(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Speedway hosted the biggest and richest SK Modified® race of the 2023 season on Friday, August 4th with the 10th Annual NAPA Auto Parts SK 5k. Todd Owen came up the big winner of the night by taking the lead from Noah Korner on lap-75 of 80 and leading the rest of the way to take home the $5,000 winner’s check which will balloon to over $7,300 with contingency bonuses from the Gambler’s Challenge and track contingency partners added in. Other feature winners on the night were Michael Wray in the Late Model feature, George Bessette, Jr. in the SK Light feature, Kevin Cormier in the Limited Late Model feature, and Ryan Waterman in the Street Stock feature.
In the 80-lap NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K feature event, Troy Talman took the lead at the drop of the green flag with Anthony Flannery Tyler Hines, Jon Puleo, and Noah Korner lined up behind him. Michael Christopher, Jr. was sixth with Todd Owen, Jimmy Blewett, Keith Rocco, and Marcello Rufrano making up the top-10. Hines made a move to the inside of Flannery on lap-8 to move into second. Flannery was able to get in line in third just in front of Puleo. RJ Marcotte spun in the middle of turns 1+2 to bring the caution out with 10 laps complete.
Talman took the lead back under green with Puleo and Flannery going wheel to wheel for second and Christopher and Korner wheel to wheel for fourth. Puleo took second on lap-12 with Flannery in third. Christopher and Korner were still side by side before Korner finally got clear into fourth on lap13. Keith Rocco spun in turn 4 to bring the caution back out with 14 laps complete.
Talman took the lead on the restart but before a lap could be completed, Christopher spun through the backstretch infield and came back onto the track backwards in turn 3 to bring the caution flag back out. Jimmy Blewett was sent to the rear of the field by Stafford officials for making contact with Christopher.
Talman took the lead again on the restart with Puleo looking to take the lead on lap-15 but settled back into second. Korner was up to third behind the two leaders with Flannery in fourth and Owen and Rufrano wheel to wheel for fifth. Owen took fifth on lap17 while Korner was working to the inside of Puleo for second and he took the spot. The caution came back out with 21 laps complete for Tyler Leary and Steven Chapman, who came together against the frontstretch wall coming out of turn 4 and also collected the car of Art Caruso.
Rufrano shot into the lead on the restart with Korner right behind him in second. Flannery was third in line with Talman and Puleo wheel to wheel for fourth place. Owen was sixth with Cory DiMatteo in seventh. Lap 29 saw Flannery take second from Korner while Owen shot up to fourth place as several cars in front of him got loose in turn 1. Korner was starting to apply heavy pressure to Rufrano for the lead as they approached the halfway point of the race but Rufrano was able to maintain the lead. Rufrano led the halfway lap to pick up a $500 bonus from SK Property Maintenance and he led lap-44 to pick up a $200 bonus from Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair.
As the leaders approached lap-45, it was Rufrano still in command with Korner, Owen, Flannery, George Bessette, Jr., Puleo, Pitkat, Talman, Ryan Morgan, and Jimmy Blewett making up the top-10. Korner took the lead from Rufrano on lap-49 and now Rufrano has Owen looking high and low for a way to take second place from him. Owen was able to finally make a pass for second on lap-56 while Korner continued to hold the race lead.
With 65 laps complete, the order was Korner, Owen, Rufrano, Flannery, Bessette, Puleo, Blewett, Pitkat, Talman, and Morgan. The caution came out with 72 laps complete for a spin in turn 2 by Morgan to set up an 8-lap dash to the finish with Korner and Owen on the front row and Rufrano and Flannery in row 2.
Korner took the lead with Rufrano nearly taking second before Owen took second from the outside lane. Rufrano settled into third with Bessette taking fourth and Jimmy Blewett going wheel to wheel with Flannery for fifth place. Owen took the lead from Korner with a pass in turn 4 on lap-75 while Blewett got clear into fifth. Owen led Korner to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2023 season in the biggest SK Modified® race of the year. Bessette finished third with Blewett and Rufrano rounding out the top-5.
In the 30-lap Late Model feature event, John Blake took the lead at the drop of the green flag but the caution flew before the first lap could be completed for Dave Wray and Wayne Coury, Jr., who both got into the turn 3 wall while Andrew Durand did a quick 360 spin coming out of turn 4.
The next restart saw several cars get together with Chris Meyer taking a 360 spin through the frontstretch infield but he kept going and the race stayed green. Blake again took the early lead with Michael Wray right behind him in second. Jacob Perry was third in line followed by Durand and Adam Gray. Alexandra Fearn was stuck in the outside land and was slowly falling backwards until she was able to get back in line in ninth place. Up front, Wray was applying heavy pressure to Blake for the lead but Blake was able to hold Wray off. The caution came out with 10 laps complete for Alexandra Fearn, who came to a stop in the middle of turns 3+4.
Michael Wray took the lead on the restart with Durand moving into second. Gray was third in line with Kevin Gambacorta up to fourth and Blake falling back to fifth. Perry spun in turn 3 which collected Bobby Stirk, III, Darrell Keane Alexandra Fearn, Coury, Dave Wray, and Zack Robinson to bring the caution back out with 12 laps complete.
Wray resumed his place at the front of the field on the restart wit Gray taking second. Durand was third with Blake fourth and Tom Fearn fifth. Tom Fearn took fourth from Blake on lap-14 and he took third from Durand on lap-15 as he was on a charge towards the front. Gambacorta spun to the infield in the middle of turns 3+4 to bring the caution back out with 15 laps complete.
Wray took the lead on the restart with Durand moving into second. Tom Fearn took third with Chris Meyer back up to fourth and Tom Butler fifth. Alexandra Fearn was back up to sixth with Gray fading back to seventh after he drifted up the track in turn 1 on the restart after he and Durand touched. Butler made a move to the inside of Meyer on lnap-19 to move into fourth. Alexandra Fearn and Gray both followed Butler by Meyer on lap-20 to move into fifth and sixth and drop Meyer back to seventh. The caution came back out with 20 laps complete for a spin by Blake at the exit of turn 4 after contact from Coury. Coury was sent to the rear of the field by Stafford officials for making contact with Blake.
Durand nearly took the lead from Wray on the restart but Wray was able to pull back ahead of Durand. Tom Fearn was now door to door with Durand one lap after the restart in a fight for second with Gray back up to fourth and Robinson back up to fifth. Gray took third from Durand on lap-23 while Alexandra Fearn was applying heavy pressure to Robinson for the fifth position. Fearn would take the spot from Robinson on lap-25 and that move opened the door for Paul Varricchio, Jr. to move into sixth and drop Robinson back to seventh place.
Tom Fearn couldn’t catch Wray at the front as Wray took down his first win of the 2023 season. Gray finished third behind Wray and Fearn with Durand and Alexandra Fearn rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light feature event, Meghan Fuller took the early lead at the start of the race with Amanda West coming up to second. Tyler Chapman quickly worked his way up to third with Nickolas Hovey in fourth and George Bessette, Jr. in fifth. The caution came out with 4 laps complete for Daltin McCarthy, who came to a stop on the backstretch with a flat left rear tire.
Chapman went 3-wide with Fuller and West on the restart to emerge with the race lead. Bessette and West were now wheel to wheel for second with Fuller fourth and Alexander Pearl in fifth. Bessette got clear into third place on lap-6 and he then went by Chapman on lap-8 to take over the lead. Fuller was third behind Bessette and Chapman with Pearl fourth and West fifth. The caution came out with 15 laps complete for Hailey Desaulniers, who spun in the middle of turns 1+2.
Bessette took the lead on the restart with Chapman right behind him in second. Pearl moved into third with Fuller fourth and Brian Sullivan now in fifth as West fell back to seventh place, just behind Nickolas Hovey. The caution and red flags came out with 18 laps complete as Fuller spun in turn 2 and collected the cars of Casey Vogt, Bob Charland, Matt Brewer, and Jason Chapman to set up a green white checkered finish.
A pileup on the restart involving Paul Arute, Joey Ferrigno, Paul Arcari, and Sami Anderson brought the yellow flag right back out. The next green white checkered restart attempt saw Pearl spin in turn 4 coming to the green flag to bring the caution right back out for a second consecutive time. The third GWC restart attempt saw Bessette and Chapman go wheel to wheel for the lead with Sullivan and West wheel to wheel for third but Hailey Desaulniers spun on the backstretch to bring the caution back out with 19 laps complete and set up yet another green white checkered restart.
Bessette took the lead with chapman glued to his back bumper as they took the white flag. Bessette pulled away by a car length on the final lap to pick up his second win of the 2023 season. Sullivan finished third with West and Tyler Barry rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, Rich Hammann took the early race lead at the start with Kevin Cormier moving from fifth up to second behind Hammann. Adrien Paradis, III was third in line with Devon Jencik fourth and Jeremy Lavoie fifth. Lavoie took fourth from Jencik on lap-2 and Matt Clement went by Jencik to take fifth on lap-3 before the caution came out with 4 laps complete for Trinity Provost, who lost a tire in turn 3 after getting into the wall.
Cormier streaked past Hammann on the restart to move into the lead. Paradis was still third behind Hammann with Matt Clement and Lavoie going door to door for fourth place. Clement took the position on lap-6 with Lavoie slotting into fifth. Just behind Lavoie, Devon Jencik and Damian Palardy were door to door for sixth with Jencik winning that duel.
Cormier was starting to stretch out his advantage over Hammann in second when the caution came back out with 8 laps complete for debris on the track in turn 3.
Cormier again took the lead back under green with Paradis moving up to second. Lavoie took third with Matt Clement taking fourth as Hammann slid from second back to fifth. Palardy was sixth behind Hammann with Gary Patnode in seventh, Devon Jencik eighth, Kevin Crosby ninth, and Connor Jencik tenth. Palardy drifted up the track on lap-12 and fell back to ninth while on lap-13 Lavoie made a move to the inside of Paradis for second and he was able to complete the pass on lap-14.
Cormier pulled away from Lavoie over the closing laps and he captured his fourth win of the 2023 season. Lavoie finished second with Clement, Hammann, and Paradis rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Street Stock feature, Jeff Asselin streaked into the lead at the start of the race with Bert Ouellette taking second. Tyler Trott was third in line with Aaron Plemons going around Jason Raymond to take fourth and drop Raymond back to fifth. Plemons took third from Trott on lap-5 and that allowed Ryan Waterman to follow him by Trott and take fourth. Waterman then went by both Plemons and Asselin on lap-6 to move into second behind new leader Ouellette. Waterman made a move to the inside of Ouellette on lap-7 and he was able to complete the pass on lap-8 to take the lead. Plemons was third behind Waterman and Ouellette with Raymond in fourth and Travis Downey now in fifth with 12 laps to go.
Ouellette drifted up the track in turn 1 on lap-10 which gave Plemons all the opportunity he needed to take second. Raymond took third, Downey took fourth, Travis Hydar took fifth, and Jason Finkbein took sixth as Ouellette slid all the way back to seventh place. Hydar went by Downey to take third on lap-13 just before the caution came out for Cindy Stirk, who spun in turn 2.
Waterman took the lead on the restart with Plemons taking a look for the lead before he would lose second to Hydar. Finkbein was now wheel to wheel for fourth place with Downey behind Plemons in third with Finkbein getting the position on lap-16. Up front, Hydar was practically glued to the back bumper of Waterman but the caution flew with 17 laps complete for Ryan Perry, who spun in turn 4.
Waterman charged into the lead back under green but Trott spun in turn 2 to bring the yellow right back out. Ouellette was sent to the rear of the field for making contact with Trott. Waterman again took the lead on the restart with Hydar right behind him in second. Downey was third with Finkbein fourth and Raymond in fifth. Hydar took the lead from Waterman in turn 3 but as they took the white flag the duo was door to door. Waterman retook the lead in turn 3 and he lead the field back to the checkered flag to pick up his sixth win of the 2023 season. Hydar finished second with Downey, Finkbein, and Raymond 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.