RPW Column: The Champ Trail; Monaco Mods To The Speedbowl, Great Racing At Stafford & More…

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The on again-off again status of the Monaco Ford Tri-Track series at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl was confirmed last week as it was announced in a statement from the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series.

Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series ownership has worked with the New London-Waterford Speedbowl management over the past few days to confirm August 6th as the fifth date of our 2022 season. Absent from the schedule since 2016, the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series is not only looking forward to getting back to the Shoreline oval in 2022 but has an eye on building a long-term relationship and is hopeful to make the Waterford date an annual, marquee event.

Dick Williams posted the following message on Friday afternoon: “The Racing Guys are no longer involved with any events at the New London/ Waterford Speedbowl. We have a lot of friends and racers at the ‘bowl that we have supported these past years but due to the events the past few days, we’ve had enough of the B.S. and backstabbing”.

He added, “Our race at Claremont on August 12th will be our last race and the Racing Guys will no longer exist. Thanks to all of the sponsors for their support and all of the racers for their participation. It’s time to end it.”. signed D.W.

In the never- ending soap opera at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl internet racing news site RaceDayCt reported that Mike Marfeo, the general manager of the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, since just prior to the 2020 season, resigned from the position on Saturday. Marfeo announced during the driver’s meeting prior to Saturday’s features at Waterford that he was leaving the track due to conflicts created over the scheduling of a Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series event at the track on Aug. 6. Marfeo’s departure comes four days after the Speedbowl management confirmed the track would host the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series for an Aug. 6 event.

Marfeo explained to those attending the driver’s meeting Saturday that he was responsible for the announcement on June 10 that the track would be hosting a Racing Guys promoted Tour Type Modified event. He also explained that he was not the person that cancelled that event, saying there was only one person above him at the track who could do that, seemingly referring to track owner Bruce Bemer. He told those at the meeting that he doesn’t have the tools to succeed at the track and could not remain any longer as the general manager. Marfeo was applauded after the announcement and was hugged by some competitors.

The Speedbowl is a great track for an event like that with the only problem is that the Speedbowl management doesn’t advertise or promote any of their events except to post them on their billboard on Route 85 or post them on Facebook. With fuel prices being as they are and the economy all but in the toilet racing promoters need to get the word out to the casual fans who only attend once in a while.

Auto racing in New England got an early start last week as the Thompson Speedway opened it’s doors for the Nutmeg State 75 presented by Twisted Tea open competition event. For the second time in as many starts at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in the 2022 Outlaw Open Modified Series season, Mike Christopher Jr. was in Victory Lane Wednesday at the Connecticut oval. Christopher rocketed to the lead with 58 laps complete in and held off multiple challengers on multiple restarts to win the $5,000 prize.

Christopher continued a dominating stretch for Tommy Baldwin Racing, where the team has been to Victory Lane in three straight NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races, and now both Outlaw Open Modified Series events at Thompson. Christopher held off two of the top names in Modified racing at Thompson in the last decade, Keith Rocco and Ryan Preece, to capture the win. He also won $10,000 at the Icebreaker 125 at Thompson in April.

Christopher passed early race leader Preece for the top spot on lap 36 and led until the caution on lap 49, when multiple of the lead challengers pitted. Christopher was the first of the drivers with new Hoosier racing rubber to get to the front and he was able to take full advantage, driving by Matt Swanson to the lead with 17 laps to go. Several late cautions slowed the race, which allowed Rocco and Preece to pass onto the podium. Matt Swanson finished fourth, while Chris Pasteryak followed in fifth. Ronnie Williams was sixth, followed by Matt Galko, Woody Pitkat, Colbey Fournier and Spencer Davis. Worth noting was the fact that Jacob Perry made his open competition debut and finished a respectable 15th. Perry was headed for a top ten before making a rookie mistake which resulted in a scrape with the wall.

In other Wednesday night action at Thompson, the Sunoco (SK type) Modified feature went to Stephen Kopcik, as the Connecticut native also made it two-for-two to on the Thompson season. Kopcik, Todd Owen and Keith Rocco thrilled fans in a three-car battle for the lead during the middle of the race, but it was Kopcik gapping out his challengers over the final stretch of the 30-lap event. Owen would finish second, with nine-time track champion Rocco in third. Troy Talman and Danny Cates finished the top-five. Derek Gluchacki made it two-for-two in the Thompson Late Models, It looked like Steven Chapman was going to make it a second straight in the SK Light Modifieds, but Nathan Pytko wasn’t going to be denied. Pytko rolled to the top spot right from the drop of the green and had to hold off Chapman for the entire 25-lap distance and Dave Trudeau was a winner in the Mini Stocks.

Jason Chicolas went to Thompson’s Limited Sportsman Victory Lane after finishing third on the track but becoming the first driver to pass post-race inspection. Original winner Ryan Waterman, second-place Scott Sundeen and fourth-place Zach Robinson all fell victim to post-race inspection.

For an event of this magnitude with fairly high purse payouts the car count was extremely low. The Limited Sportsman field was ample with 20 cars. The open competion outlaw modifield totaled only 18 and the Sunoco Modifieds (SK) were a mere 11. The Late Models also totaled only 11 and the Mini Stocks numbered 10 while the SK Lights drew 13. Thompson Speedway will return to action on Wednesday, July 13 for the Midsummer 75 for the Outlaw Open Modified Series. The Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, SK Light Modifieds, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks will also be part of the racing action,

The threat of thunder showers and the price of fuel had its effect on the crowd at Stafford on Friday night as the grandstand appeared to be a little on the lean side. On the other hand the pit area was jammed with 99 cars including 27 SK Modifieds, 25 SK Lights plus Street Stocks, 22 and 25 late models. Rich Hammann was the winner of the extra distance Limited Late Model feature event for his third win of the season. There were two consecutive race winners tonight with Adam Gray nailing down his third consecutive Late Model win and Alexander Pearl took down his second consecutive SK Light victory. Cory DiMatteo held off a determined charge from Bryan Narducci to score his first SK Modified® win of the season and Nickolas Hovey reigned in the Street Stock feature for his first win of the season.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Dan Wesson took the early lead from pole position with Keith Rocco quickly moving into second. Ronnie Williams moved up to third with Marcello Rufrano and Anthony Bello side by side for fourth place. Rocco took the lead from Wesson on lap-4 but he lost the lead to Williams on lap-5. Rufrano was up to third with Wesson fourth and Bryan Narducci up to fifth when the caution flew with 5 laps complete for Noah Korner, who hit the wall in the middle of turns 1+2.

Williams led lap-6 on the restart but Rufrano worked his way to the inside of Williams and he took the lead from Williams on lap-7. Narducci was up to third and he pulled alongside Williams for second on lap-9 while Rocco and Cory DiMatteo were side by side for fourth place behind Williams and Narducci. DiMatteo took fourth on lap-10 while Narducci was finally able to get by Williams for second. DiMatteo went around Williams on lap-14 to move into third and now Stephen Kopcik was right behind Williams for fifth. Michael Gervais hit the turn 2 wall and Dan Wesson spun in turn 2 to bring the caution flag out with 14 laps complete.

Rufrano took the lead back under green while DiMatteo moved into second. DiMatteo got to the inside of Rufrano on lap-15 and he had the lead by a nose at the line. DiMatteo got clear of Rufrano on lap-16 and now Narducci was side by side with Rufrano for second with Williams in fourth and Kopcik and Rocco side by side for fifth with Todd Owen just behind them in seventh place.

At the halfway point of the race, the order was DiMatteo, Narducci, Rufrano, Williams, Kopcik, Owen, Rocco, Tyler Hines, Michael Christopher, Jr., and Andrew Molleur. Williams made a move to the inside of Rufrano on lap-24 in the fight for third and they ran two laps side by side before Williams got clear into third. Narducci was applying heavy pressure to DiMatteo for the lead but DiMatteo was able to fend off his challenges for the time being.

With 5 laps to go, DiMatteo was still in front with Narducci right behind him in second. Williams was third followed by Rufrano and Kopcik. DiMatteo held Narducci off to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2022 season. Williams finished third with Rufrano and Kopcik rounding out the top-5.

In the SK Light 20 lapper Alexander Pearl started tenth and took the lead on lap 10 with Tyler Barry in tow. The two, both third generation racers, finished one-two at the checker with George Bessette, third.

The Friday night racing series at Stafford continues this week with Midstate Site Development Street Stock Firecracker 30 + FIREWORKS. It was also announced that the Camping World SRX event scheduled for Saturday night, July 2 has been sold out.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to Winchester, NH for the Dual at the Dog on Saturday night. (Monadnock Speedway is nicknamed MadDog). Ronnie Williams #50 was the fastest of the NASCAR WMT drivers who had attempted to qualify for the Duel at the Dog at Monadnock Speedway. Rain came before qualifying was over, so the balance of the show was postponed until Sunday afternoon. Since qualifying was 6 cars from being complete, the starting lineup was determined by final practice times with Justin Bonsignore getting the pole position with Matt Kimball on the outside.

Bonsignore ended up taking the win after the lapped car of JD Fortin blocked leader Matt Hirschman with two to go thus costing him the win. Hirschman had taken the lead from Ron Silk with 44 laps to go in the 200 lap contest. In victory lane Bonsignore admitted he was lucky to have been in the right place at the right time. With two laps to go Hirschman was leading when he came upon the lapped car of JD Fortin. Fortin disregarded the move over- passing flag and remained in the racing groove, blocking the leader. Bonsignore went low and stood on the gas and was able to take the lead and eventual win. Hirschman recovered to finish second with Ron Silk, third. Sam Rameau and Doug Coby rounded out the top five. Eric Goodale, Jake Johnson, Austin Beers, Tommy Catalano and Jacob Perry rouned out the top-10.

One of the big stories of the day was solid performance turned in by Jacob Perry who drove the Jack Bateman no. 47 to a solid tenth place finish after starting scratch in the 26-car starting field. He showed he could run with the big dogs at MadDog.

The Whelen Modified Tour Series heads to the Riverhead Raceway on eastern Long Island for a 200 lapper this coming Saturday night, June 25

At the New London Waterford Speedbowl, The SK Modifieds® went green to checkered, and the 2020 Champion of Tim Jordan was able to find his way back to victory lane for the first time this season.

September 20, 1968 Gene Bergin had the M-6 in top form as he took the victory on Friday night. Leo Cleary finished second with Fred DeSarro, third. Bobby Santos and Don MacTavish rounded out the top five.

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. The book documents Modified Racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway from 1967 to 1986. 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 at the track in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!

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