Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – This Friday night, July 24 at Stafford Speedway will see the SK Light division take center stage with their 40-lap extra distance Dunleavy’s Truck & Trailer Repair Modifiedz Night feature event.
This year’s edition of the extra distance classic marks the fourth consecutive year that the SK Lights will race 40 laps with Doug Dunleavy from Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair providing a purse of nearly $10,000 with the winner guaranteed to go home with $1,750 in purse money.
Combined with contingency bonuses from Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair, Maybury Material Handling, and New England Racing Fuel, Sunoco Brand, the winner will go home with a cool $2,000 pay day and a $25 gas certificate.
In the previous three running’s of Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night, there has been 3 different winners with Brett Gonyaw winning the inaugural race in 2017, Marcello Rufrano in 2018, and Noah Korner last season. The race has provided its fair share of thrills and spills over the past 3 years, with Korner making his winning pass in the final corner of the final lap after a green white checkered restart in 2019, Rufrano having to hold off a host of pursuers over several restarts in the second half of the race in 2018, and Gonyaw leading the final 7 laps in 2017 after the leaders wrecked while racing for the lead with 7 laps to go. Dunleavy expects more of the same for this race.
“This year might be the most nervous I’ve ever been for this event,” said Dunleavy. “It’s a big race for the SK Lights and it’s only the third race of the season. We’re going to be going 40 laps this Friday night, the SK Lights have only raced 40 laps through the first 2 races, and there’s a lot of rookie drivers. I’m an adrenaline junkie for racing and the SK Lights are the building division for future drivers. The SK Lights are a great division and there’s not a lot of distractions for the drivers like pit stops or radio communications so they can focus on a great race and that’s what we’ve had the last 3 years. When it comes down to those last 10 laps of the race, everyone in the stands are on their feet and that’s the way 2020 has been at Stafford so far in all divisions. I think it’s going to be a breathtaking race for sure.”
Between Gonyaw not participating in the SK Light division this season, Rufrano now racing in the SK Modified® division, and Korner not attending the race as he is in the middle of changing his SK Light car into an SK Modified® car, the Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night feature is guaranteed to produce a fourth different winner in as many years. Dunleavy has a special feeling that this year’s event will see one of the 5 female SK Light regulars, Cassandra Cole, Nikki Chambrello, Amanda West, Sami Anderson, or Alina Bryden end up in NAPA Victory Lane.
“I have a gut feeling that this year is going to be a ladies night,” said Dunleavy. “It’s pretty awesome there’s 5 female drivers in the SK Light division this season and I really hope that one of them can win the race.”
The 2020 SK Light season has been a season of first-time winners thus far with Jon Puleo winning on NAPA Auto Parts Opening Night back on June 26 and Brian Sullivan becoming a first time winner last Friday night, July 17. Puleo followed his opening night victory up with a victory in the non-points race that was held last Saturday, July 18 as part of the Bud Light Open 80 program.
Stafford’s SK Modifieds®, Late Models, Limited Late Models, and Street Stocks will all join the SK Lights in feature action this Friday night. General admission tickets have sold out but there is still a limited amount of paddock tickets available for this Friday night’s Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night. Tickets must be purchased online and there will be no tickets sold at the gates the night of the race. For any fans who can’t make the race in person and still would like to watch the race, they can order the live stream of Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night from staffordspeedway.tv for $20.
SK Light Stat Advance
Stafford Speedway’s SK Light division takes center stage this Friday night, July 24th with the 4th Annual Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair Modifiedz Night extra distance feature. The Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night 40-lap feature event has seen 3 different winners in the first 3 races and since none of the previous 3 winners will be in the starting field this Friday night, the race is guaranteed to deliver a fourth consecutive different winner. Here we take a statistical look at the top-20 drivers in the 2020 SK Light points standings and how they have fared both this season and in any of the previous 3 editions of the Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night 40-lap feature event.
Brian Sullivan – #11 Vasseur Landscaping Chevrolet – Sullivan will be making his first Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night start. Sullivan currently leads the SK Light standings on the strength of his first career victory to go along with a third place finish in the season opener. Sullivan is one of 2 drivers to record top-5 finishes in each of the first 2 races this season.
Robert Bloxsom, III – #55 Bob’s Painting Chevrolet – Bloxsom has one career Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night start, placing 11th in last year’s event. Bloxsom finished second in the 2020 season opener and he finished fifth last Friday night to sit second in the points standings.
Amanda West – #15 Soucy’s Concrete Service Chevrolet – After not qualifying for Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night in 2018, West finished 18th in last year’s event. West is coming off a career best finish of 2nd place in last Friday night’s SK Light feature and an 8th place finish in the season opener sees her sitting third in the points standings.
Alexander Pearl – #7 Darling Auto Parts Ford – Pearl has amassed 3 career wins in his first 2 full seasons of SK Light competition and he has finished 7th in the 2018 Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night feature and 20th in last year’s race. Two top-7 finishes thus far this season sees him sitting fourth in the points standings.
Jon Puleo – #57 Mr. Rooter Plumbing Chevrolet – The 2nd year SK Light driver finished third in last year’s Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night feature. Puleo has shown a tremendous amount of speed this season, scoring his first career win in the season opener as well as winning the non-points SK Light feature that was held last Saturday as part of the Bud Light 80 program.
Bert Ouellette – #51 Polar Beverages Chevrolet – The SK Light rookie driver has 2 career wins at Stafford in the N.E. Truck Series division but he is still in search of his first SK Light victory. Finishes of 6th and 13th this season sees Ouellette sitting in 6th place in the points standings.
Peter Bennett – #50 Shoreline Coatings Chevrolet – Another member of the 2020 SK Light rookie class, Bennett has displayed good speed with a 5th place finish in the season opener. After a 15th place finish last Friday night, Bennett is 7th in the points standings.
Andrew Les – #72 R.B. Enterprises, Inc. Ford – Les has one career Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night start, finishing 14th in 2018. Les finished 10th in the season opener and 12th in last Friday night’s SK Light feature to sit in 8th place in the points standings.
Joey Ferrigno – #87 RH2Way Radio Communications Chevrolet – Ferrigno has been competing in the SK Light division since 2012 and he is currently second on the all-time winners list with 16 career wins. Ferrigno is one of only 6 drivers to have started all three Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night features. The extra distance race hasn’t been kind to Ferrigno as he has yet to break into the top-20. Finishes of 15th and 10th this season has the veteran driver in 9th place in the points.
Kyle Ellwood – #2 Bakaj Construction Chevrolet – The Riverhead, NY native is a newcomer to the SK Light division this season after having made 25 career Whelen Modified Tour starts from 2014-2019. Ellwood has finished 7th and 19th in the two SK Light races thus far to sit in 10th place in the points standings.
Bob Charland – #1 Wicked Powersports Chevrolet – Charland is an SK Light veteran with 3 career wins. Charland has started each of the prior 3 Dunleavy’s Night races with finishes of 2nd in 2017, 10th in 2018, and 8th in 2019. Charland’s 6.7 average finish is the best of the six drivers who have competed in all 3 Dunleavy’s races and he is coming off a third place finish last Friday night after finishing 24th in the season opener.
George Bessette, Jr. – #39 Lasco Roofing & Sheet Metal Chevrolet – The SK Light rookie driver recorded 10 wins and the 2018 track championship while racing in the Street Stock division. Bessette has made a smooth transition to the SK Light division, with a 4th place finish in last Friday night’s feature event to go along a fourth place effort in last Saturday’s non-points feature event.
Mark Bakaj – #89 Alkas Motorsports Chevrolet – Bakaj is an SK Light veteran with 8 career SK Light wins, including a win in the #89 car last season after starting the year in the #76 car. Bakaj has recorded finishes of 22nd in 2018 and 10th last year in the Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night feature and he is coming off a 6th place finish after a tough season opener that saw him place 25th.
Cassandra Cole – #09 Tri-State Glass of Old Saybrook Chevrolet – Cole has one career Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night start, placing 11th in 2018. Cole has finished 16th in each of the first 2 races of the 2020 season to sit in 14th place in the SK Light points.
Tyler Chapman – #41 Chapman Apartment Homes Chevrolet – The Wild Thing Kart graduate failed to qualify for his SK Light debut on June 26, but he has followed that up with an 8th place finish last Friday night and a 21st place finish in the non-points feature event last Saturday.
Steven Chapman – #14 Chapman Apartment Homes Chevrolet – The 2019 SK Light Rookie of the Year and championship runner up is still in search of his first SK Light feature win. Chapman notched 4 podium finishes last season and he has finished 9th and 26th in the two SK Light points paying races this season along with a 6th place finish in the non-points feature held last Saturday. Chapman finished 7th in last year’s Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night feature.
Derek Debbis – #55 Van Horst General Contractors Chevrolet – The SK Light rookie driver failed to qualify for the season opening feature but he finished 9th in the second race of the season and he finished a strong second behind Jon Puleo in the non-points feature held last Saturday.
Wesley Prucker – #22 S.M. Prucker Excavation Ford – Prucker has started all 3 previous editions of Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night with finishes of 9th in 2017, 12th in 2018, and 4th last season for an average finish of 8.3. The 2-time SK Light feature winner is still looking for his first top-10 finish of the 2020 season.
Todd Douillard – #16 Kopec’s Truck and Auto Ford – Douillard has started all 3 previous editions of Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night with finishes of 18th in 2017, 25th in 2018, and 19th last season for an average finish of 20.7. Douillard has recorded finishes of 18th and 17th in the first 2 SK Light events of the 2020 season.
Chris Matthews – #29 Carter Chevrolet Chevrolet – The 2007 SK Light champion and winningest SK Light driver in Stafford history with 17 career wins has Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night finishes of 22nd in 2017 and 6th in 2018 and he is still looking for his first top-10 of the 2020 season after finishes of 11th and 27th in the first two races.