Stafford Speedway returned to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing action with the Valenti Modified Racing Series in the house for the 6th Annual VMRS 80. Taking down weekly feature wins on the night were Woody Pitkat in the SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn in the Late Model feature, Daniel Wesson in the SK Light feature, David Arute in the Ltd. Late Model feature, Frank L’Etoile, Jr. in the DARE Stock feature, and Mikey Flynn in the Legend Cars feature.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Eric Berndt went from third on the grid straight into a side by side fight with Jeremy Sorel for the race lead. They ran the first two laps side by side with Sorel holding the lead at the line by a nose but Berndt took the lead on lap-3. Michael Gervais, Jr. was now second with Ted Christopher third as Sorel was sliding backwards. Joey Cipriano took fourth and Ryan Preece took fifth on lap-6 as Sorel was back to sixth.
Christopher took the lead from Berndt on lap-7 with a pass in turn 3 and Ryan Preece made a power move in turn 3 on lap-8 to move up to third behind Berndt. Gervais was fourth with Cipriano, Keith Rocco, Woody Pitkat, and Rowan Pennink lined up behind them. Ronnie Wiliams, who had won the last 2 SK Modified® feature events, slowed on lap-11 and he tried to limp his way back to pit road before the caution came out as the 59 car came to a halt just out of turn 2. Preece took the lead from Christopher on lap-11 and he was in front when the caution came out.
The first start was called back and on the second start attempt, Preece took the lead with Chrsotphe rin second. Berndt was third, with Pitkat and Rocco making up the top-5 but the action was at the front as Christopher and Preece were side by side for the lead. They ran several laps side by side before Christopher fell back into line in second. The caution then came out with 16 laps complete as Cipriano spun in turn 4.
As the field came to the green flag, Preece dropped off the pace and pulled behind the wall, which brought the caution right back out. Christopher took the lead on the next restart with Berndt and Pitkat side by side for second. Rocco was fourth and Matt Galko was now up to fifth. Pitkat cleared Berndt on lap-18 and he pulled alongside Christopher in a fight for the lead. Pitkat and Christopher ran four laps side by side before Pitkat got clear to the lead on lap-22. Rocco was third in line behind the two leaders with Galko fourth and Berndt back to fifth.
Rocco nearly made a pass for second on lap-25 but he fell back into line behind Christopher in third as Pitkat continued to lead the race. Rocco was hounding Christopher for second but was not able to make a pass stick. With 33 laps complete, Pitakt, Christopher, and Rocco were in one three-car pack and then Galko, Dan Avery, and Rowan Pennink formed a second three-car pack about a second behind the lead pack.
Pitkat led the field back to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2015 season and the very first win for his car owners, the Skowyra family. Christopher finished second, with Rocco, Pennink, and Galko rounding out the top-5.
In the 30-lap Late Model feature event, Wayne Coury, Jr. got into the wall in turn 1 and the caution came out with 1 lap complete as Ed Ricard took the lead from Kevin Gambacorta and Josh Wood.
Ricard took the lead back under green with Wood and Tom Fearn behind him but the caution came back out with 2 laps complete as Rich Hammann came to a stop in turn 3.
Wood took the lead from Ricard on the restart with Fearn third, Kevin Gambacorta fourth, and Tom Butler fifth. Ricard began to slide backwards as Fearn, Gambacorta, Butler, and Michael Bennett all got by as Ricard fell back to fifth. Fearn was all over the back bumper of Wood on lap-8 and he was looking to take over the race lead.
Bennett made a move to the inside of Butler to move into fourth on lap-12 while Fearn was again looking to take the lead from Wood. Fearn made a pass stick in turn 3 to move to the front on lap-13. Gambacorta was now hounding Wood for second while Bennett was beginning to close in on Wood and Gambacorta as Fearn continued to lead the race.
Gambacorta took second from Wood on lap-20 and Bennett followed him by as Wood fell from second back to fourth place. Fearn was still in command of the race with a little over a half second lead. Butler took fourth from Wood on lap-28 in turns 1+2 but Butler came back strong in turns 3+4 to retake the spot. The cars were side by side as they took the white flag. Fearn led Gambacorta to the checkered flag to pick up his 9th win of the season. Bennett finished third, with Butler and Wood rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature event, Geoff Boisjolie took the lead at the green before giving up the lead to Jay Goff on lap-2. The caution came out for Cory Casagrande, who spun through the frontstretch grass.
Back under green, Goff took the lead while D.J. Burnham streaked into second. Burnham spent several laps trying to pry the lead from the hands of Goff and he was finally able to make a pass stick on lap-8. Daniel Wesson was up to second behind Burnham and he was hounding Burnham for the lead. Tony Membrino, Jr. was third, with Kyle Jette fourth and Payton Henry making up the top-5.
With 13 laps complete the top-5 were all nose to tail for the lead. Wesson made a move to take over the lead on lap-15 while Burnham and Stephen Kopcik were side by side for second. Membrino was fourth, with Jette, Henry, and Salva lined up behind him. The caution came out with 18 laps complete for Todd Douillard, who spun in turn 2. The caution brought the wild action at the front to a brief halt and set up a green white checkered finish.
Wesson took the lead back under green and he held off Kopcik to the checkered flag to pick up his third win of the 2015 season. Burnham finished third, with Membrino and Jette rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature event, Matt Clement took the lead from the pole while it was 3-wide behind him as David Arute looked to the inside of Dave Comeau and R.J. Surdell. Arute backed out and Surdell took second while Arute was locked in a side by side duel with Comeau for third. Arute took third from Comeau on lap-3 and he continued his charge as he also took second. Justin Bren was on the early charge as he moved up to third behind Arute with Al Saunders fourth and Cliff Saunders fifth.
Andrew Hayes took fifth from Cliff Saunders in turn 1 on lap-6 and Arute took the lead from Clement in turn 3 of the same lap. Bren took second with Al Saunders, Hayes, and Cliff Saunders all getting by Clement as he fell from the lead back to sixth place.
Al Saunders pulled alongside Bren for second on lap-9 and he made the pass on lap-10. Just as he made the pass, Hayes pulled to his inside and they were now side by side for second. Hayes got clear of Al Saunders on lap-10 with Bren fourth and Cliff Saunders fifth while David Arute continued to lead the race.
Arute led Hayes to the checkered flag to pick up his third win of the 2015 season. Al Saunders finished third with Bren and Robert Bloxsom, III rounding out the top-5.
In the 15-lap DARE Stock feature event, Nicole Chambrello took the early lead with Zack Robinson giving chase but the caution came out with 1 lap complete as Kelsey Rottino spun in turn 4 and then Bryan Granger spun in turn 2.
Chambrello took the lead back under green with Dan Dembek moving up to second. Frank L’Etoile, Jr. took third and Brandon Michael took fourth as Robinson fell back to fifth. Robinson nearly spun on lap-6 but he kept his car under control and resumed racing in sixth place, side by side with Marcello Rufrano. Alexandra Fearn spun coming out of turn 4 to bring the caution out with 7 laps complete. Under the caution, Tyler Trott, who came into the race in second place in the championship race, came to pit road with damage to his car after making contact with the wall earlier in the race.
Chambrello again took the lead back under green while L’Etoile made a move to take over second. Michael was third with Dembek falling back to fourth. L’Etoile made a move to take the lead from Chambrello on lap-9 and Michael followed him by Chambrello to move into second. Dembek took third, from Chambrello on lap-11 and just as he made that pass right behind the two cars Robinson spun coming out of turn 2. He was able to keep his car going and the race stayed green.
L’Etoile led the field back to the checkered flag to pick up his third win of the 2015 season. Michael finished second with Dembek, Chambrello, and Trace Beyer making up the top-5.
In the 20-lap Legend Cars feature, Mikey Flynn took the early lead with Michael Hopkins, Teddy Hodgdon, Noah Korner, and Devin O’Connell lined up behind him. The order shuffled on lap-6 as Hodgdon went by Hopkins to move into second and he opened the door for Korner to follow him through as Hopkins fell back to fourth. O’Connell got by Hopkins one lap later to move into fourth and drop Hopkins back to fifth as Flynn was nearly 1 second in front of Hodgdon.
As the race hit the halfway point, Hodgdon was slowly eating into Flynn’s lead and he had closed the gap down to a half second. Hodgdon nearly had a pass made for the lead on lap-18 but Flynn was able to hold off his challenge. Flynn then held Hodgdon off to the checkered flag to pick up the first win of his career at Stafford. Hodgdon finished second with Korner, O’Connell, and Hopkins 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) Woody Pitkat, Stafford Springs
2) Ted Christopher, Plainville
3) Keith Rocco, Berlin
4) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, Pa
5) Matt Galko, Meriden
6) Dan Avery, Somers
7) Eric Berndt, Cromwell
8) Joey Cipriano, III, Waterbury
9) Michael Gervais, Jr., Southbury
10) Jeremy Sorel, Westfield, Ma
11) Todd Owen, Somers
12) Tom Bolles, Ellington
13) Mike Christopher, Jr., Wolcott
14) Tyler Hines, North Haven
15) Ryan Preece, Berlin
16) Zach Sylvester, Lebanon
17) Ronnie Williams, Tolland
LATE MODEL (30)
1) Tom Fearn, East Longmeadow, Ma
2) Kevin Gambacorta, Ellington
3) Michael Bennett, Willington
4) Tom Butler, Stafford Springs
5) Josh Wood, Palmer, Ma
6) Ed Ricard, Stafford Springs
7) Michael Wray, Northford
8) Scott Cook, Oakdale
9) Rich Hammann, Tolland
10) Paul Varricchio, Jr., Berlin
11) Joel Monahan, Whately, Ma
12) Rick Lanagan, III, Broad Brook
13) Stu Fearn, East Longmeadow, Ma
14) Wayne Coury, Jr., Shelton
SK LIGHT (20)
1) Daniel Wesson, Monson, Ma
2) Stephen Kopcik, Newtown
3) D.J. Burnham, East Hartford
4) Tony Membrino, Jr., Plantsville
5) Kyle Jette, New Milford
6) Payton Henry, Willington
7) Nick Salva, Prospect
8) Glenn Griswold, Vernon
9) Joey Ferrigno, East Hartford
10) Jay Goff, Stafford Springs
11) Cory Casagrande, Stafford Springs
12) Geoff Boisjolie, East Hampton, Ma
13) Wesley Prucker, Stafford
14) Jason Lafayette, Somers
15) Todd Douillard, Palmer, Ma
16) Rit Dulac, Plantsville
17) Norm Sears, Andover
18) Carlos Gray, Manchester
19) Mark Alkas, Berlin
20) Paul French, Andover
LIMITED LATE MODEL (20)
1) David Arute, Tolland
2) Andrew Hayes, Charlton, Ma
3) Albert Saunders, Stafford
4) Justin Bren, Palmer, Ma
5) Robert Bloxsom, III, Stratford
6) David Comeau, Palmer, Ma
7) Cliff Saunders, Stafford
8) R.J. Surdell, Manchester
9) Duane Provost, Palmer, Ma
10) Matt Clement, Wethersfield
11) Glenn Bartkowski, Manchester
12) David Tefft, Southampton, Ma
13) Paul Arute, Tolland
DARE STOCK (15)
1) Frank L’Etoile, Jr., Wethersfield
2) Brandon Michael, Granville, Ma
3) Dan Dembek, Hampden, Ma
4) Nicole Chambrello, Kensington
5) Trace Beyer, West Dover, Vt
6) Bryan Granger, Keene, Nh
7) Marcello Rufrano, North Haven
8) Vince Gambacorta, Ellington
9) Alexandra Fearn, East Longmeadow, Ma
10) Zack Robinson, Putnam
11) Armand Cote, Jr, Rocky Hill
12) Paul Bourdon, Jr., Jewett City
13) Jeff Champagne, Westfield, Ma
14) Chris Bagnall, Norfolk
15) Tyler Trott, East Hartford
16) Jake Higginson, Waterbury
17) Kelsey Rottino, Willimantic
LEGEND CARS (20)
1) Mikey Flynn, Hampden, Ma
2) Teddy Hodgdon, Iv, Danbury
3) Noah Korner, Canton
4) Devin O’Connell, Madison
5) Michael Hopkins, Springfield, Ma
6) Glenn Korner, Canton
7) Andrew Molleur, Shelton
– Stafford Speedway press release
– Photo credit: Rick Ibsen for Speed51.com