Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – Stafford Speedway returned to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing action with the 6th Annual NAPA Auto Parts SK 5k, which paid the winner $5,000 out of a purse of over $27,000.
With the Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Sales Gambler’s Challenge bonus of $5,250 with a contribution from Newtown Pools and a total heat race bonus of $1,500 from Wheelers Auto of Hamden, the total posted awards were over $34,000.
Ronnie Williams became the first SK Modified® driver to win the NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K in consecutive seasons and in victory lane he pulled the 11th through 20th place finishers for the Dunleavy’s Gambler’s Challenge. Al Saunders held off Tom Fearn in the Late Model feature to score his second win of the year, Teddy Hodgdon locked down his second win of the year in the SK Light feature, Jeremy Lavoie reached victory lane for the third time this season in the Limited Late Model feature, and George Bessette, Jr. notched his second win of the year in the Street Stock feature.
In the 100-lap NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K feature event, Marcello Rufrano took the lead at the green with Tyler Hines in second. Hines would lose second to Joey Cipriano on lap-2 while Troy Talman was fourth and Ronnie Williams was quickly up to fifth with Keith Rocco following in his tire tracks in sixth. Michael Christopher, Jr. took sixth from Rocco on lap-5 and he got by Williams to move into fifth on lap-6.
Up front, Talman got around Hines to move into third and Christopher took fourth from Hines on lap-11 as Rufrano continued to hold the lead with Cipriano in second.
With 20 laps complete, Rufrano was still in the lead with Cipriano, Christopher, Talman, and Hines making up the top-6. Todd Owen was up to sixth with Rocco, Glen Reen, Michael Gervais, Jr., and Chase Dowling making up the top-10. The caution flew with 26 laps complete as Nick Salva spun coming out of turn 4 and behind him the cars of John Studley and Kenny Horton got into the turn 4 wall with Tony Membrino, Jr. coming to a stop to avoid hitting Studley and Horton.
Christopher made a 2-wide move coming out of turn 2 on the restart to nearly take the lead but he was now locked in a side by side duel with Cipriano for the lead. Christopher cleared Cipriano on lap-29 while Rufrano fell back to third in line. Hines was fourth but Rocco made a dive to his inside in turn 3 to take the position on lap-30. Dowling was sixth with Owen, Talman, Cory DiMatteo, and Gervais making up the top-10.
Dowling took fifth from Hines on lap-31 and he went by Rocco to take fourth on lap-32. Owen followed right behind Dowling and he took fifth as Rocco slid back to seventh behind Hines as Christopher continued to lead Cipriano. Andrew Molleur spun in turn 4 to bring the caution back out with 36 laps complete.
Christopher took the lead back under green with Rufrano in second. Owen and Cipriano were side by side for third with Dowling in fifth. Owen took second from Rufrano on lap-39 with a forceful pass in turn 4 while behind them Dowling was up to fourth and Rocco took fifth as Rufrano slid back to sixth. Tyler Leary and Stephen Kopcik got into the turn 2 wall to bring the caution back out with 40 laps complete.
Owen got a push from Dowling to take the lead on the restart but the laps wasn’t completed before the caution came back out for a multicar incident involving Williams, Berndt, Hines, Avery, Spiers, Bolles, and several others.
Christopher and Owen went wheel to wheel for the lead back under green with Dowling in third and Cipriano and Gervais side by side for fourth behind him. Owen got clear to the lead on lap-42 but Christopher was all over his back bumper in second with Dowling in third. Rocco picked off several spots since the restart to move up to fourth with Gervais fifth as Cipriano slid from third back to sixth in line.
Dowling took second from Christopher on lap-56 as Owen was still in command with Gervais fourth and Rocco still fifth. Dowling completed his charge to the front of the field by taking the lead from Owen on lap-60. With Dowling and Owen dicing for the lead, Christopher was able to close in on the two leaders and make it a 3-car fight for the lead. Christopher got by Owen to take second on lap-63 but he lost the spot on lap-65 as his car appeared to momentarily lose power. Christopher came back up to speed in third while the battle for fourth was heating up between Gervais, Rocco, and Williams. The caution flew with 69 laps complete for a spin in turn 4 by Kenny Horton.
Christopher’s car stumbled on the restart and he fall back several spots but the caution flew again before a lap could be completed for a spin in turn 3 by Rufrano. Under the caution, Christopher came to pit road where his crew went under the hood to diagnose his issues.
Owen got a good run on the outside of Dowling to take the lead on the restart. Rocco followed in Owen’s tire tracks in the outside lane and he pulled even with Dowling for second with Gervais fourth and Williams back up to fifth. Rocco cleared Dowling and then took the lead from Owen on lap-72. Another multicar incident at the entrance to turn 1 involving Salva, Talman, Molleur, and Matt Galko brought the caution back out with 73 laps complete.
Rocco took the lead on the restart with Dowling coming back up to second. Owen slotted into line in third with Membrino and Williams side by side for fourth. Owen and Membrino went through the frontstretch infield on lap-77 but both cars kept going and the race stayed green. Owen fell back to 10th while Membrino got back into line in 12th. Rocco and Dowling were still the top-2 cars but now Williams was up to third with Cipriano fourth and Rufrano in fifth with 20 laps to go.
Williams went by Dowling to move into second on lap-83and he began to set his sights on Rocco for the lead. Williams was about a tenth of a second a lap quicker than Rocco and with 13 laps to go, he was right on Rocco’s back bumper.
Williams dove to the inside of Rocco on lap-90 but wasn’t able to complete the pass as Rocco charged back out front. Williams again tried an inside move on lap-92 but Rocco was able to fend off that challenge as well. Williams again made a turn 3 move and the two leaders were side by side at the line to complete lap 93. They were still side by side on lap-94 before Williams fell back behind Rocco on lap-95. Williams got back to Rocco’s inside on lap-98 and he had the lead by a nose at the line. They were still side by side as they took the white flag with Williams in the lead by inches. Williams edged ahead of Rocco in turns 3+4 on the final lap and he beat Rocco to the checkered flag by half a car length. Dowling finished third with Cipriano and Molleur rounding out the top-5.
In the 30-lap Late Model feature event, Paul Varricchio, Jr. led the first lap but he and Richard Ciriello got together in turn 1 and collected Michael Bennett to bring the caution out with 1 lap complete.
Paul Arute and Al Saunders were now on the front row for the restart and the two cars dueled side by side for a lap before the caution came back out for a crash in turn 2 involving Shawn Monahan, Trace Beyer, and Eric Finkbein, Jr.
Al Saunders took the lead on the restart with Michael Wray, Cliff Saunders, and Tom Fearn behind him. Paul Arute was side by side with Ryan Fearn for fifth place before clearing Tom Fearn one lap after the restart. Cliff Saunders took second from Wray on lap-5, opening the door for Tom Fearn to follow him through and drop Wray back to fourth. Fearn then took second from Cliff Saunders on lap-6 and began to chase down Al Saunders for the lead.
Ryan Fearn got around Arute to take over fifth on lap-15 as Al Saunders continued to hold the race lead with Tom Fearn, Cliff Saunders, and Wray behind him.
Fearn got close to Al Saunders but couldn’t get close enough as Saunders scored his second win of the 2019 season. Cliff Saunders finished third with Wray and Ryan Fearn rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light feature event, Robert Bloxsom, III took the lead at the drop of the green with Bob Charland immediately hounding him for the lead. Wesley Prucker was third with Joey Ferrigno and Steven Chapman side by side for fourth. Chapman got sideways on lap-4 but was able to save his car and he got back in line in seventh place. The caution came out with 5 laps complete for spins in turn 3 by Nathan Pytko and Glenn Korner.
Bloxsom took the lead back under green with Charland slotting into second. Ferrigno was third with Prucker and Jonathan Puleo side by side for fourth. Puleo cleared Prucker on lap-7 to take fourth and Mark Bakaj got by Prucker to move up to fifth. Charland spun in the middle of turns 1+2 to bring the caution out with 10 laps complete. Bryan Narducci nearly spun avoiding Charland but kept going and he was able to keep his 8th place position for the restart.
The restart saw the top-6 cars run two laps side by side before Puleo got clear to the lead with Teddy Hodgdon in second. Bloxsom was third with Bakaj fourth and Chapman fifth. Hodgdon took the lead from Puleo on lap-14 while Bakaj was now working the outside lane against Bloxsom in a fight for third. Bloxsom was able to hold him off and keep third while Chapman took fourth and Bakaj slid back to fifth. Bakaj continued to slide backwards while Hodgdon continued to hold the lead with Puleo giving chase.
Hodgdon led Puleo to the checkered flag to pick up his second win of the 2019 season. Bloxsom finished third with Chapman and Alexander Pearl rounding out the top-5.
In the 15-lap Limited Late Model feature, Kyle Casagrande led the field to the green but it was Alexandra Fearn taking the early lead at the drop of the green flag. Jeremy Lavoie came up to second with Matt Clement taking third to drop Casagrande back to fourth in line. Casagrande got high in turn 3 on lap-2 and slipped back to eighth as Duane Provost took fourth and Gary Patnode fifth.
Lavoie took the lead from Fearn on lap-5 and Clement was now applying heavy pressure to Fearn’s bumper in a fight for second. Clement took second from Fearn on lap-7 with Patnode now right behind Fearn in fourth.
At the halfway point of the race Lavoie was still leading Clement while Patnode was in the process of making a move on Fearn to take third. The two cars touched and got into the frontstretch wall to bring the caution out with 10 laps complete.
Lavoie took the lead on the restart with Provost now in second. Clement was third in line with David Tefft up to fourth and Kevin Crosby was fifth. Lavoie led Clement to the checkered flag to pick up his third win of the 2019 season. Provost finished third with Tefft and Crosby rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Street Stock feature, Adrien Paradis, III and Travis Hydar led the field to the green but George Bessette, Jr. quickly moved into third and then made a 3-wide move on lap-2 to take over the lead. Hydar settled into second while Paradis and Meghan Fuller were now side by side for third with Steve Kenneway and Jason Lafayette behind them.
Paradis got clear of Fuller on lap-6 but Fuller came right back to the inside of Paradis on lap-7 and moved back into third. Paradis’ car was loose in turn 3 and he fell back several spots before he spun coming out of turn 4. Paradis did a 360 spin and kept moving so the race stayed green with Bessette leading Hydar and Fuller. Kenneway was still fourth with Zack Robinson now up to fifth.
With 5 laps to go, Bessette was still in command but Hydar had closed the gap down to a car length with Fuller only several car lengths behind Hydar in third. Hydar was right on Bessette’s back bumper as they took the white flag but he couldn’t get close enough to make a move as Bessette locked down his second win of the 2019 season. Fuller finished third with Robinson and Kenneway rounding gout the top-5.
SK MODIFIED® (100)
1) Ronnie Williams, Tolland
2) Keith Rocco, Berlin
3) Chase Dowling, Midland, NC
4) Joey Cipriano, Waterbury
5) Andrew Molleur, Shelton
6) Marcello Rufrano, North Haven
7) David Arute, Stafford Springs
8) Tony Membrino, Jr., Berlin
9) Todd Owen, Somers
10) Tyler Hines, North Haven
11) Ed Spiers, Beacon Falls
12) Tyler Leary, Hatfield, MA
13) Dan Wesson, Monson, MA
14) Cory DiMatteo, Farmington
15) Tom Bolles, Ellington
16) Michael Gervais, Jr., Wolcott
17) Troy Talman, Oxford, MA
18) Nick Salva, Cheshire
19) Matt Galko, Meriden
20) Kenny Horton, Guilford
21) Michael Christopher, Jr., Wolcott
22) Dan Avery, Somers
23) Matt Vassar, Plantsville
24) Glen Reen, Wilbraham, MA
25) Eric Berndt, Cromwell
26) Stephen Kopcik, Newtown
27) John Studley, Framingham, MA
LATE MODEL (30)
1) Al Saunders, Stafford
2) Tom Fearn, East Longmeadow, MA
3) Cliff Saunders, Stafford
4) Michael Wray, Northford
5) Ryan Fearn, East Longmeadow, MA
6) Kevin Gambacorta, Ellington
7) Paul Arute, Northridge, Ma
8) Wayne Coury, Jr., Fairfield
9) Tyler Leary, Hatfield, Ma
10) Michael Bennett, Willington
11) Darrell Keane, Enfield
12) Greg DeMone, Ludlow, MA
13) Gary Theriault, Enfield
14) Shawn Monahan, Waterford
15) Eric Finkbein, Jr., Vernon
16) Trace Beyer, Stratton, VT
17) Paul Varricchio, Jr., Berlin
18) Richard Ciriello, Reading, Ma
SK LIGHT MODIFIED (20)
1) Teddy Hodgdon, Danbury
2) Jonathan Puleo, Branford
3) Robert Bloxsom, III, Stratford
4) Steven Chapman, Ellington
5) Alexander Pearl, Salem
6) Bryan Narducci, Colchester
7) Joey Ferrigno, East Hartford
8) Wesley Prucker, Stafford
9) Nick Anglace, Oxford
10) Mikey Flynn, Hampden, MA
11) Mark Bakaj, Lebanon
12) Glenn Griswold, Vernon
13) Norm Sears, Andover
14) Amanda West, Colchester
15) Noah Korner, Canton
16) Cassandra Cole, Westbrook
17) Chris Matthews, Stafford
18) Sami Anderson, Wolcott
19) Nathan Pytko, Douglas, MA
20) Bob Charland, Stafford
21) Alina Bryden, West Springfield, MA
22) Rit Dulac, Plantsville
23) Chris Bagnall, Winsted
24) Todd Clark, Bristol
25) Mark Alkas, Berlin
26) Paul French, Andover
27) Glenn Korner, Canton
LIMITED LATE MODEL (15)
1) Jeremy Lavoie, Windsor Locks
2) Matt Clement, Wethersfield
3) Duane Provost, Palmer, MA
4) David Tefft, Southampton, MA
5) Kevin Crosby, Coventry
6) Devon Jencik, Canton
7) Gary Patnode, Barkhamsted
8) Alexandra Fearn, East Longmeadow, MA
9) Kyle Casagrande, Stafford Springs
STREET STOCK (20)
1) George Bessette, Jr., Danbury
2) Travis Hydar, Woodbury
3) Meghan Fuller, Auburn, MA
4) Zack Robinson, Putnam
5) Steve Kenneway, Lowell, MA
6) Michael Hopkins, Springfield, MA
7) Tess Beyer, Stratton, VT
8) Jason Lafayette, Somers
9) Tyler Trott, East Hartford
10) Dave Secore, Jr., Union
11) Vince Gambacorta, Ellington
12) Marvin Minkler, Stamford
13) Adrien Paradis, III, Plainville
14) Paul Bourdon, Jr., Jewett City
15) Isaac Morales, Derby