Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – Stafford Speedway hosted the 9th race of the season for its SK Modified® division as part of the Superstar Racing Experience event held on Thursday, July 13th.
Keith Rocco took control of the race just after the halfway point and then drove away from the field to notch his second consecutive win of the 2023 season at Stafford.
The 40-lap SK Modified® feature took the green flag with Troy Talman streaking by Tyler Hines at the drop of the green flag to set the early pace out front. Michael Gervais, Jr. moved from fifth to second behind Talman with Mikey Flynn and Hines side by side for third and Anthony Bello and Tyler Leary side by side for fifth. Gervais worked his way to the inside of Talman on lap-3 and he was able to take over the lead on lap-4. Just after Gervais took the lead, a crash in turn 1 involving David Arute, RJ Marcotte, and Stephen Kopcik brought the caution flag out and slowed the action.
Gervais and Talman went wheel to wheel for the lead on the restart with Gervais taking the lead at the line. Leary spun and collected the car of Marcello Rufrano to bring the caution flag back out one lap after the restart.
Gervais and Talman again went wheel to wheel for the lead with Gervais taking the lead as the field completed lap-7. Anthony Bello worked his way up to second behind Gervias with Mikey Flynn third, Todd Owen fourth, and Jimmy Blewett fifth as Talman slid back to sixth in line. Bello took the lead from Gervais on lap-8 before Wesley Prucker came to a stop in the turn 1 infield to bring the yellow flag back out with 9 laps complete.
Bello took the lead on the restart with Flynn coming up to second. Gervais and Blewett were side by side for third with Blewett taking third on lap-12. Gervais was now fourth in line with Michael Christopher, Jr. and Todd Owen wheel to wheel for fifth place. Owen took fifth on lap-12 and then he went by Gervais for fourth place on lap-13. Owen’s pass for fourth place opened the door for Keith Rocco to move into fifth with Flynn now leading Bello and Blewett at the front of the pack.
Bello came back to the inside of Flynn to retake the lead on lap-16 with Flynn, Blewett, Owen, and Rocco lined up behind him. Curt Brainard got into the turn 1 wall to bring the caution out with 17 laps complete.
Blewett dove to the inside of Bello in turn 1 on the restart to power into the lead. Bello was able to get in line in second with Rocco now in third, Flynn fourth, and Owen fifth. Christopher was sixth followed by Gervais, Cory DiMatteo, Dylan Kopec, and Jon Puleo. Bello took the lead back from Blewett on lap-20 but Blewett came right back and went back to the lead on lap-21. Rocco followed Blewett by Bello to move into second and he then took the lead from Blewett on lap-22. This move brought Flynn up to second and Owen third with Blewett falling back to fourth place. Blewett then went back by Owen to take over third place on lap-25 while Rocco was starting to stretch out his lead over Flynn. Christopher and Blewett touched in turn 4 on lap-26 with Blewett getting sideways and falling back to sixteenth place.
With 10 laps to go, Rocco was in command with Flynn, Owen, Christopher, DiMatteo, Bello, Gervais, Anthony Flannery, Noah Korner, and Kopec making up the top-10. With 2 laps to go, Christopher had worked his way to the inside of Owen for third while Rocco was still comfortably in the lead with Flynn in second. Rocco led the field to the checkered flag to pick up his second consecutive SK Modified® win of the 2023 season. Flynn finished second while Christopher cleared Owen on the last lap of the race to take third and DiMatteo came home in fifth place.
SK MODIFIED® (40)
1) Keith Rocco, Berlin
2) Mikey Flynn, Hampden, MA
3) Michael Christopher, Jr., Wolcott
4) Todd Owen, Somers
5) Cory DiMatteo, Farmington
6) Anthony Bello, Newtown
7) Michael Gervais, Jr., Wolcott
8) Anthony Flannery, East Hampton
9) Noah Korner, Canton
10) Dylan Kopec, East Longmeadow, MA
11) Troy Talman, Oxford, MA
12) Marcello Rufrano, North Haven
13) Jimmy Blewett, Howell, NJ
14) Jon Puleo, Branford
15) Steven Chapman, Ellington
16) Tyler Hines, North Haven
17) Tyler Leary, Hatfield, MA
18) Curt Brainard, Canton
19) Chris Jones, New Milford
20) John Sandberg, South Windsor
21) Jeff Rocco, Wallingford
22) Wesley Prucker, Stafford Springs
23) RJ Marcotte, Millville, MA
24) Stephen Kopcik, Newtown
25) David Arute, Stafford Springs