RPW Column: The Champ Trail: Title Night At Stafford, RoC At Lancaster, NASCAR Mod News & More…
Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The Stafford Speedway wound up its 2022 season last Friday night with Champions Night.
For over 40 years under the direction and promotion of the Arute family Stafford has set the benchmark in both competition and fan appeal.
High car counts, a great fan support plus excellent live streamed coverage by FloSports made the 2022 season one of the best.
Scoring feature wins on the night were Ronnie Williams in the SK Modified® feature, Wayne Coury, Jr. in the Late Model feature, Tyler Chapman in the SK Light feature, Alexandra Fearn in the Limited Late Model feature, and Bobby Stirk, III in the Street Stock feature. With NAPA Championship Night serving as the final race of the 2022 season, track championships were clinched by Tyler Barry in the SK Light division and Rich Hammann in the Limited Late Model feature as Todd Owen, Adam Gray, and Travis Hydar clinched the SK Modified®, Late Model, and Street Stock championships respectively a week ago.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature which went non-stop without a caution, Tyler Leary led the field to the green flag and he took the lead on the opening lap. Behind Leary, Ronnie Williams, who started fifth, took second from Michael Gervais, Jr. and he took the lead from Leary at the line as they completed the second lap. Williams cleared Leary on lap-3 with Troy Talman and Gervais wheel to wheel for third and Todd Owen, who started tenth, in fifth.
By lap-9, Owen had worked his way through traffic to move up to second behind Williams with Marcello Rufrano up to third, Leary fourth, and Bryan Narducci in fifth. Narducci took fourth place from Leary on lap-12 while Owen was still trying to close down the gap to Williams for the race lead. Rufrano looked to take second from Owen on lap-17 but he got sideways, which slowed him enough to allow Narducci to catch him and take over third place on lap-19. Michael Christopher, Jr. took fifth from Leary on lap-20 while Williams was still leading Owen at the front of the field.
Owen was starting to slowly reel Williams in with 10 laps to go, but he ran out of time and came up just short as Williams took down his third win of the 2022 season. Narducci finished third with Rufrano and Christopher rounding out the top-5.
In the Late Model feature, Wayne Coury, Jr. led Tom Fearn to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2022 season. Keane, Alexandra Fearn, and Gambacorta rounded out the top-5.
The 20-lap SK Light feature also went non-stop. With 4 laps to go, Tyler Chapman was in the lead with Tyler Barry and George Bessette wheel to wheel for second, Midford in fourth, and Derek Debbis and West wheel to wheel for fifth. Tyler Chapman led Barry to the checkered flag to notch his fourth win of the 2022 season. Barry’s second place finish was good enough to make him the 2022 SK Light champion. The Barry family has been a staple at Stafford since the track was paved in 1967. Bessette, Ron Midford, and Derek Debbis rounded out the top-5. A big shout -out to Megan Fuller who finished sixth. The second generation female driver and daughter of Rick Fuller has developed into a force to be reckoned with. Likewise for Amanda West who showed a lot of class as she ran up front in the early going and at the checker finished seventh.
The Limited Late Model feature produced the heartbreaker of the night when Jeremy Lavoie spun in the middle of turns 3+4 to bring the caution out with 17 laps complete. Lavoie’s car appeared to break something in the rear end and he pulled behind the wall, done for the race. Lavoie came into the race with the point lead and was in position to claim his third championship, but his misfortune potentially took him out of championship contention.
Alexandra Fearn took the lead back under green when Gary Patnode didn’t come up to speed and he dropped back to ninth place as Jay Clement took second, Matt Clement third, Rich Hammann fourth, and Kevin Cormier fifth. Fearn led the field to the checkered flag to pick up her third win of the season with Jay Clement and Matt Clement behind her. Hammann finished fourth, which was enough to claim the championship by 2 points over Lavoie.
In the 20-lap Street Stock feature, Adrian Paradis took the lead from Bobby Stirk on the lap 18 restart with Travis Hydar in third. Stirk was able to pull back alongside Paradis on the final lap and he took the lead in turns 3+4 and led Hydar and Paradis to the checkered flag by a nose to take down his sixth win of the 2022 season. Hydar nipped Paradis at the line for second with Bert Ouellette and Ryan Waterman rounding out the top-5.
On a personal note, after writing a column and covering happenings at Stafford for 53 years I can honestly say that Jack Arute and his family have made the Stafford Motor Speedway a showcase of speed and competition second to none.
The Race of Champions Modified Series 34th US Open at the Lancaster Motorplex in western New York went to “Big Money” Matt Hirschman. Hirschman held off a hard charging Patrick Emerling and 2021 RoC champion Austin Beers to claim his 24th overall victory of the year. It was his sixth career triumph in the race, and 12th Lancaster Modified victory.
Congratulations to Mike Leaty on capturing the Race of Champions Modified Series championship for the 2022 season. Leaty scored back-to-back victories at Spencer Speedway and Lancaster Motorplex to start the season and used a string of consistent finishes to win his second RoC Modified Series title.
. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour heads to the Thompson Speedway on Oct 9. With 14 of the 16 events run Jon McKennedy holds a three-point lead over Justin Bonsignore and Ron Silk who are tied for the second spot. Eric Goodale is a distant fourth, some 22 points back. Rounding out the top five is rookie Austin Beers, 47 points in arears. Sixth thru 10th include Tommy Catalano, Kyle Bonsignore, Craig Lutz, Doug Coby and JB Fortin.
Mike Christopher Jr. will drive the No. 7NY for all Modified races during Sunoco World Series weekend at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, October 7-9. The announcement includes Christopher running the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Sunoco World Series 150 on Sunday, October 9. The race will mark the penultimate stop of the season for NASCAR’s oldest touring series, and the Tommy Baldwin Racing team is in good shape to try and clinch the owners championship entering the race.
The team leads by 38 points in the championship battle over Jon McKennedy’s team, and with a strong run at Thompson, could lock up the title one race early. With 14 races in the books this season, the team has already been to Victory Lane five times on the Whelen Modified Tour.
Late last week it was announced that the Whelen Modified Tour Series would be returning to the Seekonk Speedway in 2023 on After three years away from the track, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to the cement palace in 2023 on Saturday, June 10. Seekonk has been in operation since 1946 and will be celebrating its 77th year under the guidance of the Venditti family.
Located at the Gateway to Cape Cod, the speedway last hosted the Whelen Modified Tour in 2019.
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.