Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – Stafford Speedway returned to Friday night racing action with a Stafford Weekly Series program on Friday night August 27.
Scoring feature wins on the night were Stephen Kopcik in the SK Modified® feature, Michael Bennett in the Late Model feature, Anthony Bello was a first time career winner in the SK Light feature, Gary Patnode in the Limited Late Model feature, and Chris Meyer in the Street Stock feature. The Kids Night Big Wheel Race was won by Brantley Sullivan, son of Stafford SK Light driver Brian Sullivan.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Marcello Rufrano took the the lead from polesitter Matt Vassar on the first lap and began to set the early pace. Teddy Hodgdon quickly moved into third with Tyler Hines taking fourth and Bryan Narducci taking fifth on lap-5 to drop David Arute back to sixth, just in front of Stephen Kopcik. Hines went around Hodgdon to take third place on lap-6 and Kopcik went around Narducci to move into fifth place on lap-8.
Hines took second from Vassar on lap-9 while Kopcik was looking for a way around Hodgdon to move into fourth. Rufrano was still in the lead with Hines in second. Kopcik was able to make a pass for fourth place on lap-13 and his move opened the door for Narducci to take fifth and kick Hodgdon back to sixth place. The caution flew with 13 laps complete for a spin coming out of turn 4 by Chris Viens.
Rufrano took the lead on the restart with Hines right behind him in second and Kopcik in third. Vassar was fourth with Narducci holding off the side by side duo of Hodgdon and Michael Christopher, Jr. for fifth. Hodgdon won the battle with Christopher to take sixth as Rufrano led Kopcik, Hines, Vassar, and Narducci to the halfway point of the race.
Kopcik got around Hines to move into second and he was applying heavy pressure to Rufrano for the lead on lap-25. The top-3 cars had slightly pulled away from Vassar, Hodgdon, and Narducci and on lap-27 Kopcik went to the front of the field. Debris in turn 1 brought the caution back out with 28 laps complete.
Kopcik again took the lead on the restart with Rufrano and Hines right behind him. Hodgdon and Vassar were side by side for fourth place with Arute in sixth. Arute took fifth from Vassar on lap-32 while Hines, Hodgdon, and Rufrano briefly went 3-wide on lap-33 in the fight for second. Hines emerged in second with Hodgdon and Rufrano still fighting side by side for third. Todd Owen was on a late race charge as he moved into fifth and dropped Arute back to sixth with Narducci in seventh place. Owen continued his march to the front by taking third from Hodgdon on lap-37 just before the caution came out for spins in turn 3 by Noah Korner and Mark Alkas.
Kopcik resumed his place out front back under green while Hodgdon charged up to second. Owen took third from Hines as the field took the white flag with Arute in fifth. Kopcik led the field to the checkered flag to pick up his third win of the 2021 season. Hodgdon finished second with Owen, Hines, and Arute rounding out the top-5.
In the 30-lap Late Model feature, Paul Varricchio, Jr. took the lead at the green but a half spin by Paul Arute brought the caution out before the first lap could be completed. Andrew Durand was sent to the rear of the field by Stafford officials for making contact with Arute.
Varricchio charged back into the lead with Zack Robinson slotting into second place. Adam Gray was third with Wayne Coury, Jr. and Andrew Molleur were side by side for fourth place with Coury winning that duel. The caution came back out with 2 laps complete for Cliff Saunders, who spun through the frontstretch grass and Durand, who also took a trip through the grass.
Varricchio didn’t come up to speed as quickly as the field on the restart and he slipped back to seventh place as Robinson was the new leader. A multicar spin in turn 2 brought the yellow flag back out with 3 laps complete.
Robinson took the lead back under green with Coury coming up to second. Tom Fearn was third followed by Michael Wray and Molleur. Coury took the lead from Robinson on lap-5 with a pass in turn 4 and Gray took fifth from Molleur. The caution came back out with 11 laps complete for a spin by Robinson. The order up front had shuffled just before the caution flew with Coury leading Fearn, Gray, Wray, and Michael Bennett.
Coury took the lead on the restart with Gray moving up to second. Bennett took third with Kevin Gambacorta taking fourth and Molleur fifth as Fearn slid from second back to sixth. Varricchio spun on lap-14 but he was able to get going again and the race stayed green. The caution did come back out with 15 laps complete for a spin in turn 1 by Darrell Keane.
Coury again took the lead on the restart with Bennett taking second. Molleur moved up to third with Gray fourth and Fearn in fifth. Bennett took the lead from Coury on lap-18 with a move in turn 4. That pass opened the door for Molleur to take second and Gray to move up to third as Coury fell back to fourth with Wray in fifth place.
With 5 laps to go, Bennett held the lead with Molleur right behind him in second. Gray was still third with Coury right behind him in fourth and Fearn was fifth. With 2 laps to go, Molleur right on Bennett’s back bumper but couldn’t find a way to get by. Molleur made a run to the inside of Bennett on the final lap and the two cars rubbed fenders but Bennett held off Molleur’s challenge to take down his division leading fifth win of the 2021 season. Gray finished third with Coury and Gambacorta rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light feature event, Peter Bennett took the lead at the green flag with Amanda West and Meghan Fuller going side by side for second. West came out in second with Bob Charland going 3-wide on lap-2 to move into third. Charland then took second and moved into the lead on lap-3. Anthony Bello was following Charland through the field and he took the lead from Charland on lap-5 before West brought the caution out with 5 laps complete with a spin in turn 2.
Bello took the lead on the restart with George Bessette, Jr. charging his way into second. Charland was third in line followed by Tyler Chapman and the side by side duo of Norm Sears and Brian Sullivan. Sullivan won the battle with Sears and then he moved around Chapman to take fourth place. Chris Bagnall, Anthony Forino, and Glenn Bartkowski spun coming out of turn 2 to bring the caution flag back out with 11 laps complete.
Bello resumed his place at the front of the field back under green with Bessette still in second. Charland worked his way into third with Sullivan and Alexander Pearl making up the top-5.
With 2 laps to go, Bessette was glued to the back bumper of Bello in the race for the lead. Bessette made one last effort on the final lap, giving Bello’s back bumper a touch going into turn 3 but Bello was able to stay out front and he scored his first career win at Stafford. Charland finished third with Sullivan and Pearl rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature event, Matt Scappini took the lead at the green flag taking to the outside of polesitter Damian Palardy. Gary Patnode quickly took second with Palardy third, Rich Hammann fourth and R.J. Surdell fifth. Patnode made a move in turn 4 to take the lead from Scappini on lap-3 while behind the leaders, Hammann took over third place to drop Palardy back to fourth and Devon Jencik was up to fifth place with Alexandra Fearn right behind him in sixth place.
Jencik took fourth and Fearn took on lap-6 to drop Palardy back to sixth place as Patnode was starting to stretch out his lead over Scappini and Hammann. Hammann took second place from Scappini on lap-9 with both Jencik and Fearn following him through to take third and fourth and drop Scappini back to fifth place. Jeremy Lavoie was challenging Scappini for fifth and he was able to make the pass on lap-11.
With 5 laps to go Patnode was still in command of the race with Hammann trying to chase him down. Jencik was third followed by Fearn and Lavoie. Hammann couldn’t get close enough to Patnode to make a bid for the lead as Patnode took down his second win of the 2021 season. Jencik finished third with Fearn and Lavoie rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Street Stock feature event, Jason Finkbein took the lead at green flag with Jeremy Washburn taking second in front of Bert Ouellette. Ouellette took second from Washburn on lap-3 and he took the lead on lap-4 as Finkbein’s car dropped off the pace. Ouellette was now followed in line by Nickolas Hovey, Bobby Stirk, III, Chris Meyer, and Adrien Paradis, III. The caution came out with 4 laps complete for a spin in turn 1 by Patrick Grady.
Ouellette took the lead back under green with Hovey right on his back bumper in second. Mehyer was third in line with Travis Hydar working his way into fourth and Frank L’Etoile, Jr. taking fifth. Hovey was applying heavy pressure to Ouellette but Ouellette was able to hold him off. Hovey made a pass for the lead stick on lap-10 and his move for the lead allowed Meyer to take second, Hydar third, and L’Etoile fourth as Ouellette fell from the lead back to fifth.
Meyer took the lead from Hovey on lap-14 with Hydar and L’Etoile still in third and fourth place. Stirk was back up to fifth place as Ouellette fell back to seventh place with Paradis moving into sixth.
Meyer led Hovey to the checkered flag to pick up his fourth win of the 2021 season. Hydar came home in third with L’Etoile and Stirk rounding out the top-5.
Brantley Sullivan was the winner of the Kids Night Big Wheel race that saw 17 kids between the ages of 3 and 7 take part in a race down the frontstretch.
SK MODIFIED® (40)
1) Stephen Kopcik, Newtown
2) Teddy Hodgdon, Danbury
3) Todd Owen, Somers
4) Tyler Hines, North Haven
5) David Arute, Stafford Springs
6) Bryan Narducci, Colchester
7) Matt Vassar, Plantsville
8) Marcello Rufrano, North Haven
9) Andrew Molleur, Shelton
10) Michael Christopher, Jr., Wolcott
11) Jon Puleo, Branford
12) Dan Wesson, Monson, MA
13) Michael Gervais, Jr., Wolcott
14) Doug Meservey, Jr., Chatham, MA
15) Keith Rocco, Berlin
16) Dylan Kopec, Feeding Hills, MA
17) Noah Korner, Avon
18) Curt Brainard, Canton
19) Ed Flemke, Jr., Southington
20) P.J. Peters, Oxford
21) Mark Alkas, Berlin
22) Chris Viens, Putnam
LATE MODEL (30)
1) Michael Bennett, Willington
2) Andrew Molleur, Shelton
3) Adam Gray, Granby, MA
4) Wayne Coury, Jr., Fairfield
5) Kevin Gambacorta, Ellington
6) Michael Wray, Durham
7) Tom Fearn, East Longmeadow, MA
8) Chris Buffone, Belchertown, MA
9) Darrell Keane, Enfield
10) Zack Robinson, Putnam
11) Paul Varricchio, Jr., Berlin
12) Paul Arute, Northbridge, MA
13) Dave Wray, Durham
14) Duane Provost, Palmer, MA
15) Marc Curtis, Brookfield, MA
16) Andrew Durand, Chicopee, MA
17) John Blake, North Haven
18) Cliff Saunders, Stafford
19) Al Saunders, Stafford
SK LIGHT MODIFIED (20)
1) Anthony Bello, Newtown
2) George Bessette, Jr., Danbury
3) Bob Charland, Stafford
4) Brian Sullivan, Tolland
5) Alexander Pearl, Salem
6) Tyler Barry, Griswold
7) Tyler Chapman, Ellington
8) Derek Debbis, Oakdale
9) Mark Bakaj, Lebanon
10) Norm Sears, Andover
11) Meghan Fuller, Auburn, MA
12) Alina Bryden, West Springfield, MA
13) Peter Bennett, Cromwell
14) Amanda West, Colchester
15) Casey Vogt, Windsor Locks
16) Glenn Bartkowski, Manchester
17) Ed Chicoski, New Hartford
18) Charles McDougall, Derby
19) Anthony Forino, Waterbury
20) Nick Anglace, Seymour
21) Chris Bagnall, Winsted
22) Steven Chapman, Ellington
LIMITED LATE MODEL (20)
1) Gary Patnode, New Hartford
2) Rich Hammann, Tolland
3) Devon Jencik, Canton
4) Alexandra Fearn, East Longmeadow, MA
5) Jeremy Lavoie, Windsor Locks
6) Matt Scappini, Litchfield
7) Matt Clement, Wethersfield
8) R.J. Surdell, Willington
9) Damian Palardy, Willington
10) Ari Jencik, Canton
11) David Shinder, West Granby
12) Scott Clement, Wethersfield
13) Trinity Provost, Holland, MA
STREET STOCK (20)
1) Chris Meyer, North Franklin
2) Nickolas Hovey, Chaplin
3) Travis Hydar, Woodbury
4) Frank L’Etoile, Jr., Wethersfield
5) Bobby Stirk, III, Naugatuck
6) Adrien Paradis, III, Plainville
7) Tyler Trott, East Hartford
8) Kyle Johnson, Manchester
9) Travis Downey, Barkhamsted
10) David Macha, Sr., Columbia
11) Marvin Minkler, Stamford
12) Daltin McCarthy, Oxford, MA
13) Bert Ouellette, Ellington
14) Jeremy Washburn, Willimantic
15) Chris Danielczuk, Goshen
16) Bill Cote, Belchertown, MA
17) Ron Midford, Jr., Ellington
18) Samantha Dell, Harrisville, RI
19) Henry Brown, Athens, PA
20) Patrick Grady, Berlin
21) Rob Sears, Stafford Springs
22) Christopher Phelps, New Salem, MA
23) Rick Brown, Athens, PA
24) Richard Ciriello, Reading, MA
25) Brandon Michael, Granville, MA
26) Jason Finkbein, Manchester