Stafford Speedway returned to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing action with a Five-Star Series event on August 22nd. Taking down NASCAR Whelen All-American Series weekly feature wins on the night were Rowan Pennink in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Michael Bennett in the 30-lap Late Model Feature, Branden Dion in the 20-lap SK Light feature, Andrew Hayes in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, Ryan Fearn in the 15-lap DARE Stock, and Mike Christopher, Jr. in the 20-lap Legend Cars feature.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Eric Berndt made the outside groove stick as he powered his way into the lead at the drop of the green. Michael Gervais, Jr. was second behind Berndt, with Sean Foster, Chase Dowling, and Ted Christopher making up the top-5. Frank Ruocco backed into the turn 2 wall to bring the caution out with 4 laps complete.
Berndt and Gervais were wheel to wheel on the restart and behind them Ryan Preece had moved up to fourth to challenge Chase Dowling for third in a wheel to wheel duel. Tommy Membrino, Jr. spun coming out of turn 4 and collected the car of Dave Salzarulo to bring the caution out with 6 laps complete.
Berndt took the lead back under green but he was quickly overtaken by both last week’s winner Keith Rocco and Preece. Gervais was now fourth with Dowling in fifth. Preece made a move to the inside of Rocco to move to the front on lap-14. Preece’s move opened the door for Berndt to pull alongside Rocco in a fight for second, but Rocco was able to not only keep Berndt behind him but he took the lead back from Preece on lap-16. Glen Reen spun in turn 2 to bring the caution out with 17 laps complete.
Rocco and Preece resumed their wheel to wheel duel on the restart with Berndt, Woody Pitkat, and the side by side duo of Ronnie Williams and Michael Gervais, Jr. behind them. Rocco was leading laps at the line but only by inches as Preece was keeping pace with Rocco. Rocco finally got clear of Preece on lap-20 and now Preece had to contend with Berndt on his inside in a fight for second place. Preece held Berndt off and the top-4 cars of Rocco, Preece, Berndt, and Pitkat were now single file on lap-22. Chase Dowling spun on the backstretch and collected the cars of Tom Bolles and Matt Galko to bring the caution out with 22 laps complete.
Preece got a strong run on the outside of Rocco to move into the lead back under green with Rocco and Pitkat wheel to wheel for second. Rowan Pennink and Berndt were wheel to wheel for fourth and after several laps things settled back into single file with Preece leading Rocco, Pennink, Berndt, and Pitkat.
With 10 laps to go, Rocco was beginning to apply heavy pressure on the outside of Preece for the lead. Pennink and Pitkat joined the mix to make it a 4-car duel for the lead and on lap-34 Pennink nearly had a pass made for the lead, but Preece was able to hold him off. They continued to race wheel to wheel with Pennink on the inside and Preece in the outside groove and Pennink made the pass stick on lap-36. Pitkat and rocco were side by side for third but the caution came out with 36 laps complete as Williams spun in turn 2 and Sean Foster came to a stop as he tried to avoid hitting Williams.
Pennink and Preece ran a lap side by side before Pennink got clear to the lead. Rocco was stalking behind Preece in third with Pitkat in fourth and Berndt in fifth. Pennink led Preece back to the checkered flag to pick up his third win of the 2014 season. Rocco finished third, with Pitkat and Berndt rounding out the top-5.
In the 30-lap Late Model feature event, Josh Wood took the lead at the green with Kyle Casagrande, Tom Fearn, J.J. Hill, and Michael Bennett behind him. A melee broke out on the backstretch with 2 laps complete that involved Dennis Botticello, Cory Casagrande, Jay Stuart, and George Nocera, Jr. to bring the caution out. Under the caution, Kyle Casagrande, who was running third, came to a stop and then came to a stop a second time and he had to get a push start from one of the safety vehicles.
Back under green, Josh Wood took the lead but it was short lived as J.J. Hill went to the front on lap-3. Kevin Gambacorta spun in turn 2 to bring the caution out with 4 laps complete. On the restart Stuart spun coming out of turn 4 to bring the caution back out.
The next restart saw Hill take the lead with Tom Fearn all over his back bumper. One lap after the restart, Hill spun into the turn 1 wall to bring the caution back out. Fearn was sent to the rear of the field for making contact with Hill.
The next restart saw Wood and Peterson get together with both cars going up the track and handing the race lead over to Michael Bennett. Wood limped back to pit road while Peterson fell to the rear of the field. Kyle Casagrande was now second behind Bennett with Stuart third after his earlier troubles, Rick Lanagan was fourth and Adam Gray was fifth.
Bennett held the lead until lap-11 when Casagrande went to the front. The two cars touched as Casagrande took the lead but Casagrande was able to keep control of his car and he was the leader with Stuart getting around Bennett to move into second.
Casagrande held the lead until lap-15 when Stuart made a move coming out of turn 4 to take over the race lead. Bennett was third behind Stuart and Casagrande with Adam Gray in fourth and Lanagan was fighting with Gambacorta for fifth place.
The race’s complexion changed again on lap-20 as Stuart’s car dropped off the pace and he pulled behind the wall. Stuart’s troubles handed the lead back over to Casagrande with Gray now in second. Bennett was third, with Gambacorta fourth and Lanagan fifth.
The race changed again as on lap-27 Gray made contact with Casagrande which sent Casagrande spinning through the backstretch grass. The caution came out with 28 laps complete for Tom Fearn, who came to a stop after showing sparks from his car with a flat tire. Gray was sent to the rear of the field for the contact with Casagrande, putting Bennett and Gambacorta in the front row for the green white checkered restart.
Bennett took the lead while Gambacorta slotted into second behind him. Lanagan and Peterson were fighting door to door for third with Peterson taking the spot but it was all Bennett as he locked down his second win in the last three weeks. Gambacorta finished second, with Peterson, Mavlouganes, and Lanagan rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature event, D.J. Burnham took the lead at the green flag and after 2 laps, there was a 3-wide scramble behind him in turn 4 with Branden Dion taking second, Bob Charland taking third, and Nick Salva taking fourth. The caution came out with 3 laps complete for Dylan Menditto, who came to a stop at the end of the pit lane in turn 2.
Dion overtook Burnham for the race lead back under green with Charland third. Salva was fourth and Jeremy Sorel moved into the fifth position. Charland took advantage of Burnham’s car getting loose in turn 2 on lap-8 to move into second. Charland was then all over the back bumper of Dion for the lead, but Dion was able to maintain the lead.
With 5 laps to go in the race, Dion still held the lead over Charland, but behind them were Salva, Sorel and Burnahm all lined up in a nose to tail train. Salva made a power move around Charland to move into second on lap-17 and he got around Dion on lap-18 to take over the race lead. The caution came back out with 18 laps complete for Wesley Prucker, who spun in turns 3+4.
Dion stayed even with Salva on the restart and as they came to the white flag, Dion powered his way in front of Salva to take the lead. Dion held Salva off to the checkered flag to pick up his first career win. Sorel finished third, with Charland, and Hines rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature event, Brian Clement and Glenn Bartkowski spent a lap side by side for the lead before Bartkowski took the lead. Clement was quickly sliding backwards through the field as David Arute took second, Duane Provost third, Andrew Hayes fourth, and Cliff Saunders fifth.
Paul Arute and Justin Bren came together on lap-5 and they both came to pit road and retired for the evening. David Arute had closed in on the back bumper of Bartkowski by lap-12 and he was beginning to apply heavy pressure for the race lead. Behind Arute, Provost and Hayes were right there in a four-car train for the lead. Austin Bessette moved around Cliff Saunders to move into fifth and he was beginning to close the gap to the top-4 cars with 5 laps to go.
Bartkowski climbed up the hill in turn 4 which allowed Arute to move into the lead. Bartkowski then came together with Provost with the right hand side of Provost’s car getting peeled off as Bartkowski ended up in the turn 1 wall to bring the caution out with 17 laps complete.
On the restart, Arute’s car didn’t come up to speed and Hayes powered into the lead. Norm Sears was now on the inside of Cliff Saunders for second and Arute was back up to speed and he took third behind Sears. Arute made a move to the inside of Sears for second, which allowed Hayes to pull away at the front to pick up his third win of the 2014 season. Arute finished second with Cliff Saunders, Sears, and Bessette rounding out the top-5.
In the 15-lap DARE Stock feature event, Gus Coelho took the lead at the green with Doug Phelps slotting into second. Dan Dembek was third, with Jeff Jolly quickly moving up to fourth and Ryan Fearn was right behind Jolly in fifth.
Jolly made a 3-wide move on lap-3 to get around both Dembek and Phelps to move into second and Fearn followed him through to move into third. The caution came out with 3 laps complete for Alexandra Fearn, who came to a stop in the turn 4 grass.
Jolly powered into the lead on the restart with Fearn moving up to second. Coelho fell back to third, with Dembek and Frank L’Etoile, Jr. side by side for fourth place. Phelps came to a stop coming out of turn 4 while Nicole Chambrello came to a stop in turn 1 to bring the yellow flag out with 6 laps complete.
Jolly and Fearn ran door to door for the lead for two laps before Jolly got clear into the lead on lap-9. L’Etoile was third, with last week’s winner Andy Marchese up to fourth and Alexandra Fearn was recovered from her earlier troubles and was up to fifth. Ryan Fearn moved back past Jolly on lap-10 to move into the lead.
Fearn held off a furious challenge from Jolly over the closing laps to nail down his second win of the 2014 season. L’Etoile finished third, with Marchese and Johnny Walker rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Legends Car feature event, Cory DiMatteo streaked into the early lead at the green flag with Mike Christopher, Jr., Dana DiMatteo, Kyle Rogers, and Teddy Hodgdon lined up behind him. Mikey Flynn spun in turn 1 to bring the caution out with 3 laps complete.
Art Marrero spun on the restart to bring the caution right back out. The next restart saw Cory DiMatteo resume the lead but Dana DiMatteo got around Christopher to move into second. Rogers spun in turn 1 to bring the yellow back out with 5 laps complete.
The DiMatteo brothers stayed wheel to wheel for a lap before Cory got clear of Dana in the lead with Christopher third. Richie Coy was up to fourth and Chris Fuller was fifth as the caution came back out with 7 laps complete for a spin by Rogers coming out of turn 4.
Noah Korner spun on the restart to bring the caution out before a lap could be completed. Dana and Cory DiMatteo made contact with each other on the next restart which allowed Dana to take the lead and slowed Cory enough that he rejoined the race in fifth place. After two laps, Cory pulled off the track with damage to his car. Christopher was now second behind Dana DiMatteo with Richie Coy, Fuller, and Hodgdon making up the top-5. Rogers spun again in turn 2 to bring the caution back out with 12 laps complete.
Christopher was all over the back bumper of DiMatteo but he was unable to make a pass for the lead. As the leaders took the white flag, they came up on the car of Rogers and DiMatteo and Rogers came together which allowed Christopher to take the lead while simultaneously bringing the caution out with 19 laps complete, setting up a green white checkered finish.
Christopher streaked into the lead while Coy spun around and kept going, rejoining the race in 5th place. Christopher led the field back to the checkered flag to pick up his second win of the 2014 season. DiMatteo was a man on a mission as he worked his way back through the field to come home second with Korner, Fuller, and Hodgdon rounding out the top-5.
For more information contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at (860) 684-2783, or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.
SK MODIFIED® (40)
1) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, Pa
2) Ryan Preece, Berlin
3) Keith Rocco, Berlin
4) Woody Pitkat, Stafford Springs
5) Eric Berndt, Cromwell
6) Glen Reen, Wilbraham, Ma
7) Joey Cipriano, III, Waterbury
8) Ronnie Williams, Tolland
9) Ted Christopher, Plainville
10) Todd Owen, Somers
11) Michael Gervais, Jr., Southbury
12) Dan Avery, Somers
13) Nichole Morgillo, Plantsville
14) Curt Brainard, Canton
15) Joe Gada, Salem
16) Sean Foster, Willington
17) Chase Dowling, Roxbury
18) Tom Bolles, Ellington
19) Chris Jones, New Milford
20) Matt Galko, Meriden
21) Tommy Membrino, Jr., Prospect
22) David Salzarulo, Monson, Ma
23) Frank Ruocco, Cheshire
LATE MODEL (30)
1) Michael Bennett, Willington
2) Kevin Gambacorta, Ellington
3) Jim Peterson, Monson, Ma
4) Jim Mavlouganes, Bethany
5) Rick Lanagan, III, East Windsor
6) Michael Scorzelli, Feura Bush, Ny
7) Dennis Botticello, Suffield
8) Kyle Casagrande, Stafford Springs
9) Adam Gray, Belchertown, Ma
10) Rich Hammann, Tolland
11) Tom Fearn, East Longmeadow, Ma
12) Josh Wood, Palmer, Ma
13) Jay Stuart, Preston
14) J.J. Hill, Stafford Springs
15) Tom Butler, Stafford Springs
16) Cory Casagrande, Stafford Springs
17) George Nocera, Jr., Plainville
SK LIGHT (20)
1) Branden Dion, Taunton, Ma
2) Nick Salva, Prospect
3) Jeremy Sorel, Westfield, Ma
4) Bob Charland, Stafford
5) Tyler Hines, North Haven
6) D.J. Burnham, East Hartford
7) Jeff Smith, Old Lyme
8) Geoff Boisjolie, East Hampton, Ma
9) Dylan Menditto, Brooklyn
10) Jay Goff, Stafford Springs
11) Joey Ferrigno, East Hartford
12) Glenn Griswold, Vernon
13) Todd Douillard, Palmer, Ma
14) Chris Gombos, Naugatuck
15) Paul French, Andover
16) Wesley Prucker, Stafford
17) Jodi Johnson, Medway, Ma
18) Carlos Gray, Manchester
19) Stephen Kopcik, Newtown
LIMITED LATE MODEL (20)
1) Andrew Hayes, Charlton, Ma
2) David Arute, Tolland
3) Cliff Saunders, Stafford
4) Norm Sears, Andover
5) Austin Bessette, Stafford Springs
6) Albert Saunders, Stafford
7) Brian Clement, Wethersfield
8) R.J. Surdell, Manchester
9) Glenn Bartkowski, Manchester
10) Duane Provost, Indian Orchard, Ma
11) Justin Bren, Palmer, Ma
12) Paul Arute, Tolland
DARE STOCK (15)
1) Ryan Fearn, East Longmeadow, Ma
2) Jeff Jolly, Wallingford
3) Frank L’Etoile, Jr., Wethersfield
4) Andy Marchese, Tolland
5) Alexandra Fearn, East Longmeadow, Ma
6) Allison Coelho, Wilbraham, Ma
7) Greg Demone, Ludlow, Ma
8) David Comeau, Palmer, Ma
9) Nicole Chambrello, Kensington
10) Johnny Walker, Ludlow, Ma
11) Doug Phelps, Jr., New Salem, Ma
12) Gus Coelho, Jr., Wilbraham, Ma
13) Trace Beyer, Brewster, Ny
14) Josh Hall, Chicopee, Ma
15) Dan Dembek, Hamden, Ma
16) Tyler Trott, East Hartford
17) Brandon Michael, Granville, Ma
18) Mike Palm, Dudley, Ma
LEGEND CARS (20)
1) Michael Christopher, Jr., Wolcott
2) Dana DiMatteo, Farmington
3) Noah Korner, Canton
4) Chris Fuller, Boylston, Ma
5) Teddy Hodgdon, Danbury
6) Richie Coy, Haskell, Nj
7) Kyle Rogers, Waterbury
8) Art Marrero, Baltic
9) Cory DiMatteo, Farmington
10) Mikey Flynn, Hampden, Ma
– Stafford Motor Speedway press release. Photo credit: Rick Ibsen/Speed51.com