RPW Column: “Busy” Weekend At Stafford, Tri-Track Series Open Wheel Wednesday To “Money Matt”

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series Open Wheel Wednesday at the Seekonk Speedway started off the holiday weekend. The Modified 100 lapper paid $10,000 to win.

Thirty two Modifieds were on hand for an absolutely perfect night of racing. Four qualifying heats were run with Max Zachem, Kirk Alexander, Woody Pitkat and Carl Medieros taking the wins.

Matt Hirschman left little doubt why he is called Money Matt as he walked off with the $10,000 first place money in the Tri-Track Open Wheel Wednesday event. Starting fifth, Hirschman worked his way to the front and took the lead from Woody Pitkat on lap 32. Hirschman survived five restarts that resulted from cautions being thrown. He had one close call when Dylan Izzo was about to be lapped on lap 53 when he spun in front of the leader. Hirschman avoided contact with the spinning car.

The surprise of the night was the run turned in by Kyle Bonsignore who came from mid pack to finish second, passing Anthony Noscella on lap 85. Noscella ended up third with Matt Swanson and Austin Beers rounding out the top five.

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

David Arute scored his second win of the season in the SK Modified® feature, Andrew Molleur notched his first Late Model win of the season to end Adam Gray’s winning streak at 4 races, George Bessette, Jr. took down his first win of the season in the SK Light feature, Matt Clement was a first-time winner in 2022 in the Limited Late Model feature, and Travis Downey was a career first time winner in the Street Stock feature. Woody Pitkat won the GAF Roofing 80as he dominated the race to take down his second consecutive open modified victory at Stafford after winning the Bud Light 80 in June.

In the SK 40 lapper, Arute started fifth and took the lead from pole sitter and early leader Troy Talman on lap 12. Early favorites Bryan Narducci and Ron Williams were eliminated onlap two. Williams, in his attempt to pass Narducci, went to the grass, lost control and drilled Narducci into the fence between turns three and four. Keith Rocco looked to be heading to a podium finish until the closing moments when he was passed by Marcello Rufano and Todd Owen and had to settle for fourth. Anthony Bello rounded out the top five.

Pitcat started fifth on the Open 80. Wasting little time, Pitkat took the lead on lap 6 from Eric Goodale. At the halfway point of the race, Pitkat was still in command with Chase Dowling in second. Eric Goodale, Marcello Rufrano, and Ryan Preece made up the top-5 with Cory DiMatteo, Anthony Nocella, Matt Galko, Dana DiMatteo, and Ron Williams rounding out the top-10. The caution came out with 44 laps complete for a spin coming out of turn 2 by Matt Gallo. Under the caution the entire field with the exception of Tommy Barrett, Jr. came to pit road for tires and adjustments. Goodale won the race off of pit road followed by Pitkat, Williams, Dowling, Ryan Newman, Galko, Nocella, and Dana DiMatteo.

Barrett led the field back to green but he only lasted on lap in front before Pitkat took the lead on lap-45. Dowling moved up to second with Williams taking third and Goodale fourth as Barrett fell back to fifth. Newman took fifth from Barrett on lap-48 and Barrett continued to slide backwards, falling outside the top-15.

Williams made a move around Dowling to move into second place on lap-55 while Pitkat continued to hold the race lead. Goodale was still fourth with Dana DiMatteo up to fifth. Dana DiMatteo worked his way past Goodale on lap-74 to move into fourth place while Dowling and Williams were both still trying to catch Pitkat for the race lead.

Pitkat led Williams and Dowling to the checkered flag to pick up his second consecutive open modified victory at Stafford Speedway. Dana DiMatteo finished fourth with Goodale rounding out the top-5.

Based on the near sellout on Friday and the absolute sellout on Saturday night the Arute family hit a home run for the weekend.

The speedway played host to the RaceChoice.com SK Modified® Showdown as part of the Superstar Racing Experience event held Saturday night, July 2nd. Stephen Kopcik took the lead on a late restart and led the field to the checkered flag to pick up his third win of the 2022 season.

The Speedway welcomed the Superstar Racing Experience back for another visit to the Connecticut half-mile facility that was shown live on CBS. Ryan Newman took the lead from Marco Andretti with 5 laps to go in the 75-lap feature event and went on to take down the checkered flag.

In the Saturday night SK Modified 50 lapper Todd Owen who had led since lap 20 got out of shape on lap-45 as Marcello Rufrano moved into the lead with Kopcik to second, and Anthony Bello to third as Owen fell back to fourth. The caution came back out with 45 laps complete for a multi-car incident in turn 4 involving the cars of David Arute, Jon Puleo, Noah Korner and several others.

Rufrano and Kopcik went wheel to wheel for the lead on the restart with Owen and Bello side by side for third. Kopcik got clear to the lead on lap-48 with Owen and Rufrano now side by side for second. Owen took second as the cars hit the white flag with Dana DiMatteo taking fourth from Bello. Kopcik led Owen to the checkered flag to pick up his third win of the 2022 season. Rufrano finished third with Dana DiMatteo and Bello rounding out the top-5.

In the SRX 75 lapper, Marco Andretti took the lead on a lap-66 restart with Newman moving up to second as Tony Stewart slid back to third. Paul Tracy was fourth and Bobby Labonte was fifth, just in front of Hailie Deegan. Stewart fell back to fourth on lap-68 as Tracy moved up to third place. Newman dove to the inside of Andretti on lap-70 to move into the lead with 5 laps to go. Newman led the final 5 laps to take the victory. Andretti finished second with Tracy, Stewart and Labonte rounding out the top-5. Matt Hirschman ended up eighth.

The Riverhead Raceway and the New London-Waterford Speedbowl cancelled their Saturday night events due to a forecast for heavy rain on Saturday. Both tracks got skunked by the weather bureau as it never rained as predicted!

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series heads for the Wall Stadium at the Jersey shore this coming Saturday night. After seven events Ron Silk holds an 18 point lead over Eric Goodale. Jon McKennedy and Tommy Catalano are tied for third spot, 22 points back. Rounding out the top five is Justin Bonsignore, 33 points back. Sixth thru tenth include Austin Beers, Kyle Bonsignore, Craig Lutz, Dave Sapienza and JB Fortun. The only winner in the top ten is Justin Bonsignore who has two victories to his credit.

On a sad note, former Stafford Motor Speedway Chief Scorer Beverly Flynn passed away last week. She had countless friends in the NASCAR Modified ranks, at Stafford and throughout the Northeast. Formerly Beverly Sarkisian, she married the late Bill Flynn, well-known engine builder, in the ’80s, and they created a nice life together. She had a great laugh and a terrific sense of humor, and she will be missed.

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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