Michael Bennett Wins Late Model 50 Lapper at Stafford
Puts BFR LM Back in Victory Lane
Posted on by Scott Running
(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Speedway returned to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing action with the Late Models taking center stage with the Call Before You Dig 811 50-lap extra distance feature event. Michael Bennett was the big winner, leading all 50 laps to take home the $1,811 winner’s check. Other feature winners were Ted Christopher, who outdueled Keith Rocco with a last lap pass in the SK Modified® feature, Cory DiMatteo won the SK Light feature for the second race in a row, Cliff Saunders outlasted his twin brother Al to take the checkers in the Limited Late Model feature, and Zack Robinson came out on top of a hard fought duel between himself and Johnny Walker to win the DARE Stock feature.
The CBYD 811 Late Model 50 feature event took the green with Michael Bennett streaking into the led with Skip Breunig in second. The field could only complete one lap before the caution came out as Rich Hammann spun through the frontstretch grass.
Bennett again took the lead back under green with Wayne Coury, Jr. getting around Breunig for second. Tom Butler was in fourth behind Breunig with Tyler Leary rounding out the top-5. With 10 laps complete, Bennett was all by himself out front with a several car length lead over Coury with Butler a similar distance behind in third. Breunig and Leary were waging a hard battle for fourth place when the caution came out with 14 laps complete for Jim Mavlouganes, who came to a stop in the infield on the frontstretch.
Bennett resumed his place at the front of the field with Coury and Butler side by side for second before Butler took the spot. Breunig was still in fourth with Leary right on his back bumper in fifth. Breunig fell back several spots on lap-19 as Josh Wood and Kevin Gambacorta both got past to drop him from fifth back to seventh. Breunig continued to fall back as Paul Arute, Mike Quintiliano, Tom Fearn, and Michael Wray all got by. Bennett was still in command of the race with Butler now in second and Coury in third as they hit the halfway point of the race.
Butler and Coury were beginning to close down the gap to Bennett and as they completed lap 30 all three cars were lined up within a car length of each other. Bennett then stretched his lead back out by several car lengths as Coury’s car looked like it was starting to get loose in the corners.
By lap-37, Coury had closed back in on the bumper of Bennett with Butler right behind Coury. Leary was still running in fourth with Gambacorta in fifth. Leary’s good run came to an end as he spun with Quintiliano to bring the caution back out with 39 laps complete. Under the caution, Butler came to pit road from his third position to check his car to see if it was leaking fluid on the track.
Bennett powered his way to the lead on the restart with Gambacorta moving into second. Coury was third but he lost that spot to Wray on lap-41. Fearn was fifth with Wood in sixth and Arute up to seventh. With three laps to go, Gambacorta was hounding Bennett for the lead and he nearly made a pass for the lead in turn 4. Bennett was able to fend off Gambacorta’s challenges to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the season. Coury finished third with Wray and Wood rounding out the top-5.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Tyler Hines led the field to the green but Glen Reen quickly took the lead on the first lap with Rowan Pennink slotting into second. Mike Christopher, Jr. was third with Ted Christopher and Hines side by side for fourth. Pennink made a move to the inside of Reen in turn 3 on lap-4 to take over the race lead.
Ted Christopher worked his way past Reen to move into second on lap-9 and he took the lead from Pennink. Reen tried to follow him by Pennink and they touched wheels with Pennink and Reen spinning in turn 4 to bring the caution out. Christopher was now the race leader with Tom Abele, Jr. in second, Mike Christopher, Jr. third, Hines fourth, Keith Rocco fifth, and Ronnie Williams sixth for the restart.
Ted Christopher took the lead with Abele slotting into second. Mike Christopher, Jr. was third with Rocco and Hines behind him. Christopher, Jr. quickly worked his way to the inside of Abele to take over second on lap-11 and they ran side by side with Rocco right on their bumpers as they were all giving chase to Ted Christopher. A multicar incident involving Stephen Kopcik, Tom Bolles, Tony Membrino, Jr., John Catania, and Bobby Grigas just coming out of turn 2 brought the caution out with 13 laps complete.
Hines brushed the wall on the restart and John Catania spun to bring the caution right back out. The next restart saw Abele take to the outside groove to take over the lead. Christopher and Rocco were side by side for second witih Christopher, Jr., in fourth, just in front of Williams. Christopher went back to the lead on lap-16 and now Rocco was looking to get by Abele for second. Rocco worked him over and he made the pass on lap-19 with Williams following him by on lap-20 to drop Abele back to fourth. Cam McDermott was up to fifth with Christopher, Jr., Michael Gervais, Jr., Matt Galko, Todd Owen, and Dylan Izzo rounding out the top-10.
Rocco was starting to work Christopher over for the lead as he was looking high and low for a way to make a pass for the lead on lap-26. Rocco nearly had a pass made on lap-30 but Christopher was able to shut the door on the move. Williams was still in third with Abele and McDermott making up the top-5. Rocco was still looking high and low for a way around Christopher but he was still behind with 5 laps to go.
Rocco was finally able to make a move and he took the lead with a move in turn 3 on lap-37. Christopher wasn’t going away quietly as he was all over Rocco’s bumper. The cars took the white flag locked together. Rocco led down the backstretch and into turn 3. Christopher made a power move in turn 3 to get alongside Rocco and he took the lead by a nose coming off turn 4 and he led Rocco to the line to take the win.
In the 20-lap SK Light feature event, Dan Wesson took the early lead with Chris Matthews in second. Joey Ferrigno slotted into third with Glenn Griswold fourth and Cory DiMatteo in fifth. The running order was still the same up front when the caution came out with 6 laps complete for Noah Korner, who got into the turn 4 wall.
Wesson took the lead back under green with Ferrigno moving into second. DiMatteo moved into third and was all over Ferrigno’s back bumper with Brett Gonyaw moving up to fourth and George Nocera, Jr. moving into fifth as Matthews fell back to sixth.
DiMatteo went around Ferrigno to move into second on lap-10 and Gonyaw made the same move as Ferrigno fell back to fourth. DiMatteo got to the inside of Wesson and took over the lead on lap-12. Ferrigno spun coming out of turn 2 and collected the cars of Marcello Rufrano and Chris Viens to bring the caution out with 12 laps complete.
DiMatteo and Wesson ran side by side for the lead back under green with Gonyaw in third. DiMatteo and Wesson ran 3 laps side by side before DiMatteo got clear to the lead on lap-15.
DiMatteo led Wesson to the checkered flag with Gonyaw, David Arute, and Glenn Korner rounding out the top-5. Going into turn 1 on the final lap, several cars got into the wall including Glenn Griswold and Joe Graf, Jr.
In the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature event, Cliff Saunders took the early race lead with R.J. Surdell and Al Saunders lined up behind him. Jeremy Lavoie was fourth and Duane Provost was fifth in the opening laps. Bryan Narducci quickly worked his way up to sixth with a 6 car train lined up behind him. Al Saunders got around Surdell to move into second on lap-6 and Lavoie was closing in on the back bumper of Surdell for third on lap-7 as Cliff Saunders continued to lead the race. Doug Phelps came to a stop on the frontstretch grass to bring the caution out with 11 laps complete.
Cliff Saunders took the lead on the restart with Al hot on his trail in second. Surdell was third with Provost fourth and Robert Bloxsom, III moved up to fifth before the caution came back out with 13 laps complete for Robert Bloxsom, Jr., who hit the wall in turns 3+4.
Back under green Cliff Saunders took the lead with Al Saunders and Surdell side by side for second. A melee erupted going into turn 3 as Provost and Bloxsom, III spun and hit the wall while Ryan Fearn and Lavoie took a trip through the grass to bring the caution right back out. NASCAR officials sent Bryan Narducci to the rear of the field for overaggressive driving.
Cliff Saunders maintained the lead on the restart with Al Saunders right behind him. Surdell was third with Lavoie fourth and Alexandra Fearn in fifth. Narducci took fifth from Fearn on lap-17 as the Saunders twins and Surdell were beginning to pull away from Lavoie, who lost fourth to Narducci on lap-18. Fearn followed Narducci past Lavoie to drop him back to sixth on lap-19.
Al Saunders made one final bid to take the lead from his brother Cliff on the final lap but he came up just short at the checkered flag. Surdell finished third with Narducci and Lavoie rounding out the top-5.
In the 15-lap DARE Stock feature event, Johnny Walker shot to the outside of Chris Sanford at the start to take the early lead. Michael Hopkins followed Walker by Sanford to take over second while Chris Bagnall did a 360 spin in turns 3+4 on the first lap but was able to continue racing and the race stayed green. Zack Robinson moved up to third behind Walker and Hopkins with Vince Gambacorta in fourth and Nicole Chambrello in fifth. Sanford fell back to sixth in the order with Brandon Michael right on his bumper in seventh place.
Robinson was all over the back bumper of Walker on lap-9 and was looking high and low for a way to get past and take over the race lead. Hopkins was in third with Chambrello now up to fourth and Gambacorta held down the fifth position. Sanford spun in turn 2 to bring the caution out with 11 laps complete.
Walker and Robinson were side by side for the lead on the restart while Travis Hydar got into the turn 2 wall but was able to limp back to pit road so the race stayed green. Walker and Robinson were still side by side for the lead with the two cars touching coming to the white flag. Robinson moved ahead of Walker going down the backstretch on the final lap and they ran wheel to wheel through turns 3+4. Robinson nearly got sideways on the outside but he was able to keep up enough momentum to edge Walker out at the line by a nose. Chambrello finished third with Gambacorta and Hopkins rounding out the top-5.
For more information contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at (860) 684-2783, or visit them on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.
Posted: to Racing News on Sat, May 13, 2017
Updated: Sat, May 13, 2017