(Stafford Springs, CT)— Stafford Speedway returned to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing action with a First Responders Appreciation Night that recognized Fire, Police, EMS, and all First Responder personnel. Taking down weekly feature wins on the night were Ted Christopher in the SK Modified® feature, Glen Reen in the Late Model feature, Marcello Rufrano in the SK Light feature, Alexandra Fearn in the Ltd. Late Model feature, and Johnny Walker in the DARE Stock feature.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Glen Reen made a 3-wide move at the front of the field to take the lead but a crash on the backstretch involving Mike Christopher, Jr., Tyler Hines, and Todd Owen brought the caution out before a lap could be completed.
On the restart, Reen’s car didn’t come up to speed, which bottlenecked the entire outside line as Stephen Kopcik took the lead with Chase Dowling, Keith Rocco, Eric Berndt, and Ted Christopher lined up behind him. The caution came back out with 3 laps complete for a spin on the backstretch by Tommy Membrino, Jr. and Payton Henry.
Kopcik took the lead on the restart with Dowling and Berndt right behind him. Rocco was fourth in line with Josh Wood in fifth. Christopher was sixth with Tony Membrino, Jr. in seventh and Rowan Pennink was up to eighth. Dowling powered his way around Kopcik to take the lead on lap-8 and Berndt followed him through as Kopcik fell back to third in line. Christopher was now fourth with Rocco in fifth. Joey Cipriano spun in turn 4 to bring the caution out with 24 laps complete. The order for the restart would be Dowling and Berndt on the front row, Christopher and Kopcik on the second row, and Pennink and Rocco in the third row.
Dowling took the lead on the restart with Christopher in second. Pennink got by Berndt to move into third with Berndt fourth and Kopcik fifth. Christopher got to the inside of Dowling in turn 4 on lap-30 and he took the lead at the line. Dowling slotted into line in second with Pennink right behind him in third. Dowling was able to get to Christopher’s bumper but couldn’t get close enough to make an attempt at a pass and with 5 laps to go, he was still right behind Christopher with Pennink right behind him in third.
Dowling looked to have a good run on lap-39 but Christopher blocked the move down the backstretch. Christopher held Dowling off to the checkered flag to pick up his sixth win of the 2017 season. Pennink finished third with Berndt and Kopcik rounding out the top-5.
In the 30-lap Late Model feature event, Rich Hammann spun backwards into the turn 1 wall at the drop of the green to bring the caution and red flags out before a lap could be completed. Kevin Gambacorta was sent to the rear of the field under the caution for making contact with Hammann.
Matt Vassar took the lead on the restart with Glen Reen and Josh Wood going side by side for second. Tom Fearn was right behind Reen and Wood with Paul Arute in fifth. Reen got clear of Wood for second on lap-3 and Fearn moved into third with Wood slotting into fourth with Arute right on his back bumper in fifth. Fearn got to the inside of Reen on lap-5 to move into second and Reen tried to make a crossover move on Fearn on lap-6 but he fell into line in third.
With 10 laps complete Vassar was still out front with Reen applying heavy pressure to Fearn for second. Arute was fourth with Darrell Keane up to fifth. Wood was sliding backwards as Michael Bennett took sixth, Gambacorta seventh, and Tyler Leary eighth before Wood got back into line in ninth.
Reen took second from Fearn on lap-15 and slowly began to close down the gap to Vassar out front. With 5 laps to go, Reen had closed the gap down to less than a car length with Fearn, Arute, and Bennett making up the top-5. Reen was able to get alongside Vassar on lap-27 and they were dead even at the line. Reen got clear to the lead on lap-28 and the two cars touched in turn 4 but both drivers kept their foot in the gas and maintained first and second. Reen took the checkered flag for his third win of the 2017 season. Vassar finished a career best second with Fearn, Arute, and Bennett rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Joey Ferrigno took the early race lead with David Arute quickly moving into second. Brett Gonyaw was on the move early in the race taking third with Marcello Rufrano fourth and Todd Douillard in fifth.
Arute took a look to the outside of Ferrigno on lap-7 and he was able to charge past Ferrigno in the outside lane on lap-8. Gonyaw took second and Rufrano moved into third as Ferrigno fell back to fourth with Dan Wesson now in fifth with 11 laps complete. Douillard spun in turns 3+4 to bring the caution out with 13 laps complete.
A multicar accident in turn 3 on the restart brought the yellow flag right back out. The next restart saw Arute and Rufrano going wheel to wheel for the lead. Rufrano took the lead from Arute with a pass in turn 1 on lap-15 but Arute was glued to the back bumper of Rufrano. Wesson was third with Wesley Prucker fourth and Mark Bakaj up to fifth.
Arute made one last ditch effort to take the lead with a good run through turns 1+2 on the final lap to pull to the inside of Rufrano. The two cars ran side by side through turns 3+4 and Rufrano got the better exit off turn 4 and he beat Arute to the checkered flag by a car length. Prucker spun in turn 4 on the final lap which moved Bakaj to third with Cory DiMatteo and Glenn Griswold rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature event, Alexandra Fearn took the lead at the drop of the green with Jeremy Lavoie right behind her in second. Bryan Narducci quickly took third with Duane Provost fourth and Matt Clement fifth. Ryan Fearn dropped off the pace on lap-3 and limped back to pit road and was finished for the evening.
Lavoie was staying glued to Alexandra Fearn’s back bumper out front with Narducci and Provost still third and fourth. Cliff Saunders got around Clement on lap-8 to move up to fifth. As Fearn clicked off lap 10 to mark the halfway point, Lavoie was right on her back bumper while Narducci and Provost were right behind Lavoie in a four car train for the lead.
Lavoie made a move to the inside of Fearn on lap-15 and he took the lead by a nose at the line. The two leaders were still side by side a lap later with Lavoie again having the lead at the line by a nose. Fearn came back on the outside to hold the lead at the line on lap-17 and on lap-18 Narducci went three wide going into turn 3 to move into second with Fearn taking the lead and Lavoie falling back to third. Narducci made one final effort to take the lead from Fearn on the last lap, but Fearn was able to fend off the challenge and she took the checkered flag to pick up her first career Limited Late Model win. Narducci finished second with Lavoie, Al Saunders, and Provost rounding out the top-5.
In the 15-lap DARE Stock feature event, Chris Bagnall took the early lead at the drop of the green flag with Nicole Chambrello moving into second. Mike Hopkins got around Chuck Harrison to move into third and Harrison continued to slide backwards as George Bessette, Jr. took fourth and Vince Gambacorta fifth. Johnny Walker was sixth with Harrison in seventh, just in front of Brandon Michael.
Walker took fifth from Gambacorta on lap-6 with Hopkins challenging Chambrello for second. Hopkins and Chambrello spun in turn 2 to bring the caution out with 6 laps complete. Bessette came to pit road with a flat tire and his race was finished early.
Back under green Bagnall took the lead with Walker and Michael right behind him in second and third. Tess Beyer spun on the backstretch but she got her car going again and the race stayed green. ON lap-8 Walker took the lead from Bagnall iwht a move in turn 2 that opened the door for Michael to follow Walker past Bagnall and take second with Bagnall slipping back to third. Gambacorta was fourth with Travis Hydar now in fifth. With 10 laps complete, Paul Bourdon, Jr., Cody Paolella, and Chris Kuczo all spun in turn 1 to bring the caution out and set up a 5 lap dash to the finish.
Walker and Michael resumed their duel for the lead on the restart with Gambacorta, Hydar, and Chambrello behind them. Dave Secore spun in turn 1 but was able to get going and the race stayed green but the caution came back out with 12 laps complete for a spin off turn 4 by Tess Beyer.
Walker and Michael were side by side for the lead on the restart and they ran side by side to the white flag where Michael had the lead by a nose. As the cars headed down the backstretch, the cars were even as they hit turn 3. Traffic jacked up in turn 3 with Gambacorta nearly making things 3-wide for the lead and Chambrello spun in turn 3 as Walker streaked to the checkered flag to pick up his fifth consecutive feature victory. Michael finished second but he made contact with Walker after the checkered flag and was disqualified from his second place finish back to the last finishing car on the lead lap, which was 12th place. Gambacorta moved up to second in the final finish with Hopkins, Bagnall, and Dave Secore, Jr. 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.