(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Speedway returned to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing action with the Late Model Xtra Mart Xtra D 50 program on Friday, May 8th. Xtra Mart Convenience Stores put up a $1,000 bonus that was split evenly among the top-5 finishers in the extra distance Late Model feature event. Michael Bennett recorded his second feature victory of the 2015 season with a thrilling late race pass that saw him beat Adam Gray to the checkered flag by the length of the nose on his car. Other feature winners included Keith Rocco holding off spirited challenges from Justin Bonsignore and Rowan Pennink in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Tony Membrino, Jr. won the SK Light feature, Austin Bessette won the Limited Late Model feature, Tyler Trott was a first time career winner in the DARE Stock feature, and Dana DiMatteo took his second consecutive win in the Legend Cars feature.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Todd Owen took the lead with Tom Bolles on his outside. The caution came out with 2 laps complete as Michael Gervais spun in the middle of turns 3+4.
Back under green, Bolles got a good run on the outside of Owen to move to the lead but Owen came back on lap-4 to move back by Bolles. Bolles was now side by side with Eric Berndt for second with Justin Bonsignore and Ryan Preece side by side for fourth and Ted Christopher side by side with Keith Rocco for sixth. Owen was beginning to stretch out his lead while the three rows of cars remained side by side.
The side by side was finally broken up on lap-9 as Berndt moved to second, Preece to third, Rocco to fourth, and Ted Christopher to fifth. The action was slowed by the caution with 9 laps complete for a spin by Mike Christopher, Jr. in turn 2.
Berndt and Owen were side by side for the lead back under green. Berndt was able to keep pace with Owen for a lap before the caution came back out for Tom Bolles, who spun through the infield grass. Anthony Ryan and Tyler Hines spun in turn 1 on the restart to bring the yellow right back out.
Berndt took the lead back under green with Preece moving up to second. Rocco was third, with Christopher, Bonsignore, and Owen behind him. Preece got around Berndt to take over the lead on lap-13 and Rocco got by Berndt to move into second on lap-14. Christopher was still fourth with Bonsignore and Owen lined up in single file behind him. Adam Norton took a hard spin into the turn 2 wall to bring the caution out with 15 laps complete.
Berndt got a good run in the outside groove to retake the lead on the restart. Rocco and Bonsignore were sidey by side for second for a moment, but Rocco took the spot. Christopher and Glen Reen were side by side for fourth as Rocco went back to the lead on lap-19. Bonsignore followed Rocco by Berndt to move up to second and drop Berndt back to third. Christopher and Berndt were dueling for third coming out of turn 4 on lap-20 when Christopher got sideways and fell to the back of the pack as the race stayed under green flag conditions.
Bonsignore was now hounding Rocco for the race lead and Bonsignore was able to take the lead by a nose at the line on lap-22. Bonsignore got clear of Rocco the next lap while Berndt continued to run third, just in front of the side by side duel between Reen and Dan Avery.
Rocco retook the lead with a power move going into turn 3 on lap-27. Bonsignore came right back and took a look to Rocco’s inside on lap-28, but Rocco was able to maintain the lead. Reen was now third, with Berndt fourth, Joey Cipirano fifth, and Rowan Pennink sixth.
Pennink got around Cipriano for fifth on lap-31 as Bonsignore was sticking right with Rocco in the fight for the lead. The caution came out with 35 laps complete for Matt Galko, who spun in the middle of turns 1+2.
Rocco took the lead on the restart with Bonsignore able to slot himself in front of a sliding Glen Reen. Pennink moved into third, with Reen fourth and Cipriano fifth. The caution came back out with 37 laps complete for a spin by Mike Christopher, Jr. in almost the same spot in turn 2 that he spun in earlier.
Rocco and Bonsignore were side by side with Pennink glued to Rocco’s bumper on the restart. As they took the white flag, Rocco was clear in the lead with Pennink side by side with Bonsignore. Rocco kept the lead back to the checkered flag for his first win of the 2015 season. Bonsignore took second by a nose over Pennink, with Reen and Ronnie Williams rounding out the top-5.
In the 50-lap Xtra Mart Xtra D Late Model feature event, Kyle Casagrande took the early race lead with his brother Cory right behind him in second. Ed Ricard was third, with Tom Butler fourth and last week’s feature winner Josh Wood was up to fifth in the early running.
Ricard slipped up the track and he fell back several spots back to seventh as the order was now Kyle and Cory Casagrande out front and they were followed in line by Butler, Wood, Adam Gray, and Kevin Gambacorta. Kyle Casagrande had disaster strike on lap-15 as his car was all of a sudden off the pace and he slipped back to seventh. Cory Casagrande was the new race leader with Butler, Wood, Gray, Gambacorta, Michael Scorzelli, and Keith Rocco substituting for Tom Fearn, lined up behind him.
The order at the front changed on lap-21 as Wood moved to second and Gray was on the inside of Butler for third as Cory Casagrande continued to lead the race. Gray took third on lap-22 and the top-8 cars of Cory Casagrande, Wood, Gray, Butler, Gambacorta, Scorzelli, Rocco, and Michael Bennett were beginning to tighten up to one another after stringing out early in the race.
Disaster struck Cory Casagrande with 34 laps complete as he spun from the lead in turn 2 after contact with Wood to bring the caution out. Wood was given a penalty by NASCAR Officials that put him to the rear of the field, putting Gray and Butler on the front row for the restart.
Gray streaked into the lead with Gambacorta moving up to second. Bennett was third with Jim Mavlouganes fourth and Butler was back to fifth. Gray pulled out to a 1 second lead over Bennett with 6 laps to go as Mavlouganes, Butler, and Scorzelli made up the top-5. Scott Cook brought the caution out with 48 laps complete as he slid up the track and into the turn 1 wall.
Gray took the lead on the restart, but Cory Casagrande and Wood spun in turn 3 to bring the caution back out.
Gray took the lead at the green, but Bennett got a great run heading into turn 3 and he powered his way by Gray to take the lead coming to the white flag. Gray came back strong on the last lap and got to Bennett’s inside as they came out of turn 4. It was a drag race to the checkered flag and Bennett beat Gray to the line by the length of his nose in a thrilling finish that had the fans in attendance on their feet. Mavlouganes finished third with Butler and Scorzelli rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light feature event, there was 3-wide at the front right from the start as Todd Douillard took the point. At the end of the first lap, several cars went into the turn 1 wall to bring the caution out including Rit Dulac, Wesley Prucker, Geoff Boisjolie.
Douillard took the lead on the restart, but he didn’t make it back to the stripe as the leader as D.J. Burnham streaked into the lead on the backstretch. Douillard spun in turn 2 after contact with Stephen Kopcik but he was able to get going and the race stayed green. Tony Membrino, Jr. went by Burnham to take over the lead on lap-3 and the caution then came out as Douillard spun again in turn 2.
Membrino continued to lead back under green with Burnham in second. Jay Goff was third, with Kyle Jette right on his bumper in fourth. The top-4 had pulled away from Payton Henry in fifth. Right behind Henry was Kopcik, Vinny Anglace, and Joey Ferrigno. Kopcik got around Henry for fifth on lap-8 while Membrino was starting to pull away from Burnham in the fight for the lead.
Jette was all over Goff’s bumper in the fight for third with Kopcik closing in to make it a three-car fight, but Goff was able to hold Jette off. Lap after lap Jette would take a look to Goff’s inside but he couldn’t carry enough speed to complete the pass. While Goff and Jette were fighting hard for third, Ferrigno had closed the gap to the three cars and it was now a four car fight for third.
Membrino led Burnham to the checkered flag to score a dominating win. Goff was able to hold off the challenges of Jette for third with Kopcik rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature event, R.J. Surdell took the lead at the green but Justin Bren took that lead spot from Surdell on lap-2. Austin Bessette followed Bren by Surdell to move into second. Bren got out of shape and slid up the track, allowing Andrew Hayes to move into second behind Bessette. Al Saunders was third, with Duane Provost fourth and Cliff Saunders was fifth. Surdell fell back to twelfth place while Bren was off the pace and limping his way back to pit road, finished early for the evening.
The top-5 were running a nose to tail train with Bessette leading Hayes, Al Saunders, Provost, and Cliff Saunders. The running order remained the same at the halfway point of the race with Bessette still in command of the race. Al Saunders got around Hayes for second but Bessette was still in command of the race. Bessette led the field to the checkered flag to pick up a dominating win, his first of the 2015 season. Al Saunders finished second, with Hayes, Provost, and Cliff Saunders rounding out the top-5.
In the 15-lap DARE Stock feature event, Tyler Trott streaked into the lead from the pole with Trace Beyer slotting into second. Behind Beyer, it was a 3-wide crowd with Alexandra Fearn moving into third, Dan Dembek fourth, and Frank L’Etoile, Jr. fifth. L’Etoile moved around Fearn for second on lap-2 but Fearn was hanging tough on the outside of Beyer. Up front, Beyer had reeled Trott in and he was within a car length by lap-4.
Fearn hung strong for a lap on the outside of L’Etoile before she fell back into line behind L’Etoie with Dembek still running third behind Trott and Beyer. At the halfway point of the race, Trott continued to lead Beyer while L’Etoile was now on the back bumper of Dembek in a fight for third with Fearn still holding fifth place. Zack Robinson was up to sixth and he was beginning to close in on Fearn.
Just as Beyer had closed in on the back of Trott, Trott then began to slowly open the gap back up with 5 laps to go. Nicole Chambrello spun in turn 2 but was able to get going to keep the race green but then Marcello Rufrano spun in the same spot as Chambrello to bring the caution out with 13 laps complete.
Trott powered his way back into the lead while behind him it was a dogfight between Dembek and Beyer for second place. Trott led the final two laps to pick up his first career DARE Stock victory while Dembek beat Beyer to the line by a nose to take second. Fearn was fourth and L’Etoile rounded out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Legends Car feature event, Andrew Molleur shot into the lead from the outside pole at the start with Mikey Flynn moving into second. Noah Korner started on pole, but he fell back to third in the running order with Devin O’Connell and Cory DiMatteo behind him. O’Connell quickly worked his way around Korner to move into third. O’Connell continued his charge towards the front as he went by Flynn to move into second on lap-6.
Two laps later O’Connell went by Molleur to move into the race lead. Flynn was now third, with Cory DiMatteo in fourth, just ahead of his brother Dana DiMatteo. O’Connell then began to stretch out his lead over Molleur but that lead was erased with 14 laps complete by the caution flag, which came out for a spin by Jerry Macchia.
The caution came back out as contact on the restart saw Molleur go around. O’Connell then spun from the lead on the next restart attempt, which put Dana DiMatteo out front for the next restart attempt. He took the lead with Alex McCollum taking second. Jordan LaMothe and Noah Korner were putting on a great duel for third placed with Cory DiMatteo back to fifth. Mike Hopkins brought the caution out with 17 laps complete as he got into the backstretch wall and then came to a stop on the frontstretch after crawling through turns 3+4.
Dana DiMatteo took the lead back under green with McCollum right on his bumper. LaMothe was third, Cory DiMatteo moved up to fourth and Noah Korner was trying to hold off O’Connell and Flynn for fifth. Dana DiMatteo led the field back to the checkered flag to pick up his second consecutive win of the 2015 season. McCollum finished second, with LaMothe, Cory DiMatteo, and Noah Korner rounding out the top-5.