Stafford Springs, CT — Stafford Speedway returned to action with a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program of five divisions on Friday night, July 17th. Keith Rocco took down his fourth feature win of the 2009 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Tom Butler took down his first feature win at Stafford since 2006 in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Earl Pelletier was a first time 2009 winner in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Andrew Durand took home his fourth victory of the 2009 season in the in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Jeff Jolly became the 9th different winner in as many features this season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
The 40-lap SK Modified® feature took the green with Wade Mattesen powering to the outside of Joe Allegro, Jr. to take the lead. Allegro settled into second with Matt Gallo, Zach Sylvester, and Richie Pallai, Jr. making up the top-5. Sylvester quickly moved to third, with Tom Bolles taking fourth and Curt Brainard moving into fifth place.
Mattesen had things well in hand out front, but the action was slowed for the first time with 18 laps complete for a spin by Willie Hardie on the frontstretch. Ted Christopher and Brad Hietala spun on the restart to bring the caution back out.
The lap-19 restart saw Rocco power past Mattesen to take over the race lead. The field completed one lap before Christopher and Allegro went around in turn 2 to bring the yellow back out. Rocco charged to the lead on the restart with Mark Bakaj second, Jeff Malave third, Doug Coby fourth and Frank Ruocco fifth. The field ran in line until lap-26 when Bakaj got loose in turn 4 and touched wheels with Coby, which sent both cars spinning and brought the caution back out.
After several more caution periods from lap-27 to lap-29, Rocco was still out front, with Malave, Donny Travaglin, Woody Pitkat, and Christopher behind him. The leaders ran in single file until lap-26 when Travaglin made a move to the inside of Malave for second, which allowed Christopher to follow Travaglin past Malave. Christopher and Malave would both get back by Travaglin in the last couple laps, but it was all Rocco at the front as he scored his fourth feature victory of the 2009 season. Christopher finished second, with Malave, Travaglin, and Pitkat rounding out the top-5.
The 30-lap Late Model took the green with Joe Rzeszutek moving to the lead ahead of Dave Wray, Tom Butler, Mark St. Hilaire, and Scott Cook. Butler quickly moved by Wray for second with Cook taking fourth from St. Hilaire.
On lap-11 Late Model points leader Ryan Posocco’s car slowed and began to slide backwards to the end of the pack. Rzeszutek and Butler had built up a large lead over Wray in third, who in turn had quite the margin back to Cook in fourth place. Slowly lap by lap, Butler ate into Rzeszutek’s lead and he moved by Rzeszutek to take over the lead on lap-18. Wray continued to run in third, with Cook and St. Hilaire holding down fourth and fifth place.
The top-5 never changed positions over the final 10 laps of the race as the race ran green to checkered and Butler took down his first feature victory at Stafford since the 2006 season. Rzeszutek finished second, with Wray, Cook, and St. Hilaire making up the top-5.
The 20-lap SK Light Modified went green with Erica Santos at the front of the pack, but she would only lead the first lap as Earl Pelletier moved to the front on lap-2. Ted Cain also moved by Santos, dropping her back to third in the running order. John Montesanto and Shawn Brule moved through the field to take fourth and fifth, and this was the running order when the first caution of the race came out with 11 laps complete.
On the restart, Pelletier got out of shape and drove through the infield and back on to the track in turn 2, where he got loose and clipped the rear wheels of Cain, which sent both cars around and brought the caution back out. This put Santos back out front for the restart and she pulled away from the field and into the lead with Tony Santangelo behind her.
After several more cautions slowed the action, Santangelo moved to the outside of Santos on a lap-16 restart to take the race lead. Pelletier also moved to the outside of Santos to take over second place. Pelletier quickly closed the distance to Santangelo and was looking to put himself back out front. Coming off turn 4 on lap-18, the two cars touched tires, getting Santangelo out of shape and allowing Pelletier to move out front. Pelletier then led the final 2 laps to take his first win of the 2009 season. Santangelo finished second, with Santos, Brit Andersen, and Frank Cardile rounding out the top-5.
The 20-lap Limited Late Model took the green with Jesse Hinze taking the lead from the pole. The caution flew twice in the first two laps of the race, first for a spin by Carla Botticello and Michael Wray, and the second was for the car of Bill Davis, who blew an engine on lap-2.
Back under green, Hinze bobbled at the front of the pack, allowing Dave Yardley, III to move to the front of the pack. Hinze began to slowly slide backwards as Dan Flannery moved to second, Shawn Thibeault moved into third, and Norm Sears was fourth.
Andrew Durand was the car on the move, slicing his way through traffic towards the front of the field. He moved into third place on lap-8 and then quickly disposed of Flannery to take over second place. The caution came back out with 11 laps complete and set up a restart.
On the restart, Durand powered to the outside of Yardley and he took over the race lead. Yardley settled into second place with Flannery third, Sears fourth, and Kevin Gambacorta fifth. Once Durand took the lead, he was never challenged as he drove to his fourth victory of the 2009 season. Yardley finished second, with Flannery, Sears, and Gambacorta rounding out the top-5.
The 15-lap DARE Stock feature took the green with Stephanie Berardi taking the early lead. A three-wide battle for second ensued between Jeff Jolly, Duane Provost, and Victoria Bergenty with Jolly taking second. Berardi held the lead until lap-4 when Jolly took over the top spot. Bill Dunn was on the charge and he also was able to get past Berardi for second place.
At the lap-10 mark, Jolly was still holding the lead, with Dunn, Berardi, Matt Chiarizio, and Provost making up the top-5. Jolly had pulled out to a good lead, but Dunn was starting to slowly reel Jolly back in. Dunn had a fast car, but he ran out of laps as Jolly took his first feature win of the 2009 season in a green to checkered race. Dunn finished second, with Berardi, Chiarizio, and Provost 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.
Sources: Scott Running/Stafford Motor Speedway PR