RPW Column: Remembering TC On Friday Night At Stafford, NASCAR Mod Tour Looks Ahead & More…

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Fans at the Stafford Speedway enjoyed a full night of racing under clear skies and a full moon.

The headline event of the night was the SK Modified TC13 which celebrated the life of the late Ted Christopher who lost his life in a plane crash five years previous.

Mike Christopher Jr who has had less than a good season to date rose to the occasion as he took the lead on lap 10 if the 13 lap event from David Arute. Noah Korner moved into second with Andrew Molleur in third.

Korner made a final bid for the lead coming off of turn 4 to the inside of Christopher but he came up just a half car length short as Christopher won the TC 13 Shoot Out. Molleur finished third with Arute and Dylan Kopec rounding out the top-5.

Quinn Christopher awarded three The Joie of Seating racing seats to through the Ted Christopher Safety Initiative and the three lucky winners were Keith Rocco, who finished 13th in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Christopher, who won the TC 13 Shoot Out, and SK Light driver Casey Vogt, who was the winner of a random draw consisting of all drivers signed in to race.

Jon Puleo was a first-time career winner in the SK Modified® feature. In the wreck marred event Puleo took the lead from Andrew Molleur on a restart on lap 38 with Todd Owen in third, David Arute in fourth, and Mike Christophe Jr in fifth. Molleur couldn’t get back close enough to Puleo to make a move as Puleo took down his first career SK Modified® feature victory. Molleur finished second with Owen, Arute, and Christopher rounding out the top-5.

Numerous wrecks and spins slowed the event. It seemed like there was a problem getting by the 16th lap. Michael Gervais and Mike Christopher touched wheels coming out of turn 4 on lap-15 with Gervais spinning and collecting several cars, including Ronnie Williams, Jon Puleo, Matt Vassar, Teddy Hodgdon, John Sandberg, John Montesanto, and several others.

The field completed one lap with Rufrano holding the lead over DiMatteo before the caution came out for Montesanto, whose car caught fire under the hood going into turn 3 and he came to a stop in turn 4. Still on lap 16, The next restart saw DiMatteo and Rufrano touch tires going into turn 3 with Rufrano spinning to the infield and DiMatteo spinning backwards into the turn 3 wall to bring the caution back out.

This put Leary and Molleur on the front row with Owen and Dylan Kopec in the second row for the next restart. Under the caution, Narducci developed a flat tire and had to come to pit road just as the field was going back to green.

Other Friday night winners at Stafford included Andrew Durand who was another first time career winner in the Late Model feature, Derek Debbis scored his third win of the season in the SK Light feature, Matt Clement led his brother Jay to the checkered flag to pick up his second win of the 2022 season, and Bobby Stirk, III picked up his fifth win of the season in the Street Stock feature.

The Stafford Speedway will be silent this coming Friday night (Sept 16). The weekend of Sept 23 and 24th will include the 49th annual NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final on the 24th. The Fall Final will include the Tri-Track Open Modified Series (80 laps), SK Modified® (40 laps), SK Light Invitational (non-points, 20 laps) and Vintage All-Stars (15 laps). Stafford will wrap up their season on Friday night, Sept 30 with Champions Night. The Tri-Track Open has over 50 entries.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour series heads across the big pond we call Long Island Sound this coming Saturday night Saturday September 17th for their 70th start at the historic quarter mile facility. To remember and celebrate the career of the late Eddie Partridge, a two time WMT championship car owner Jimmy Wilson of NASCAR in conjunction with Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz of Riverhead Raceway announced the race distance will increase from the usual 200 laps to 256 circuits. Plus with track GM John Ellwood, Wilson also disclosed an infield pit road will be set up so fans can watch the two tire change that will be allowed for the 256 as well other adjustments.

John Ellwood elaborated, “Eddie Partridge was our leader here, a visionary who loved the longer distance races with live pit stops. Prior to his passing he & I talked about doing something like this, now thanks to Jimmy Wilson and NASCAR, Connie and Tom we have put it all together. It will be exciting and yes safe”. Ellwood has moved truckloads of cement barriers moved to the track infield and designed a pit road that will be safe for the 5 race team members per team that will pit the cars.

As for the 2022 WMT championship chase the Eddie Partridge 256 could very well prove to be a wild card race among the drivers chasing the title. Jon McKennedy will carry a slim 10-point lead over Ron Silk in the drivers standings. Both drivers have yet to win a WMT event at Riverhead but hope to change that trend Saturday. The driver on the move during the second half of the WMT season is Justin Bonsignore, a 8-time WMT winner at his home track who now is just 17 points back of McKennedy, while hometown favorite Eric Goodale of Riverhead is still in the hunt, 27 markers out of the lead. Bellport, LI native Tommy Baldwin and his TBR team sit atop the WMT owners standings with a 32-point cushion over Tim Lepine, McKennedy’s team owner.

For those who unable to attend, FloRacing will live stream the event.

Down on the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Todd Owen recorded his fifth victory of the season in the 35-lap SK Modified feature Saturday. Eric Berndt finished in the runner-up spot with Anthony Flannery, third. Andrew Molleur and Adam Gada rounded out the top five in the 11 car starting field.

Nick Hovey was the 25-lap SK Light Modified feature winner with John O’Sullivan and Evan Bourgeois making up the top three in the 12 car starting field. Other winners were Scotty Watts who won the 45-lap 350 SMAC feature, Sam Mesick, the 25-lap Mini Stock feature, Avery Stoehr, the 25-lap NEMA feature winner, Randy Cabral, the 25-lap NEMA Lites feature winner, Ed Ryan Jr., the 25-lap Truck feature winner and Brody Monahan the 25-lap Legends feature winner.

Across the big pond at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, It was a night to pause and reflect Saturday as the track remembered it’s late leader Eddie Partridge on the 1st Anniversary of his passing and also paid tribute to local first responders on the eve of 9/11. When the attention turned to the headlining Cecil Palm Tree 160 NASCAR Modified event the gloves came off and a wild race ensued. When the dust cleared Jack Handley Jr. of Medford fended off defending champion Kyle Soper of Manorville in a late race six lap dash to conclude the race earning his first career win in the process. Earlier Handley notched his 15th career Super Pro Truck win.

Leading the late stages, the last thing Handley wanted to see was another yellow which unfortunately for him waved on lap 154 for a single car spin. That turn of events set-up a six-lap dash for the cash and oh what a six laps were to follow. When the green waved for the final time Soper, a 28-time winner at the track was side by side with Handely who was seeking his first ever win. On the final lap the duo was side by side going through three and four and were side by side coming to the checker flag with Jack Handley Jr. by 0.056, or by a quarter of a car scoring the victory in the East End Excavating Chevy.

Among those in the Modified field was Dave Sapienza. Who finished 14th. Race follower Craig Gabriele stated that Sapienza is retiring from Whelen Modified Tour competition. Currently 11th in the 2022 WMT standings, the 57 year old has been a staple on the tour for nine years. Winless in 99 races, Sapienza has 26 top tens to his credit.

NASCAR has announced that the NASCAR Cup Series will make a stunning return to a revitalized North Wilkesboro Speedway next season, visiting one of its original tracks for the 2023 edition of the NASCAR All-Star Race during NASCAR’s 75th anniversary season.

Noted auto racing scribe Lou Modestino sends word that the Westboro Speedway Reunion is Sunday, October 2! Though Westboro was built for midget racing, the popularity of those open-cockpit cars started to fade from over saturation in the early 50’s. With so many midget tracks around, you could drive less than two hours from Westboro and see midget racing almost any night of the week. Suddenly fans were flocking to see cars race that looked like the ones they drove on the street. They wanted to see Stock Car Racing. After a few years of full bodied, mostly stock entries, rules were changed to allow chopping and channeling of the cars. The Cut Downs were born.

The crowds were back at Westboro Speedway to see the cut downs. The flathead engines, like the one in Red Sequin’s “L” eventually gave way to overhead engines and more radical designs and setups like the cut downs driven by Gavin Couper “0” and Fred Borden in Andy Smith’s #99.

There may be a cut down or two and some of the drivers from the era at the reunion on October 2 at the Westboro Shopping Center near Julio’s Liquors on Route 9. Relive the history of Westboro Speedway. Don’t miss it!

On a sad note, the entire racing community is morning the passing of a true legend in Dirt Racing, Dave Lape, who has passed away. Dave retired from the driver’s seat in 2013 but has been instrumental to the legacy of the Fonda Speedway Hall of Fame and Museum as well as many of dirt racing’s best drivers over the years. During the early seventies Lape ran on the NASCAR Modified circuit and was the driver who beat out Billy Harman for fifth in the final national standings. ​

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.

error: Thanks For Visiting Race Pro Weekly ... Like what you see? Tell your friends to check us out!