new car and it’s taken a little bit to dial it in,” said Ferrigno. “We had a few small issues with the fuel pump and it was a case of shaking the new car gremlins out of the car. You always know with a new build something is going to be different but we’re definitely getting there. I think we’re almost where we need to be. The car is starting to prove itself. It’s been fast in practice and we finished well last week with a third. Now that we know what we’re doing with the car and with my experience, we’ll see what happens and if we have some luck on our side.”
Success in 2019 hasn’t been limited to just Ferrigno as his Horsepower Hill Motorsports teammate Mark Bakaj has scored top-5 finishes in each of the three races held thus far and currently leads the points standings.
“The biggest part of winning races is the work you put in at the shop during the week,” said Ferrigno. “We’ve been at the garage 5 days a week since October making sure everything is right and we have all the best components in place. Mark’s car has been on point this season and we’re close to getting our car on point.”
With 40-laps on tap this Friday night, Ferrigno will be looking to the weather report for an idea of what kind of setup to put in his car for a feature event that is twice as long as a regular Friday night SK Light race. With the 40-lap Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night feature not being kind to Ferrigno the last 2 years with finishes of 24th and 25th, he knows patience will play a key role in who ends up winning.
“We’ll see what the weather brings for this Friday,” said Ferrigno. “The track conditions play a big part in how we’re going to set the car up and we have to put more fuel in the car. Obviously we’re going to need a setup that is good on a long run and I feel like we have good long run pace. Patience is going to be a key this Friday night. It seems like the last couple years there’s been a lot of cars that try to win this race on the first lap and a lot of drivers watching the race from the infield.”
Tickets for the May 24 Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night / Open Mod 80 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.
New Car Has Jeff Gallup Excited for Open Mod 80 at Stafford Speedway
Over the past several seasons, Jeff Gallup has been agonizingly close to winning a race at Stafford Speedway. Gallup and the #4 C & G Surfacing / Ceravolo’s Auto Team has led laps and run with the leaders in both Valenti Modified Racing Series and Open Modified feature events only to come up short at the checkered flag. This Friday night’s Open Modified 80 the tables may turn for Gallup and the #4 team.
Over the winter Gallup switched from a SPAFCO chassis to an LFR Chassis, with the new car Gallup has posted a win and two top 10 finishes in events at Thompson and Lee. Fresh off his first Modified Racing Series win at Lee Speedway along with a second place finish in his last start at Stafford last August in the Lincoln Tech Modified Racing Series 80, Gallup has high hopes for securing his first Stafford victory.
“This is a new car for us, we switched from SPAFCO to LFR over the winter,” said Gallup. “The car was really good up at Lee and Stafford is always one of the races that we look forward to coming to. Hopefully we can be fast at the end of the race. Coming off the win at Lee it gives me more confidence that we can close the deal and be competitive throughout the whole race. We finished second in our last race at Stafford last August so we feel pretty good about our chances this Friday night.”
Gallup has shown that he is the type of driver who likes to get out front as quickly as possible and lead as many laps as possible. With the Open Mod 80, Gallup and the field will have the opportunity to pit for two new tires during the race and Gallup thinks this will help make his #4 car be good for the entire 80-lap run.
“We get to change two tires and Stafford doesn’t wear the tires as quickly as at Lee so I feel like we’ll be able to have the tires last for the whole race,” said Gallup. “The biggest thing is being able to be around the front with 10 laps to go so you can capitalize on the track position and try to go for the win. I’d love to be able to lead all 80 laps of the race but the key will be to have a car that is fast all night long from practice to the heat to the feature. If you can do that and be towards the front at the end of the race, you’re giving yourself the best chance to win.”
In order for Gallup to secure his first Stafford victory, he will have to beat out a stout field of drivers lined up for the Open Mod 80. There are 9 drivers (Chase Dowling, Andrew Molleur, Tommy Barrett, Jr., Joey Cipriano, Dave Etheridge, Mark Bakaj, Eric Goodale, Todd Owen, and Richard Savary) who have won races at Stafford and 5 drivers (Matt Galko, Michael Gervais, Jr., Ronnie Williams, Marcello Rufrano, and Keith Rocco) who have won races and championships at Stafford.
“It always seems to be the same fast cars that show up at Stafford,” said Gallup. “This new LFR car has been pretty stout right out of the box and we’ve showed that we can run up front with those guys in the past, so we’re looking forward to the race. I’ve watched my Dad win a bunch of SK races at Stafford and it would mean a lot to me to join him on the winners list at Stafford.”
The Open Mod 80 will share the spotlight on May 24 with Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night being the longest and biggest race of the 2019 SK Light season with over $10,000 in total posted awards up for grabs. With contingency bonuses, the winner of the Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night feature will take home $2,025. 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.