Category Archives: NASCAR Whelen All-American Series

Trio of Wild Thing Kart Graduates Vying for Stafford SK Light Track Title

Tom Morris/Myracenews photos

(Stafford Springs, CT)—The race for Stafford Speedway’s 2019 SK Light championship will come down to three drivers, all graduates and former champions in the Wild Thing Kart Series, which races at Stafford on Monday nights.  Through 18 races, rookie driver Steven Chapman, the 2014 Tiger A and 2016 Jr. Outlaw champion, leads Teddy Hodgdon, the 2011 Tiger A champion, by 4 points with Alexander Pearl, the 2014 Jr. Outlaw champion, 20 points behind in third place.  In addition to Chapman, Hodgdon, and Pearl, Bryan Narducci the 2016 Sr. Outlaw Champion is fourth with Wesley Prucker rounding out the top 5.  Rookie driver, Jonathan Puleo sits in the 6th position making 5 former Wild Thing Kart drivers in the top-6 of the points standings.

“It’s really cool that guys like myself, Teddy, Alexander, Bryan, JP, and Mikey Flynn, have all come from karts and it shows how great of an organization that Wade Gagner has with Wild Thing Karts,” said Chapman.

“It shows how good the Wild Thing Karts program is and if you have the right people behind you and the right talent, you can go far in this sport,” said Hodgdon.  “It really shows right now with five of the top-6 guys in points all being Wild Thing Kart graduates.  It’s pretty cool that the guys I grew up racing with has culminated with us now all racing for the SK light championship.”

“We’ve all been racing against each other since we were young,” said Pearl.  “It shows that the kart program helps prepare drivers to transfer over to the big track at Stafford.  It’s pretty awesome.”

Chapman has yet to post a victory during his rookie campaign, but he his #14 Chapman Apartment Homes car has finished all but 1 race this season in the top-10.  The SK Light championship was won in 2008 by Joe Allegro, Jr. and in 2009 by Michael Gervais, Jr. without winning a race but Chapman would like to capture his first SK Light victory as well as the championship.

“It’s amazing that we’re doing as well as we have this season,” said Chapman.  “We still haven’t gotten the win that we want yet but we’re putting new tires on the car this week so hopefully we can get a win to help us pull away from those guys in the championship race.  This year has been amazing, I would have never thought that we would be in the hunt for a championship this season.  The rainout helped us a little bit because that’s one less race where something could go wrong.  We’d like to be a little more out in front than we are right now but we’re focused on finishing in front of Teddy and Alexander in these last 2 races and winning the championship.”

Hodgdon and the #55 Montanari Fuel team got out front in the points standings early in the season and have been the pacesetters for the majority of the year.  Several finishes outside the top-10 eliminated Hodgdon’s comfortable cushion that he enjoyed earlier in the year but he is focused on putting his #55 car back at the top of the standings.

“It’s been really great to be in a position to fight for a championship every week this season,” said Hodgdon.  “I have a great group of guys behind me who bring their best effort every week to make sure this car can succeed.  We’re taking it race by race right now and trying to get the best possible finishes we can in the last 2 races and whatever happens happens.  Halfway through the season we had a pretty big gap and since then we’ve had some unfortunate incidents that mostly weren’t our fault, but that’s how racing plays out sometimes.  We have 2 races left and as long as we can come out on top, we’ll be happy.”

Pearl and the #7 Darling Auto Parts team scored 2 wins in the first 6 races of the season to establish themselves as a championship contender.  Pearl also had 2 finishes of 20th or worse in those first 6 races of the season and he has slowly been climbing his way out of the hole those finishes left him in.  Pearl has to make up 20 points or 10 more positions on the track to catch Chapman. 

“This year has been a big improvement from last year, so that’s been good,” said Pearl.  “We got a couple wins early in the season but we’ve had a couple bad finishes which put us behind.  We’ve been finishing up front and trying to finish in front of the two guys in front of us so we’ll see how the last 2 races go.  We’re going to have the same mentality for the last 2 races that we’ve had all year long, which is to try to win them both.  20 points is only 10 spots on the track and with how competitive the SK Light division is that deficit can be made up at any time.”

The race for the SK Light championship continues this Friday, September 13 as part of First Responder Night at Stafford.  All first responders with proper I.D. will get a general admission ticket for only $10.  Regular tickets are priced at $20 for Adult General Admission, $5 for kids 6-14 and kids 5 & under are free.  Reserved seating is $23 for all ages. 

The SK Light champion will be determined at the season ending NAPA Fall Final on September 28-29.  Tickets for the NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final Weekend are priced at $40.00 for adult general admission tickets, $10.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating is priced at $45.00 for all ages. All NAPA Fall Final tickets are good for admission on both Saturday and Sunday.  Discount tickets for the NAPA Fall Final Weekend are available at your local participating NAPA Auto Parts Store.  The NAPA tickets include general admission for both days along with a lunch buffet on Sunday, all for only $38 per person.  For a list of participating NAPA Stores, please click the PARTICIPATING NAPA STORES link found at the top of the www.staffordspeedway.com homepage.  All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. 

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

Stafford Speedway SK Modified® Title Race Comes Down to Final 2 Races

Tom Morris/Myracenews photos

(Stafford Springs, CT)—Heading into the final 2 races of the 2019 SK Modified® season at Stafford Speedway, defending track champion Ronnie Williams holds an 8-point lead over Todd Owen, a 14 point lead over Keith Rocco and a 34 point lead over Michael Gervais, Jr.  The tight points race is reminiscent of the 2017 and 2015 seasons. In 2017 Keith Rocco came from 20 points back over the final 2 races to claim the title over Chase Dowling while in 2015 Rowan Pennink  outlasted current NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series driver Ryan Preece in a tight race for the title.

The 2019 season kicked off with Rocco winning the first race of 2019 but a DNF and a 25th place finish in the second race of the year left Rocco in hole that he is still trying to dig out of.  Gervais took over the points lead after that second race and he held the lead until June 21 when Owen took over the point lead.  Owen led the points from June 21 through August 9, when a first lap wreck combined with a Williams win, erased Owen’s 42 point advantage and left the two drivers tied for the lead in the standings.  Williams and Rocco have each won twice in the four SK Modified® races since August 9th, setting up a 2-race sprint to the finish line to see who will become the 2019 SK Modified® champion.

“We started off kind of slow and it was right around the midpoint of the season that we got back into our groove and we’ve been real consistent and got some wins,” said Williams, the driver of the #50 Les’s Auto Center Ford.  “I always knew if we could be consistent and get some wins that we’d at least be in the hunt for another championship.  I think we’re in a good spot right now and of course last year was better since we had a 66-point lead.  It should be a nice tight battle with Keith [Rocco] and [Todd] Owen.  We’re not going to change anything or go into the last 2 races with a different mindset than we’ve done all season long.  We have to compete and the rest will take care of itself.  Anything can happen in these last 2 races.  It’s great to be in front like we are now but we all know that just one mistake could cost us the championship and it’s the same for the other guys.”

“I’m going do what I’ve been doing all year long and try to win the last two races and hope for the best,” said Owen, driver of the #81 Cooker Construction Chevrolet.  “No matter the outcome, we’ve had an awesome year.  It’s pretty crazy that top-3 in the SK Modified® points standings are all in the top-10 in the national points, so we’re all having awesome seasons.”

“DNF’s have killed us this year,” said Rocco, driver of the #88 Wheelers Auto Chevrolet.  “We won the first race and then in the second race we got caught up in a wreck and were one of the first cars out of the race that night.  We’ve been playing catch-up all year long and the last time we got close to the lead we ended up in a wreck again, so it’s been that kind of year.  We have a fast car and we’re looking to win the last couple races.  The thing we have going for us is that we have nothing to lose and the other guys do.  There’s nothing left on the table, it’s all going to be hanging out these last 2 races.”

The dark horse in the SK Modified® championship race would be Gervais.  The driver of the #33 Gervais Brothers Roofing Chevrolet won the 2009 SK Light championship at Stafford without winning a race that season and although he is 34 points or 17 positions on the track behind the leader that deficit can be erased in one night.

“Our plan is to try to finish up front these last 2 races,” said Gervais.  “We’ve had a really good car the last couple of weeks so we want to continue what we’ve been doing.  We started off the year really good with a couple of second place finishes and were sitting up front for a while, but some of the other guys were just a little bit better than we were and that’s how the lead slipped away from us.  We’ve been able to stay right there with those guys all season so it’s been an awesome year for sure.  I’ve never won a Spring Sizzler or Fall Final race so I’d love to win the Fall Final this season but we’d definitely take a win this Friday night as well.  We know we can win a championship without winning a race and anything can happen in these last 2 races.  Either way we’re all very happy with what we’ve accomplished this season.”

The race for the SK Modified® championship resumes this Friday, September 13 as part of First Responder Night at Stafford.  All first responders with proper I.D. will get a general admission ticket for only $10.  Regular tickets are priced at $20 for Adult General Admission, $5 for kids 6-14 and kids 5 & under are free.  Reserved seating is $23 for all ages. 

The SK Modified® champion will be determined at the season ending NAPA Fall Final on September 28-29.  Tickets for the NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final Weekend are priced at $40.00 for adult general admission tickets, $10.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating is priced at $45.00 for all ages. All NAPA Fall Final tickets are good for admission on both Saturday and Sunday.  Discount tickets for the NAPA Fall Final Weekend are available at your local participating NAPA Auto Parts Store.  The NAPA tickets include general admission for both days along with a lunch buffet on Sunday, all for only $38 per person.  For a list of participating NAPA Stores, please click the PARTICIPATING NAPA STORES link found at the top of the www.staffordspeedway.com homepage.  All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. 

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

Pitkat Earns Second Two-Win Weekend of 2019 at Thompson

Noah Watts/Myracenews photos

THOMPSON, Conn. — The stars of Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions took center stage on Labor Day Sunday, September 1, a makeup day after the original event was rained out in early summer. With only three races left in the championship battles, competitors in each division were seeking every advantage they could get as time runs out on the season.

Woody Pitkat had a big afternoon — earning two wins on the same day for the second time this year at Thompson, continuing his late-summer surge in his push for the Late Model and Sunoco Modified titles. In the Late Model division, former champion William Wall held a 13-point advantage over Pitkat coming into the weekend’s 25-lap feature, but Pitkat carried momentum having won two of the last three races. Wall took an early lead before a late-race caution allowed Pitkat to take the top spot. 

It looked like Pitkat was well on his way to another win before another caution set up a two-lap sprint to the finish. Ryan Morgan, who sat third in points coming into the afternoon, wrestled away the lead from Pitkat with an aggressive move that left Pitkat frustrated after the checkered flag waved.

While Morgan was initially named the winner, his car was disqualified post-race after he refused inspection. That handed Pitkat his third win of the season, putting him within ten points of William Wall for the championship lead. The penalty also eliminated Morgan from the points battle — meaning the championship will likely be decided between Pitkat and Wall. 

Pitkat was given the opportunity to speak in victory lane at the end of all of the feature events where he thanked his sponsors. “I can’t thank these guys enough. I felt like I pretty much had that race won and got used up there for the win. Some people want to race like that, but that’s not how I race. I’m glad we were able to get the win,” said Pitkat.

Pitkat also scored a dominating win in the 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature, but his chances of earning that title are slim going into the final two events. Keith Rocco came in with a sizable 44-point advantage over Pitkat, and despite a dominating run, Pitkat left with a still-sizable 40-point deficit. Pitkat was proud that he was able to celebrate a victory with his family, having not yet learned he was the Late Model winner as well.

“I just wanted to win so bad,” Pitkat said. “I was really mad (about the Late Model finish) and wanted to win and when I get mad for some reason it makes me race a little harder. I just wanted to win one today really bad. My family is here, and they don’t get to come out every time. It’s nice to win when they’re here.”

The Limited Sportsman division has featured one of the most dramatic points battles all season at Thompson and that trend continued over Labor Day weekend with Shawn Monahan, who overcame a slow start to the season including a last-place finish in early June, looking to build on his eight-point lead over Kyle Gero. 

The 20-lap feature proved to be disastrous for Monahan, who found himself involved in a three-car accident eleven laps in after fighting for the lead with Scott Sundeen and Ryan Morgan. It would not be the only spin of the night for Monahan, who was relegated to a 16th place finish, while his closest competitors for the title, Kyle Gero and Megan Fuller, each earned top-five finishes. Gero now carries a 16 points advantage over Fuller with two races remaining while Monahan finds himself 17 points behind in his journey for a third consecutive title.

Meanwhile, Ryan Waterman scored his second Limited Sportsman win of 2019 in a brand new car. Waterman, who is well out of the points battle, said the race was a good opportunity for his team to test out the new equipment in preparation for next season. He added that just because the title is out of reach doesn’t mean he will let off the gas in the final events of 2019.

“It was a blast today. I needed this after the last couple of weeks,” Waterman said. “This was kind of a shakedown to try some new stuff, so we didn’t have to mess with our primary car. We learned some more information for the other car too. I want to finish races and just be smart and patient. This race took a lot of patience to get to the front.”

The Mini Stock division continued the tightest points battle at Thompson, as Scott Michalski held a scant eight-point advantage over Steve Michalski coming into the 15-lap feature. Curry, who had won two of the last three events dating back to July, battled for the lead for much of the race and two laps remaining he made his move underneath leader Charles Canfield but was unable to complete the pass. 

Canfield earned his second victory of the season at Thompson.

“It was definitely fun racing with Doug. With two or three laps to go, I knew he was there, and I saw him have a run. I got a little nervous, but I just had to drive a little harder. He’s got a really good car and a really good crew. It was tough holding him off,” Canfield said.

By virtue of his runner-up finish, Doug Curry cut his points deficit down to only seven points and Steve Michalski pulled within only a single point from Scott Michalski who failed to crack the top five.

Finally, the SK Light Modified® title has been all but secured by Bryan Narducci, who came into the Labor Day weekend 20-lap feature with five wins and a 65-point edge on Albert Ouellette. Narducci continued his domination, controlling the bulk of the race and earning his sixth win of the season at Thompson.

Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park jumps right back into the racing action on Sunday, September 8 with the penultimate races of the 2019 schedule, the Sunoco Modified 20/20 and For the Fans event. 

LIMITED SPORTMAN FINISH TOP-10: 1. Ryan Waterman (Danielson, CT); 2. Jordan Hadley (Oakdale, CT); 3. Kyle Gero (Baltic, CT); 4. Brent Gleason (Griswold, CT); 5. Meghan Fuller (Auburn, MA); 6. Al Stone (Durham, CT); 7. Jason Chicolas (Sutton, MA); 8. Steve Kenneway; 9. Corey Fanning (Mapleville, RI); 10. Randy Waterman, Sr. (Danielson, CT) 

MINI STOCK FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Charles Canfield (East Haven, CT); 2. Doug Curry (Norwich, CT); 3. Dave Trudeau, Sr. (Mansfield, CT); 4. Steve Michalski (Brooklyn, CT); 5. Russ Barboza (Griswold, CT); 6. Al Stone, III (Durham, CT); 7. Scott Michalski (Danielson, CT); 8. Andrew Krzeminski; 9. Ian Brew (Woodriver Junction, RI); 10. Bill Sylvia

LATE MODEL FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Woody Pitkat (Bellingham, CT); 2. Matt Lowinski-Loh (Milford, MA); 3. William Wall (Millbury, MA); 4. Nick Johnson (Rehoboth, MA); 5. Derek Gluchacki (Dartmouth, MA); 6. Tony Macrino (Waterford, CT); 7. Mike Nenevides (Westerly, RI); 8. Mark Jenison (Warwick, RI); 9. Brian Tagg (Oxford, MA); 10. Buddy Charette (Woodstock, CT)

SUNOCO MODIFIED FINISH TOP-10: 1. Woody Pitkat (Bellingham, MA); 2. Ronnie Williams (Tolland, CT); 3. Keith Rocco (Berlin, CT); 4. Todd Owen (Somers, CT); 5. Troy Talman (Oxford, MA); 6. Todd Patnode; 7. Joey Gada (Uncasville, CT); 8. Corey Barry (Brooklyn, CT); 9. Paul LaPlante (Scituate, RI); 10. Justin Albernaz (Rehoboth, MA)

SK LIGHT MODIFIED® FINISH: 1. Bryan Narducci (Colchester, CT); 2. Wayne Burroughs, Jr. (Oakdale, CT); 3. Bert Ouellette (Ellington, CT); 4. Anthony Marvin (Colchester, CT); 5. Nathan Pytko (Oxford, MA); 6. John O’Sullivan (Salem, CT); 7. Matt Janisch; 8. Todd Taylor (Stonington, CT)