Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – Stafford Speedway hosted the Senator’s Cup 50-lap SK Modified® event with Stafford’s Late Model, SK Light, Limited Late Model, and Street Stock divisions also in feature action on Friday, June 23.
Michael Christopher, Jr. was the big winner of the night, taking down his first SK Modified® win of the 2023 season in the 50-lap Senator’s Cup feature event.
Kevin Gambacorta was a first time 2023 winner in the Late Model feature, Chris Matthews was a first time 2023 winner in the SK Light feature, Kevin Cormier notched his third win of the 2023 season in the Limited Late Model feature, and Travis Hydar scored his second win of the season in the Street Stock feature.
In the 50-lap Senator’s Cup SK Modified® feature, Michael Christopher, Jr. led the field to the green and he took the early lead. Steven Chapman was second in line followed by Tyler Leary, Dylan Kopec, and Michael Gervais, Jr. Kopec quickly went by Leary to take over third on lap-2 while David Arute was applying pressure to Gervais for fifth. Kopec took second place from Chapman on lap-6 and began to set his sights on Christopher in the lead. Gervais worked his way to the inside of Leary on lap-7 and he took fourth on lap-8. Gervais’ move opened the door for Arute to move up to fifth and drop Leary back to a wheel to wheel duel with Keith Rocco for sixth. Leary spun in turn 4 to bring the caution flag out with 10 laps complete.
Christopher charged back into the lead on the restart with Kopec and Chapman right behind him. Rocco was up to fourth with Arute holding off Marcello Rufrano for fifth. The caution came back out with 13 laps complete for Leary, who came to a stop in turn 4 with a flat left front tire.
Back under green it was again Christopher in the lead with Kopec, Rocco, Chapman, and Jimmy Blewett behind him. Arute and Rufrano touched and got out of shape but both cars were able to continue on after dropping several spots. The caution came back out with 20 laps complete for a spin in turn 3 by RJ Marcotte.
The field completed one lap before the caution came back out as Jon Puleo spun on the frontstretch and Cory DiMatteo spun in turn 1.
Christopher took the lead back under green with Kopec slotting into second just in front of Rocco in third. Blewett made a power move one lap after the restart to move into fourth with Chapman in fitfth. Rufrano and Talman hit the backstretch wall to bring the yellow and red flags out as there was a flash fire from Rufrano’s car.
The caution came right back out on the restart before a lap could be completed as both Stephen Kopcik and Tyler Hines got into the turn 2 wall. Christopher resumed his place at the front of the field on the restart with Kopec still right on his back bumper in second. Blewett was third with Rocco fourth and Todd Owen fifth before the caution came back out with 26 laps complete for a spin in turn 2 by Marcotte.
Christopher took the lead back under green while Blewett streaked his way into second. Kopec was third with Owen fourth and Anthony Bello fifth. Just behind Bello was Arute in sixth place and Rocco in seventh place. Owen took third from Kopec on lap-31 and that move opened the door for Bello to take fourth and Arute fifth to drop Kopec back to sixth place while Blewett continued to chase Christopher at the front of the field.
Blewett stalked Christopher for the lead until lap-39 when he was able to get to the inside of Christopher and take over the lead in turns 3+4. Bello was now third behind the two leaders with Owen fourth, Arute fifth, Kopec sixth, and Rocco seventh. Christopher was able to get back by Blewett in turn 4 on lap-45 to retake the lead with Bello, Owen, and Arute still making up the top-5 with 5 laps to go. Blewett made one last charge on the final lap but couldn’t get close enough to Christopher to make a move as Christopher took down his first win of the 2023 season. Bello finished third with Owen and Arute rounding out the top-5.
In the 30-lap Late Model feature, John Blake and Michael Wray went door to door for the lead but only one lap could be completed before the caution flew for Paul Varricchio, Jr. and Chris Meyer, who both ended up in the turn 3 wall.
Wray charged into the lead on the restart with Zack Robinson taking second. Kevin Gambacorta moved into third with Wayne Coury, Jr. fourth and Tom Fearn fifth as Blake slid back to 14th place as the train of cars passed him by. Robinson made a move to the inside of Wray on lap-8 to take over the race lead. Gambacorta followed suit on lap-9 by getting by Wray to move into second and drop Wray back to third in line. Tom Fearn had gotten around Coury for fourth place with Gray right behind them in sixth place.
At the halfway point of the race, Robinson was still in command with Gambacorta right behind him in second. Wray was third with Tom Fearn, Coury, Gray, Darrell Keane, Andrew Durand, Tom Butler, and Jacob Perry making up the top-10. The caution came back out with 17 laps complete for Bobby Stirk, III, who spun on the backstretch.
Just as the field completed lap-18 after the restart, Alexandra Fearn, Duane Noll, and Stirk all spun coming out of turn 4 to bring the caution flag back out. The next restart saw Wray power his way into the lead on the outside of Robinson with Robinson slotting into second. Gambacorta was third with Coury fourth and Keane fifth. Robinson worked his way to the inside of Wray on lap-20 and he retook the lead. Gambacorta and Coury were both also able to get by Wray to drop him back to fourth in the order just in front of Tom Fearn.
Gambacorta took a look to the inside of Robinson on lap-25 but couldn’t make a pass. Gambacorta was able to get to the inside of Robinson on lap-26 in turn 3 and this time he made the pass to take over the lead. Coury followed him by to take second and Wray took third as Robinson was sliding backwards in the outside lane. Tom Fearn took fourth on lap-28 and Gray took fifth as Robinson slid back to sixth before the caution came back out for a spin in turn 4 by Noll to set up a green-white-checkered finish.
Gambacorta took the lead on the restart with Wray taking second. Gray moved into third with Coury fourth and Tom Fearn fifth. Gambacorta took down his first win of the 2023 season with Wray, Gray, Coury, and Tom Fearn rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light feature, Chris Matthews took the early lead at the drop of the green flag with Tyler Alkas taking second. Jason Chapman moved up to third with Tyler Barry in fourth and Paul Arute fifth. A spin in turn 4 involving Matt Brewer, Stephen Kalogiannis, Joey Ferrigno, Sami Anderson, Wade Gagner, and several others brought the caution out with 4 laps complete.
Alkas went wheel to wheel with Matthews for the lead on the restart and he powered into the lead from the outside lane. Barry was third in line behind Alkas and Matthews with Cassandra Cole in fourth, Bob Charland fifth, and Tyler Chapman sixth. Matthews came back to the inside of Alkas on lap-8 and he retook the lead just before the caution came back out.
Matthews and Alkas again went wheel to wheel for the lead with Alkas in the lead by a nose to complete lap-9. Matthews came back strong on lap-10 and got clear into the lead with Tyler Chapman and Brian Sullivan going wheel to wheel for third place and Barry and Alexander Pearl wheel to wheel for fifth. Sullivan was finally able to clear Tyler Chapman on lap-15 and he took second to drop Alkas back to third with Tyler Chapman fourth and Barry fifth while Matthews was cruising all along in the lead.
Matthews led the field to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2023 season. Sullivan came home in second with Alkas, Pearl, and Tyler Chapman rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, Devon Jencik led the field to the green flag and he took the early lead with Gary Patnode in second. Rich Hammann moved into third from fifth at the start with Kevin Cormier coming from ninth up to fourth and Jeremy Lavoie was fifth after starting in eighth place. Cormier took third place from Patnode on lap-5 and that move brought Lavoie up to fourth and Matt Clement up to fifth as Patnode slid back to sixth while Jencik was pulling away from Hammann at the front of the pack. Dana Wray spun in turn 2 to bring the caution flag out with 6 laps complete.
Jencik took the lead again on the restart with Cormier taking second. Matt Clement came up to third with Lavoie taking fourth as Hammann slid from second back to fifth. Just behind Hammann was Damian Palardy, Adrien Paradis, III, Connor Jencik, Patnode, and Kevin Crosby. Cormier took the lead from Devon Jencik on lap-11 with Matt Clement taking second and Lavoie taking third to drop Devon Jencik back to fourth. The caution flew again with 11 laps complete for another spin in turn 2 by Wray.
Cormier took the lead on the restart while Lavoie made a 3-wide move with Matt Clement and Devon Jencik to take second. Matt Clement came right back to the inside of Lavoie on lap-13 and he retook second on lap-14. Clement’s move opened the door for Devon Jencik to follow him by Lavoie to take third and drop Lavoie back to fourth, just in front of Hammann. Crosby spun coming out of turn 4 to bring the caution flag out with 16 laps complete.
Cormier streaked into the lead on the restart with Lavoie taking second to drop Matt Clement back to third. Devon Jencik was fourth with Hammann in fifth. Paradis was sixth but Palardy took that spot from him on lap-19. Cormier led the field to the checkered flag to pick up his third win of the 2023 season. Matt Clement got by Lavoie on the final lap to finish second with Devon Jencik fourth and Hammann rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Street Stock feature, Tyler Trott took the lead at the green flag with Travis Hydar quickly working his way from seventh at the start up to second. Hydar then took the lead from Trott on lap-4. Ryan Waterman was on the move in the early going, going from eleventh place up to third behind Hydar and Trott with Johnny Walker in fourth and Jason Finkbein in fifth. Waterman made a move to the inside of Trott for second on lap-7 and he took the position. Walker followed him by to take third with Finkbein taking fourth and Aaron Plemons fifth to drop Trott back to sixth place. Walker and Finkbein spun in turn 2 to bring the caution flag out with 10 laps complete.
Hydar streaked back into the lead back under green while Waterman and Plemons were locked in a side by side duel for second which Waterman got the better of on lap-14. Plemons and Trott were now door to door for third with Trott taking the spot on lap-15. Plemons settled into fourth, just in front of Travis Downey, Bert Ouellette, Brandon Warren, Jeff Asselin, Jason Lafayette, and Ryan Perry. Hydar led the field to the checkered flag to pick up his second win of the 2023 season. Waterman finished second with Plemons, Downey, and Trott rounding out the top-5.
SENATOR’S CUP SK MODIFIED® (50)
1) Michael Christopher, Jr., Wolcott
2) Jimmy Blewett, Howell, NJ
3) Anthony Bello, Newtown
4) Todd Owen, Somers
5) David Arute, Stafford Springs
6) Dylan Kopec, East Longmeadow, MA
7) Keith Rocco, Berlin
8) Jon Puleo, Branford
9) Noah Korner, Avon
10) Mikey Flynn, Hampden, MA
11) Steven Chapman, Ellington
12) Cory DiMatteo, Farmington
13) Tyler Leary, Hatfield, MA
14) Tyler Hines, North Haven
15) RJ Marcotte, Millville, MA
16) Wesley Prucker, Stafford Springs
17) Troy Talman, Oxford, MA
18) Jack Baldwin, Mooresville, NC
19) John Sandberg, South Windsor
20) Rich Gatreau, Orange, CA
21) Stephen Kopcik, Newtown
22) Michael Gervais, Jr., Wolcott
23) Curt Brainard, Canton
24) Marcello Rufrano, North Haven
LATE MODEL (30)
1) Kevin Gambacorta, Ellington
2) Michael Wray, Durham
3) Adam Gray, Granby, MA
4) Wayne Coury, Jr., Fairfield
5) Tom Fearn, East Longmeadow, MA
6) Darrell Keane, Enfield
7) Andrew Durand, Chicopee, MA
8) Zack Robinson, Putnam
9) Tom Butler, Stafford Springs
10) Alexandra Fearn, East Longmeadow, MA
11) Bobby Stirk, III, Naugatuck
12) Richard Ciriello, Reading, MA
13) Duane Noll, Monroe
14) Jacob Perry, Pawcatuck
15) John Blake, North Haven
16) Scott Cook, Uncasville
17) Paul Varricchio, Jr., Berlin
18) Chris Meyer, Franklin
SK LIGHT MODIFIED (20)
1) Chris Matthews, Stafford
2) Brian Sullivan, Tolland
3) Tyler Alkas, Berlin
4) Alexander Pearl, Salem
5) Tyler Chapman, Ellington
6) Tyler Barry, Griswold
7) Jason Chapman, Ellington
8) George Bessette, Jr., Danbury
9) Bob Charland, Stafford Springs
10) Meghan Fuller, Auburn, MA
11) Cassandra Cole, Westbrook
12) Amanda West, Colchester
13) Nick Anglace, Seymour
14) Casey Vogt, Windsor Locks
15) Stephen Kalogiannis, New Hartford
16) Matt Brewer, Norwich
17) Paul Arute, Tolland
18) Chris Viens, Putnam
19) Brandon Michael, Granville, MA
20) Ed Chicoski, New Hartford
21) Hailey Desaulniers, Windham
22) Daltin McCarthy, Oxford, MA
23) Norm Sears, Coventry
24) Nickolas Hovey, Chaplin
25) Paul Arcari, Somers
26) Luke Baldwin, Mooresville, NC
27) Todd Clark, Bristol
28) Zach Aszklar, Newtown
29) Anthony Forino, Waterbury
30) Frank L’Etoile, Jr., Wethersfield
31) Ron Midford, Jr., Ellington
32) Joey Ferrigno, East Hartford
33) Wade Gagner, East Longmeadow, MA
34) Sami Anderson, Wolcott
LIMITED LATE MODEL (20)
1) Kevin Cormier, Agawam, MA
2) Matt Clement, Wethersfield
3) Jeremy Lavoie, Windsor Locks
4) Devon Jencik, Canton
5) Rich Hammann, Tolland
6) Damian Palardy, Willington
7) Adrien Paradis, III, Plainville
8) Connor Jencik, Canton
9) Trinity Provost, Holland, MA
10) Kevin Crosby, Coventry
11) Samantha Dell, Pascoag, RI
12) Christopher Phelps, New Salem, MA
13) Gary Patnode, New Hartford
14) Dana Wray, Durham
STREET STOCK (20)
1) Travis Hydar, Woodbury
2) Ryan Waterman, Danielson
3) Aaron Plemons, Uncasville
4) Travis Downey, Barkhamsted
5) Tyler Trott, East Hartford
6) Bert Ouellette, Ellington
7) Brandon Warren, Chicopee, MA
8) Jeff Asselin, Granby, MA
9) Jason Lafayette, Somers
10) Ryan Perry, West Suffield
11) Sam Calvo, East Berlin
12) Brent Gleason,
13) Chris Danielczuk, Goshen
14) Marvin Minkler, Stamford
15) Jason Raymond, Somers
16) David Macha, Jr., Columbia
17) Bill Porter, Canterbury
18) Sean Petlock, Ware, MA
19) David Macha, Sr., Columbia
20) Rob Sears, Stafford Springs
21) Johnny Walker, Agawam, MA
22) Cindy Stirk, Naugatuck
23) Jason Finkbein, Manchester