Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – Stafford Speedway hosted the 2nd Annual Twisted Tea Open Modified 80 with tour style modifieds taking center stage for an 80-lap race around the Connecticut half-mile. NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series driver Ryan Preece took the checkered flag by driving through the field after being the last of the lead cars to pit for fresh tires during the 80-lap race.
Scoring feature wins Friday were Todd Owen in the SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn in the Late Model feature, Mark Bakaj in the SK Light feature, Matt Clement in the Limited Late Model feature, and Zack Robinson in the Street Stock feature.
The Twisted Tea Open 80 took the green flag with Matt Galko taking the lead from polesitter Ronnie Williams at the start. Williams’ car was leaking fluid and he was black flagged on lap-3. Chase Dowling took the lead from Galko on lap-5 with Jeff Gallup, Ryan Preece, and Eric Goodale making up the top-5. Todd Owen was quickly up to sixth with Bryan Narducci, Cam McDermott, Michael Gervais, Jr. and Keith Rocco making up the top-10. Preece made a move to the inside of Gallup for third on lap-9 and Gallup slid all the way back to eighth.
With 15 laps complete, Dowling was in the lead with Galko, Preece, Owen, Narducci, McDermott, Goodale, Rocco, Max Zachem, and Gallup making up the top-10. Preece was starting to look to the inside of Galko for second and he was able to make a pass and take second on lap-21. The caution flew with 21 laps complete as Anthony Flannery spun in turn 2.
Preece took the lead from Dowling in the outside lane on the restart with Galko and Owen side by side for third with McDermott in fifth. Owen cleared Galko for third on lap-24 with Rocco and Goodale up to sixth and seventh behind McDermott as Preece continued to hold the lead with Dowling giving chase. Mark Bakaj spun coming out of turn 4 to bring the caution out with 29 laps complete.
The restart saw Dylan Izzo, Walt Sutcliffe, and Bakaj all come together in turn 3 to bring the caution back out before a lap could be completed. The next restart saw McDermott get pinned against the frontstretch wall and came to a stop in turn 1 to bring the caution right back out. Preece powered to the lead on the restart with Dowling, Galko, Goodale, and Williams making up the top-5. Gallup was sixth with Narducci, Rocco, Flannery, and Izzo making up the top-10. Sutcliffe dropped off the pace to bring the caution out with 43 laps complete. Under the caution, Preece stayed out on track while the majority of the lead lap cars behind him all came to pit road for 2 fresh tires and any adjustments.
Preece resumed the race in the lead with Gallup in second. Owen was now third with Savary fourth and Tommy Barrett, Jr. up to fifth. Williams was sixth with Gervais, Narducci, Goodale, and Galko making up the top-10. Gervais spun in turn 2 to bring the caution out with 46 laps complete.
Preece powered into the lead with Barrett taking second. Savary and Izzo both got into the turn 3 wall to bring the caution out with 47 laps complete. Preece came to pit road under the caution to change his 2 tires and rejoined the race at the rear of the field in 15th place for the restart with 33 laps to go.
Barrett was the new leader back under green with Owen and Galko side by side for second. Galko cleared Owen on lap-49 to move into second and now Rocco was on the outside of Owen in a fight for third. Williams was lined up behind Owen in fifth with Flannery back up to sixth after his earlier spin.
With 25 laps to go, Galko was applying heavy pressure to Barrett for the lead with Williams third and Owen fourth. Galko took the lead from Barrett on lap-56 while Preece was a man on a mission after taking his fresh tires. Preece was up to fifth and slowly closing down the gap to the front four cars of Galko, Barrett, Williams, and Owen.
Williams made a move to the inside of Barrett for second on lnap-60 while Preece was now right behind Owen in fifth. Preece got by Owen to move into fourth on lap-61 while Williams finally got clear from Barrett on lap-62 to take second.
Preece went by Barrett to move into third on lap-64 and he went by Williams to move into second place on lap-68. Preece was all over the back bumper of Galko looking high and low for a way to make a pass for the lead when the caution flew with 71 laps complete for a spin by Rocco and another car with 70 laps complete.
Preece powered his way into to the lead on the outside of Galko on the restart with Williams taking second and dropping Galko back to third. Dowling was fourth with Goodale up to fifth. The caution came back out with 73 laps complete for Dylan Kopec, who had a quick spin in the middle of turns 3+4.
The restart saw Preece pull out to the lead with Dowling looking to get by Williams on the outside but Williams spun to bring the yellow back out before a lap could be completed. Preece again powered into the lead on the restart with Galko coming back up to second. The field completed one lap before the caution came back out for a spin by Flannery at the end of the backstretch, setting up a 6-lap dash to the finish.
Preece took the lead with Goodale coming up to second on the restart. Galko was third with Narducci all over the back bumper of Dowling in a fight for fourth place. Narducci took fourth on lap-77 while Preece was slowly pulling away from Goodale and Galko.
Preece led Goodale to the checkered flag to win the Twisted Tea Open 80. Galko finished third with Narducci and Dowling rounding out the top-5.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Stephen Kopcik took the early lead but Michael Christopher, Jr. was all over his bumper right from the start and he took the lead from Kopcik on lap-3. Troy Talman and Glen Reen were side by side for third place behind Christopher and Kopcik with Matt Galko in fifth. Reen got clear from Talman on lap-6 to move into third with Todd Owen and Marcello Rufrano right behind Galko in sixth and seventh.
Owen got by Galko to move into fifth on lap-9 while Christopher was still in the race lead with Christopher and Reen giving chase. Owen was now applying heavy pressure to Talman for fourth place and he was able to make the pass on lap-14. Tom Bolles brought the caution out with 21 laps complete with a crash in turn 1.
Christopher powered back to the lead on the restart while Owen made a strong move to get to the inside of Kopcik for second. Owen cleared Kopcik on lap-23 to take second with Reen fourth and Rocco in fifth. Gervais took sixth from Talman on lap-24 with Nick Salva, Galko, and Cory DiMatteo making up the top-10.
Owen continued his charge as he took the lead from Christopher on lap-25. The caution came back out with 29 laps complete as Reen touched wheels with Kopcik as he was attempting to make a pass for third place and both cars spun in turn 2.
Owen took the lead on the restart with Christopher able to hold off Gervais and slot into second. Gervais and Rocco were side by side for third on lap-31 with Rocco taking the spot and Salva was up to fifth in line. Galko took fifth from Salva on lap-33 with Owen still leading Christopher, Rocco, and Gervais.
Christopher couldn’t get close enough to Owen to make a move as Owen locked down his first win of the 2019 season. Rocco finished third with Gervais and Galko rounding out the top-5.
At the halfway point Christopher was still out front with Kopcik and Reen behind him. Owen was fourth with Keith Rocco now in fifth. Talman was sixth with Galko, Michael Gervais, Jr., Rufrano and Nick Salva making up the top-10
In the 30-lap Late Model feature event, the caution came out with 1 lap complete as Al Saunders got the worst of a multicar spin on the frontstretch. Michael Bennett took the lead on the restart with Paul Arute nearly taking the lead from Bennett but slotting back into second. Cliff Saunders was third with Michael Wray fourth, Kevin Gambacorta fifth and Tom Fearn sixth.
Tom Fearn took fifth from Gambacorta on lap-5 and that move opened the door for Ryan Fearn to follow him through to sixth and drop Gambacorta back to seventh. Chase Cook brought the caution out with 8 laps complete with a spin coming out of turn 4.
Bennett took the lead on the restart but the caution came right back out as Dave Wray did a 360 on the backstretch and Richard Ciriello came to a stop at the entrance of turn 3.
Bennett took the lead back under green while Cliff Saunders moved into second and Ryan Fearn took third as Arute fell back to fourth in line with Michael Wray fifth. Ryan Fearn made a move to take second from Cliff Saunders on lap-12 while Tom Fearn took fifth from Wray. Tom Fearn then took fourth from Arute on lap-14 with Bennett still leading Ryan Fearn and Cliff Saunders.
Ryan Fearn was starting to apply heavy pressure to Bennett for the lead and he made a move on lap-17 as the leaders came up on a lapped car to take the lead. Cliff Saunders tried to follow Fearn by Bennett but Saunders and Bennett touched with Bennett going around in turn 4 to bring the caution out with 17 laps complete.
Ryan Fearn didn’t come up to speed on the restart, allowing Cliff Saunders to power his way into the lead. Michael Wray moved into second with Tom Fearn taking third. Arute was fourth with Tyler Leary moving into fifth as Ryan Fearn slid all the way back to sixth in line when the caution flew with 18 laps complete for Gambacorta, who spun in the middle of turns 3+4.
Wray almost took the lead from Saunders on the restart but Saunders was able to maintain the lead. Tom Fearn took second with Wray third, Ryan Fearn fourth and Leary fifth. The caution came back out with 20 laps complete as Ciriello and Gambacorta spun coming out of turn 4.
Saunders charged into the lead back under green with Michael Wray and Tom Fearn lined up behind him. Ryan Fearn was fourth with Dave Wray getting around Arute to take fifth. Tom Fearn took second from Michael Wray on lap-21 before debris on the track brought the caution back out with 22 laps complete.
Gambacorta dropped off the pace and came to a stop on the infield to bring the caution back out before the field could complete a lap. Cliff Saunders and Tom Fearn ran a lap side by side before Saunders got clear into the lead. The caution came back out with 23 laps complete as Ciriello, Arute, and Bennett all spun at the entrance to turn 3.
Cliff Saunders again took the lead back under green with Ryan and Tom Fearn side by side for second and Michael and Dave Wray side by side for fourth. Al Saunders and Cook got together and spun coming out of turn 2 to bring the caution out with 25 laps complete.
Cliff Saunders and Tom Fearn were side by side for the lead with Ryan Fearn and Michael Wray side by side four third with Gambacorta recovered from his earlier spins up to fifth. With two laps to go, Cliff Saunders cleared Tom Fearn for the lead while Ryan Fearn was clear into third. Gambacorta was fourth with Leary up to fifth as Michael Wray slid back to sixth.
Tom Fearn got a good run to the inside of Cliff Saunders coming to the white flag. They ran side by side through turns 1+2 and down the backstretch. They were still side by side through turns 3+4 and drag raced back to the checkered flag with Fearn beating Saunders to the line by inches. Ryan Fearn finished third with Gambacorta and Leary rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light feature event, Robert Bloxsom, III took the lead at the green with Mikey Flynn and Steven Chapman behind him. Mark Bakaj was fourth in the early going with Jonathan Puleo holding down the fifth position. Flynn was applying heavy pressure to Bloxsom for the lead but Bloxsom was able to fend of his challenges.
Flynn was able to get around Bloxsom and move into the lead on lap-7. Flynn’s move opened the door for Chapman and Bakaj to move into second and third. Chapman didn’t stop in second as he took the lead from Flynn on lap-8. Bakaj moved into second with Flynn back to third. Bryan Narducci was charging his way through the field and he took third from Flynn on lap-10.
Bakaj and Narducci went side by side for second on lap-11 and they ran side by side until lap-15 when Narducci got clear into second in turns 1+2 and then took the lead from Chapman in turns 3+4. With 4 laps to go, Narducci locked his brakes going into turn 1, allowing Chapman to move back into the lead. Teddy Hodgdon was looking to Narducci’s inside for second with Bakaj right behind Narducci in the outside lane.
As the field took the white flag, Chapman held the lead with Narducci, Bakaj, and Hodgdon lined up behind him. Going into turn 3, Narducci got into the back of Chapman, sending him up the track and allowing Narducci and Bakaj to get by. Narducci took the checkered flag first but NASCAR Officials penalized Narducci for overaggressive driving, making Bakaj the winner. Hodgdon finished second, with Chapman, Alexander Pearl, and Flynn rounding out the top-5. Narducci was penalized to the last car on the lead lap, placing him 22nd in the final rundown.
In the 15-lap Limited Late Model feature event, Kyle Casagrande led the field to the green but it was Matt Clement taking the lead from Casagrande as the field came around to complete lap 1. Casagrande slid back to fifth in line as Jeremy Lavoie took second, Alexandra Fearn third, and Gary Patnode fourth.
Fearn moved into third on lap-4 and she brought Patnode with her up to third as Lavoie fell back to fourth with Casagrande still fifth while Clement was setting the pace out front.
With 10 laps complete, Clement had a comfortable lead over Fearn with Patnode in third, Casagrande now in fourth and Lavoie fifth. Clement led the field to the checkered flag to pick up his third win of the 2019 season. Fearn finished second with Patnode holding off Casagrande and Lavoie for third.
In the 20-lap Street Stock feature event, Nicole Chambrello spun in turn 2 and Steve Kenneway came to a stop against the backstretch wall to bring the caution out before a lap could be completed. The restart saw Adrien Paradis, III and Travis Hydar leaning on each other in a fight for the lead before the caution came out with 1 lap complete for a spin in turn 4 by Meghan Fuller.
Hydar took the lead back under green with Zack Robinson applying heavy pressure from second. George Bessette, Jr. was third in line with Paradis fourth and Rick Charette was fifth. Robinson was all over the back bumper of Hydar looking high and low for a way to get by and take the lead and he was finally able to make a pass and take the lead on lap-6. Bessette followed him through to move into second and drop Hydar back to third with Paradis fourth and a side by side duel between Charette and Jason Lafayette for fifth.
Just as Robinson was hounding Hydar for the lead earlier in the race, Bessette was all over Robinson’s back bumper for the lead when the caution flew with 9 laps complete for a spin by Chambrello in turn 2.
Robinson took the lead on the restart while Hydar got by Bessette to move into second. Lafayette was fourth with Paradis fifth. Bessette pulled alongside Hydar for second on lap-14 and they raced side by side for a lap before Hydar fell back into line in third. The side by side action allowed Robinson to pull away by several car lengths while Lafayette was now right on the back bumper of Paradis in a fight for third.
Robinson cruised to the checkered flag to pick up his second consecutive and third overall feature win of the 2019 season. Bessette finished second with Hydar, Lafayette, and Paradis rounding out the top-5.
TWISTED TEA OPEN MODIFIED 80 (80)
1) Ryan Preece, Davidson, NC
2) Eric Goodale, Riverhead, NY
3) Matt Galko, Meriden
4) Bryan Narducci, Colchester
5) Chase Dowling, Midland, NC
6) Max Zachem, Oakdale
7) Andrew Molleur, Shelton
8) Ronnie Williams, Elington
9) Keith Rocco, Berlin
10) Dave Etheridge, Portland
11) Todd Owen, Somers
12) Marcello Rufrano, North Haven
13) Michael Gervais, Jr., Wolcott
14) Dylan Kopec, Palmer, MA
15) Anthony Flannery, East Hampton
16) Richard Savary, Holbrook, MA
17) Tommy Barrett, Jr., Millis, MA
18) Jeff Gallup, Agawam, MA
19) Dylan Izzo, Monroe
20) Walt Sutcliffe, East Haven
21) Cam McDermott, Canterbury
22) Mark Bakaj, Lebanon
23) Kreig Heroth, Fort Plain, NY
SK MODIFIED® (40)
1) Todd Owen, Somers
2) Michael Christopher, Jr., Wolcott
3) Keith Rocco, Berlin
4) Michael Gervais, Jr., Wolcott
5) Matt Galko, Meriden
6) Nick Salva, Cheshire
7) David Arute, Stafford Springs
8) Chase Dowling, Midland, NC
9) Ronnie Williams, Tolland
10) Eric Berndt, Cromwell
11) Dylan Izzo, Monroe
12) Glen Reen, Wilbraham, MA
13) Frank Ruocco, North Haven
14) Joey Cipriano, Waterbury
15) Andrew Molleur, Shelton
16) Matt Vassar, Plantsville
17) Marcello Rufrano, North Haven
18) D.J. Burnham, East Hartford
19) Stephen Kopcik, Newtown
20) Tony Membrino, Jr., Berlin
21) Dan Wesson, Monson, MA
22) Tyler Hines, North Haven
23) Tyler Leary, Hatfield, MA
24) John Catania, Agawam, MA
25) Troy Talman, Oxford, MA
26) Cory DiMatteo, Farmington
27) Tom Bolles, Ellington
LATE MODEL (30)
1) Tom Fearn, East Longmeadow, MA
2) Cliff Saunders, Stafford
3) Ryan Fearn, East Longmeadow, MA
4) Kevin Gambacorta, Ellington
5) Tyler Leary, Hatfield, MA
6) Dave Wray, Durham
7) Michael Wray, Northford
8) Chase Cook, Oakdale
9) Paul Varricchio, Jr., Berlin
10) Michael Bennett, Willington
11) Richard Ciriello, Reading, MA
12) Trace Beyer, Stratton, VT
13) Gary Theriault, Enfield
14) Al Saunders, Stafford
15) Paul Arute, Northridge, MA
SK LIGHT MODIFIED (20)
1) Mark Bakaj, Lebanon
2) Teddy Hodgdon, Danbury
3) Steven Chapman, Ellington
4) Alexander Pearl, Salem
5) Mikey Flynn, Hampden, Ma
6) Noah Korner, Canton
7) Robert Bloxsom, III, Stratford
8) Nick Anglace, Oxford
9) Joey Ferrigno, East Hartford
10) Nathan Pytko, Douglas, MA
11) Bob Charland, Stafford
12) Sami Anderson, Wolcott
13) Cassandra Cole, Westbrook
14) Jonathan Puleo, Branford
15) Glenn Griswold, Vernon
16) Amanda West, Colchester
17) Mark Alkas, Berlin
18) Chris Bagnall, Winsted
19) Alina Bryden, West Springfield, MA
20) Wesley Prucker, Stafford
21) Rit Dulac, Plantsville
22) Bryan Narducci, Colchester
23) Ed Chicoski, New Hartford
24) Norm Sears, Andover
25) Paul French, Andover
LIMITED LATE MODEL (15)
1) Matt Clement, Wethersfield
2) Alexandra Fearn, East Longmeadow, MA
3) Gary Patnode, Barkhamsted
4) Kyle Casagrande, Stafford Springs
5) Jeremy Lavoie, Windsor Locks
6) Jim Boyle, Pomfret Center
7) Kevin Crosby, Coventry
STREET STOCK (20)
1) Zack Robinson, Putnam
2) George Bessette, Jr., Danbury
3) Travis Hydar, Woodbury
4) Jason Lafayette, Somers
5) Adrien Paradis, III, Plainville
6) Rick Charette, Vernon
7) Tyler Trott, East Hartford
8) Meghan Fuller, Auburn, MA
9) Tess Beyer, Stratton, VT
10) Chuck Harrison, Woodstock Valley
11) Tim Morse, Southbury
12) Michael Hopkins, Springfield, MA
13) Nicole Chambrello, Kensington
14) Chris Danielczuk, Goshen
15) Nick Bendiak, Hopkinton, MA
16) Marvin Minkler, Stamford
17) Chris Hickey, Esperance, NY
18) Steve Kenneway, Lowell, MA
19) Paul Bourdon, Jr., Jewett City