RPW Column: The Champ Trail; Full Night Of Racing At Stafford, Spencer, On The NASCAR Mod Tour & More…

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Last Friday at Stafford, the Late Model division had top billing with their extra distance Paradiso Insurance Late Model 50 feature event.

Wayne Coury, Jr. took the lead on lap-20 and then led the rest of the way to win the Paradiso Insurance Late Model 50.

Other feature winners on the evening included Stephen Kopcik, who recorded his second consecutive and fourth overall win of the 2021 season in the SK Modified® feature, Brian Sullivan scored his third win of the season in the SK Light feature, Matt Scappini came up as a first time Stafford feature winner in the Limited Late Model feature, and Frank L’Etoile, Jr. notched his fifth win of the season with a comeback drive through the field after being put to the rear by the race director after spinning on the second lap of the Street Stock feature.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Doug Meservey, Jr. took the lead at the green flag with Marcello Rufrano in second. Tyler Hines was third followed by Michael Gervais, Jr. and Bryan Narducci. Hines and Rufrano were racing side by side for second and they were still side by side when Meservey’ s car broke loose with a flat right front tire in turn 4 and headed into the wall to bring the caution out with 6 laps complete.

Rufrano took the lead on the restart but Hines charged his way into the lead going by Rufrano on lap-9. Gervais took second on lap-10 with Rufrano settling into third. David Arute was up to fourth with Narducci back in fifth. Arute was looking for a way to get by Rufrano for third when. Arute spun in turn 4 to bring the caution out with 14 laps complete. Narducci was sent to the rear of the field by the race director for making contact with Arute. Arute was later interviewed and stated that the spin was the result of his car losing his brakes.

With 5 laps to go Kopcik was in the lead with Todd Owen all over his back bumper in second. Michael Gervais was third in line with Michael Christopher, Jr. up to fourth and Hines fifth. Kopcik was able to hold off the challenges of Owen until the white flag lap. Owen made a move to the outside of Kopcik coming through turns 3+4 on the final lap but couldn’t find a way to take the lead as Kopcik scored his second consecutive victory and his fourth win of the 2021 season. Owen finished second with Gervais, Christopher, and Hines rounding out the top-5.

The SK Light 20 lapper was a wreckfest but in the end Brian Sullivan was the winner. Anthony Bello

finished second with Alexander Pearl coming from a tenth starting spot to finish third.

Stafford Speedway will host the 4th Annual TC 13 Shootout on Friday, September 10 with the support of multiple purse partners. The 13-lap race is a tribute to Ted Christopher, Stafford’s all-time winningest driver with 109 career SK Modified® wins, 131 overall feature wins, and 9 SK Modified® track championships. This year’s TC 13 Shootout currently boasts a purse of nearly $4,000 thanks to contributions from Justin & Tabitha Manafort, Big Haus USA Racing Products, Gaston Racing Enterprises, LifeCare Family Chiropractic with Dr. Sean Noel, NorthEast Race Cars and Speed, Tri-Track Modified Series, and anonymous donors.

In addition to the TC 13 purse, Quinn Christopher, wife of the late Ted Christopher, will be distributing RS7C LTWT Bell Helmets to 5 lucky drivers on September 10th as part of the Ted Christopher Safety Initiative program. At the conclusion of each Stafford weekly feature event, a drawing will take place in NAPA Victory Lane to determine which driver from each division will win a new helmet. Quinn will also be selling newly designed TC tee-shirts behind Section A, the Ted Christopher section, of the main grandstand. The tee-shirt highlights the numerous wins and accomplishments that TC amassed throughout his racing career with proceeds going back into the Ted Christopher Safety Initiative Fund.

Matt Hirschman was the winner of the Maynard Troyer Memorial event at the Spencer Speedway on Friday night. Andy Jankowiak finished second with Chuck Hossfeld, third. Patrick Emerling and Austin Beers rounded out the top five

The Whelen Modified Tour took a trip to the shores of Lake Ontario for a Saturday night shoot-out at the Owesgo Speedway. Ron Silk made it two in a row but the whole show was the brilliant display of driving by Matt Hirschman. After being involved in a wreck as he attempted to pass Doug Coby on lap 43, Hirschman restarted from the rear and charged his way to the front only to run out of time in the closing moments. He ended up in second spot, 2.9 seconds behind the leader. Justin Bonsignore who led on three different occasions, finished third. Doug Coby and Anthony Nocella rounded out the top five.

A somewhat short field of only 22 cars were on hand coupled with a high attrition rate left 16 cars running at the finish, eleven on the lead lap. Three caution periods slowed the event. The first yellow was displayed for Mike Leaty who spun in turn three. The second yellow was displayed after Hirschman attempted to duck under Doug Coby in turn three. The two touched and spun, collecting the cars of Leaty, Bobby Santos, JB Fortin, Tommy Catalano and Walter Sutcliff. Leaty and Catalano were done for the night. The third and final yellow was for Austin Beers who hit the wall in turn three.

The next three consecutive weeks will close out the Whelen Modified Tour season. Up next will be a trip to Richmond Raceway in Richmond, VA on Friday, September 10, for 150 laps.

At the New London-Waterford Speedbowl it was the Full Fendered Throw Down Don Caddick Memorial. The 50 lap Late Model main event was won by Ray Christian. Doug Curry was the Street Stock winner. The SK Modifieds had the weekend off.

In a 50-lap feature, starting position can be irrelevant. At least that was the case for Ray Christian III of Uncasville in the 50-lap Don Caddick Late Model Memorial Saturday at the New London Waterford Speedbowl.

Despite having the fastest car in time trials, Christian started 10th in the 20-car field. He didn’t stay 10th for very long. By lap 30, he was in the Top 3. A few laps later, Christian jack-knifed underneath both Shawn Monahan and Matt Lowinski-Loh to take the lead for keeps.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island it was Wall of Champions night. Taking the win in the 50 lap Modified event was Tom Rogers. Chris Young finished second with John Baker, third. Coming into the final month of racing at Riverhead Raceway Saturday night defending Buzz Chew Chevrolet NASCAR Modified champion Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead had two goals on his mind. Try and go out and win the 50-lap feature event for long time team member Pete “Fuzzy” Jones who passed away earlier in the week and also continue his streak of at least one victory for the 18th consecutive race season. Rogers is the ninth different win in 2021 in thirteen NASCAR Modified events.

Dan Jivanelli, Jack Orlando and Spider Ligon were inducted onto the Cromarty Wall of Champions.

In S.M.A.R.T. Modified action at the Carteret County Speedway in North Carolina Bobby Labonte took the win in the 99 lap contest. Jeremy Gerstner finished second with Brandon Ward, third. Jonathan Brown and Brian Loftin rounded out the top five

In NASCAR Cup racing news, JTG Daugherty Racing announcing the organization would be scaling back down to one entry in 2022, Ryan Preece is left on the outside looking in, to which the 30-year-old says is his to look for the next opportunity to go out and win races, like he knows he can. For Preece, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season has had its ups and downs, collecting a single top-five finish in the series’ most recent event at Daytona International Speedway, as well as four top-10 finishes, which is not only a single-season high, but is double the amount of top-10 finishes that teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr has earned this season.

In terms of potential landing spots for Preece, the culture of the NASCAR Cup Series, and even the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, makes it difficult for a driver without an adequate amount of funding to secure a ride that is capable of winning week after week.

Preece finished 12th on the lead lap at Darlington.

August 21, 1971 George “Moose” Hewitt, driving the Freddy’s TV No.23 took the win at Stafford on Saturday night over Hop Harrington, Freddie Schulz, Ed Yerrington, Leo Cleary and Bob Santos. Gene Bergin who was looking to make it two in a row, lost an engine in practice. The NEMA Midgets payed a visit and it was Lou Fray taking the win. Dick Wright scored another Mini-Midget win. Hewitt started sixth and took the lead from pole sitter Ernie Caruso on lap nine. Among the missing were Fred DeSarro and Bugsy Stevens who were at the Islip Speedway on Long Island for a 300-lap event at the tight 1/5-mile oval. DeSarro took the win with Stevens third behind Long Island Kingpin Jim Hendrickson. Stafford was well represented at Trenton on Sunday as there were eleven Stafford cars and ten Stafford drivers in the field. Ronnie Bouchard, 22 years old at the time, finished second in the former Jack Tant coupe that was owned by Dick Armstrong. Ray Miller started 30th and finished seventh. Ernie Gahan, 13th, Tom Sutcliff, 15th and Billy Harman, 19th, were other top finishers.

Lady luck was not on the side of Bugsy Stevens and Fred DeSarro. Stevens was the second fastest qualifier in the Sonny Koszela Log Roller Corvair. Stevens was leading the event on lap 34 when his engine blew. Later in the event Stevens drove relief for DeSarro and ended up crashing in the dogleg. Lou Austin and Moose Hewitt also fell out due to mechanical woes. Read all about it in the all-new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, by the Grace of God and 600 hp, which is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. Race by Race, Year by Year, it’s all there. Read all about it! Books are now available on Amazon.com and Coastal 181 (877-907-8181 toll free) and are available thru Stafford’s web site in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!