Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – This Friday night, June 11th, will see Stafford Speedway host its second of four Open Modified events during the 2021 racing season.
Here we take a look at each driver entered into the Twisted Tea Open 80 and offer their driving stats at Stafford.
Patrick Emerling – #1 Iwo Jima Memorial Foundation Chevrolet – The defending R.O.C. Modified Champion comes into the Twisted Tea 80 looking to continue a string of podium finishes. Emerling won the NAPA Spring Sizzler Whelen Modified Tour feature at Stafford on April 30 and finished third in the May 14 CBYD Open 81 at Stafford while also winning an R.O.C. feature at Chemung Speedrome back on May 8.
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 9 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.
Tommy Barrett, Jr. – #4 Xtreme Auto Body & Collision Center, LLC. Chevrolet – Barrett replaces TJ Bleau behind the wheel of the #4 car and Barrett brings with him a ton of Stafford success. Barrett has 14 SK Light feature wins at Stafford from 2010-2011 with 10 wins in 2010, 3 Modified Racing Series victories and he won the Inaugural Twisted Tea 80 back in 2018. Barrett has had a tough time since winning the 2018 Twisted Tea 80, posting only one top-10 finish in 7 starts.
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 2020 Twisted Tea Open 80 and he has one other top-5 finish to go along with a 17th place finish in this season’s CBYD 81.
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 and he finished second in the CBYD 81 this past May.
Michael Christopher, Jr. – #7 Baldwin Motorsports Chevrolet – Christopher enters the Twisted Tea 80 as the most recent Open Modified winner at Stafford. Christopher has also recorded an SK Modified® feature win this season and in 6 career Open Modified starts at Stafford, Christopher has 3 top-5 finishes and 3 finishes outside the top-10.
Earl Paules – #8 Adams Glass Chevrolet – The Palmerton, PA native will be making his second career start at Stafford in the Twisted Tea 80 after finishing 23rd in the CBYD 81 back in May. Paules is the winningest driver in Mahoning Valley Speedway history with 61 career wins.
Chase Dowling – #9ct S & S Asphalt Paving Chevrolet – Dowling owns 17 career Stafford feature which includes the Tri-Track Modified Series race last October driving Ben Dodge’s #9ct car, a Modified Racing Series win in 2019, 9 SK Modified® wins, and 7 SK Light wins. Dowling recorded his first SK Modified® feature win of the 2021 season on May 21 and he led the first 33 laps of the CBYD 81 in May before retiring from the lead with mechanical issues.
Max Zachem – #18 All Phases Renovations 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 drove Gary Casella’s #25 car to a 5th place finish in the CBYD 81 in May. Casella’s #25 car 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 9 of the 10 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.
Andrew Charron – #31 DM Charron & Son Tri Axle Trucking Chevrolet – Charron is a virtual Stafford rookie heading into the Twisted Tea Open 80. Charron failed to qualify for the May CBYD 81 and he 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 6 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 9 of the 10 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.
Brett Meservey – #45 PMG / Shell Chevrolet – Meservey failed to qualify for the CBYD 81 back in May and he will be attempting to make his very first start at Stafford in the Twisted Tea 80.
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 before finishing 14th in the May CBYD 81.
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 Twisted Tea Open 80.
Ronnie Williams #50 Empower Financial Advisory Ford – Williams has 25 career Stafford wins, including 19 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 Twisted Tea 80.
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 for his third Stafford victory in the Twisted Tea 80.
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, Pasteryak just missed a top-10 with an 11th place finish in the May CBYD 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 7 career Open Modified starts at Stafford with a best finish of 7th coming back in 2018.
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 8 of the 10 Open Modified races held at Stafford with a best finish of 2nd in 2019.
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.
Anthony Nocella – #92 Nocella Paving Chevrolet – Nocella has one career Stafford victory, coming in a Modified Racing Series event back in 2017. Nocella has made 3 Open Modified starts with a best finish of 4th in this May’s CBYD 81.
Stephen Kopcik – #179 Jensen Motorsports Chevrolet – Kopcik has been racing modifieds at Stafford since 2014 and he has 6 SK Modified® and 3 SK Light feature wins, including an SK Modified® win on April 30, along with the 2015 SK Light Championship. Kopcik made 2 Open Modified starts in 2020 at Stafford, finishing 7th and 13th and he finished 19th in the CBYD 81 last May.
There are still tickets available for this Friday night’s Twisted Tea Open Modified 80. Stafford’s SK Modifieds®, Late Models, SK Lights, Limited Late Models, and Street Stocks will join the Open Modifieds in feature action.