Stafford Springs, CT – Stafford Speedway returned to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing action with the 3rd Annual NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K, which paid the winner $5,000 out of a purse of over $27,000. At the end of the night, it was Chase Dowling swimming in over $5,300 in victory lane.
In other feature action, Michael Bennett won the Late Model feature, Wesley Prucker was a first time winner in the SK Light feature, R.J. Surdell was a first time winner in the Limited Late Model division, and Vince Gambacorta won the DARE Stock feature for his first Stafford victory since the 2006 NAPA Fall Final.
In the 100-lap NAPA SK 5K feature event, Michael Gervais, Jr. took the lead at the green with Cam McDermott, Glen Reen, Dylan Izzo, and Keith Rocco making up the top-5. Mike Christopher, Jr, was sixth followed by Todd Owen, Dan Avery, Tom Abele, Jr., and Rowan Pennink.
Rocco went around Reen to move into third on lap-11 as Gervais was comfortably a half second ahead of McDermott in the battle for the race lead. Josh Wood dropped off the pace and he brought his car behind the wall on lap-17 and looked to be finished for the night. Chase Dowling cracked into the top-10 as he was slowly working his way towards the front.
With 25 laps complete, Gervais was still in command with McDermott, Rocco, Reen, Pennink, Owen, Dowling, Izzo, Mike Christopher, Jr., and Ryan Preece making up the top-5. Dylan Izzo spun coming out of turn 2 to bring the caution out with 26 laps complete.
Gervais took the lead on the restart with Rocco pulling alongside. The lead duo fought side by side for the lead with Rocco taking the lead on lap-29 with a pass in turn 2. Pennink also got around Gervais to move into second while McDermott was now side by side with Gervais for third on lap-31. A multicar incident in turn 1 involved Tom Bolles, Ronnie Williams, Izzo, Avery, Ted Christopher, Brendon Bock, Abele, and Tommy Membrino, Jr. brought the caution out with 31 laps complete.
Rocco took the lead back under green with Pennink moving into second. McDermott was third with Dowling fourth and Gervais fifth. Pennink took to the outside groove and took the lead from Rocco on lap-34. Carlos Gray spun in turn 4 to bring the caution out with 36 laps complete.
Pennink and Rocco ran side by side for the elad with Rocco leading the lap by a nose at the line. One lap later saw Pennink power his way back into the lead with Dowling moving to the inside of Rocco and taking second. Preece was up to fourth behind Rocco with McDermott still running in fifth. Dowling took a look to the inside of Pennink in turn 3 on lap-41 but Pennink was able to hold him off.
After applying heavy pressure, Dowling was finally able to make a pas stick for the lad and he took the lead from Pennink on lap-47. Preece was third with Rocco in fourth and Owen in fifth. McDermott was sixth, Mike Christopher, Jr. was seventh and charging his way back towards the front, Glen Reen was eighth, Williams was ninth, and Avery rounded out the top-10 at the halfway point. Tommy Membrino, Jr. spun on the backstretch to bring the caution out with 53 laps complete. Under the caution, McDermott and Ted Christopher came to pit road for adjustment.
Dowling took the lead back under green with Preece taking second from Pennink. Owen and Rocco were side by side for fourth with Christopher, Jr., Williams, Gervais, Avery, and Matt Galko making up the top-10. Carlos Gray spun in the middle of turns 1+2 to bring the caution out with 67 laps complete.
Dowling took the lead on the restart after fending off a challenge from Preece with Owen making a strong move to get up to third behind the lead duo. Pennink was fourth with Rocco in fifth. Williams was in sixth with Mike Christopher, Jr., Ted Christopher, Brendon Bock, and Avery making up the top-10. Dowling began to stretch out his lead over Preece, pulling out to nearly a one second lead with 22 laps to go. Owen and Pennink were locked in a duel for third behind the two lead cars with Rocco, Williams, Mike Christopher, Jr., and Ted Christopher lined up single file behind them.
Pennink was able to finally work his way past Owen to move into third on lap-85 after he had tried to make the move for the past several laps. Dowling pulled away from Preece in the closing laps to score his biggest paying victory of his Stafford career. Pennink finished third with Owen and Rocco rounding out the top five.
-Stafford Motor Speedway Press Release. Photo credit: Rick Ibsen/Speed51.com
SK 5K Unofficial Results
1) Chase Dowling, Roxbury
2) Ryan Preece, Berlin
3) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, Pa
4) Todd Owen, Somers
5) Keith Rocco, Berlin
6) Ronnie Williams, Tolland
7) Michael Christopher, Jr., Wolcott
8) Ted Christopher, Plainville
9) Brendon Bock, Franklin Square, Ny
10) Cam McDermott, Canterbury
11) Dan Avery, Somers
12) Glen Reen, Wilbraham, Ma
13) Tom Bolles, Ellington
14) Sean Foster, Willington
15) Tom Abele, Jr., Norwich
16) Frank Ruocco, North Haven
17) Matt Galko, Meriden
18) Michael Gervais, Jr., Southbury
19) Eric Berndt, Cromwell
20) Dylan Izzo, Monroe
21) Tyler Hines, North Haven
22) Stephen Kopcik, Newtown
23) Tommy Membrino, Jr., Prospect
24) Robert Goulet, Plainville
25) Carlos Gray, East Hartford
26) Danny Cates, Chaplin
27) Josh Wood, Palmer, Ma