Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The Stafford Motor Speedway just beat the rain on Friday night as fans and competitors had to run for it shortly after the final checkered flag flew.
Prior to that temps in the mid 90’s and high humidity enveloped the speedway.
Anthony Bello became a first-time winner in the SK Modified® feature, Darrell Keane took down his first Late Model win in nearly 2 years, George Bessette, Jr. scored his second SK Light win of the season, Rich Hammann notched his fourth Limited Late Model win of the season, and Bert Ouellette was a first-time 2022 winner in the Street Stock feature.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Jon Puleo and Andrew Molleur went wheel to wheel following a lap six restare. Puleo spun in front of the field which collected John Montesanto, Michael Christopher, Jr., Tyler Hines, and Keith Rocco. Puleo felt that Hines had done him wrong but officials didn’t. Rocco, who was hoping to build on the previous weeks win got collected and suffered front end damage.
On the restart, Todd Owen took the point with Marcello Rafuano in the second spot. Anthony Bello was third followed by Bryan Narducci and Andrew Molleur. Rufrano took the lead from Owen on lap-10 with Bello taking second as Owen fell back to third. Molleur and Narducci were side by side for fourth with Molleur taking the spot. Bello was applying heavy pressure to Rufrano on lap-19 looking to make a bid for the lead. With 10 laps to go, Rufrano was still in front followed by Bello, Owen, Molleur, and Kopcik. Bello took the lead from Rufrano with 5 laps to go with a pass on the backstretch that saw the two cars touch and Rufrano get sideways. Bello led the field to the checkered flag to pick up his very first SK Modified® win at Stafford. Rufrano finished second with Owen, Molleur, and David Arute rounding out the top-5.
The 9th Annual NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K is this coming Friday, August 5. Tickets for the NAPA SK 5K are available online at StaffordSpeedway.com/tickets and will also be available at the gates day of show. General Admission tickets are $30.00 for adults, $10.00 for kids 6-14, and free for kids 5 & under. Reserved seating is priced at $35.00 for all ages and pit passes are $45.00 with a valid 2022 Stafford Competition License and $50.00 without a Stafford license. If you are unable to attend in person, tune into the live stream on FloRacing, the official streaming partner of Stafford Speedway.
Despite the impending inflation scare plus covid and the threat of monkey pox the Stafford Motor Speedway is holding its own in these trying times. Car counts have been great as been the crowds. One of the big reasons for their success is their competitors point fund which has been supplemented by the infusion of money from FloRacing which live streams all events. The point fund which will reward competitors at season’s end now totals $73,000.
The SK Modified division point fund now totals $28,200 with $6,000 going to the champion. The Late Model division point fund totals $16,000 with $3,000 going to the champ. The SK Lights and the Limited Late Models each have an $11,050 point fund with each champion receiving $2,000 and the Street Stocks fund totals $6,700 with $1,000 to the champion.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series took a week off in order to prepare for last Fridays Clash at Claremont 150 at New Hampshire’s Claremont Motorsports Park. Jon McKennedy picked a perfect time to return to NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Victory Lane. For the first time since 2018, the Massachusetts racer parked in Victory Lane at Claremont Motorsports Park on Friday night in the Tour return to Claremont for the first time in 15 years.
The Clash at Claremont 150 was part of a full night at Claremont, which also included four house divisions as part of the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Racing Series. Jon McKennedy passed Mayhew Tools polesitter Jake Johnson for the lead early and was in prime position to seal the deal over the final laps, driving away to his second career Whelen Modified Tour win. Behind McKennedy, points leader Ron Silk held onto his lead with a second-place finish, while Johnson settled for third spot driving the Boehler Racing No. 3. Matt Hirschman finished fourth and wrapped up the inaugural Whelen Granite State Short Track Cup crown. And a $5,000 bonus. Rounding out the top five was Kyle Bonsignore.
Three-time series champion Justin Bonsignore finished sixth, followed by Tommy Catalano, Brian Robie, six-time champion Doug Coby and Matt Kimball. There were 23 cars on hand along with an over-flow crowd.
A replay of the Clash at Claremont 150 will be aired on USA Network on Friday, August 5 at 1 p.m. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to racing on Wednesday, August 17, at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park for the Phoenix Communications 150. The 2022 schedule is now complete for JDV Productions.
Across the big pond at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island it was a night of high emotion, nostalgia and some good old school NASCAR Modified and when the dust settled on the annual Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77 for the second year in a row Kyle Soper in the Wayne Anderson #15 sat in the winner’s circle. Soper using a perfect balance of patience and aggression took the lead with just five laps left in the contest from Timmy Solomito to pocket his 4th win of 2022, 28th of his career.
During opening ceremonies John Cozza of Medford and Rusty Turbush of Manorville were enshrined on the Cromarty Wall of Champions during a track side ceremony prior to feature racing. Then fans were asked to turn their attention to the top of the pit grandstands between turns three and four where a gray tarp was pulled back unveiling the 2020 Islip 300 winning NASCAR Modified owned by the late Eddie Partridge. The car driven by Ryan Preeece sits atop a large pole and will serve as an everlasting tribute to Eddie Partridge, a bigger than life personality in short track racing. Jimmy Blewett, who readied the car in his race shop in New Jersey was on hand for the ceremony and told the fans how much it meant for him to be part of the process. Eddie’s widow Connie and nephew Tom Gatz were part of the unveiling and needless to say there was not a dry eye in the house.
Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium twin 25’s were the bill of fare. Lee Jeffreys took the opener over Tim Brown and Chris Fleming. Burt Myers and Jonathan Brown rounded out the top five. In the nightcap Brian Loftin Clemmons took the win over Daniel Beeson, Jeremy Gerstner, Brandon Ward and Jason Myers.
With the cooperation of the Arute family a book has been published with pictures and biographies of the 50 Greatest Drivers at Stafford.
The Stafford Motor Speedway had become the epicenter of NASCAR Modified racing in the northeast by the late 1980’s. From its dirt beginnings to its lightning fast asphalt, Stafford had become the toughest and most gratifying track to score a victory. The Arute family which has owned and guided the destiny of the facility commissioned their thousands of loyal fans to name their favorite drivers. In alphabetical order so as not to offend anyone.
Tom Baldwin, Gene Bergin, Brett Bodine, Geoff Bodine, Ken Bouchard, Ron Bouchard, Mario “Fats” Caruso, Rene Charland, Ted Christopher, Leo Cleary, Tim Connolly, Jerry Cook, Corky Cookman, Pete Corey, Fred DeSarro, Richie Evans, Mike Ewanitsko, Ed Flemke, Sr., Jeff Fuller, Rick Fuller, Ernie Gahan, Bill Greco, Bo Gunning, Ray Hendrick, George “Moose” Hewitt, Tony Hirschman, George Janoski, Charlie Jarzombek, George Kent, Buddy Krebs, Randy LaJoie, Jan Leaty, Jerry Marquis, Mike McLaughlin, Ray Miller, Steve Park, Bob Polverari, Bob Potter, Brian Ross, John “Reggie” Ruggiero, Greg Sacks, Ollie Silva, “Wild” Bill Slater, Jimmy Spencer, Mike Stefanik, Carl “Bugsy” Stevens, George Summers, Jamie “The Jet” Tomaino, Maynard Troyer and Satch Worley.
Books are priced at $17.95 each and be purchased at the track at the Novelty Booth or at the Stafford Motor Speedway on line store. Books are also available at Amazon.com and at Coastal181.