All posts by Tom Morris

Rocco, Coury, Puleo, Durand, & Hydar Score NAPA Auto Parts Opening Night Victories At Stafford Motor Speedway

(Stafford Springs, CT)—After a 2-month delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Stafford Motor Speedway opened its doors for racing with NAPA Auto Parts Opening Night on Friday, June 26.  126 cars lined the paddock area with Keith Rocco in the SK Modified® feature, Wayne Coury, Jr. in the Late Model feature, Jonathan Puleo in the SK Light feature, Andrew Durand in the Limited Late Model feature, and Travis Hydar in the Street Stock feature all becoming the first drivers to reach NAPA Victory Lane in 2020 at Stafford. 

In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Ronnie Williams and Todd Owen went side by side for the lead at the green with Williams getting clear on lap-2.  Michael Christopher, Jr. was third in the early laps with Cory DiMatteo moving into fourth and Keith Rocco was fifth. 

Owen made a move to the inside of Williams in turn 3 to take the lead on lap-4.   Christopher followed him through to take second before the caution came out with 4 laps complete for Teddy Hodgdon and Dan Wesson, who both went through the frontstretch infield with Wesson coming to a stop.

Owen powered his way back to the lead on the restart with Williams in second.  Rocco was up to third with Christopher fourth and Woody Pitkat fifth.  Williams made a move to the inside of Owen for the lead on lap-8 and he was able to complete the pass on lap-9 and take over the lead.  Rocco followed him by Owen to take second and Christopher took third, dropping Owen back to fourth.  Matt Vassar and Tyler Hines spun in turn 2 to bring the caution back out with 9 laps complete.

Williams was the leader back under green with Owen and Rocco side by side for second.  Pitkat was fourth in line with Christopher fifth and Andrew Molleur in sixth.  The caution came back out with 12 laps complete for a spin in turn 4 by DiMatteo.  Bryan Narducci spun in turn 2 to bring the caution back out before a lap could be completed.

Owen took the lead on the restart with Rocco right behind him in second.  Williams was third in line with Molleur in fourth and Pitkat back to fifth.  Stephen Kopcik was applying heavy pressure to Pitkat for fifth but Pitkat was able to hold him off.  Up front, Rocco was all over Owen’s back bumper looking high and low for a way to take over the lead.  Owen was able to keep Rocco behind him.  Rocco continued to look high and low for a way around Owen until the caution flew with 19 laps complete for a spin on the backstretch by Michael Gervais, Jr.

Rocco got right back to applying heavy pressure to Owen’s back bumper on the restart as they fought for the lead but Owen was once again able to keep Rocco behind him.  Williams was third with Kopcik up to fourth and Pitkat in fifth.  Rocco was finally able to make a pass stick on lap-24 as he went by Owen in turns 1+2 to take over the race lead.  David Arute spun coming out of turn 2 to bring the caution out with 27 laps complete.

Rocco took the lead on the restart while Williams got around Owen to take second but the caution came back out with 28 laps complete for a multi-car accident on the backstretch involving the cars of Glen Reen, Tony Membrino, Jr., Tyler Leary, Teddy Hodgdon, Molleur, and Troy Talman.  The restart saw Tom Bolles get into the turn 3 wall, which collected several other cars that brought the caution right back out.

The restart saw Owen go from third to first with Rocco falling back to second.  Pitkat was up to third with Kopcik fourth and Williams fifth.  Rocco was immediately back to applying heavy pressure to Owen, looking high and low for a way to get back to the front of the pack.  Rocco made his move in turn 3 on lap-34 to get back to the front.  Pitkat was still third behind Owen with Kopcik and Williams continuing to make up the top-5 cars. 

Kopcik made a move to the inside of Pitkat on lap-38 to move into third.  Williams followed Kopcik by Pitkat to take fourth and drop Pitkat back to fifth.  Rocco pulled away from Owen at the front to take down the first SK Modified® win of 2020.  Kopcik finished third with Williams and Pitkat rounding out the top-5.

In the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tom Fearn took the lead at the green with Paul Arute right behind him in second.  Tyler Leary and Ryan Fearn were side by side for third place with Adam Gray riding in fifth place.  Fearn took third from Leary on lap-2 and the top-5 were now single file with Tom Fearn showing the way.

Fearn was starting to pull away from Arute, Ryan Fearn, Leary, Gray, and the rest of the field.  Darrell Keane took fifth from Gray on lap-8 while the top-4 cars remained unchanged.  With 10 laps complete, Tom Fearn had opened up a nearly half straightaway lead over the field but his car dropped off the pace on lap-12 and he limped back to pit road and pulled behind the wall with Arute now the race leader.  The caution came out with 12 laps complete to slow the field.

Arute took the lead on the restart but Ryan Fearn was applying heavy pressure.  The field was only able to complete one lap before a pileup in turn 1 occurred involving Kevin Gambacorta, Duane Provost, Al Saunders, Rick Lanagan, Jordan Hadley, and Trace Beyer to bring the caution back out with 13 laps complete.

Ryan Fearn powered his way into the lead on the outside of Arute as the race went back to green.  Arute slid back to sixth in line as Gray took second, Leary third, Keane fourth, and Wayne Coury, Jr. fifth.  Keane spun in the middle of turns 3+4 to bring the caution back out with 15 laps complete.

Gray did to Ryan Fearn what Fearn did to Arute on the previous restart and he took the lead in the outside lane.  Coury was up to third behind Fearn and Arute with Leary fourth and Arute fifth.  Fearn made a move to the inside of Gray in turn 1 on lap-17 and got loose and spun, collecting Gray in the spin and bringing the caution flag back out with 17 laps complete.   Coury was now the race leader with Leary on his outside and Arute and Jim Mavlouganes lined up behind him for the restart.

Coury took the lead with Leary holding off a stiff challenge from Michael Bennett for second.  Bennett slotted into third with Michael Wray up to fourth and Jim Mavlouganes up to fifth.  Keane was back up to sixth after his earlier spin and Arute was seventh in line. 

Bennett got around Leary to take second on lap-23 and he took the lead from Coury on lap-24, but before the lap could be completed, Gambacorta spun in the middle of turns 1+2 to bring the caution back out and put Coury back up front for the restart.

Coury took the lead back under green but the caution came back after one lap had been completed as Mavlouganes’ car came to a stop in turn 4.

Coury took the lead on the restart with Bennett taking second.  Arute was up to third with Saunders fourth and Gray in fifth.  Bennett was almost glued to Coury’s back bumper as they completed lap-28.  Coury held off a determined Bennett to take down the first Late Model win of the 2020 season.  Arute finished third with Saunders and Gray rounding out the top-5.

In the 20-lap SK Light feature, Rit Dulac spun on the start in turn 2 to bring the caution out before a lap could be completed.  Robert Bloxsom, III and Joey Ferrigno ran the first lap side by side for the lead before Bloxsom got clear on lap-2.  Chris Matthews and Jonathan Puleo were side by side for third with Brian Sullivan in fifth.  Matthews got the better of the duel with Puleo to take third on lap-3 as Bloxsom continued to hold the lead. 

Puleo was looking to get back around Matthews for third, but Matthews was able to fend off his challenge on lap-5.  Puleo made the move stick on lap-6 and he took third with Sullivan moving into fourth as Matthews slid back to sixth, just behind Amanda West in fifth.  Bloxsom was still leading Ferrigno when Cassandra Cole spun on the frontstretch infield to bring the caution out with 11 laps complete. 

Bloxsom took the lead on the restart with Puleo pulling alongside Ferrigno for second but only one lap was completed before a multi-car incident on the backstretch brought the caution back out with 12 laps complete.

Puleo went side by side with Bloxsom for the lead on the restart with Puleo taking the lead  on lap-14.  Sullivan was third behind Puleo and Bloxsom with Alexander Pearl up to fourth and Joey Ferrigno was back to fifth.  Peter Bennett went around Ferrigno on lap16 to move into fifth and Bert Ouellette followed him by as Ferrigno slipped back to seventh place.

Bloxsom made one last ditch effort on the final lap, getting to the inside of Puleo in turn 3 but Puleo powered his way off turn 4 on the outside and he held off Bloxsom and Sullivan for not only the first SK Light win of the 2020 season, but his first career win at Stafford.  Pearl finished fourth and Bennett rounded out the top-5.

In the 15-lap Limited Late Model feature, Matt Clement powered into the early lead from pole position with Jeremy Lavoie and Andrew Durand side by side for second.  Lavoie took second on lap-2 with Gary Patnode up to fourth and Alexandra Fearn sitting in fifth.  Devon Jencik was shown the black flag for leaking fluid from his car.

Durand made a strong move to the inside of Lavoie on lap-5 to move into second.  Just behind the Durand-Lavoie battle, Fearn was making a move to the inside of Patnode for fourth place and she took the place at the line as the field completed lap-6.

With 10 laps complete Clement was still in front with Durand right behind him in second.  Lavoie was starting to fade backwards from the lead duo  with Fearn in fourth and Patnode fifth.  Clement slipped up the track in turn 1 on lap-12 and Durand took full advantage of the slip to get to Clement’s inside and take over the race lead. 

Durand led Clement to the checkered flag to pick up his first Stafford win since August 2010, a span of nearly 10 full years.  Lavoie finished third with Fearn and Patnode rounding out the top-5.

In the 20-lap Street Stock feature, Meghan Fuller charged into the early race lead with Chris Meyer in second.  Al Stone, III was third with Ryan Waterman fourth and Travis Hydar in fifth.  The caution came out with 2 laps complete for Jason Futoma who spun in the middle of turns 1+2 and had nose damage on the #22 car. 

Fuller took the lead on the restart but she was overtaken by Meyer on lap-4.  With Fuller stuck in the outside land, she slipped all the way back to eighth place as Waterman was now second, Stone third, Hydar fourth, Moose Douton fifth, Zack Robinson sixth, and Adrien Paradis, III seventh.

Up front the action was heating up as Waterman and Meyer swapped the lead back and forth between them with Waterman taking the lead on lap-9.  Jason Lafayette spun on the backstretch to bring the caution out with 10 laps complete.

Waterman took the lead back under green with Meyer slotting into second right behind him.  Robinson took third from Hydar on lap-12 with Douton holding down fifth.  Waterman’s car got loose in turn 4 and he spun in front of the field to bring the caution back out with 12 laps complete.  The field avoided hitting Waterman as he did a 360 and rejoined at the rear of the field.

Meyer took the lead on the restart with Hydar holding off a 3-wide duel with Paradis and Robinson to take second.  Paradis and Robinson were side by side for third with Paradis emerging in third on lap-14.  Douton was still running fifth.  The caution came back out with 15 laps complete for a spin in turn 2 by Paradis. 

Meyer held off a challenge from Robinson and Hydar on the restart but the caution came right back out one lap later as Stone got into the frontstretch wall and came to a stop just past the start/finish line.

Meyer powered into the lead on the restart while Douton was up to second before he got loose in turn 4 and fell back several spots.  Waterman was charging his way back through the field when the caution came out with 18 laps complete for a spin in turn 2 by Larry Barnett. 

Lafayette nearly went 3-wide on the restart but fell back into line behind Meyer and Robinson.  On the final lap Paradis and Waterman got together and hit the backstretch wall.  The race stayed green to the finish and in turn 4 Robinson made contact with Meyer with Meyer spinning and Robinson taking the checkered flag.  Robinson was penalized by NASCAR Officials for the contact with Meyer, making Hydar the winner.  Meyer finished second with Douton, John Orsini, and David Macha, Sr. rounding out the top-5.

For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.

###

SK MODIFIED® (40)

1) Keith Rocco, Berlin

2) Todd Owen, Somers

3) Stephen Kopcik, Newtown

4) Ronnie Williams, Tolland

5) Woody Pitkat, Stafford Springs

6) Mikey Flynn, Hampden, MA

7) David Arute, Stafford Springs

8) Matt Vassar, Plantsville

9) Michael Christopher, Jr., Wolcott

10) Joey Ternullo, Jr., Middletown

11) Tony Membrino, Jr., Wolcott

12) Bryan Narducci, Colchester

13) Teddy Hodgdon, Danbury

14) Tyler Leary, Hatfield, MA

15) Glen Reen, Wilbraham, MA

16) Jonathan Smith, Trumbull

17) Jeff Malave, Manchester

18) Anthony Flannery, East Hampton

19) Chase Dowling, Roxbury

20) Michael Gervais, Jr., Wolcott

21) Tom Bolles, Ellington

22) Andrew Molleur, Shelton

23) Troy Talman, Oxford, MA

24) John Catania, Agawam, MA

25) Cory DiMatteo, Farmington

26) Tyler Hines, North Haven

27) Dan Wesson, Monson, MA

LATE MODEL (30)

1) Wayne Coury, Jr., Fairfield

2) Michael Bennett, Willington

3) Paul Arute, Northridge, MA

4) Al Saunders, Stafford

5) Adam Gray, Granby, Ma

6) Tyler Leary, Hatfield, Ma

7) Ryan Fearn, East Longmeadow, Ma

8) Rick Lanagan, Broad Brook

9) Darrell Keane, Enfield

10) Michael Wray, Northford

11) R.J. Surdell, Willington

12) Duane Provost, Palmer, MA

13) Jim Mavlouganes, Bethany

14) Marc Curtis, Brookfield, Ma

15) Paul Varricchio, Jr., Berlin

16) Kevin Gambacorta, Ellington

17) Trace Beyer, Stratton, VT

18) Cliff Saunders, Stafford

19) Jordan Hadley, Waterford

20) John Blake, North Haven

21) Gary Theriault, Enfield

22) Tom Fearn, East Longmeadow, MA

SK LIGHT (20)

1) Jonathan Puleo, Branford

2) Robert Bloxsom, III, Stratford

3) Brian Sullivan, Tolland

4) Alexander Pearl, Salem

5) Peter Bennett, Cromwell

6) Bert Ouellette, Ellington

7) Kyle Ellwood, Riverhead, NY

8) Amanda West, Colchester

9) Steven Chapman, Ellington

10) Andrew Les, Palmer, MA

11) Chris Matthews, Stafford

12) Wesley Prucker, Stafford

13) Norm Sears, Andover

14) Rit Dulac, Plantsville

15) Joey Ferrigno, East Hartford

16) Cassandra Cole, Westbrook

17) Sami Anderson, Wolcott

18) Todd Douillard, Palmer, MA

19) Nathan Pytko, Douglas, MA

20) Glenn Bartkowski, Manchester

21) Alina Bryden, West Springfield, MA

22) Noah Korner, Canton

23) Zack Aszklar, Newtown

24) Bob Charland, Stafford

25) Mark Bakaj, Lebanon

26) George Bessette, Jr., Danbury

27) Charles McDougall, Derby

LIMITED LATE MODEL (15)

1) Andrew Durand, Chicopee, MA

2) Matt Clement, Wethersfield

3) Jeremy Lavoie, Windsor Locks

4) Alexandra Fearn, East Longmeadow, MA

5) Gary Patnode, New Hartford

6) Rich Hammann, Tolland

7) Lucas Leone, Southington

8) Steven Martel, Barkhamsted

9) Jay Clement, Wethersfield

10) Devon Jencik, Canton

STREET STOCK (20)

1) Travis Hydar, Woodbury

2) Chris Meyer, North Franklin

3) Chris Douton, Waterford

4) John Orsini, Morris

5) David Macha, Sr., Columbia

6) George Yuska, S. Glastonbury

7) Chris Danielczuk, Goshen

8) Daltin McCarthy, Oxford, MA

9) Kyle Johnson, Manchester

10) Bill Staves, Windsor Locks

11) Jason Lafayette, Somers

12) Larry Barnett, Moosup

13) Nickolas Hovey, Chaplin

14) Zack Robinson, Putnam

15) Ryan Waterman, Killingly

16) Adrien Paradis, III, Plainville

17) Al Stone, III, Durham

18) Brandon Michael, Granville, MA

19) Meghan Fuller, Auburn, MA

20) Marvin Minkler, Stamford

21) Jason Futoma, Avon

Zack Robinson Wins 2019 Stafford Street Stock Championship

Tom Morris/Myracenews photos

(Stafford Springs, CT)—Zack Robinson came into the 2019 Street Stock season at Stafford Speedway behind the wheel of a new car with a new team.  Robinson was undeterred by the fact that he was driving a new car for a new team.  He and the #89 RSMPCO.com / First Class Automotive team owned by Bill Anderson quickly showed that they had championship potential by winning their third race together and three of the first 7 races of the 2019 season.  Robinson gained the points lead midway through the 2019 season and remained on top until the end of the year to claim his first track championship.

“It definitely feels good to win the championship,” said Robinson.  “We were this close in 2017 and we had some mishaps, which was my own fault.  We moved on from that and we came into this year with our heads held high for a new season.  The Anderson family came to us over the winter and asked us if we could help fix their car.  We went through a couple of things and we decided we would build a brand new car from scratch.  We started with a bare frame from the side of my garage, we went to Joe Hamm for a roll cage, and then we did the rest of the car ourselves.  We finished fourth in the first race of the season and we thought that was pretty good for a new car.  The plan was to win as many races as we could and when we started clicking them off four or five weeks into the season we decided we were going to stick it out and see where we could go with it.”

Where Robinson and the #89 team went with their early season success was an almost permanent place in the top-5 every Friday night during the Street Stock feature events.  After opening the year with a fourth place finish, Robinson finished the second race in 18th place,  That 18th place finish on May 11 would turn out to be the only race of the 2019 season that saw Robinson finish lower than 7th.  Robinson closed out the year with 5 wins, 16 top-5, and 19 top-10 finishes.

“Coming into the season our goal was to win the most races and I think we got that done,” said Robinson.  “First of all I have to thank the Anderson family for giving me the opportunity to drive this car.  Joe Brockett, he’s the one behind this car and he made it happen every week and got the car to the front for us.  Ryan Churchill, his father, his whole family, my stepdad, my mom, my father, my grandparents, everyone that’s involved with this car, thanks to Jeff, Tick Mike, and all the sponsors.  First Class Automotive, Jason with Royal Screw Manufacturing, Jet Electric, JSB, Hopkins Construction, Swanson Buick-GMC, Defenders of Charity, and everybody who’s involved with this car.”

Robinson’s victory on July 12 moved him into the Street Stock point lead for the first time.  From there, Robinson slowly built his lead up to where he came into the NAPA Fall Final with a comfortable 30-point margin over Meghan Fuller.  Robinson recorded a third place finish at the NAPA Fall Final, which was his 12th podium finish of the season in 20 starts and he claimed the championship by a final margin of 26 points over Fuller.

“My plan from the start of the last race was to do what we had been doing all year and that was to go for the win,” said Robinson.  “The car started to fall off a little bit and I was kind of happy that we didn’t get a late caution flag.  This is a great accomplishment and I’m proud of the whole team.”

Now that Robinson has claimed his first championship at Stafford, his plans for 2020 season are yet to be determined..

“Right now our plans are up in the air at the moment,” said Robinson.  “We were thinking about possibly going to the Late Model division next season but now that we’ve won the championship, we might have to come back to try to defend it.”

Robinson will officially be crowned the 2019 Street Stock Champion at the 50th Annual Stafford Speedway Champion’s Awards Banquet, scheduled for Friday, November 15 at Maneeley’s in South Windsor.  Tickets to the awards banquet are $50 and are on sale now.  Tickets can be ordered by calling the track at 860-684-2783 or they can be ordered online at www.staffordspeedway.com

For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.

DOUG COBY AND JUSTIN BONSIGNORE TO DECIDE NWMT TITLE AT SUNOCO WORLD SERIES

BY KYLE SOUZA, THOMPSON SPEEDWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK 

Tom Morris/Myracnews photos

THOMPSON, Conn. — When the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour rolls into Thompson for the 57th annual Sunoco World Series October 11-13, two drivers are going to be in contention to earn the series championship. 

Doug Coby, a five-time champion looking to add to his historic resume, leads defending Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore by 19 points. For Coby, a solid day should help get the job done without even having to win the race. For Bonsignore, he is going to have to do everything he can to close the gap, and hope Coby has a bit of a stumble. 

“We’ll have a good car, but I know they are going to have a good car,” Coby said. “You have to figure Justin is going to win and go lead the most laps like he usually does. We are going to have to be every bit as good.” 

For Coby, this season has been filled with a return to the top. After a 2018 season that only included one victory, which wasn’t up to his standards, he watched Bonsignore dominate. A change in his shock package, combined with some improved setups, has given him four checkered flags in the 15 races this year. Coby went to Victory Lane in the Bud ‘King of Beers’ 150 at Thompson in August and finished inside the top five in the other two races at TSMP this year.

Bonsignore, who dominated en route to his first title last year with eight wins, has five victories this season, including two at Thompson. Entering the Bud 150, Bonsignore had won six straight Whelen Modified Tour races at TSMP, but he finished second that night, breaking the streak. Trailing Coby by 19 points might be a product of two DNF’s early in the season at South Boston Speedway and Wall Stadium Speedway. 

“We’ve thought for a while now that we needed to win every race. In the last four races, we have two wins. We’re doing what we need to do, but we spotted those guys too many points in the beginning of the year,” Bonsignore said. “We’re doing a great job. I’m happy. We just need to go there (to the World Series) and win the race, and if other things happen and we need to change our strategy, we will go with that.” 

For Coby, his 19-point lead might give him the chance to relax a bit in the early laps and settle in. But, as the Milford, Connecticut, driver knows, there is no safe spot in the field. In the 2017 Icebreaker, Coby started third, but didn’t complete a whole lap after a wreck on the backstretch ended his day. He knows anything can happen, but a strong finish will do the trick. 

“Even if we have some challenges, I’d like to think we can finish there,” Coby said. “If you get caught up in someone else’s mess, and you blow the right-front off, we could be running up front and be caught up in something and finish 20th. It’s really going to come down to the last lap.” 

Bonsignore has 11 wins in 36 Thompson starts, and he’s finished inside the top two in the last seven races at the Connecticut oval. 

“Every time we unload at Thompson, first lap I know what I am looking for, and I know the feel we need. You have a lot of confidence there when you win races,” Bonsignore said. “I’m excited to go and hopefully end the season on a high note. It’s been an amazing year. Five years after what we did last year, we backed it up. We have a lot of confidence; we will just go down swinging. Until they hand him the trophy, we are not out of it.” 

Coby knows putting a whole day together could earn him a sixth championship, which would put him past Tony Hirschman for the second most titles in the Whelen Modified Tour modern era. That would leave Coby trailing just the late Mike Stefanik, who had seven. 

“We should qualify up front, and if you qualify good, you should be able to get through half of he race without too much aggression. Then, it’s just a matter of if everyone comes in together and takes tires, you have to have a good stop, and be in the right lanes on the restarts,” Coby said. “Hopefully we have a good car that keeps us out of trouble. It’s going to be a barnburner.”

The 57th annual Sunoco World Series will take the green flag on Friday, October 11, and roll through Sunday, October 13. The event begins on Friday, with practice sessions running throughout the afternoon, and qualifying heat racing set to begin at approximately 4:30 p.m. Feature racing on Friday includes the Granite State Pro Stock Series, Late Models, Open Vintage Modifieds and Senior Tour Auto Racers. 

Saturday, action begins early with practice at 9 a.m., while qualifying racing begins at 2:30 p.m. There are 10 different feature races planned for Saturday night. Sunday, action begins at 1 p.m., with the season-finale for Thompson’s Sunoco Modified division. The NEMA Lites, ISMA Supermodifieds and TSMP Limited Sportsman will also join the headliner of Sunday — the Sunoco World Series 150 for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. 

Admission to the paddock area for the entire three days is $75, with grandstand general admission set at $55. Any seniors (65+), veterans and active military will have general admission tickets priced at $50, while kids 12 and under are free in general admission.  

Thompson’s annual breakfast and dinner buffets will also take place during Sunoco World Series weekend. The breakfast buffet runs from 7-11 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday and is $14 per person. The dinner buffet runs from 5-11 p.m. on Saturday night only and is $24 per person. For any children 12 and under, the dinner buffet is $14.  

For more information on Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, fans should visit the track on the web, www.thompsonspeedway.com, and follow the track via social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.