(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Speedway returned to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing action with the DARE Stock Xtra Mart Xtra D 20 program on Friday, May 15th on what was also Whelen Event Night with three Ingersoll Rand contingency bonuses going to the winners of the SK Modified®, Late Model, and SK Light features. Xtra Mart Convenience Stores put up a $250 bonus that was split evenly among the top-5 finishers in the extra distance DARE Stock feature event. Dan Dembek was the big winner, taking his second feature win of the 2015 season in the 20-lap DARE Stock feature. Ronnie Williams became the first repeat winner in the SK Modified® ranks, outdueling Eric Berndt and Ryan Preece in the process. Josh Wood picked up his second win of the season after Adam Gray was disqualified for a technical infraction, Tony Membrino, Jr. won his second consecutive feature in the SK Lights, Cliff Saunders got his second win of the season in the Limited Late Model feature, and Dana DiMatteo won his third consecutive Legend Cars feature.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Michael Gervais, Jr. went around Tom Bolles at the start to take the early race lead. Todd Owen and Ted Christopher followed suit in the outside groove to get around Bolles on lap-2. Eric Berndt and Ryan Preece were lined up on the outside of Bolles on lap-3 and they were both able to get by as Bolles was now dueling with Glen Reen for sixth on lap-4. A multicar accident in turn 2 collected Ronnie Silk, Jeremy Sorel, Adam Norton, Sean Foster, and Adam Norton and brought the caution out with 4 laps complete.
Gervais took the lead on the restart while Owen was side by side with Berndt for second and Berndt quickly took that spot. Mike Christopher, Jr. spun to bring the caution out with 6 laps complete.
Berndt got around Gervais to take the lead on the restart but the field could only complete 2 more laps before the caution came back out for a spin by Ted Christopher in turn 4. Behind Christopher Keith Rocco and Rowan Pennink were hooked together and they came to a stop next to Christopher. Rocco rejoined the field while Pennink was stuck on pit road with a damaged right front.
Berndt took the lead back under green with Gervais, Dan Avery, Justin Bonsignore, and Ryan Preece behind him. The caution came back out with 10 laps complete as Tom Bolles spun through the infield grass.
The restart saw a major pileup in the outside groove that collected 7 or 8 cars, including Ronnie Silk, Jeff Baral, Woody Pitkat, Mike Christopher, Jr., Tyler Hines, Branden Dion, Andrew Charron, and Tommy Membrino, Jr.
Gervais took the lead from Berndt on the restart with Avery, Preece, and Reen making up the top-5. Adam Norton came to a stop at the pit road entrance to bring the caution back out with 12 laps complete.
Berndt went back to the front on the restart with Preece working his way up to second. Ronnie Williams was up to third with Keith Rocco in fourth after his earlier misfortune, and Gervais fell back to fifth. Preece was trying the outside groove on Berndt while Williams was simultaneously trying the inside line against Preece. Preece was able to keep Williams behind him and he made a move to take over the lead on lap-18. Williams pulled alongside Berndt on lap-19 but Berndt was able to keep the spot. Rocco was fourth with Avery in fifth and Christopher was now back up to sixth after his earlier spin.
The action at the front of the field was intense as Berndt was searching for a way to get back by Preece while Williams was looking high and low for a way around Berndt. Berndt pulled alongside Preece on lap-25 and cleared Preece on lap-26 to retake the lead. Williams was now on the inside of Preece for second while Rocco was right on their bumpers in fourth and Avery was still right there in fifth. Chrisotpher and Gervais were closing in on the top-5 cars to make it a 7-car train at the front of the field with 11 laps to go.
Williams and Preece continued to run side by side behind Berndt and Williams was finally able to make a pass stick on lap-31 as he moved into second place. Glen Reen spun in turn 4 to bring the caution out with 35 laps complete and set up a 5-lap dash to the finish.
Berndt took the lead on the restart and Williams was briefly back to third but he took second from Preece in turns 3+4. Rocco and Avery were still fourth and fifth as Williams made a bid for the lead on lap-37. Williams and Berndt ran side by side until Williams got clear to the lead on lap-39. Williams led the field back to the checkered flag to pick up his second win of the 2015 season and become the first repeat SK Modified® feature winner. Berndt finished second, with Preece, Rocco, and Avery rounding out the top-5.
In the 30-lap Late Model feature event, Michael Wray and Tom Butler were side by side for the first 2 laps in a duel for the lead with Butler getting the better of that battle. Josh Wood quickly moved into second, with Adam Gray right behind him in third. Michael Scorzelli was fourth and Tom Fearn quickly worked his way into fifth. Wray fell back to eighth after fighting for the lead in the opening laps.
Wood made a move to the inside of Butler on lap-7 and he took the lead in turn 3. Gray followed Wood by Butler, who settled into line in third with Fearn behind him in fourth and Scorzelli was fifth. Gray ran behind Wood until lap-12 when he made a pass in turn 1 to take over the lead. Behind them, Butler was still running third, with Fearn in fourth and Scorzelli in fifth.
On lap-21, Michael Bennett passed both Fearn and Scorzelli to move into fourth place and one lap later saw Kevin Gambacorta move by Scorzelli to take over sixth place. The next lap saw Gambacorta move by Fearn to take over fifth place as Gray continued to lead Wood, Butler, and Bennett.
After three consecutive second place finishes to open the season, Gray put himself into victory lane for the first time, but following post-race technical inspection, Gray’s car was found to have an illegal driveshaft and he was disqualified, making Wood the winner for the second time in 2015. Butler came home in second, with Bennett, Gambacorta, and Scorzelli rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light feature event, a spin in turn 1 on the first lap collected the cars of Nick Salva, Rit Dulac, and Glenn Griswold and brought the caution out. Todd Douillard took the lead on the restart with Daniel Wesson in second. Wesson got a bit out of shape in turn 2, but he gathered the car back up and maintained second place. Stephen Kopcik moved into third, with Matt Swanson in fourth and Kyle Jette was fifth, just in front of Tony Membrino, Jr.
Membrino and Jette were side by side for fifth place with Membrino taking the spot on lap-4. Douillard had pulled out to a comfortable lead with Wesson’s slide on the opening lap, but Wesson ran Douillard down and he made a pass for the lead on lap-7. Kopcik was still third, but Membrino was now up to fourth with Swanson behind him in fifth.
The order changed again on lap-11 as Membrino and Kopcik both got by Douillard to move into second and third. Membrino and Kopcik then waged a side by side duel for a lap before Membrino moved into second on lap-14. Wesson had a 1.5 second lead that was erased by the caution for a spin by Jette.
Membrino got a good run on the outside of Wesson to take the lead on the restart. Wesson touched the dirt coming out of turn 2 that got his car slightly out of shape and allowed Kopcik to move into second. Joey Ferrigno was side by side with Douillard in a fight for fourth place behind Wesson as Membrino and Kopcik were running nearly identical lap times at the front. Douillard shot up the track in turn 4 and lost several spots but it was all Membrino at the front of the field as he took down his second consecutive win. Kopcik finished second, with Wesson, Ferrigno, and Swanson rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature event, David Comeau led the field to green but he drifted up the track in turn 3, allowing Justin Bren to move to the lead. Kelsey Rottino also got around Comeau to move into second. David Arute was fourth behind Comeau with Cliff Saunders running in fifth.
Arute made his move to the inside of Comeau on lap-5 to move into third. With Comeau on the high side, he began to slide backwards as Cliff Saunders, Austin Bessette, Al Saunders, Andrew Hayes, and Paul Arute all got by, dropping Comeau back to 9th place.
The order began to shuffle at the midway point of the race with Cliff Saunders, Austin Bessette, Al Saunders, and Andrew Hayes all got by Arute. Up front, Rottino made a move to the inside of Bren for the lead and and the two cars touched with Rottino spinning and bringing the caution out with 14 laps complete. Bren was sent to the rear of the field by NASCAR Officials for the restart, putting Cliff Saunders and Bessette on the front row for the restart.
Cliff Saunders took the lead on the restart with his twin brother Albert getting by Bessette to move inot second. Arute was all over Bessette’s bumper in the fight for third with Hayes right behind Arute in fifth. Hayes moved around Arute to take fourth on lap-17 while Albert was glued to Cliff Saunders’ back bumper up front.
Albert made a last lap move to the inside of Cliff as they came out of turn 4 and headed to the checkered flag, but Cliff had enough momentum to keep the lead at the start/finish line. Bessette finished third, with Hayes and Arute rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Xtra Mart Xtra D DARE Stock feature event, Marcello Rufrano led the field to the green but he was turned around into the frontstretch wall to bring the caution out.
On the restart, Alexandra Fearn took the lead with Frank L’Etoile, Jr. moving into second. Trace Beyer was on the move early on, moving up to third, with Dan Dembek fourth and Tyler Trott was up to fifth. Fearn initially pulled out to a several car length lead but by lap-3, L’Etoile was on her back bumper and he made a move in turn 3 to take over the lead. Beyer followed in L’Etoile’s tire tracks but was unable to make the pass as Fearn remained in second. The caution came back out with 6 laps complete for a spin in turn 1 by Doug Phelps that erased the lead that L’Etoile had built up over Fearn and Dembek.
L’Etoile took the lead back under green with Dembek moving into second. Trott moved into third with Beyer fourth as Fearn fell back to fifth. As the cars completed 10 laps, the caution came out for a spin by Chris Bagnall.
L’Etoile again took the lead back under green with Dembek holding off a challenge from Trott. Zack Robinson and Fearn came together with Fearn getting loose in turn 1 and then Robinson spun in turn 3 from contact from Fearn. Both cars were able to continue and the race stayed green with both Robinson and Fearn receiving black flags.
Up front, Dembek had taken the lead from L’Etoile with Trott and Beyer right on L’Etoile’s bumper in a 4-way duel for the lead as the cars completed 16 laps. Dembek led the cars back to the checkered flag to pick up his second win of the season. Trott made a move on the final lap to take second with L’Etoile, Beyer, and Nicole Chambrello rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Legends Car feature event, Andrew Molleur took the lead at the green but Cory DiMatteo spun to bring the caution out with 1 lap complete. On the restart, Ryan DeCandia went around to bring the caution right back out. Molleur again took the lead on the restart with Teddy Hodgdon holding off a strong challenge from Dana DiMatteo to remain in second place. Chris Fuller spun to bring the caution back out with 3 laps complete.
Molleur took the lead but he lost the lead to Hodgdon on lap-4. Molleur continued to slide backwards as Dana DiMatteo, Mikey Flynn, Joe Graf, Jr., Cory DiMatteo, and Devin O’Connell all got by Molleur. Brett Crowther spun to bring the caution out with 6 laps complete.
Dana DiMatteo snatched the lead away from Hodgdon on the restart with Cory DiMatteo moving into third. Flynn was fourth and O’Connell was fifth with Graf in sixth and Fuller recovered from his earlier spin in seventh. Dana DiMatteo and Hodgdon began to slowly pull away from Cory DiMatteo while O’Connell was all over his back bumper in the fight for third.
O’Connell made the move on lap-13 to take over third as Dana DiMatteo continued to lead the race with Hodgdon giving chase. As the leaders navigated lapped traffic, O’Connell was able to close in on the lead duo to make it a 3-car fight for the lead. Dana DiMatteo was able to hold off Hodgdon and O’Connell to the checkered flag to pick up his third consecutive victory of the 2015 season. Mikey Flynn was fourth and Cory DiMatteo rounded 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.