STAFFORD SPRINGS, Conn. – Stafford Speedway hosted the biggest and richest SK Modified race of the season on Friday, August 5 with the 9th Annual NAPA Auto Parts SK 5k.
A draw just prior to the start of the race determined the feature distance would be either 60, 70, or 80 laps and the 80-lap number was drawn.
Marcello Rufrano scored his first career SK Modified victory in the biggest race of the season. Rufrano’s win gave him a payday of $5,725 in purse and contingency money from total posted awards of over $35,000.
In the 80-lap NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K feature event, Jon Puleo took the lead at the start of the race with Dan Wesson taking second. Mikey Flynn was third followed by Cory DiMatteo and Michael Christopher, Jr. Christopher went around DiMatteo to take fourth on lap-4 with Rufrano taking fifth to drop DiMatteo back to sixth as up front, Wesson took the lead from Puleo on lap 5. Flynn moved up to second with Flynn third as Puleo slid back to seventh place. Ronnie Williams was fourth with Todd Owen in fifth and Stephen Kopcik up to sixth.
Rufrano took the lead from Wesson on lap 12 with Williams and Flynn side-by-side for third, just in front of fifth place Owen. The caution flag flew with 14 laps complete for DiMatteo, who came to a rest against the turn 2 wall.
Rufrano charged into the lead on the restart with Wesson in second. Owen went by Williams on lap 18 to move into third with Flynn holding the fifth position. The caution came back out with 22 laps complete for spins on the backstretch by Noah Korner and R.J. Marcotte, and a spin in turn 4 by Williams.
Rufrano continued to hold the lead on the restart, but the caution came back out for a multi-car incident in turn 1 with 24 laps complete when Kopcik and Wesson touched wheels, sending Wesson into the turn 1 wall and collecting the car of Flynn, as well as several others.
Rufrano held off a challenge from Owen on the restart to maintain the lead. Keith Rocco was now up to third behind Rufrano and Owen with Puleo in fourth and Christopher and Arute dueling for fifth place.
Arute took to the high groove to get by Christopher and take over fifth place on lap 28 while Owen was applying heavy pressure to Rufrano for the lead. Owen was finally able to make a pass on Rufrano to move into the lead with a pass coming out of turn 4 on lap 33. The caution came back out with 36 laps complete as Korner got into the turn 1 wall.
Rufrano took the lead from Owen on the restart with Rocco moving into second. Owen was locked in a side-by-side duel with Puleo for third and Tyler Hines up to fifth place. With 50 laps on the board, Rufrano continued to hold the race lead with Rocco still in hot pursuit. Owen was third in line with Hines fourth and David Arute in fifth.
With 20 laps to go, the top five remained the same with Rufrano having stretched out his lead over Rocco to several car lengths. Owen took second place from Owen on lap 68, but he was 1.5 seconds behind Rufrano in the fight for the lead.
Owen couldn’t close the gap to Rufrano over the final 12 laps as Rufrano scored his first career SK Modified victory in the biggest race of the season. Rocco finished third with Hines and Arute rounding out the top five.
Other feature wins on the night were scored by Tom Fearn in the Late Model feature, Tyler Alkas in the SK Light feature, Jeremy Lavoie in the Limited Late Model feature, and Travis Downey in the Street Stock feature.
Feature (80 Laps): 1) Marcello Rufrano, 2) Todd Owen, 3) Keith Rocco, 4) Tyler Hines, 5) David Arute, 6) Anthony Bello, 7) Jon Puleo, 8) Andrew Molleur, 9) Ronnie Williams, 10) Michael Gervais, Jr., 11) Cory DiMatteo, 12) Anthony Flannery, 13) Bryan Narducci, 14) Tyler Leary, 15) Michael Christopher, Jr., 16) Joey Ternullo, Jr., 17) Curt Brainard, 18) R.J. Marcotte, 19) Nick Halkowicz, 20) Tyler Jones, 21) Chris Jones, 22) Matt Vassar, 23) Joey Mucciacciaro, 24) Noah Korner, 25) Troy Talman, 26) Dan Wesson, 27) Mikey Flynn, 28) Ryan Flores, 29) Stephen Kopcik