RPW Column: Perfect Weather, Great Crowd & Hot Action At Stafford, Mod Tour At Riverhead & More…

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – There were no weather issues at Stafford last week as it was a perfect night for racing. One hundred six cars were in the pit area including 29 SK Modifieds and 25 SK Lights.

A real good crowd was on hand. Stafford Speedway’s Street Stock division took center stage on Friday, June 24 with their lone extra distance feature event of the 2022 season, the Midstate Site Development 30. Travis Hydar was the big winner of the night, scoring his third win of the season in the Midstate Site Development Street Stock 30.

Ronnie Williams ended a long dry spell as he notched his first win of the season in the SK Modified® feature, Adam Gray continued his hot streak with a fourth consecutive win in the Late Model feature, Derek Debbis scored win number two of 2022 in the SK Light feature, and Gary Patnode won his second race of 2022 in the Limited Late Model feature.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® event, a multicar melee broke out mid pack and the back half of the field was collected in a wreck that brought the red and yellow flags out. All tolled, 12 cars were collected. Chris Jones was the culprit who triggered the wreck. On the restart, Dan Wesson and Tyler Hines raced wheel to wheel for the lead with Hines taking the lead by a nose at the line. Hines drove straight into the turn 1 wall on lap-2 to bring the caution back out. He stated that something broke on the left front of his car.

Yellow fever continued as Brian Sullivan got into the frontstretch wall and Anthony Bello spun in turn 1 to bring the yellow right back out again. Wesson took the lead on the next restart with Michael Christopher, Jr. almost taking second from Michael Gervais, Jr. before falling back into third. Ronnie Williams, who started seventh, was fourth with Keith Rocco in fifth but the caution flew again with 4 laps complete for Teddy Hodgdon, who spun in turn 4.

Wesson took the lead on the restart with Gervais holding off a challenge from Williams for second. Christopher was fourth in line with Bryan Narducci and Todd Owen side by side for fifth place. Gervais made a move to the inside of Wesson on lap-7 and he took over the race lead. Williams couldn’t quite follow Gervais by Wesson as Wesson held on to second place. Wesson then made a bid for the lead on lap-10 but Williams went by him to take over the lead and drop Wesson back to second. Narducci was now up to third with Gervais fourth and Marcello Rufrano in fifth.

Narducci made a move to the inside of Wesson lap-14 to move into second and Rufrano was challenging Gervais for fourth place while Williams continued to lead the race.Gervais took third place from Wesson on lap-20 while Rufrano couldn’t quite follow him by Wesson as Williams was still leading Narducci. Rocco and Cory DiMatteo were heavily contesting seventh place with Rocco able to hold DiMatteo off for now. DiMatteo was finally able to make a pass stick on Rocco to take over seventh place on lap-32.

Williams led Narducci to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2022 season. Gervais finished third with Wesson and Rufrano rounding out the top-5. Sixth thru tenth included Todd Owen, Cory DiMatteo, Keith Rocco, Stephen Kopcik and Michael Christopher, Jr..

Derek Debbis was the 20 lap SK Light winner. Tyler Chapman finished second with Alexander Pearl, third.

This week will be a busy one at Stafford. Friday night will see a full card of weekly racing events plus the GAF Roofing Open Modified 80. NASCAR Cup competitors Ryan Preece and Ryan Newman will be in the Open 80 field. Saturday night will be the 2nd Annual SRX Superstar Racing Experience & RaceChoice.com SK Modified® Showdown (50). The Saturday night event has been sold out. Those who were unable to get tickets can watch it live on CBS.

A big shout-out to Ryan Preece who held off charges from Zane Smith and Carson Hocevar to win Friday night’s Rackley Roofing 200 NASCAR Truck event at the Nashville Superspeedway. The win was an encore performance for Preece, who scored his first Truck Series victory in last year’s Nashville race. A part-time utility player in the Ford camp this season, Preece triumphed for the second time in his eighth career start.

In addition to the traditional guitar trophy, Preece also earned a $50,000 bonus for winning the second event in the NCWTS Triple Truck Challenge. Preece also recorded a sixth in the Xfinity series event at Nashville.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to Riverhead, NY on Saturday for the Buzz Chew 200. Twenty six cars were on hand. Ron Silk took the pole after he toured the quarter mile oval in 11.637sec. Second fastest was Timmy Solomito with an 11.637 time. Rounding out the top five was Craig Lutz, Tommy Catalano and Kyle Soper.

In an event laced by numerous cautions, Kyle Soper was able to do what no Riverhead regular was able to do as he became the first Riverhead regular to win a Whelen Modified Tour event at the eastern Long Island oval. Soper, who started fifth was an early leader only to lose it to Justin Bonsignore on lap 145.

Bonsignore appeared headed to victory when his tires began to lose their grip. Soper passed Bonsignore with 10 laps to go and opened up a sizable lead to the finish. Bonsignore hung on for second with Ron Silk, third. Jon McKennedy and Dylan Slepian rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth included Kyle Bonsignore, John Beatty Jr, Timmy Solomito, Austin Beers and Doug Coby.

At the New London Waterford Speedbowl,. Eric Berndt scored his third SK Modified win of the year. Dana DiMatteo was second with Timmy Jordan third. Ray Christian Jr. made it two in a row in the 30-lap Late Model feature. Kyle Gero won the 25-lap Truck feature. Gero is the son of Mike and Kim Gero and is also the grandson of the late George “Moose” Hewitt.

Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium Burt Myers ended a long dry spell. Myers, a 10-time points champion, has struggled this season to find his footing, but he had everything working to perfection with a 25-lap victory in the first Modified Division race on Saturday. He grabbed the pole with the fastest time of the season, then held off defending champion Tim Brown for his 85th career win.

Brown is the all-time leader with 94 wins. In the second Modified Division race, which was 25 laps, Jonathan Brown took advantage when leader John Holleman and Brown got tangled up late. Brown had the least amount of damage and continued, but Holleman spun out and in the spin collected Junior Snow. Brandon Ward, the points leader at the start of the night, finished second.

On a sad note, Bruton Smith, a longtime fixture in NASCAR and a Hall of Fame inductee for building and promoting auto racing events nationwide, died Wednesday at age 95 of natural causes, according to a statement from track operating company Speedway Motorsports.Marcus Smith, his son and president of the company his father led for decades, said on social media, “While we mourn the passing of my father, we also rejoice for the life he lived and for the amazing legacy he left to inspire us all.”

Born Ollen Bruton Smith in 1927, the North Carolinian worked as a track promoter before making his mark designing and building Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile oval now known for annually hosting NASCAR’s longest race at 600 miles in length. The track’s first 600-miler was held at its grand opening in 1960.

Coming up this week on Wednesday, June 29 is the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series Open Wheel Wednesday at the Seekonk Speedway. The Modified 100 lapper pays $10,000 to win. FloRacing will provide coverage beginning at 6:00pm.

September 29, 1968 Bugsy Stevens, driving the legendary Ole Blu of Len Boehler, closed out the season and wrapped up the Modified track championship with a convincing win on Sunday at Stafford. Don MacTavish finished second with Fred DeSarro, third. Fred Harbach and Holly Wilder rounded out the top five. Little did anyone know it was Mactavish’s last appearance at Stafford as the former NASCAR Sportsman Champion would lose his life the following February in Daytona Beach, Florida.

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 siteor at the track in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!

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