(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Speedway returned to weekly racing action with the Late Model division taking center stage with their extra distance Paradiso Insurance Late Model 50 feature event. Adam Gray came up the big winner of the night by winning the Paradiso Insurance Late Model 50, his first ever extra distance feature win at Stafford. RJ Marcotte used a dominating drive to capture his first career SK Modified® win in the 40-lap feature, George Bessette, Jr. was a winner for the second consecutive race in the SK Light feature, Matt Clement scored the Limited Late Model feature win, and Travis Hydar was a winner for the fifth time in 2023 in the Street Stock feature.
In the Paradiso Insurance 50-lap Late Model feature, the race started with Darrell Keane sliding through the infield grass right at the start and he collected the car of Matt Vassar in turn 1 to bring the caution out before a lap could be completed.
Zack Robinson took the lead at the start and he led the first lap before giving way to Tom Butler on lap-2. Jacob Perry was third in the early going with Andrew Durand fourth and Adam Gray fifth. Durand made a move to the inside of Perry on lap-4 to move into third and Gray followed him by Perry on lap-5 to move into fourth and drop Perry back to fifth. Kevin Gambacorta took fifth from Perry on lap-6 while Butler was slowly starting to pull away from Durand, who had gotten around Robinson on lap-6 to move into second.
Gray went by Robinson on lap-9 to take over third place and Gambacorta followed him by to take fourth and drop Robinson back to fifth place. Paul Varricchio dropped off the pace and came to a stop on the frontstretch access road to bring the caution flag back out with 15 laps complete.
Durand took the lead on the restart with Gray taking second to drop Butler from the lead back to third place. Michael Wray was fourth in line with Perry in fifth. Tom Fearn took sixth from Gambacorta two laps after the restart while Gray nearly took the lead from Durand. Gray came right back on lap-19 but Durand was able to fend off that challenge as well to maintain the lead. Wray took third from Butler and Perry was now on the inside of Butler on lap-21 looking to take fourth place. Perry completed the pass in turn 4 and his move opened the door for Tom Fearn to follow him by Butler and move into fifth and drop Butler back to sixth.
With 28 laps complete, the top-3 of Durand, Gray, and Michael Wray were in a nose to tail train fighting for the lead. Tom Fearn was fourth with Butler fifth, Keane back up to sixth, Chris Meyer seventh, Gambacorta eighth, Wayne Coury, Jr. ninth, and Zack Robinson tenth.
Gambacorta began to charge his way back towards the front of the pack and on lap-38 he took fourth from Fearn while Durand was still leading Gray and Wray in a 3-car train. Gambacorta was slowly lap by lap reeling in the lead trio and with 8 laps to go he was right on the back bumper of Wray for third place. Gray and Durand touched in turn 4 with Durand spinning to bring the caution out with 42 laps complete. Wray was sent to the rear of the field by Stafford officials for making contact with Gray who in turn made contact with Durand. This put Gray and Gambacorta on the front row with Tom Fearn and Chris Meyer in row 2 for the lap-43 restart.
Gambacorta made a move to take the lead from Gray on the restart but a spin on the backstretch involving Butler, Michael Wray, and P.J. Zarrella brought the caution flag right back out before a lap could be completed.
Gray powered into the lead on the next restart with Tom Fearn taking second. Keane was third with Robinson fourth and Gambacorta falling back to fifth. The field completed one lap before the caution came back out for a spin into the turn 1 wall by Durand.
Gray again took the lead back under green with Robinson taking second. Keane took third on lap-44 with Coury fourth and Gambacorta went by Fearn to take fifth and drop Fearn back to sixth. Butler and Varricchio both spun in the middle of turns 3+4 to bring the caution back out with 46 laps complete and set up a 4 lap dash to the finish. Under the caution, Tom Fearn brought his car to pit road where his crew put a new left front tire on his car.
Gray took the lead on the restart with Keane taking second and Gambacorta third. Coury was up to fourth with Perry taking fifth as Robinson slid back to sixth. Gray led Keane to the checkered flag to win the Paradiso Insurance Late Model 50, his second win of the 2023 season. Gambacorta finished third with Coury and Perry rounding out the top-5.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Tyler Hines led the field to the green and he took the early lead with RJ Marcotte, Michael Christopher, Jr., Michael Gervais, Jr., and Anthony Flannery lined up behind him. Flannery took fourth from Gervias on lap-4 while Christopher nearly took second from Marcotte on lap-5 before falling back into line in third. Marcotte pulled alongside Hines on lap-7 and then moved into the lead on lap-8. Christopher nearly followed him past, but Hines was able to maintain second. Christopher was third in line but he lost that position to Flannery on lap-10 and he fell back to fifth on lap-12 as Jimmy Blewett took over fourth place.
Todd Owen took fifth from Christopher on lap-15 and then pulled to the outside of Blewett where they ran wheel to wheel for four laps before Owen fell back into line behind Blewett. Marcotte was still in command of the race while Flannery nearly took second from Hines on lap-21. Flannery made the move stick on lap-23 as he took second from Hines as the two cars touched and drifted up the track in turn 4.
Owen was finally able to get around Blewett to move into fourth place on lap-24 while Marcotte was comfortably holding the race lead. With 10 laps to go, Marcotte held a lead of nearly 3 seconds over Flannery in second. Hines was third followed by Owen, Blewett, Christopher, Keith Rocco, David Arute, Teddy Hodgdon, and Gervais.
Owen was able to make a move to the inside of Hines on lap-33 to take over third place while Marcotte was slowly stretching out his advantage over Flannery. Owen went by Flannery to move into second place on lap-35. Blewett’s car dropped off the pace on the backstretch on lap-37 and he cruised back to pit road while the race stayed green.
Owen couldn’t get close to Marcotte as Marcotte took down his very first SK Modified® feature victory at Stafford. Flannery finished third with Hines and Christopher rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light feature, Daltin McCarthy slid through the infield grass and came to a stop to bring the caution out with 1 lap complete and Cassandra Cole in the lead with Nickolas Hovey, Chris Matthews, and Brian Sullivan behind her.
Brian Sullivan charged into the lead with Alexander Pearl coming up to second. Tyler Chapmand was up to third with Tyler Barry fourth and the wheel to wheel duo of Chris Matthews and Nickolas Hovey fighting for fifth with Cole back to sixth. Pearl moved into the lead on lap-7 with George Bessette, Jr. following him by to take second and drop Sullivan back to third. Tyler Chapman took third from Sullivan on lap-8 while Bessette took the lead from Pearl on lap-9.
Pearl dove to the inside of Bessette in turn 3 on lap-12 to take the lead but he carried too much speed into the corner and drifted up the track enough for Bessette to reclaim the lead exiting turn 4. Pearl then took a look to the outside of Bessette on lap-14 but Pearl was able to fend off that challenge. Bessette was able to make the move stick on lap-15 as he moved back into the lead. Behind the two leaders, Tyler Chapman was still third with Sullivan in forth and Barry in fifth.
Bessette led Pearl to the checkered flag to pick up his fourth win of the 2023 season. Tyler Chapman finished third with Sullivan and Barry rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, Damian Palardy took the lead at the start of the race with Adrien Paradis charging through the field to move into second. Devon Jencik was third with Gary Patnode fourth and Kevin Cormier fifth but the field was only able to complete 1 lap before the caution came out for a multicar spin on the backstretch involving Rich Hammann, Matt Clement, and Patnode.
Palardy and Paradis went door to door for the lead back unde green with Palardy getting clear into thelead on lap-3. Devon Jencik moved into second behind Palardy with Jeremy Lavoie taking third as Paradis fell back to fourth, just in front of Cormier. Cormier took fourth from Paradis on lap-4 and Mike Hopkins followed him by to move into fifth and drop Paradis back to sixth place. The caution came back out with 6 laps complete for Cormier, who ended up in the wall in the middle of turns 3+4.
The caution came right back out on the restart as Palardy got into the backstretch wall and collected Devon Jencik as Lavoie took over the lead. Lavoie took the lead on the next restart with Mike Hopkins now in second. Paradis was third with Matt Clement back up to fourth after his earlier mishap and Patnode was fifth. Clement took third from Paradis on lap-7 and Hopkins made a move to take the lead from Lavoie on lap-9. Clement pulled alongside Lavoie and he took second on lap-10 which opened the door for Paradis to take third and drop Lavoie back to fourth. Lavoie came right back to the inside of Paradis and the two cars raced door to door for two laps before Lavoie was able to claim third on lap-13.
Up front, Clement was hounding Hopkins for the race lead and he was finally able to complete a pass on lap-15 to move into the lead. Once into the lead, Clement pulled away from Hopkins over the final 5 laps and he took the checkered flag to pick up his fourth win of the 2023 season. Lavoie finished third behind Clement and Hopkins with Paradis and Patnode rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Street Stock feature, Brandon Warren charged into the lead at the start of the race with Bert Ouellette lined up behind him in second. Sean Petlock was third in line followed by Jeff Asselin and Travis Downey. Ryan Waterman was right behind Downey and was already looking high and low for a way to get by and take over fifth. The caution came out with 3 laps complete as Petlock spun on the frontstretch after touching the wall coming out of turn 4 directly in front of Asselin and the field, which collected the car of Bill Cote.
Ouellete inched his nose ahead of Warren on the restart but the caution came right back out for Tim Poulin, who spun in turn 1.
Warren and Ouellette went door to door on the restart for the lead with Downey making it three-wide on lap-4 before backing out and slotting into second behind Ouellette. Travis Hydar quickly worked his way up to third behind the two leaders with Waterman and Warren in fourth and fifth place. Hydar made a move to the inside of Downey on lap-8 to take over second place with Waterman following him by to move into third and drop Downey back to fourth. The caution flew with 8 laps complete for spins in turn 1 by Poulin, Gary Spinnato, Jr., and Cindy Stirk.
Ouellette took the lead with Hydar in second. Downey was third but Waterman took over that position with a pass on lap-10 to drop Downey back to fourth just in front of Warren, Johnny Walker, and Chris Danielczuk. Hydar took the lead from Ouellette on lap-15 while his car was showing tire smoke from the rear. Waterman was still in third with Walker fourth and Downey fifth. The caution and ref flags were displayed with 18 laps complete for a spin coming out of turn 2 by Cindy Stirk that collected Danielczuk.
Hydar took the lead back under green with Waterman moving by Ouellette to take second. Walker and Downey both also got by Ouellette to take third and fourth and drop Ouellette back to fifth. Waterman made one final challenge on the last lap in the final two corners, but came up just short at the checkered flag as Hydar picked up his fifth win of the 2023 season. Walker, Downey, and Ouellette rounded out the top-5 behind Hydar and Waterman.
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