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.
Joining the SK Modifieds® in feature action were Stafford’s Late Models and SK Lights.
Chase Dowling took the lead from Marcello Rufrano on lap-84 of the 100-lap NAPA SK 5k and pulled away from the competition to take the checkered flag and the $5,000 payday that goes with it.
In other weekly feature action, Adam Gray came up a winner for the second consecutive week in the Late Model feature and Steven Chapman scored his first career victory in the SK Light feature.
In the 100-lap NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K feature event, Marcello Rufrano charged into the lead at the drop of the green by going around Matt Vassar. With 2 laps complete Stephen Kopcik’s car suddenly dropped off the pace going into turn 3 and bottled the field up behind him which set off a chain reaction spin by Woody Pitkat and several other cars including Keith Rocco and Andrew Molleur to bring the caution out.
Rufrano and Michael Christopher, Jr. went side by side for the lead on the restart with Michael Gervais, Jr. in third, Ronnie Williams in fourth and Todd Owen in fifth. Owen took fourth from Williams on lap-5 and Chase Dowling followed him by to drop Williams back to sixth in line while Rufrano and Christopher were still side by side for the lead. Rufrano got clear of Christopher on lap-7 while Dowling took third from Gervais and Owen followed him by to drop Gervais back to fifth in line.
With 20 laps complete, Rufrano was still in command of the race with Christopher, Dowling, Owen, Gervais, Williams, Noah Korner, Zachem, Teddy Hodgdon, and Molleur making up the top-10. With 35 laps complete the top-5 cars remained the same but the bottom half of the top-10 had shuffled with Korner now sixth followed by Zachem, Williams, Hodgdon, and Jeff Malave. The caution came out with 40 laps complete for a spin in turn 2 by Woody Pitkat.
Rufrano took the lead back under green while Dowling moved into second place. Owen took third from Christopher one lap after the restart on lap-42 and Korner was up to fifth. Gervais was sixth in line followed by Zachem, Williams, Vassar, and Hodgdon.
With 35 laps to go Rufrano was still leading Dowling, Owen, and Christopher. Korner was by himself in fifth place with Williams, Gervais, Zachem, Vassar, Hodgdon, Rocco, and Tony Membrino, Jr. following behind in a tight pack.
With 20 laps to go, Dowling was right on the back bumper of Rufrano as the leaders were busy navigating their way through lapped traffic. Owen was several car lengths behind Dowling in third with Christopher another several car lengths behind Owen in fourth. Dowling made a move to the inside of Rufrano to take over the lead on lap-84. Owen went by Rufrano to take second place on lap-85.
Once he took the lead, Dowling slowly stretched out his advantage over Owen and he took the checkered flag to join Ronnie Williams as the only 2-time winners of the NAPA SK 5k. Christopher finished third with Williams and Rufrano rounding out the top-5.
In the 30-lap Late Model feature event, Duane Provost streaked into the early race lead at the green flag with Marc Curtis taking second. Rick Lanagan was third in line followed by Jordan Hadley, Paul Arute, Michael Bennett, Tom Fearn, Adam Gray, and Ryan Fearn. Curtis’ car dropped off the pace on lap-4 and the caution came out with 4 laps complete as Curtis crawled to a stop at the exit of turn 4.
Provost took the lead back under green with Hadley moving into second. Tom Fearn moved up to third with Adam Gray coming up to fourth and Wayne Coury, Jr. fifth as Lanagan slid back to sixth in line. Tom Fearn took second from Hadley on lap-7 and he brought Gray and Coury with him as Hadley fell from second back to fifth as Provost continued to show the way out front.
Gray was starting to apply heavy pressure to Tom Fearn for second and he made the pass on lap-13. Coury looked to follow suit but he touched fenders with Fearn and he fell back to fifth as Fearn maintained third and Tyler Leary charged into fourth.
Gray took the lead from Provost on lap-17 with a pass in turn 4 with Fearn, Leary, and Coury still making up the top-5 behind him. Ryan Fearn was sixth in line followed by Hadley, Keane, Al Saunders, and Michael Bennett. Leary was applying heavy pressure to Tom Fearn for third and he made the pass on lap-21. The caution then came back out with 21 laps complete for Paul Varricchio, Jr., who came to a stop at the entrance to pit road.
Gray took the lead on the restart with Leary coming up to second. Coury took third as Provost slid back to fourth, just in front of Darrell Keane. Hadley spun at the end of the backstretch to bring the caution back out with 22 laps complete.
Coury nearly made a 3-wide pass for the lead on the restart going into turn 3 but backed out of the move. Coming through turn 4 Coury and Leary touched and set off a chain reaction that saw several cars spin and the caution came right back out. Coury was black flagged to the rear of the field for making contact with Leary.
The restart saw Arute spin in turn 1 to bring the caution back out. Gray took the lead on next restart with Tom Fearn coming up to second. Provost was third with Bennett and Ryan Fearn behind him. Keane spun on the frontstretch to bring the yellow flag back out with 23 laps complete.
Gray took the lead with Tom Fearn right behind him in second on the restart. Provost slotted into third with Bennett fourth and Ryan Fearn in fifth. Al Saunders was up to sixth followed by Micheal Wray, John Blake, Leary, and Coury.
Fearn couldn’t get close enough to Gray to make a move as Gray took down his second consecutive win of the 2020 season. Provost finished third with Bennett and Ryan Fearn rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light feature event, Steven Chapman took the lead with Nick Anglace and Norm Sears behind him but a multi car spin brought the caution out with 1 lap complete as Robert Bloxsom, III coulnd’t get restarted.
Chapman took the lead on the restart with Anglace and Sears still second and third. George Bessette, Jr. was fourth followed by Joey Ferrigno, Mark Alkas, Alexander Pearl, Bert Ouellette, Jonathan Puleo and Andrew Les. Tyler Chapman and Amanda West spun in turn and made contact with the wall to bring the caution back out with 5 laps complete.
Chapman took the lead on the restart with Anglace still right behind him in second. Sears and Bessette were dueling side by side for third with Ferrigno and Mark Bakaj side by side for fifth. The caution came back out with 7 laps complete as the car of Ethan Durocher pulled off the track after losing fluid from his car.
Chapman and Anglace once again occupied the top-2 spots on the restart with Sears holding third. Bakaj took fourth with Pearl coming up to fifth. Brian Sullivan was sixth with Bessette seventh and Ferrigno back to eighth with Puleo and Les making up the remainder of the top-10.
Sullivan took fifth from Pearl on lap-13 while Bakaj was looking high and low for a way to get around Sears for third place. Sears was able to hold Bakaj off until lap-15 when Bakaj made a pass stick. The caution came out with 17 laps complete for Wesley Prucker, who came to a top at the end of the backstretch.
Anglace used a crossover move to get to the inside of Chapman on the restart and he took the lead by a nose at the line. Cassandra Cole, Ouellette, and Todd Douillard all spun in turn to bring the caution back out with 18 laps complete and set up a green white checkered finish.
Chapman took the lead on the outside of Anglace on the restart. Anglace was locked in a side by side duel with Sears for second before he got clear on the final lap. Anglace made one last effort at taking the lead away from Chapman in turns 3+4 but Chapman was able to hold him off for his first career win. Sears was third with Bakaj and Sullivan rounding out the top-5.
SK MODIFIED® (100)
1) Chase Dowling, Roxbury
2) Todd Owen, Somers
3) Michael Christopher, Jr., Wolcott
4) Ronnie Williams, Tolland
5) Marcello Rufrano, North Haven
6) Keith Rocco, Berlin
7) Noah Korner, Canton
8) Tony Membrino, Jr., Wolcott
9) Michael Gervais, Jr., Wolcott
10) Matt Vassar, Plantsville
11) Teddy Hodgdon, Danbury
12) Andrew Molleur, Shelton
13) Kenny Horton, Guilford
14) David Arute, Stafford Springs
15) Tom Bolles, Ellington
16) Stephen Kopcik, Newtown
17) Jeff Malave, Manchester
18) John Catania, Agawam, MA
19) Max Zachem, Oakdale
20) Woody Pitkat, Stafford Springs
21) Fran Siana, Enfield
22) Tyler Hines, North Haven
23) Bryan Narducci, Colchester
24) Troy Talman, Oxford, MA
25) Glen Reen, Wilbraham, MA
26) Dan Wesson, Monson, MA
27) Tyler Leary, Hatfield, MA
LATE MODEL (30)
1) Adam Gray, Granby, MA
2) Tom Fearn, East Longmeadow, MA
3) Duane Provost, Palmer, MA
4) Michael Bennett, Willington
5) Ryan Fearn, East Longmeadow, MA
6) Al Saunders, Stafford
7) Michael Wray, Northford
8) John Blake, North Haven
9) Wayne Coury, Jr., Fairfield
10) Darrell Keane, Enfield
11) Paul Arute, Northridge, MA
12) Tyler Leary, Hatfield, MA
13) Trace Beyer, Stratton, VT
14) Jordan Hadley, Waterford
15) R.J. Surdell, Willington
16) Dave Wray, Durham
17) Paul Varricchio, Jr., Berlin
18) Richard Lanagan, Broad Brook
19) Marc Curtis, Brookfield, MA
SK LIGHT MODIFIED (20)
1) Steven Chapman, Ellington
2) Nick Anglace, Oxford
3) Norm Sears, Andover
4) Mark Bakaj, Lebanon
5) Brian Sullivan, Tolland
6) Alexander Pearl, Salem
7) Joey Ferrigno, East Hartford
8) Jonathan Puleo, Branford
9) Andrew Les, Palmer, MA
10) Josh Carey, East Longmeadow, MA
11) George Bessette, Jr., Danbury
12) Sami Anderson, Wolcott
13) Peter Bennett, Cromwell
14) Bob Charland, Stafford
15) Robert Bloxsom, III, Stratford
16) Wesley Prucker, Stafford
17) Glenn Bartkowski, Manchester
18) Todd Douillard, Palmer, MA
19) Bert Ouellette, Ellington
20) Cassandra Cole, Westbrook
21) Nathan Pytko, Douglas, MA
22) Ethan Durocher, Canterbury
23) Nicole Chambrello, Kensington
24) Amanda West, Colchester
25) Derek Debbis, Oakdale
26) Tyler Chapman, Ellington
27) Chris Matthews, Stafford