STAFFORD CT: Chase Dowling breaks in a new team with a track record on Saturday afternoon. It was sure that Dowling was going to be a force to be reckoned with, but in just his second career pole, Dowling would go on to break the track record. You can see the full lineup for the 2018 NAPA Spring Sizzler HERE. More on the Whelen Tour later.
The Street Stock division was a pure show of the teacher and the student. “Mad Pup” George Bessette Jr would chase the tail of Johnny Walker for the entire race, ending up with Wicker taking down the win, Bessette and Michael Hopkins in third. The Limited Late Model division was a return for the ages. Justin Bren would absolutely put a clinic on the field and go on to take the Sizzler win. “I don’t know what it was, maybe taking some time off and coming back fresh was it.” Bren stated in NAPA victory lane.
The EXIT Realty Pro Truck Challenge was a son vs. father battle again when Allen Coates would make a three wide move on his son, Corey to take the lead. Allen would never look back and go on to win the 25 lap feature. Trailing him was Girard Giordano, and Josh Stringer with a nice comeback after being put to the rear for a racing incident.
The NAPA Spring Sizzler Sunday event was a long, rainy day, but the racing and the wait was worth it. The Pit party was actually held in the pits due to the rain delay instead of on track.
The SK Modifieds showed a classic battle between two names known in racing nationwide; Christopher vs. Rocco. This time, however it was Mike Christopher Jr, in his late Uncle Ted’s car hounding the Champ of the northeast as of late, Keith Rocco. The race was plagued with cautions, but on restarts the crafty veteran would get the jump and not cut Christopher Jr any slack.
On a restart with 4 to go in toe, Christopher would find his way in line, and hound the 88 for the next 4 laps. Going into the last corner Mike tried everything he could but it just wasn’t enough as Rocco would take down the victory. Christopher would follow with Ronnie Williams in his new ride, the Skowyra 50, to round out the top 3. However, in post race tech, Mike Christopher (82) and Glen Reen (17A) would be penalized for weight and would move Matt Galko to 3rd, and Williams to the 2nd spot.
The Late Model feature event showed why a champion, is a champion. The 2017 season champion, Glen Reen would get sent to the rear of the field 3 times before making his stride to the front and battling for the lead with 4 to go. The 79 of Darrell Keane would lead the entire event until he would get loose off of turn 2, Reen would get the run into 3 and not be stopped,. He would take the lead, and go on to win the late model feature event. Local favorite Michal Bennett would get into the wall in an incident with Tom Fern early on. Bennett would unfortunately announce this week via Facebook he has decide not to return to racing.
This year the SK light modifieds ran on the Sunday card. In a weekend plagued with yellows many thought this race would possibly be a mess with no spotters allowed and the many varying levels of experiences throughout the field. It would be a battle of the young guns but in a rather clean race. Andrew Molleur would get out to an early lead as he had a strong car and showing with his limited amount of track time at Stafford and his heat win why many are calling the the real deal. The race would go green until lap 12. A restart at lap 12 would catch everyone up, and give Narducci, who has been very fast and off a Thompson win, as well as Rufrano a shot at the lead after they both started outside of the top 10. Rufrano took the advantage to take the lead and capitalize on a mistake by Narducci. He would go on to win the Spring Sizzler SK Light feature. Narducci 2nd, Molleur 3rd, and Brett “The Jet” Gonyaw, 4th, who came all the way from 12th on his drive to the front after taking their car home after the P2 in the heat race the night before, to completely changing the set up. Mark Bajak for P5. Rookie Teddy Hodgdon who turned some of the fastest laps this past weekend had a respectable P10. With a little more seat time in a mod expect him to be running up front this season with Gonyaw, Molleur, Narducci and Rufrano weekly. This race was probably the smoothest and maybe one would say one of the best of the weekend. Great job by all the SK Light drivers.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour 200 lap event took place on Sunday as the headline division and it didn’t miss it’s name one bit. Four early cautions would halt the action, but a mid race run would start pit strategy. After pitting, Patrick Emerling was out front and gone, until a caution at lap 152 would bring all the lead lap cars, besides Chase Dowling down pit road. With the 4 tire rule, drivers may only take 1 tire at a time down pit road. Fuel was also key in this 200 lap event and could be the only thing done on that stop. With this being said, some crew chiefs took 2 tires early, saving 2 for later, some didn’t but the cars would go around and come back in for every tire. One that didn’t was Ryan Preece. Preece would come down 3 times to slap on 3 fresh tires. He would have 43 laps, as the race went back to green on lap 158 to march to the front. Slicing, and dicing through traffic Preece would show why he is one of the best modified drivers around. Once again a very fast Chase Dowling would lead 69 total laps until heavy pressure by Preece came. He was able to hold on for 2 more laps until Preece would use the crossover move in 3, with the new tires to drive under and clear Dowling by the front stretch. Preece would lead the remainder of the race, never look back and win his 2nd straight NAPA Spring Sizzler. This 200 lap event was all strategy. If the yellow never came out it would have been Chase's race to win, he had around 100 laps on his tires. But since the yellow flew it was the #6 teams strategy that would pay off as they would take the fresh tires and get it done. “There are 15 guys at this level who could go up and win like I have, I just have been fortunate enough to have the chance to. Winning the sizzler, it’s a big deal…” Preece said in victory lane.
After setting the track record, Dowling would go on to finish 2nd, but it was a solid points day for him. “I’m just trying to soak in everything we have and I appreciate all of these good runs that we have been having.” Dowling said in victory lane. Rowan Pennink came out of nowhere on Sunday to finish 3rd in Ole Blue, Patrick Emerling and Craig Lutz rounded out the top 5. Jon McKennedy Matt Swanson, Justin Bonsignore, Timmy Solomito and Shawn Solomito would round out the top 10. You can view the whole list of results HERE. The next race for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is June 2nd, at the Seekonk Speedway in MA. Now that we are a few races in, the points are starting to shape up and look interesting. Bonsignore leads Dowling by 1 point at 123, Lutz at 118, McKennedy at 110 and Summers at 104 to round out the top 5 in points. For all the points click HERE. BW.