(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Speedway hosted the 51st Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler® on Saturday, May 13 with feature events for the SK Modified®, Late Model, and SK Light divisions along with two 15-lap last chance qualifiers for drivers to earn starting positions in the NAPA Spring Sizzler® 100-lap main event. Jimmy Blewett scored the checkered flag in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature his second career win at Stafford and first since the 2005 NAPA Fal Final. Tom Fearn was the winner of the 30-lap Late Model feature and the SK Light feature saw a photo finish with Brian Sullivan making a last lap pass on Tyler Chapman and winning the race by inches or .005 seconds. Matt Swanson won the15-lap Last Chance Qualifier for the NAPA Spring Sizzler®.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Jimmy Blewett led the field to the green and he began to set the early pace with Michael Christopher, Jr. going around Cory DiMatteo to take second behind Blewett. Chris Jones was fourth in line in the early going with Keith Rocco quickly moving from seventh at the start up to fifth. Christopher made a move to the inside of Blewett on lap-6 but wasn’t able to make the pass. Christopher then came under attack from DiMatteo on lap-7 but he was able to hold off that challenge.
With 10 laps complete, the order was Blewett in the lead followed by Christopher, DiMatteo, Stephen Kopcik, and Rocco. Anthony Bello was sixth followed by Jon Puleo, Noah Korner, Mikey Flynn, and Todd Owen. Bello was black flagged on lap-15 and he had to report to pit road for dumping fluid. David Arute was shown the black flag on lap-20 for fluid also while Blewett and Christopher were still the tow lead cars with DiMatteo, Rocco, and Kopcik giving chase. Marcello Rufrano was the car on the move in the first half of the race, taking 11th on lap-22 after starting shotgun on the field in 28th. The caution flew with 24 laps complete for a spin by Rich Gautreau that collected Rufrano, who pulled off the track and behind the wall, ending his great run.
Blewett took the lead back under green with Christohper in second. Kopcik and DiMatteo were wheel to wheel for third place with Rocco and Korner right behind them. Kopcik took third on lap-26 with Rocco taking fourth and Korner fifth as DiMatteo slid back to sixth. Christopher’s car dropped off the pace on lap-29 and he pulled on to pit road just as the caution flew for spins in turn 4 by Dylan Kopec and Tom Bolles.
Blewett took the lead back under green with Rocco moving up to second, but before a lap could be completed the caution came out for Rich Gautreau, who hit the wall in turn 4.
Blewett took the elad back under green with Rocco in second. DiMatteo and Kopcik ran wheel to wheel for a lap before DiMatteo got clear into third place. Korner took fourth with Kopcik sliding back to fifth while up front, Rocco was applying heavy pressure to Blewett for the lead.
Korner’s car dropped off the pace on lap-37 and he limped back to pit road after running in fourth place. This promoted Kopcik to fourth and Mikey Flynn to fifth as Blewett was still in command over Rocco and DiMatteo. Blewett slowly stretched out his advantage over Rocco in the closing laps and he picked up his second career SK Modified® win at Stafford, his first since the 2005 NAPA Fall Final. Rocco came home second with DiMatteo, Kopcik, and Flynn rounding out the top-5.
In the 30-lap Late Model feature, Michael Wray led the field to green and he took the early lead before giving way to Tom Fearn. With 5 laps complete, it was Fearn leading Wray, Kevin Gambacorta, Andrew Durand, and Zack Robinson. Gambacorta got by Wray on lap-6 to move into second place.
With 10 laps complete, the order was still Fearn, Gambacorta, Wray, Durand, and Robinson. Adam Gray was sixth with Darrell Keane, Wayne Coury, Jr., Ryan Fearn, and Paul Varricchio, Jr. rounding out the top-10. The caution came out with 13 laps complete for a spin by Alexandra Fearn in turn 4.
Fearn took the lead back under green while Wray moved into second. Durand and Gambacorta were door to door for third with Durand taking the spot on lap-14, and Robinson was fifth. The car of John Blake spun in turn 2, which brought the caution back out with 15 laps complete.
Fearn and Wray took the top-2 spots on the restart with Durand moving up to third. Gambacorta was fourth in line with Robinson in fifth. Durand got very loose coming out of turn 2 on lap-18, which saw him slide from third back to tenth place. With 10 laps to go, Fearn was now leading Wray, Gambacorta, Robinson, and Gray. Coury was sixth followed by Ryan Fearn, Keane, Butler, and Durand. Alexandra Fearn spun in turn 2 to bring the caution out with 213 laps complete.
On the restart, Dave Wray got loose and got into Andrew Durand with Wray collecting the car of Alexandra Fearn to bring the caution right back out. Tom Fearn took the lead back under green with Gambacorta moving up to second. Adam Gray pulled alongside Gambacorta on lap-24 and he took over second. Gray’s move opened the door for Wray to also get by Gambacorta to take third and drop Gambacorta back to fourth, just in front of Robinson.
Fearn led Gray to the checkered flag to win the first race of the 2023 season. Wray finished third with Gambacorta and Keane rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light feature event, Casey Vogt spun in turn on the start with Daltin McCarthy driving through the grass to bring the caution out before a lap could be completed. Tyler Chapman took the lead at the green with Brian Sullivan and George Bessette, Jr. side by side for second place. The caution came back out with 1 lap complete for a spin in turn 1 by Amanda West, Brandon Michael, Vogt, Evan Bourgeois, Sami Anderson, and several others.
Chapman took the lead on the restart with Bessette and Sullivan again going wheel to wheel for second. Jason Chapman was fourth in line with Joey Ferrigno and Bob Charland side by side for fifth. Sullivan took second on lap-3 while Ferrigno took fifth. The caution came back out with 4 laps complete for a spin in turn 3 by Andy Marchese.
The field didn’t complete a lap before the caution came back out for a spin in turn 4 by Vogt that collected the car of Paul Arcari. The next restart saw Brandon Hunt back into the turn 2 wall to bring the caution right back out. Tyler Chapman took the lead again on the restart with Bessette and Sullivan resuming their duel for second. Chris Matthews was up to fourth before the caution came back out with 8 laps complete for a multi-car accident in turn 3 involving Ed Chicoski, Todd Clark, Matt Brewer, Brandon Hunt, Andy Marchese, and Stephen Kalogiannis.
Tyler Chapman was back in the lead on the restart with Sullivan in second, Bessette third, Matthews fourth, and Alexander Pearl fifth. Nick Anglace was sixth with Jason Chapman, Jack Baldwin, Tyler Barry, and Nickolas Hovey making up the top-10.
Sullivan rode behind Chapman until lap-14 when he made his move to take over the lead. Bessette followed him by to take over second and drop Chapman back to third. Pearl was up to fourth with Anglace in fifth when the cuaution came back out with 16 laps complete for a spin in turn 4 by Joey Ferrigno.
Sullivan took the lead on the restart with Tyler Chapman taking second. Anglace worked his way to the inside of Bessette to move into third with Baldwin up to fifth. Anglace went wide in turn 4 on lap-19 which allowed Bessette to get back by him and move inot third. Sullivan pulled to the outside of Chapman on the final lap and they drag raced out of turn 4 to the checkered flag with Sullivan taking the win by inches over Chapman in a photo finish. Bessette finished third with Anglace and Baldwin rounding out the top-5.
In the 15-lap NAPA Spring Sizzler® Last Chance Qualifier, Matt Swanson led the field to the green flag and he took the early lead with Jake Johnson, Austin Bessette, Nick Anglace, and Jon McKennedy lined up behind him. Max McLaughlin was sixth with David Arute, Spencer Davis, Teddy Hodgdon, and Ed Flemke, Jr. making up the top-10.
With 5 laps to go, it was still Swanson in command with Johnson behind him in second. Anglace got around Bessette to move into third with Bessette fourth and McLaughlin up to fifth as McKennedy slid back to seventh. Swanson led Johnson to the checkered flag to win the LCQ race and transfer into the NAPA Spring Sizzler® later in the day. Also earning transfer positions were Johnson, Anglace, Bessette, McLaughlin, Hodgdon, Arute, McKennedy, Flemke, and Davis.
For more information contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at (860) 684-2783, or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.