Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Last Friday night saw the 10th running of the NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K which was an 80 lap race with the winner taking home $5,000.
The biggest race of the year for the SK Modified® division carried total prize money over $30,000 after all bonuses. In its 10th year at the Stafford Speedway, the NAPA SK 5K has been a midsummer classic that has seen plenty of on track drama.
Believe it or not most of the drama was in the air as the National Weather Forecast predicted heavy rain for the Stafford area for Friday night. Needless to say it never rained but the forecast hurt the crowd.
Todd Owen came up the big winner of the night by taking the lead from Noah Korner on lap-75 of 80 and leading the rest of the way to take home the $5,000 winner’s check which will balloon to over $7,300 with contingency bonuses from the Gambler’s Challenge and track contingency partners added in.
Owen started seventh and used a lot of patience which payed off when he took the lead from Korner with a pass in turn 4 on lap-75 while Jimmy Blewett moved into fifth.. Owen led Korner to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2023 season in the biggest SK Modified® race of the year. Bessette finished third with Blewett and Rufrano rounding out the top-5.
Other feature winners on the night were Michael Wray in the Late Model feature, George Bessette, Jr. in the SK Light feature, Kevin Cormier in the Limited Late Model feature, and Ryan Waterman in the Street Stock feature.
Among those missing from the Friday night line-up at Stafford were SK Light Drivers Nick Anglace and Zach Aszklar who were both suspended for the next four events for their part in a brawl in the pit area following the conclusion of the Friday’s July 28th weekly racing card. Both drivers were cited for Unsportsmanlike conduct, safety violation and actions detrimental to the sport of auto racing.
In addition to the four event suspension, each driver will be forced to start last in the first two events they run following their suspensions.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series visited the Lancaster Motorsports Park in western New York last Saturday night. A full house crowd plus 20 cars were on hand for the event. Austin Beers pulled off an upset as he beat out Matt Hirschman for the win. Beers took advantage of an extra long pit stop by Hirschman who appeared to have the field covered up to that point. Hirschman soldiered on and closed the gap near the end but couldn’t master the extra power to make a passing move.
Ron Silk maintained control of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points lead with a third-place run over Bonsignore in fourth. Chuck Hossfeld completed the top-five finishers. Tommy Catalano, Doug Coby, Bryan Narducci, Kyle Bonsignore and Kyle Ebersole rounded out the top 10.
Justin Bonsignore and Matt Hirschman were on the front row for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Nu-Way Auto Parts 150, with Bonsignore showing the way ahead of Hirschman, Austin Beers, Chuck Hossfeld, and Doug Coby. Hirschman challenged and would pass Bonsignore for the lead on lap 20. Austin Beers would take over second from Bonsignore on lap 29 and would start to go after Hirschman. Doug Coby would take fourth away from Hossfeld on lap 45. Tommy Catalano would take over fifth from Hossfeld on lap 47. Hirschman and Beers would check out on the field as the race reached its halfway point. Bryan Narducci spun in turn three to bring out the race’s first caution just past the halfway mark. While on pit road, Austin Beers was able to take the lead away from Hirschman. Ron Silk would battle with Bonsignore for second position and would complete the pass on lap 95. While the leaders encountered lap traffic, Silk, Coby, and Hirschman all battled for the runner-up position. Hirschman would take over third on lap 125, just as Catalano reentered the top five after passing Justin Bonsignore. The caution would come out on lap 130, as Anthony Sesely and Tim Connolly got together on the front straightaway. The restart on lap 138 would see Beers in the lead ahead of Hirschman. Beers would hold off Hirschman over the final 12 laps to score his second Whelen Modified Tour win of the season, and first career win at Lancaster. Ron Silk would finish the race in third place and was followed to the line by Justin Bonsignore, and Chuck Hossfeld.
Todd Owen carried his winning ways over from Stafford as he won the inaugural Billy Greco/Terry Baribeault Memorial 43 at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Owen, who collected $7600 in payouts for his win, pocketed another $2,500 for the Speedbowl victory. It was the 18th career SK Modified win at the Speedbowl for Owen. Anthony Flannery was second and Rob Janovic Jr. was third. Ryan Morgan and Troy Talman rounded out the top five.
Jason Palmer of Berlin took his third victory of the season in the 30-lap Late Model feature. PJ Evans was second in the Late Model feature and Brody Monahan. Third generation driver Kyle Gero won the 25-lap Truck feature. Gero is the grandson of the late George “Moose: HewittI” John Bavolacco won the 25-lap Mini Stock feature.
The Tri-Track Racing Series heads to the New London Waterford Speedbowl this coming Saturday night, Aug 12.
The Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park oval will be back in action on Wednesday, August 16th with the return of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour! The nationally-renowned NASCAR Modifieds bring the thunder back to the hills of Eastern Connecticut along with the SK Light Modifieds, ACT-type Late Models, Limited Sportsman, and Mini Stocks for the third Wednesday night showdown of the 2023 season!
Danny Bohn won a 100 lap Modified event at the Bowman Gary Stadium. Brandon Ward finished second with Tim Brown, third. Pre race favorite Burt Myers had an off night after a mid race tangle. Myers then took a “Hissy Fit” and dumped a barrell of speedy dry all over a competitors car. Bowman Gray wraps up their season on August 26.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Justin Brown was the NASCAR Modified winner.
The New England Auto Racers (NEAR) President April May Preston-Elms is honored and pleased to announce the 2023 NEAR Hall of Fame Class. The landmark 25th class for the region’s most highly regarded motorsports shrine will be formally inducted into the NEAR Hall of Fame on Sunday, November 5, at the Log Cabin-Delaney House in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
A wide-ranging group of drivers and car owners will join the NEAR Hall of Fame, raising the total to over 275 members enshrined. The latest class includes Brad Leighton, Ted Marsh, Mike Ordway Sr., Andy Santerre, John Stygar and Mike Weeden will be joined in the Hall of Fame, along with Veterans Committee inductees Al Hammond and Joe Howard.
On a sad note, former Modified driver Don Moon, age 79, of Plainville, Connecticut passed away on Thursday, August 3, 2023. Moon was a competitor at the Plainville Stadium for many years.
The all new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, by the Grace of God and 600 hp, is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. Race by Race, Year by Year, it’s all there. Read all about it! Books are now available on Amazon.com and Coastal 181 (877-907-8181 toll free) and are available thru Stafford’s web site in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!
With the cooperation of the Arute family another 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).