(Stafford Springs, CT)—After a 2-month delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Stafford Motor Speedway opened its doors for racing with NAPA Auto Parts Opening Night on Friday, June 26. 126 cars lined the paddock area with Keith Rocco in the SK Modified® feature, Wayne Coury, Jr. in the Late Model feature, Jonathan Puleo in the SK Light feature, Andrew Durand in the Limited Late Model feature, and Travis Hydar in the Street Stock feature all becoming the first drivers to reach NAPA Victory Lane in 2020 at Stafford.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Ronnie Williams and Todd Owen went side by side for the lead at the green with Williams getting clear on lap-2. Michael Christopher, Jr. was third in the early laps with Cory DiMatteo moving into fourth and Keith Rocco was fifth.
Owen made a move to the inside of Williams in turn 3 to take the lead on lap-4. Christopher followed him through to take second before the caution came out with 4 laps complete for Teddy Hodgdon and Dan Wesson, who both went through the frontstretch infield with Wesson coming to a stop.
Owen powered his way back to the lead on the restart with Williams in second. Rocco was up to third with Christopher fourth and Woody Pitkat fifth. Williams made a move to the inside of Owen for the lead on lap-8 and he was able to complete the pass on lap-9 and take over the lead. Rocco followed him by Owen to take second and Christopher took third, dropping Owen back to fourth. Matt Vassar and Tyler Hines spun in turn 2 to bring the caution back out with 9 laps complete.
Williams was the leader back under green with Owen and Rocco side by side for second. Pitkat was fourth in line with Christopher fifth and Andrew Molleur in sixth. The caution came back out with 12 laps complete for a spin in turn 4 by DiMatteo. Bryan Narducci spun in turn 2 to bring the caution back out before a lap could be completed.
Owen took the lead on the restart with Rocco right behind him in second. Williams was third in line with Molleur in fourth and Pitkat back to fifth. Stephen Kopcik was applying heavy pressure to Pitkat for fifth but Pitkat was able to hold him off. Up front, Rocco was all over Owen’s back bumper looking high and low for a way to take over the lead. Owen was able to keep Rocco behind him. Rocco continued to look high and low for a way around Owen until the caution flew with 19 laps complete for a spin on the backstretch by Michael Gervais, Jr.
Rocco got right back to applying heavy pressure to Owen’s back bumper on the restart as they fought for the lead but Owen was once again able to keep Rocco behind him. Williams was third with Kopcik up to fourth and Pitkat in fifth. Rocco was finally able to make a pass stick on lap-24 as he went by Owen in turns 1+2 to take over the race lead. David Arute spun coming out of turn 2 to bring the caution out with 27 laps complete.
Rocco took the lead on the restart while Williams got around Owen to take second but the caution came back out with 28 laps complete for a multi-car accident on the backstretch involving the cars of Glen Reen, Tony Membrino, Jr., Tyler Leary, Teddy Hodgdon, Molleur, and Troy Talman. The restart saw Tom Bolles get into the turn 3 wall, which collected several other cars that brought the caution right back out.
The restart saw Owen go from third to first with Rocco falling back to second. Pitkat was up to third with Kopcik fourth and Williams fifth. Rocco was immediately back to applying heavy pressure to Owen, looking high and low for a way to get back to the front of the pack. Rocco made his move in turn 3 on lap-34 to get back to the front. Pitkat was still third behind Owen with Kopcik and Williams continuing to make up the top-5 cars.
Kopcik made a move to the inside of Pitkat on lap-38 to move into third. Williams followed Kopcik by Pitkat to take fourth and drop Pitkat back to fifth. Rocco pulled away from Owen at the front to take down the first SK Modified® win of 2020. Kopcik finished third with Williams and Pitkat rounding out the top-5.
In the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tom Fearn took the lead at the green with Paul Arute right behind him in second. Tyler Leary and Ryan Fearn were side by side for third place with Adam Gray riding in fifth place. Fearn took third from Leary on lap-2 and the top-5 were now single file with Tom Fearn showing the way.
Fearn was starting to pull away from Arute, Ryan Fearn, Leary, Gray, and the rest of the field. Darrell Keane took fifth from Gray on lap-8 while the top-4 cars remained unchanged. With 10 laps complete, Tom Fearn had opened up a nearly half straightaway lead over the field but his car dropped off the pace on lap-12 and he limped back to pit road and pulled behind the wall with Arute now the race leader. The caution came out with 12 laps complete to slow the field.
Arute took the lead on the restart but Ryan Fearn was applying heavy pressure. The field was only able to complete one lap before a pileup in turn 1 occurred involving Kevin Gambacorta, Duane Provost, Al Saunders, Rick Lanagan, Jordan Hadley, and Trace Beyer to bring the caution back out with 13 laps complete.
Ryan Fearn powered his way into the lead on the outside of Arute as the race went back to green. Arute slid back to sixth in line as Gray took second, Leary third, Keane fourth, and Wayne Coury, Jr. fifth. Keane spun in the middle of turns 3+4 to bring the caution back out with 15 laps complete.
Gray did to Ryan Fearn what Fearn did to Arute on the previous restart and he took the lead in the outside lane. Coury was up to third behind Fearn and Arute with Leary fourth and Arute fifth. Fearn made a move to the inside of Gray in turn 1 on lap-17 and got loose and spun, collecting Gray in the spin and bringing the caution flag back out with 17 laps complete. Coury was now the race leader with Leary on his outside and Arute and Jim Mavlouganes lined up behind him for the restart.
Coury took the lead with Leary holding off a stiff challenge from Michael Bennett for second. Bennett slotted into third with Michael Wray up to fourth and Jim Mavlouganes up to fifth. Keane was back up to sixth after his earlier spin and Arute was seventh in line.
Bennett got around Leary to take second on lap-23 and he took the lead from Coury on lap-24, but before the lap could be completed, Gambacorta spun in the middle of turns 1+2 to bring the caution back out and put Coury back up front for the restart.
Coury took the lead back under green but the caution came back after one lap had been completed as Mavlouganes’ car came to a stop in turn 4.
Coury took the lead on the restart with Bennett taking second. Arute was up to third with Saunders fourth and Gray in fifth. Bennett was almost glued to Coury’s back bumper as they completed lap-28. Coury held off a determined Bennett to take down the first Late Model win of the 2020 season. Arute finished third with Saunders and Gray rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light feature, Rit Dulac spun on the start in turn 2 to bring the caution out before a lap could be completed. Robert Bloxsom, III and Joey Ferrigno ran the first lap side by side for the lead before Bloxsom got clear on lap-2. Chris Matthews and Jonathan Puleo were side by side for third with Brian Sullivan in fifth. Matthews got the better of the duel with Puleo to take third on lap-3 as Bloxsom continued to hold the lead.
Puleo was looking to get back around Matthews for third, but Matthews was able to fend off his challenge on lap-5. Puleo made the move stick on lap-6 and he took third with Sullivan moving into fourth as Matthews slid back to sixth, just behind Amanda West in fifth. Bloxsom was still leading Ferrigno when Cassandra Cole spun on the frontstretch infield to bring the caution out with 11 laps complete.
Bloxsom took the lead on the restart with Puleo pulling alongside Ferrigno for second but only one lap was completed before a multi-car incident on the backstretch brought the caution back out with 12 laps complete.
Puleo went side by side with Bloxsom for the lead on the restart with Puleo taking the lead on lap-14. Sullivan was third behind Puleo and Bloxsom with Alexander Pearl up to fourth and Joey Ferrigno was back to fifth. Peter Bennett went around Ferrigno on lap16 to move into fifth and Bert Ouellette followed him by as Ferrigno slipped back to seventh place.
Bloxsom made one last ditch effort on the final lap, getting to the inside of Puleo in turn 3 but Puleo powered his way off turn 4 on the outside and he held off Bloxsom and Sullivan for not only the first SK Light win of the 2020 season, but his first career win at Stafford. Pearl finished fourth and Bennett rounded out the top-5.
In the 15-lap Limited Late Model feature, Matt Clement powered into the early lead from pole position with Jeremy Lavoie and Andrew Durand side by side for second. Lavoie took second on lap-2 with Gary Patnode up to fourth and Alexandra Fearn sitting in fifth. Devon Jencik was shown the black flag for leaking fluid from his car.
Durand made a strong move to the inside of Lavoie on lap-5 to move into second. Just behind the Durand-Lavoie battle, Fearn was making a move to the inside of Patnode for fourth place and she took the place at the line as the field completed lap-6.
With 10 laps complete Clement was still in front with Durand right behind him in second. Lavoie was starting to fade backwards from the lead duo with Fearn in fourth and Patnode fifth. Clement slipped up the track in turn 1 on lap-12 and Durand took full advantage of the slip to get to Clement’s inside and take over the race lead.
Durand led Clement to the checkered flag to pick up his first Stafford win since August 2010, a span of nearly 10 full years. Lavoie finished third with Fearn and Patnode rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Street Stock feature, Meghan Fuller charged into the early race lead with Chris Meyer in second. Al Stone, III was third with Ryan Waterman fourth and Travis Hydar in fifth. The caution came out with 2 laps complete for Jason Futoma who spun in the middle of turns 1+2 and had nose damage on the #22 car.
Fuller took the lead on the restart but she was overtaken by Meyer on lap-4. With Fuller stuck in the outside land, she slipped all the way back to eighth place as Waterman was now second, Stone third, Hydar fourth, Moose Douton fifth, Zack Robinson sixth, and Adrien Paradis, III seventh.
Up front the action was heating up as Waterman and Meyer swapped the lead back and forth between them with Waterman taking the lead on lap-9. Jason Lafayette spun on the backstretch to bring the caution out with 10 laps complete.
Waterman took the lead back under green with Meyer slotting into second right behind him. Robinson took third from Hydar on lap-12 with Douton holding down fifth. Waterman’s car got loose in turn 4 and he spun in front of the field to bring the caution back out with 12 laps complete. The field avoided hitting Waterman as he did a 360 and rejoined at the rear of the field.
Meyer took the lead on the restart with Hydar holding off a 3-wide duel with Paradis and Robinson to take second. Paradis and Robinson were side by side for third with Paradis emerging in third on lap-14. Douton was still running fifth. The caution came back out with 15 laps complete for a spin in turn 2 by Paradis.
Meyer held off a challenge from Robinson and Hydar on the restart but the caution came right back out one lap later as Stone got into the frontstretch wall and came to a stop just past the start/finish line.
Meyer powered into the lead on the restart while Douton was up to second before he got loose in turn 4 and fell back several spots. Waterman was charging his way back through the field when the caution came out with 18 laps complete for a spin in turn 2 by Larry Barnett.
Lafayette nearly went 3-wide on the restart but fell back into line behind Meyer and Robinson. On the final lap Paradis and Waterman got together and hit the backstretch wall. The race stayed green to the finish and in turn 4 Robinson made contact with Meyer with Meyer spinning and Robinson taking the checkered flag. Robinson was penalized by NASCAR Officials for the contact with Meyer, making Hydar the winner. Meyer finished second with Douton, John Orsini, and David Macha, Sr. 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.