RPW Column: The Champ Trail: Modifiedz Gamble At Stafford, Tri Track At Star & More…

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Stafford Speedway and Doug Dunleavy from Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair brought the Gambler’s Challenge back to the speedway for the July 23 Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night program.

The Gambler’s Challenge was available to SK Modified® and SK Light Modified teams and pushed the total posted awards for the 40-lap SK Modified® feature to over $14,000 and the total posted awards for the 40-lap SK Light feature to over $10,000 based on a 27-car starting field.

Keith Rocco and Bryan Narducci were back in the SK modified field after serving a one event suspension but Ron Williams, also involved in the occurrence that precipitated the suspension was no where to be found. Ronnie Williams and his Adam Skowyra owned team were not at the track. Skowyra was not happy with the decision and alluded to the fact on FaceBook that his car would no longer compete at Stafford.

In the SK Modified 40 lapper, Stephen Kopcik, who started eighth, took the lead from Marcello Rufrano on lap-22 with Noah Korner, Mike Christopher Jr, and David Arute making up the top-5. Kopcik led Rufrano and the field to the checkered flag to pick up his second win of the 2021 season. Christopher finished third with Korner, fourth in the event went non-stop without a caution. Rocco started 14th and ended up fifth at the finish. Kopcik, who scored his second win of the 2021 season. It was Michael Christopher, Jr. continuing his big money winning ways as he was the lucky draw winner of the SK Modified® Gamblers Challenge worth an extra $5,800 from his third place finish.

Other feature winners on the night were Derek Debbis who won the Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night SK Light feature for the second consecutive season and in the process, he took home $5,600 in purse and contingency money thanks to the Dunleavy’s Gamblers Challenge bonus of $3,750, Kevin Gambacorta in the Late Model feature, Alexandra Fearn in the Limited Late Model feature, and Kyle Johnson was a career first time winner in the Street Stock feature.

Coming up this Friday at Stafford is the 4th Annual Bud Light Open Modified 80 plus a regular weekly program.

The Tri-Track Modified Series was at the Star Speedway in Epping, NH on Saturday night for the SBM 125. The event drew 41 Modifieds which necessitated five qualifying heats. Matt Hirschman who is known for his tire management and success in big money events drove to the win and was rewarded with a winning purse of over $14,000.

After winning his qualifying heat race, Hirschman took part in a 12-car redraw to determine the starting lineup and started the race from the pole position. He led the first 78 laps, essentially unchallenged, before he took his car to pit road for a fresh Hoosier tire.

Rejoining the field in 13th spot, Hirschman made a determined march to the front. After breaking into the top five on lap 95 of the 125 lap event he was able to close on leader Jon McKennedy, taking the lead on lap 112. In the closing laps he survived numerous restarts for cautions and one red flag to score the win. McKennedy finished second Chase Dowling third, Ronnie Williams fourth and Ron Silk fifth. The run marked the third consecutive top-five for Silk to open the Tri Track season, which gives him a comfortable lead in the championship standings at the halfway point of the six-race schedule.

Max Zachem finished a strong sixth and was followed by Justin Bonsignore, Brian Robie, Dana DiMatteo and NASCAR Cup Series regular Ryan Preece to round out the top-10. Sam Rameau, who won the Tri Track season opener at Monadnock Speedway on May 1 and entered the race second in the championship standings, struggled most of the day and finished 23rd.

Through the Pepsi Challenge, the following drivers earned $300 for winning qualifying heat and consi races: Chase Dowling, Brian Robie, Jon McKennedy, Matt Hirschman, Earl Paules, Cam McDermott and Anthony Nocella.

Race winner Matt Hirschman winnings total was $17,232.50. That is counting the pink tire money at $100 because it’s not yet counted as he travels home. Lap money $8,232.50, additional Star bonuses $800, $7,500 to win. $600 combined bonuses for heat win and fastest lap of the race from Tri-Track.

The Tri Track Open Modified Series returns to the track at Monadnock Speedway for race four of the six-race schedule on Saturday, August 14.

At the New London-Waterford Speedbowl the SK Modifieds had the night off. Jonathan Puleo was a rookie all over again. Even though he won the 2018 New London-Waterford Speedbowl SK Lite Modified title, he had never stepped inside car owner Larry Goss’ SK Lite until Saturday.

Puleo started 12th in the 19-car field, calmly moved up through the field and roared underneath Buddy Charette with 9 laps to go en route to his first win of the season. Puleo has seven career SK Lite wins, but this was his first since 2018.

In other action, Ryan Waterman grabbed his fourth win of the year in the 30-lap Street Stock feature, Charles Canfield came alive in a green-white-checker finish to win the 30-lap Mini Stock feature. Jason Palmer held off Jordan Hadley and Ray Christian en route to his fourth Late Model win of the year and Jim Boyle nailed down his second consecutive Truck feature.

The Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina continued their season on Saturday night with Danny Bohn taking the win.

Riverhead Raceway on Long Island presented the Paul McElearney Memorial Late Model 60 which was won by Jeremy McDermott. The Modifieds ran 50 laps with Kyle Soper taking the win overRoger Turbush.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series heads to western New York this weekend. The tour takes its next green flag on Saturday night, July 31 at New York International Raceway Park at 8 p.m. ET and can be streamed live via TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.

July 15, 1972 Stafford ran their twice rained out Permatex 150 on Saturday night with Ronnie Bouchard taking the win over Bugsy Stevens, Leo Cleary and Bobby Santos who all finished on the lead lap. Bouchard started 12th after winning the second heat and took the lead on lap 72. Fred DeSarro finished fifth, one lap down. Rounding out the top ten were Ray Miller, Ernie Gahan, Jerry Cook, Gene Bergin and Ed Pieneziak.

Read all about it in the all-new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, by the Grace of God and 600 hp, which is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. Race by Race, Year by Year, it’s all there. Read all about it! Books are now available on Amazon.com and Coastal 181 (877-907-8181 toll free) and are available thru Stafford’s web site in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!

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