Story By: SCOTT RUNNING & PAUL ARUTE / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – This Friday night, May 14th, will see Stafford Speedway host the first of 4 Open Modified events during the 2021 racing season. Here we take a look at each driver entered into the CBYD Open 81 and offer their driving stats at Stafford.
Dylan Izzo – #04 MacLean Woodworking Chevrolet – Izzo has 10 career SK Modified® starts at Stafford with one top-10 finish and he has 2 Open Modified starts with a best finish of 19th in 2019.
Patrick Emerling – #1 Superior Refinishing, LLC. Chevrolet – The defending R.O.C. Modified Champion heads into the CBYD 81 looking to continue his 2021 hot streak. Emerling won the NAPA Spring Sizzler Whelen Modified Tour feature at Stafford on April 30 and he won the R.O.C. race last weekend at Chemung Speedrome.
Burt Myers – #1 Citrusafe Cleaners Chevrolet – The 10-time Bowman Gray Stadium and 2-time Whelen Southern Modified Tour Champion is still a relative newcomer to Stafford. Myers made 2 Whelen Modified Tour starts at Stafford in 2018 with a best finish of 10th, he finished 10th in the 2020 Tri-Track Series feature at Stafford, and he finished 15th in his only career SK Modified® start in 2020.
Matt Galko – #3 AAA Consulting, LLC. Chevrolet – Galko is a former 2-time SK Light Champion at Stafford with 2 career SK Modified® and 8 career SK Light feature wins. Galko has made 3 Whelen Modified Tour starts at Stafford with a best finish of 12th in 2019 and in 8 career Open Modified starts at Stafford Galko has posted 6 top-5 and 8 top-10 finishes.
Jeff Gallup – #4 Ceravolo’s Auto Chevrolet – Gallup has a pair of Modified Racing Series podium finishes at Stafford, finishing 3rd in 2016 and 2nd in 2018 and has led laps in several other Stafford races. Gallup is still in search of his first Stafford victory.
Trevor Bleau – #4 Xtreme Auto Body & Collision Center, LLC. Chevrolet – The Troy, NH native is a virtual Stafford rookie driver having only made 2 starts in the Modified Touring Series in 2017 with a best finish of 14th. Bleau failed to qualify for last year’s Tri-Track Modified Series event at Stafford.
Woody Pitkat – #6 Twisted Tea Chevrolet – Pitkat ranks second on Stafford’s All-Time Winners List with 78 career wins spread across the SK Modified®, Late Model, Street Stock, Whelen Modified Tour, Modified Racing Series, and Open Modified divisions with a track championship in the SK Modified® division and 2 championships in the Late Model division. Pitkat won the Twisted Tea Open 80 at Stafford last season and will be looking for his second consecutive open modified victory at Stafford.
Ryan Preece – #6 Call Before You Dig Chevrolet – The NASCAR Cup Series driver has 35 career feature wins at Stafford in the SK Modified®, Whelen Modified Tour, Modified Racing Series, and Open Modified divisions. Preece will be looking for his second Open Modified victory after winning the Twisted Tea open 80 in 2019. Preece was in contention to win the NAPA Spring Sizzler on April 30 before a crash left him in 17th place.
Michael Christopher, Jr. – #7 Baldwin Motorsports Chevrolet – Christopher enters the CBYD 81 fresh off of his 6th career SK Modified® win at Stafford last Friday night. In 5 career Open Modified starts at Stafford, Christopher has a best finish of 2nd in the 2020 NAPA 100 and he will be looking for his first win working together with Tommy Baldwin, Jr.
Cam McDermott – #8 Maybury Material Handling Chevrolet – The Canterbury, CT native is still in search of his first career Stafford victory. McDermott has 3 second place finishes in SK Light competition, a best finish of 5th in the SK Modified® division, and in 7 career Open Modified starts, he has posted 4 top-9 finishes.
Earl Paules – #8 Adams Glass Chevrolet – The Palmerton, PA native will be looking to make his first career start at Stafford in the CBYD 81. Paules is the winningest driver in Mahoning Valley Speedway history with 61 career wins.
Chase Dowling – #9ct S & S Asphalt Paving Chevrolet – The 2021 season has gotten off to a slow start for Dowling in the SK Modified® division but Dowling has 17 career Stafford feature wins. Dowling’s 17 Stafford wins includes the Tri-Track Modified Series race last October driving Ben Dodge’s #9ct car, a Modified Racing Series win in 2019, 8 SK Modified® wins, and 7 SK Light wins.
Tom Abele, Jr. – #9 Moe’s Moving Chevrolet – Abele is still relatively new to Stafford Speedway, having made 4 Whelen Modified Tour starts in 2008 and 2009 with a best finish of 17th and he ran 11 SK Modified® races in 2017 with a best finish of 4th on two different occasions.
Max Zachem – #18 Lu-Mac’s Package Store Chevrolet – Having piloted his family owned car in selected SK Modified® and Open Modified races at Stafford from 2018-2020, Zachem will look for his first Stafford win behind the wheel of Larry Westgate’s #18 car. Zachem’s best finish in two Open Modified starts was 6th in 2019 and he finished 16th last October in the Tri-Track Modified Series feature.
Joey Cipriano – #25 Call Before You Dig Chevrolet – A new combination for the 2021 Open Modified season at Stafford. Cipriano is a Stafford veteran with 7 career SK Light wins and 1 career SK Modified® win at Stafford. Cipriano has come close to victory several times behind the wheel of Ted Anderson’s #1 Open Modified and he will be driving Gary Casella’s #25 car, which has won 3 Modified Racing Series events at Stafford with Rowan Pennink behind the wheel.
Anthony Flannery – #25ct Fowlers Auto Wrecking Chevrolet – Flannery has started all 9 Open Modified feature events held to date at Stafford with 2 top-10 finishes. Flannery has also made 2 SK Modified® starts at Stafford, finishing 18th in 2020 and 12th in 2019.
Kevin Iannarelli – #27 iRacing.com Chevrolet – Iannarelli made his Open Modified debut at Safford last season, posting finishes of 22nd and 25th in his two starts.
Noah Korner – #31 Midstate Site Development Chevrolet – Korner is the 2016 Legend Cars champion at Stafford and he has 8 career Legend Cars feature wins to go along with 2 SK Light feature wins. Korner will be looking to build on his victory in the Tri-Track Modified Series B-Main feature last October at Stafford.
Andrew Charron – #31 DM Charron & Son Tri Axle Trucking Chevrolet – Charron is another virtual Stafford rookie heading into the CBYD Open 81. Charron has 4 career starts in the SK Modified® division with a best finish of 11th in 2015.
Michael Gervais, Jr. – #33 Gervais Brothers Roofing Chevrolet – Gervais is 2009 SK Light track champion at Stafford and he has 4 career SK Modified® wins. In 5 career Open Modified starts at Stafford, Gervais’ best finish is 11th.
Dave Etheridge – #34 Warner Turf Equipment Chevrolet – Etheridge is a former weekly competitor at Stafford with 5 career ProStock wins from 1993-1997. Etheridge has competed in 8 of the 9 Open Modified races run to date at Stafford with 1 top-5 and 4 top-10 finishes.
Andrew Molleur – #35 Able Motorsports Chevrolet – In a short amount of time, Molleur has already notched 4 career SK Light wins at Stafford in 2018 and he recorded his first SK Modified® feature win in 2019. Molleur has made 2 Whelen Modified Tour starts at Stafford with a best finish of 18th and he has made 8 Open Modified starts with a best finish of 7th in 2019.
Dave Salzarulo #44 Johnson Chassis Chevrolet – Salzarulo is a former long-time modified veteran, racing in the SK Modified® division as well as selected Whelen Modified Tour and Modified Racing Series events at Stafford. Salzarulo has made 1 Open Modified start, finishing 15th back in 2018.
Brett Meservey – #45 PMG / Shell Chevrolet – Meservey will be attempting to make his very first start at Stafford in the CBYD 81.
Craig Lutz – #46 Riverhead Building Supply Chevrolet – Lutz scored his first Whelen Modified Tour pole position at Stafford and he won his first Tour race at Stafford, taking the checkered flag in the 2019 NAPA Fall Final. Lutz ran 3 Open Modified Shows last season and he finished 5th, 8th, and 6th.
Marcello Rufrano – #48 Wheelers Auto Service Chevrolet – Rufrano won his very first modified race at Stafford in the SK Light division in 2016 and he has since won 11 SK Light races and the 2018 SK Light Championship to go along with 2 Street Stock victories. Rufrano was a shock winner of the Bud Light Open 80 last season and he will be looking for his second open modified victory in the CBYD 81.
Ronnie Williams #50 Empower Financial Advisory Ford – Williams has 24 career Stafford wins, including 18 SK Modified®, 4 SK Light, and 2 Open Modified victories. Williams is a 2-time SK Modified® Track Champion at Stafford and he will be looking to add a third Open Modified victory to his resume in the CBYD 81.
Keith Rocco #57 M & M Stone Creations Chevrolet – Rocco is third on Stafford’s All-Time Winners List with 73 career wins spread across the SK Modified®, Late Model, Modified Racing Series, Open Modified, and Wild Thing Karts divisions. Rocco is a 4-time Stafford SK Modified® Champion with wins in the Open Modified 80 in 2019 and the NAPA 100 in 2020.
Eric Goodale – #58 GAF Roofing Chevrolet – The Whelen Modified Tour veteran was the runner-up in the NAPA Spring Sizzler on April 30 and he has 2 career wins at Stafford; the 2017 NAPA Fall Final and the 2018 Bud Light Open 80. Goodale won the season opening Whelen Modified Tour event at Martinsville and he will look to continue his hot start to the 2021 season in the CBYD 81.
Chris Pasteryak – #75 Dawley Collision & Custom Chevrolet – Pasteryak has made 17 Whelen Modified Tour starts at Stafford with 4 top-5 and 7 top-10 finishes. Pasteryak won Modified Racing Series events at Stafford in 2011 and 2015 and after finishing 19th in the Tri-Track Modified feature last October, Pateryak will look to make his first Open Modified start in the CBYD Open 81.
Dana DiMatteo – #76 Island Cove Marina Chevrolet – DiMatteo is the 2014 Legend Cars champion at Stafford and he has 8 career Legend Cars wins. DiMatteo has made 6 career Open Modified starts at Stafford with a best finish of 7th coming back in 2018.
Jon McKennedy – #79 Middlesex Interiors Chevrolet – McKennedy has 4 career modified wins at Stafford with 2 Modified Racing Series wins in 2012 and 1016 and he swept the pair of Modified Touring Series events in 2017 at the Connecticut half-mile. McKennedy made 2 Open Modified starts in 2020 at Stafford driving for Art Barry and he finished 12th and 2nd.
Todd Owen – #81 Cooker Construction Chevrolet – Owen has been racing at Stafford since the 1999 season starting in the Pro Stock division. Owen recorded 7 Pro Stock wins in 2 seasons before moving into the SK Modified® division in 2002 where he has raced since. Owen has 14 SK Modified® victories to his name with half of those wins coming in the last 2 seasons. Owen has competed in 7 of the 9 Open Modified races held at Stafford with a best finish of 2nd in 2019.
Mike Willis, Jr. – #83 Spirit Of Alaska Wilderness Adventures – Willis has yet to find victory lane at Stafford but he has been a strong contender in Modified Racing Series events. In 14 MRS races from 2014-2019, Willis posted 4 top-5 and 10 top-10 finishes, including a pair of third place finishes coming in 2017 and 2015.
J.B. Fortin – #84 Peerless Boilers Chevrolet – Fortin is a Riverhead modified regular with 5 career Whelen Modified Tour starts at Stafford with a best finish of 12th in 2019. Fortin will be looking to make his first Open Modified start at Stafford in the CBYD Open 81.
Brett Gonyaw – #87 Tri-State Contracting Chevrolet – Gonyaw is a former SK Light weekly competitor at Stafford and he has 2 SK Light wins to his name. Gonyaw finished 5th in the 2017 SK Light standings and he has run 1 Open Modified event at Stafford, finishing 18th back in 2018.
Stephen Kopcik – #179 Jensen Motorsports Chevrolet – Kopcik has been racing modifieds at Stafford since 2014 and he has 5 SK Modified® and 3 SK Light feature wins along with the 2015 SK Light Championship. Kopcik made 2 Open Modified starts in 2020 at Stafford, finishing 7th and 13th in the #179 car.
Stafford & CT DPH Partner to Offer Race Fans Free Covid-19 Vaccinations at Call Before You Dig Open 81 Event, Friday May 14th
By Paul Arute – Stafford Motor Speedway and the Connecticut Department of Health have partnered to offer free Covid-19 vaccinations at the Call Before You Dig Open Modified 81 event scheduled for Friday, May 14th.
Vaccinations will be available at the mobile unit located in the front parking lot from 5:00pm to 7:00pm on race day. All those who receive a vaccination prior to the event will be eligible for a free Hummel Brothers Hot Dog from the concession stand Friday night.
Race fans who have yet to receive the Covid-19 vaccine are encouraged to take advantage of the convenience at the track. The CT DPH vaccine vans will return June 11th to provide the 2nd Covid-19 vaccine dose to eligible race fans.
What to know before receiving your vaccination:
- Vaccinations will start at 5:00pm and go through 7:00pm
- No need to bring anything; ID or proof of insurance is not needed
- Vaccination staff will fill out any necessary forms at the vaccination site
- Anyone over the age of 12 will be eligible, regardless of state of residence
- There is no cost, and no insurance requirement
- For more information: https://portal.ct.gov/vaccine-portal/DPH-van-clinics
Six divisions of racing are on hand for the Friday, May 14th Call Before You Dig Open Modified 81, headlined by the Open Modifieds. Over 30 of the top modified drivers in the region are expected to be in attendance including NASCAR Cup driver Ryan Preece, Spring Sizzler winner Patrick Emerling, Modified Tour point leader Eric Goodale, multi-time SK Modified® champion Ronnie Williams, and many more.