(Stafford Springs, CT)—Open Modified cars returned to Stafford Motor Speedway for their fourth of five visits of the 2023 season on Friday, June 7th for the GAF Roofing Open 80. Woody Pitkat started up front and ran among the top-2 or top-3 cars all night long but he had to hold off a strong challenge over the final 10 laps of the race from George Bessette, Jr. in order to take the checkered flag.
Woody Pitkat powered into the lead at the start of the GAF 80 with George Bessette, Jr. settling into second behind Pitkat. Ronnie Williams was third with Matt Galko fourth and Anthony Bello in fifth. Williams was looking to take second from Bessette when the caution flew with 4 laps complete for spins in turn 1 by Joey Mucciacciaro and Matt Gallo with Mucciacciaro limping back to pit road with a flat right front tire.
Pitkat took the lead on the restart with Bessette, Williams, Galko, and Bello lined up behind him. Just behind Bello the duo of Glen Reen and Joey Cipriano were wheel to wheel for sixth place and they were still side by side on lap-8 when Teddy Hodgdon nearly made a 3-wide pass coming out of turn 4 but he backed out of the move. Cipriano got clear of Reen on lap-10 with Hodgdon taking seventh to drop Reen back to eighth place. The caution came back out with 19 laps complete for a spin by Reen coming out of turn 4.
Bessette took the lead on the restart with Pitkat falling back to second. Williams continued to run in third with Hodgdon in fourth and Galko fifth. Chris Pasteryak was up to sixth with Cipriano, Eric Goodale, Todd Owen, and Glen Reen making up the top-10. The caution came back out with 29 laps complete for a spin in turn 2 by Austin Bessette.
Bessette again was the leader back under green with Pitkat in close pursuit. Williams, Hodgdon, and Pasteryak were the new top-5 with Cipriano, Goodale, Reen, Owen, and Tyler Barry making up the top-10.
Bessette was starting to stretch out his lead over Pitkat as the race approached the halfway marker while Pasteryak was all over Williams in the fight for fourth place. With 45 laps complete the order was Bessette, Pitkat, Hodgdon, Williams, and Pasteryak. Debris on the track brought the caution flag back out with 50 laps complete.
Under the caution, the field came to pit road for a fresh tire or two and adjustments. Pitkat won the race off of pit road followed by Hodgdon, Bessette, Pasteryak, Williams, Kurt Vigeant, Goodale, Reen, Cipriano, Buddy Charette, and Tyler Barry. Matt Galko stayed out on the track and he would be the race leader for the restart with Pitkat alongside on the front row and Hodgdon and Bessette making up the second row.
Galko took the lead on the restart while Hodgdon and Pitkat were wheel to wheel for second and Pasteryak and Bessette were wheel to wheel for fourth behind them. Just behind the two side by side duos was Williams and Reen in sixth and seventh place. The Pitkat/Hodgdon duo caught Galko on lap-54 but Galko was able to hold off challenges from both drivers before Pitkat settled back into third place behind Galko and Hodgdon. Hodgdon came back to the inside of Galko on lap-58 and took the lead at the line. Pitkat moved into second behind Hodgdon and he nearly took the lead from Hodgdon on lap-60 before falling back into second. Bessette won the battle with Pasteryak for third with Galko now back to fifth.
Pitkat and Bessette both got by Hodgdon on lap-64 to move into first and second and drop Hodgdon back to third, just in front of Pasteryak in fourth. With 10 laps to go the order was Pitkat, Bessette, Hodgdon, Pasteryak, Reen, Galko, Williams, Cipriano, Charette, and Austin Bessette. Bessette hounded Pitkat over the final 10 laps but couldn’t get close enough to make a bid for the lead as Pitkat took the checkered flag to win the GAF Roofing 80. Hodgdon finished third with Pasteryak and Reen 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.