Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – Stafford Speedway returned to NASCAR weekly racing action with the Late Model division taking center stage with their extra distance Late Model 50 feature event.
Tyler Leary scored his first win of the 2020 season in the biggest Late Model race of the season, outlasting defending Late Model 50 winner Ryan Fearn to the checkered flag.
In other feature racing action, it was a night of back to back winners as Keith Rocco in the SK Modified® feature, Derek Debbis in the SK Light feature, Andrew Durand in the Limited Late Model feature, and Chris Meyer in the Street Stock feature all repeated their wins from one week ago.
In the 50-lap Late Model feature, Duane Provost took the lead at the green flag with Paul Varricchio, Jr., Wayne Coury, Jr., Al Saunders, and Michael Bennett lined up behind him. The caution came out with 2 laps complete for R.J. Surdell, who came to a stop against the turn 3 wall.
Provost took the lead back under green with Coury applying heavy pressure to his back bumper. Coury took the lead from Provost on lap-5 with Bennett now third behind Provost. Tyler Leary was up to fourth with Saunders holding down fifth. Just behind Saunders was Tom Fearn and Ryan Fearn, Adam Gray, Darrell Keane and Michael Wray.
Bennett got around Provost to take second on lap-8 and Leary followed suit to take third. With Provost kicked to the high side of the track, he faded back to eighth in line as Saunders took fourth, Tom and Ryan Fearn took fifth and sixth and Gray was seventh. This was the order with 10 laps complete when the caution came out for a spin in turn 1 by John Blake.
Coury took the lead on the restart but Bennett made a good run to Coury’s inside and was challenging for the lead when the caution came back out one lap after the restart for Marc Curtis, who spun and hit the turn 1 wall. The caution came right back out on the restart as Provost spun coming out of turn 4 to the green flag. The next restart saw Coury take the lead with Saunders going by Bennett to take over second. Tom Fearn and Adam Gray were lined up behind Bennett and they both got by Bennett on lap-14 to move into third and fourth and drop Bennett back to fifth. Darrell Keane spun in turn 1 to bring the caution back out with 14 laps complete.
Coury took the lead back under green with Tom Fearn and Saunders side by side for second. Leary was fourth with Bennett in fifth. Leary took third on lap-17 and Bennett followed him by Saunders to move into fourth and drop Saunders back to fifth. Coury’s car dropped off the pace on lap-20 as Tom Fearn streaked into the lead. Fearn didn’t hold the lead for long as Leary charged his way to the front on lap-21 while Coury limped his way to pit road. Bennett took second and Saunders and Ryan Fearn took third and fourth on lap-22 as Tom Fearn fell from second back to fifth. The caution came back out with 23 laps complete for Keane, who spun into the turn 1 wall.
Leary took the lead on the restart while it was two by two behind him with Bennett and Saunders side by side for second and Ryan and Tom Fearn side by side for fourth. Bennett took second with the Fearns and Saunders behind him. Ryan Fearn took second from Bennett on lap-31 and Tom Fearn was applying heavy pressure to Bennett for third as Leary continued to lead the race.
Bennett briefly dropped off the pace on lap-37 and he fell back to seventh before his car came back up to speed. With 12 laps to go, Leary was still in the lead with Ryan Fearn closing in from second. Tom Fearn was third followed by Saunders, Coury, Bennett, Paul Varricchio, Jr., Kevin Gambacorta, Provost, and John Blake.
Ryan Fearn was slowly shrinking the gap to Leary while behind the two leaders, Saunders took third on lap-44 before the caution came back out for Bennett, who had a flat right front tire. The caution eliminated the large lead that Leary and Ryan Fearn had over the rest of the field and set up a 6 lap sprint to the finish.
Leary and Ryan Fearn were side by side for the lead back under green with Fearn taking the lead by a nose at the line to complete lap-45. They were dead even to complete lap 46 before Fearn got loose on lap-47 which allowed Leary to get clear in the lead. Fearn recovered in second, just in front of Saunders, but he was a full second behind Leary. Leary took the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2020 season. Ryan Fearn finished second with Saunders, Tom Fearn, and Varricchio rounding out the top-5.
Tom Fearn didn’t come up to speed on the restart, which bottlenecked the mid-pack and Kevin Gambacorta spun in turn 1 to bring the yellow right back out. The next restart saw a multicar incident break out on the backstretch involving Paul Varricchio, Jr., Michael Wray, Gray, and Rick Lanagan to bring the yellow back out before a lap could be completed.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Marcello Rufrano took the lead at the start but only 1 lap was completed brfore the caution flew for Tom Bolles and Michael Gervais, Jr., who came together and got into the turn 3 wall. Michael Christopher, Jr. got loose and came to a stop in the turn 4 grass before rejoining the race at the rear of the field.
Bryan Narducci took the lead on the outside of Rufrano on the restart but Rufrano came right back on lap-3 to the inside of Narducci and the 2 leaders were in a dead heat at the line. Rufrano took the lead by a nose on lap-4 and he cleared Narducci on lap-6. Narducci came right back to the inside of Rufrano to retake the lead on lap-6 and he had the lead at the line before the caution came back out for Teddy Hodgdon, who got into the turn 4 wall and sustained heavy damage to the right front of his #55 car that also collected the car of Todd Patnode. Ronnie Williams nearly spun in turn 4 but managed to save the car and he came to pit road for service under the caution period.
Narducci took the lead back under green with Rufrano coming up to second. Matt Vassar took third with Flynn to his outside in fourth and Todd Owen right behind them in fifth. Owen took third on lap-8 but he got loose in turn 1 on lap-9 and fell back to fourth behind Vassar with Rufrano now leading Narducci out front. Owen took third back from Vassar on lap-11 and he made a move to the inside of Narducci for second on lap-13. The caution came back out with 13 laps complete as Jonathan Smith spun in turn 4 and Christopher got into the turn 4 wall and had damage to his right front. Glen Reen was penalized to the rear of the field by NASCAR officials for making contact with the car of Smith.
On the restart Andrew Molleur got into the turn 2 wall to bring the yellow flag right back out. Owen took the lead from Rufrano on the restart with Keith Rocco taking third from Vassar. Just behind Vassar in fifth was Chase Dowling. Dowling went around Vassar on lap-16 to move into fourth while Rufrano touched the left rear of Owen going for the lead in turn 3 with both cars going into the wall and bringing the caution out.
After a delay to repair the turn 3 wall, the race resumed with Rocco and Dowling dueling side by side for the race lead. Cory DiMatteo came up to third and was right behind the two leaders but had no room to make a pass. Rocco got clear of Dowling on lap-19 with Ronnie Williams back up to fourth after his earlier mishap and Vassar was fifth. Tony Membrino, Jr. spun in turn 2 to bring the caution back out with 21 laps complete and David Arute was sent to the rear of ht field by NASCAR officials for making contact with Membrino.
Rocco took the lead on the restart with DiMatteo briefly taking second before Dowling took the place back. Williams was on the outside of Dowling challenging for third on lap-24 and he made the pass on lap-25 to take second. DiMatteo was fourth in line behind Rocco, Williams, and Dowling with Stephen Kopcik up to fifth. The caution came back out with 27 laps complete for a spin in turn 3 by Troy Talman and DJ Burnham.
Rocco took the lead back under green with Williams slotting into second. Dowling was third with Kopcik and DiMatteo side by side for fourth and Vassar in sixth. Vassar took fifth and with 10 laps to go, he took fifth from DiMatteo with Rocco still leading Williams, Dowling, and Kopcik. The caution came back out with 33 laps complete as Owen got into the wall coming out of turn 2 which collected the cars of Max Zachem and Talman.
Rocco took the lead again on the restart with Kopcik pulling alongside Williams for second. Just behind Williams and Kopcik was DiMatteo with Dowling in fifth. Kopcik’s car dropped off the pace on lap-38 as he pulled to the high land and let the field pass by before heading to pit road. Williams couldn’t get close enough to Rocco as Rocco scored his second consecutive and fourth win of the 2020 season. DiMatteo came home in third with Dowling and Vassar rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light feature, Josh Carey took the lead at the green flag with Joey Ferrigno and Mark Bakaj lined up behind him. Jonathan Puleo and Andrew Les were side by side for fourth and after 3 laps of side by side action Les was able to take fourth and drop Puleo back to fifth.
With 9 laps complete, Carey, Ferrigno, and Bakaj were lined up single file while Puleo, Les, and George Bessette, Jr. were dueling side by side for fourth. Puleo got into the wall and brought the caution out with 9 laps complete.
Ferrigno took the lead from Carey on the restart with Bakaj and Les side by side for third and Alexander Pearl and Derek Debbis side by side for fifth. The cars of Bakaj, Les, Pearl, and Debbis were still dueling for position when the caution came out with 14 laps complete as Bakaj got into the wall coming out of turn 4 and came to a stop with heavy right side damage.
On the restart Debbis shot in between Ferrigno and Carey to take the lead with a thrilling 3-wide pass. As the cars crossed the line to complete lap-15 spun in turn 3 to bring the caution back out. The order for the restart was Debbis and Ferrigno on the front row followed by Carey and Brian Sullivan in the second row and Pearl and Chris Matthews in the third row.
Several cars touched on the restart with Ferrigno going around in turn 2 to bring the caution back out. The field completed one lap before the caution came back out for James Houghton, who came to a stop in turn 1 and the cars of Andrew Les and Bob Charland both spun coming out of turn 4. Matthews made a 3-wide bid for the lead on the restart but Debbis was able to keep Matthews and Sullivan behind him. Norm Sears was now up to fourth with Carey and Pearl side by side for fifth place.
Sears and Pearl ended up in the turn 3 wall coming to the checkered flag while Debbis beat Sullivan to the checkered flag to pick up his second consecutive and fourth win of the 2020 season. Matthews finished third with Carey and Wesley Prucker rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, Jay and Matt Clement took the top-2 spots at the drop of the green but by the time the field came around to complete lap-1, Alexandra Fearn had taken the lead by a nose at the line. Fearn and the Clement brothers touched going 3-wide into turn 1 on lap-2 which allowed Andrew Durand to slide by all 3 cars and go from fourth to the lead. Fearn slotted into line in second with Matt Clement third. Jeremy Lavoie was up to fourth and Gary Patnode was fifth in line as Jay Clement faded back to seventh place. Durand and Fearn were still leading the field when the caution flew with 9 laps complete for Damian Palardy, who came to a stop in the middle of turns 3+4.
Durand and Fearn went side by side for the lead on the restart and Durand had the lead by inches at the line as they completed lap-10. Durand got clear into the lead on lap-11 while Matt Clement got by Fearn to take over second. Fearn took third in line with Lavoie fourth and Lucas Leone up to fifth.
Fearn made a move to get back by Matt Clement for second place on lap-18 but Clement was able to fend off the challenge and maintain second with Durand still in the lead. Fearn tried again to get by Clement for second but Clement was able to keep her behind him as Durand nailed down his second consecutive win and his fifth overall win of the 2020 season. Lavoie finished fourth with Leone rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Street Stock feature, George Yuska took the lead on the start with Chris Meyer quickly moving from sixth up to second. Frank L’Etoile, Jr. took third followed by Nickolas Hovey and Jason Lafayette. Yuska led the first 2 laps before Meyer moved to the front on lap-3 with a pass coming out of turn 2. L’Etoile followed him by Yuska to move into second and both Hovey and Lafayette were also able to get by Yuska to take third and fourth and drop Yuska back to fifth. Yuska lost fifth to Adrien Paradis, III on lap-5 and he continued to slide backwards outside the top-10.
At the halfway point of the race Meyer was still in command with L’Etoile right behind him in second. Hovey and Lafayette were still third and fourth with Meghan Fuller now in fifth with Zack Robinson right behind her in sixth. Hovey got loose on lap-14 and he fell from third back to sixth as Lafayette took third, Fuller fourth and Robinson fifth.
Fuller made a move to the inside of Lafayette on lap-18 to take over third. Fuller’s move brought Robinson up to fourth as Lafayette fell back to fifth while Meyer was still in the lead with L’Etoile right on his bumper.
L’Etoile made one final effort to get by Meyer but couldn’t make the pass as Meyer took down his second consecutive win of the 2020 season. Fuller finished third with Robinson and Lafayette rounding out the top-5.
SK MODIFIED® (40)
1) Keith Rocco, Berlin
2) Ronnie Williams, Tolland
3) Cory Dimatteo, Farmington
4) Chase Dowling, Roxbury
5) Matt Vassar, Plantsville
6) Tyler Hines, North Haven
7) Glen Reen, Wilbraham, MA
8) Tyler Leary, Hatfield, MA
9) Bryan Narducci, Colchester
10) David Arute, Stafford Springs
11) Troy Talman, Oxford, MA
12) Tony Membrino, Jr., Wolcott
13) Jonathan Smith, Trumbull
14) Stephen Kopcik, Newtown
15) D.J. Burnham, East Hartford
16) Fran Siana, Enfield
17) Todd Owen, Somers
18) Max Zachem, Oakdale
19) Jeff Malave, Manchester
20) Michael Gervais, Jr., Wolcott
21) Marcello Rufrano, North Haven
22) Andrew Molleur, Shelton
23) Michael Christopher, Jr., Wolcott
24) Mikey Flynn, Hampden, Ma
25) Teddy Hodgdon, Danbury
26) Tom Bolles, Ellington
LATE MODEL 50 (50)
1) Tyler Leary, Hatfield, Ma
2) Ryan Fearn, East Longmeadow, MA
3) Al Saunders, Stafford
4) Tom Fearn, East Longmeadow, MA
5) Paul Varricchio, Jr., Berlin
6) Duane Provost, Palmer, MA
7) John Blake, North Haven
8) Paul Arute, Northridge, MA
9) Michael Bennett, Willington
10) Kevin Gambacorta, Ellington
11) Michael Wray, Northford
12) Dave Wray, Durham
13) Cliff Saunders, Stafford
14) Wayne Coury, Jr., Fairfield
15) Gary Theriault, Enfield
16) Greg DeMone, Ludlow, MA
17) Darrell Keane, Enfield
18) Adam Gray, Granby, MA
19) Richard Lanagan, Broad Brook
20) Marc Curtis, Brookfield, MA
21) R.J. Surdell, Willington
SK LIGHT MODIFIED (20)
1) Derek Debbis, Oakdale
2) Brian Sullivan, Tolland
3) Chris Matthews, Stafford
4) Josh Carey, East Longmeadow, MA
5) Wesley Prucker, Stafford
6) Amanda West, Colchester
7) Peter Bennett, Cromwell
8) George Bessette, Jr., Danbury
9) Tyler Chapman, Ellington
10) Nick Anglace, Oxford
11) Ethan Durocher, Canterbury
12) Nicole Chambrello, Kensington
13) Glenn Bartkowski, Manchester
14) Nathan Pytko, Douglas, MA
15) Rit Dulac, Plantsville
16) James Houghton, Springfield, MA
17) Norman Sears, Andover
18) Alexander Pearl, Salem
19) Alina Bryden, West Springfield, Ma
20) Bob Charland, Stafford
21) Andrew Les, Palmer, MA
22) Joey Ferrigno, East Hartford
23) Steven Chapman, Ellington
24) Mark Bakaj, Lebanon
25) Jonathan Puleo, Branford
26) Anthony Forino, Waterbury
27) Paul French, Andover
LIMITED LATE MODEL (20)
1) Andrew Durand, Chicopee, MA
2) Matt Clement, Wethersfield
3) Alexandra Fearn, East Longmeadow, MA
4) Jeremy Lavoie, Windsor Locks
5) Lucas Leone, Southington
6) Gary Patnode, New Hartford
7) Jay Clement, Wethersfield
8) Rich Hammann, Tolland
9) Damian Palardy, Willington
STREET STOCK (20)
1) Chris Meyer, North Franklin
2) Frank L’Etoile, Jr., Wethersfield
3) Meghan Fuller, Auburn, MA
4) Zack Robinson, Putnam
5) Jason Lafayette, Somers
6) Adrien Paradis, III, Plainville
7) Nickolas Hovey, Chaplin
8) Travis Hydar, Woodbury
9) Jason Finkbein, Manchester
10) Brandon Michael, Granville, MA
11) Brent Gleason, Griswold
12) Bobby Stirk, III, Naugatuck
13) Kyle Johnson, Manchester
14) Chris Danielczuk, Goshen
15) George Yuska, S. Glastonbury
16) John Orsini, Morris
17) Daltin Mccarthy, Oxford, MA
18) Marvin Minkler, Stamford
19) Tyler Trott, East Hartford
20) Thomas Hanley, Winsted
21) Christopher Phelps, New Salem, MA