RPW Column: The Champ Trail; Rocco Back In Stafford Victory Lane, Great Racing At Claremont, Speedbowl & More…

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Stafford Speedway returned to racing action with a Weekly Series program on Friday, August 12th.

Keith Rocco took down his second win of the 2022 season in the SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn scored his second consecutive and third overall win of the season in the Late Model feature, George Bessette, Jr. notched his third win of 2022 in the SK Light feature, Kevin Cormier became a first time Stafford winner in the Limited Late Model feature, and Bobby Stirk, III racked up his fourth win of 2022 in the Street Stock feature.

Prior to his SK Modified win Keith Rocco lost the distinction of being third over all on the track win list when Tom Fearn, with his win, tied with Rocco. Evidently that motivated him as he dominated after taking the lead from Tyler Hines with a pass coming out of turn 2 on lap-11. Rocco led Hines to the checkered flag to pick up his second win of the 2022 season. Troy Talman finished third with Todd Owen and Michael Gervais rounding out the top-5.

The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 301 wins which also include 154 victories at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, 70 at Thompson and 77 at the Stafford Speedway. The late Ted Christopher leads the track’s all-time win list with 131 victories. Woody Pitkat is second with 80 wins.

Bryan Narducci who looked extremely strong in his qualifying heat, started 6th but while on the initial pace lap the car in front of him checked up & made contact with Bryan’s right front & caused the spindle to break therefore ended his night. Narducci took the green but parked it shortly after.

This week at Stafford the Open Competition Modifieds return for the Lincoln Tech 80 lap event in conjunction to their regular Friday night program. Over 30 cars are entered.

The Claremont Speedway in New Hampshire hosted the Racers Honoring Racers 100. The event drew 22 cars. Matt Hirschman took the lead on lap 92 and went on to score the win over Ron Silk, Max Zachem, Sam Rameau, Joey Jarvis and Todd Patnoad. For his efforts Hirschman received $15,000.

Down on the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Eric Berndt recorded his fifth win of the season in the SK Modified division on Saturday night. Andrew Molleur finished second and Anthony Flannery was third.

In other action, Jason Palmer took his fourth win of the season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Jordan Hadley finished second and Ray Christian III was third. Aaron Plemons was the 25-lap Street Stock feature winner and Andrew Pellegrini won the 25-lap Truck feature.

Across the big pond at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, one of the biggest human interest stories of 2022 played out. In 2016 Jason Agugliaro’s life hit rock bottom as he succumbed to the evils of alcohol consumption and stepped away from racing. He made up his mind to beat it and beat it he did. He celebrated two years of sobriety, winning the NASCAR Modified 50 lap feature last Saturday at the eastern Long Island oval

Entering the 2022 NASCAR Modified race season at Riverhead Raceway, Agugliaro of Islip was working to put together his own race car but knew he’d get a very late start to his season. Enter car owner Joe Ambrose who had a seat available in his potent machine and Saturday night the new pairing found victory lane winning the 50-lap feature event.

Chris Turbush and Jason Agugliaro made up the front row of the 17-car grid with Agugliaro leading the first two laps while Turbush rode the outside trying to build momentum for a pass. On lap 3 exiting the fourth cornet Turbush, who had endured a tough stretch of racing luck found that momentum and the race lead getting by Agugliaro. A minor incident on lap 9 drew a yellow flag and set up a double file restart. When the field was being called to order Turbush chose the outside groove for the restart feeling that’s where he got the lead and that would be where he’d keep it. As the field hit the go zone Turbush didn’t fire off well and Agugliaro on the inside reclaimed his earlier advantage.

From there on it was Agugliaro all the way with Turbush on his tail to the finish. Michael Rutkoski drove from a 8th starting berth to come home third. Dylan Slepian and John Beatty Jr. rounded out the top five.

Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC Burt Myers scored the victory in the night’s first of two 50-lap Modified Division races. The win in a feature race was the 88th of his Bowman Gray Stadium career, No. 2 all-time behind Tim Brown. (94). Jonathan Brown earned the victory in the night’s second 50-lap Modified race, with Jason Myers second and Tim Brown third.

Get well wishes to Ben Dodge Jr who was operated on last week for a cancer connected illness.

A lot of racing will be coming our way this week starting with two separate events at Thompson. Starting on Tuesday, 8/16 there will be Mini Stocks, SK Lights,Street Stocks and Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds. On Wednesday night at Thompson the Whelen Modified Tour will be the featured attraction and they will be joined by Late Models, SK Lights and LTD Sportsman.

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 (877-907-8181.

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