Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – Stafford Speedway returned to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing action on Friday, September 14 with the First Responders Friday / Final Friday Night Shoot-Out program that paid tribute to Ambulance, EMS, Fire, Police, and all First Responder personnel.
The track also had a moment of remembrance for Ted Christopher on the one year anniversary of his passing prior to the start of the SK Modified® feature. After Tom Fearn wrapped up the Late Model track championship last week, two more championships were decided as Ronnie Williams locked up the SK Modified® title and Jeremy Lavoie took the Limited Late Model crown.
Scoring feature wins on the night were Mike Christopher, Jr. for the second week in a row in the SK Modified® feature, Darrell Keane scored his second win in the Late Model feature, Andrew Molleur took down his fourth win in the SK Light feature, Ryan Fearn scored his fifth win in the Limited Late Model feature, and Johnny Walker scored win #4 in the Street Stock feature.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Matt Vassar led the first lap but Todd Owen shot into the lead on lap-2. Glen Reen was side by side with Vassar for second with Chase Dowling fourth and Tyler Hines and Max Zachem side by side for fifth.
With 7 laps complete, Owen was still out front with Vassar holding off Reen for second while Keith Rocco was side by side with Reen for third. Rocco took second from Vassar on lap-10 and Michael Christopher, Jr. was up to fifth behind Owen, Rocco, Vassar, and Reen. Ronnie Williams was following right behind Christopher in the outside lane and he took over fifth place on lap-13.
Rocco closed the gap to Owen and he was right on Owen’s bumper as they completed lap 15. Vassar got into the wall in turns 3+4 and limped back to pit road as the race stayed green. Rocco took the lead from Owen on lap-16 and Owen tried a crossover move, but couldn’t get back by Rocco and he slotted into second. Christopher was now third with Williams fourth and Reen fifth. Eric Berndt was up to sixth with Zachem in seventh and Joey Cipriano in eighth. Stephen Kopcik brought the caution out with 24 laps complete with a spin coming out of turn 2.
Rocco took the lead on the restart with Christopher and Owen side by side for second. Owen took second on lap-26 but Williams moved into second behind Rocco on lap-27. As the two leaders came off turn 4 they touched with Rocco doing a 360 spin to bring the caution out. Williams was sent to the rear for the contact with Rocco, putting Owen and Christopher on the front row for the restart.
Josh Wood, Dowling, and Rocco got into the turn 1 wall on the restart to bring the caution right back out. Christopher got a good run in the outside lane and he took the lead from Owen on the next restart. Glen Reen followed Christopher in the outside lane and moved into second. Reen then almost took the lead from Christopher in turn 4 on lap-29 but he settled back into line. Michael Gervais, Jr. was now third with Owen back to fourth and Tom Bolles up to fifth.
With 5 laps to go, Christopher was still in command with Reen holding off Gervais and Owen for second and Eric Berndt now fifth. Christopher took the checkered flag to pick up his second consecutive win and third overall of the 2018 season. Reen finished second with Owen, Gervais, and Berndt rounding out the top-5. Ronnie Williams rebounded from his penalty to finish 6th, which was good enough to make him the 2018 SK Modified® track champion.
In the 30-lap Late Model feature event, Glen Reen took the lead at the green with Michael Wray and Darrell Keane side by side for second. Keane took second on lap-2 while Tom Fearn quickly moved into fourth and he took third from Wray on lap-4. Wayne Coury, Jr. was running fifth behind Wray.
Keane quickly closed in on Reen and he made a move to take the lead on lap-6. Fearn followed him by to move into second and drop Reen back to third with Wray and Coury still fourth and fifth. At the midway point of the race, Fearn had closed to within a car length of Keane for the race lead while Reen was still third with Wray and Coury behind him.
Keane was still in front of Fearn with 10 laps to go, but Fearn was applying heavy pressure to the back bumper of Keane’s car. The battle for third was also tight with Reen, Wray, and Coury running in a three car train. Wray made a move to the inside of Reen in turn 4 on lap-22 to move into fourth. The two cars touched wheels as they went into turn 1 on lap-23 which produced a puff of smoke but the cars remained at speed. Reen was given the black flag and he came to pit road to serve his penalty.
Fearn was still looking for a way to get around Keane for the lead with 5 laps to go. Wray was now third with Coury fourth and Tyler Leary up to fifth. Keane was beginning to stretch out his advantage over Fearn to several car lengths as the laps were winding down. Keane led Fearn to the checkered flag to pick up his second win of the 2018 season. Wray finished third with Coury and Leary rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Chris Matthews took the early lead with Alexander Pearl and Mark Bakaj lined up behind him. Andrew Molleur and Wesley Prucker were side by side for fourth with Teddy Hodgdon in sixth. Pearl pulled alongside Matthews on lap-5 but couldn’t take the lead.
Bakaj took second from Pearl on lap-6 and he pulled alongside Matthews for the lead on lap-7. Pearl and Molleur were side by side for second behind the two leaders with Marcello Rufrano fifth and Steven Chapman up to sixth. Prucker did a half spin coming out of turn 2 and Hodgdon got into the frontstretch wall to bring the caution out with 9 laps complete.
Bakaj took the lead on the restart with Pearl slotting into second. Matthews was third with Rufrano fourth and Chapman and Bryan Narducci in a side by side duel for fifth. Matthews got out of shape coming out of turn 4 on lap-13 but made a great save and fell back to 9th place. Pearl made a move to the inside of Bakaj on lap-16 but couldn’t make a pass and the caution came out with 16 laps complete as Narducci and Chapman came together on the backstretch and got into the wall.
Pearl took the lead on the restart with Molleur behind him in second and Bakaj in third. Molleur moved back to the front on lap-19 but Rufrano was making a charge in the outside lane and he came up to second as the field headed down the backstretch on the final lap. Rufrano was able to get alongside Molleur, but he couldn’t make a pass as Molleur took down his fourth win of the 2018 season. Bakaj finished third with Pearl fourth and Joey Ferrigno fifth.
In the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature event, Steven Midford took the lead at the drop of the green flag with R.J. Surdell right behind him in second. Matt Clement was third in line with Ryan Fearn fourth and his sister Alexandra Fearn right behind him in fifth.
Ryan Fearn took third from Clement on lap-7 and he moved into second on lap-9. Alexandra Fearn took fourth and behind her was a 3-wide battle for fifth between Justin Bren, Jeremy Lavoie, and Surdell with Bren taking fifth, Lavoie sixth, and Surdell seventh.
Ryan Fearn was hounding Midford for the lead and he was able to make a move going into turn 3 on lap-14 to take over the lead. Alexandra Fearn spun in the middle of turns 1+2 with Lavoie spinning to avoid Fearn. Lavoie’s spin collected the cars of Surdell and Gary Patnode to bring the caution out with 15 laps complete.
Ryan Fearn took the lead back under green with Clement in second and Midford in third. Duane Provost was up to fourth and Lavoie was fifth. Lavoie got around Provost to take fourth on lap-18 and Alexandra Fearn followed him through to take fifth and drop Provost back to sixth. Ryan Fearn led the field to the checkered flag to pick up his fifth win of the season with Clement, Midford, Lavoie, and Alexandra Fearn rounding out the top-5. Lavoie’s fourth place finish was good enough to clinch the 2018 Limited Late Model track championship.
In the 20-lap Street Stock feature event, Samantha Anderson took the early lead with Richard Ciriello, Chuck Harrison, Jason Lafayette, and Greg DeMone lined up behind her. Lafayette moved into third and dropped Harrison back to fourth and the caution came out with 6 laps complete when Tess Beyer and Meghan Fuller got together coming out of turn 2 and got into the wall.
Ciriello took the lead by a nose from Anderson on the restart but Anderson moved back into the lead one lap later. Ciriello was kicked to the high side and he began to fade backwards as Lafayette moved into second, Brandon Michael third, DeMone fourth and Ryan Waterman fifth with Ciriello fading all the way back to 10th place. DeMone spun coming out of turn 2 to bring the caution out with 9 laps complete.
Anderson took the lead back under green with Michael and George Bessette, Jr. side by side for second. Johnny Walker was up to fourth with Nicole Chambrello in fifth. Michael and Anderson touched coming out of turn 4 and they headed towards the infield before Michael rejoined while Anderson spun coming back on to the track to bring the caution back out with 12 laps complete. This put Walker out front with Bessette alongside for the restart.
Lafayette did a 360 spin on the restart to bring the caution right back out. Walker and Bessette ran side by side for a lap before Walker got clear to the lead on lap-14. William DesJardins spun in turn 4 to bring the caution back out with 14 laps complete.
Walker and Bessette again went head to head on the restart and they were still side by side for the lead when the caution came back out with 15 laps complete for Michael, who came to a stop on the backstretch.
Walker and Bessette resumed their side by side duel for the lead on the restart with Chambrello and Travis Hydar side by side for third. Chambrello got clear to third on lap-17 with Waterman up to fourth and Hydar in fifth. Bessette was still hanging on the outside of Walker before falling into line behind him on lap-19.
Walker led Bessette to the checkered flag to pick up his fourth win of the 2018 season. Bessette finished second with Chambrello, Waterman, and Hydar rounding out the top-5.
SK MODIFIED® (40)
1) Michael Christopher, Jr., Wolcott
2) Glen Reen, Wilbraham, Ma
3) Todd Owen, Somers
4) Michael Gervais, Jr., Southbury
5) Eric Berndt, Cromwell
6) Ronnie Williams, Tolland
7) Joey Cipriano, Waterbury
8) Tom Bolles, Ellington
9) Tony Membrino, Jr., Berlin
10) Max Zachem, Preston
11) Tyler Hines, North Haven
12) Josh Wood, Palmer, Ma
13) David Arute, Stafford Springs
14) Stephen Kopcik, Newtown
15) Matt Galko, Meriden
16) Keith Rocco, Berlin
17) Chase Dowling, Woodbury
18) Matt Vassar, Plantsville
LATE MODEL (30)
1) Darrell Keane, Enfield
2) Tom Fearn, East Longmeadow, Ma
3) Michael Wray, Northford
4) Wayne Coury, Jr., Shelton
5) Tyler Leary, Hatfield, Ma
6) Cliff Saunders, Stafford
7) Paul Arute, Tolland
8) Mike Mordino, Southington
9) Al Saunders, Stafford
10) Paul Varricchio, Jr., Berlin
11) Glen Reen, Wilbraham, Ma
SK LIGHT (20)
1) Andrew Molleur, Shelton
2) Marcello Rufrano, North Haven
3) Mark Bakaj, Lebanon
4) Alexander Pearl, Salem
5) Joey Ferrigno, East Hartford
6) Cassandra Cole, Westbrook
7) Chris Matthews, Stafford
8) Amanda West, Colchester
9) Wesley Prucker, Stafford
10) Norm Sears, Andover
11) Rob Dow, Stafford Springs
12) Mark Alkas, Berlin
13) Alina Bryden, West Springfield, Ma
14) Steven Chapman, Ellington
15) Bryan Narducci, Colchester
16) Glenn Bartkowski, Manchester
17) Teddy Hodgdon, Danbury
18) Paul French, Andover
19) Glenn Griswold, Vernon
LIMITED LATE MODEL (20)
1) Ryan Fearn, East Longmeadow, Ma
2) Matt Clement, Wethersfield
3) Steven Midford, Ellington
4) Jeremy Lavoie, Windsor Locks
5) Alexandra Fearn, East Longmeadow, Ma
6) Duane Provost, Palmer, Ma
7) Andy Marchese, Tolland
8) Justin Bren, Palmer, Ma
9) R.J. Surdell, Willington
10) Gary Patnode, Barkhamsted
STREET STOCK (20)
1) Johnny Walker, Ludlow, Ma
2) George Bessette, Jr., Danbury
3) Nicole Chambrello, Kensington
4) Ryan Waterman, Danielson
5) Travis Hydar, Woodbury
6) Meghan Fuller, Auburn, Ma
7) Greg DeMone, Ludlow, Ma
8) Chuck Harrison, Woodstock Valley
9) Jason Lafayette, Somers
10) Richard Ciriello, Reading, Ma
11) Louis Kimberlin, Fostoria, Oh
12) Rob Sears, Stafford Springs
13) William DesJardins, Plainville
14) Paul Bourdon, Jr., Jewett City
15) Dan Butler, Southbridge, Ma
16) Samantha Anderson, Wolcott
17) Tess Beyer, Stratton, Vt
18) Chris Bagnall, Winsted
19) Brandon Michael, Granville, Ma