Stafford Motor Speedway
Whelen Modified Tour, TSI Harley-Davidson 125
by Hazel Meredith
The Whelen Modified Tour visited Stafford Motor Speedway for their
second of four visits in 2010. Bobby Santos, in the #4 Mystic
Missile Dodge, would capture the pole for the third straight WMT
event of 2010. At the season-opening Ice Breaker at Thompson
International Speedway as well as at Stafford’s Spring Sizzler, he
set new track records. Tonight, he set the pace with a lap of 18.090
sec. Following close behind was George Brunnhoelzl III in the #59 Ed
Bennett Properties Chevrolet with a time of 18.155.
In third was Ron Silk in the #6 T.S. Haulers/Calverton Tree Farm
Chevrolet with a time of 18.187 sec. Fourth was Rob Summers in the
#1 Frasco Fuel Oil/Merrill Electric Chevrolet with a time of 18.218
Last season, Ted Christopher became the first driver to capture the
pole three times in a row to start the season. Santos has now tied
that record and will try to beat it at the next WMT event, the Made
In America Whelen 200 at Martinsville Speedway.
The top eight qualifiers redrew for starting positions with the #6
of Ron Silk pulling the pole starting spot. Top qualifier, Bobby
Santos, starts second, followed by: #59 Chuck Hossfeld; #54 Eric
Berndt; #46 George Brunnhoelzl, III; #39 Richie Pallai Jr.; #51
Justin Bonsignore; and #1 Rob Summers.
The weekly divisions took to the track for their features first,
beginning with the Dare Stocks. Josh Wood in the #51 led the field
to the green for their 15-lap feature. He would jump to the point on
the start and gain a several-car-length lead, continuing to pace the
field through three caution periods. On lap 13, the #99 of Stephen
Daddio would try to get by Wood for the lead, spinning both cars in
turn two. Kyle Casagrande in the #7 skated by to take the lead
followed by #00 Tony Membrino, Jr., #6 Andrew Hayes and #2 Jeff
Next up were the SK Light Modifieds with a 20-lap feature. Harry
Wheeler in the #54 paced the field for the start. After much
shuffling at the front, with five laps to go, Ted Cain in the #31
would move to the point. The #83 of Thomas Barrett Jr. would pass
for the lead, but a multi-car spin would send the field back to the
previous lap’s lineup. After another spin and much dirt on the track
on the restart, the #31 of Cain would again lead the way. Barrett
made several attempts to pass Cain for the lead but could not make
it stick. Cain, of Plymouth, CT, would hold on for the checkers. #6
Chad Trombley and # 21 Erica Santos would finish 3rd and 4th.
The SK Modifieds were up next for a 40 lap feature. On the pole is
Eric Berndt from Cromwell, CT in the #54, with #70 Brit Andersen on
the outside front row. It wouldn’t take too long for the first
caution to fly as the #21 of Zach Sylvester got into trouble on the
backstretch. As the field came off turn four, the #13 of Ted
Christopher would slide across the infield grass. Leading the field
is the #90 of Todd Owen who started fourth, followed by #54 Berndt,
#25 Sean Foster and #20 Jeff Baral.
After two more cautions Owen continues to lead until caution on lap
eight as Eric Berndt, who has been running second, gets spun out in
turn two. Jeff Baral in the #20 is definitely a very fast car, who
is now in second for the restart. Baral would get by for the lead on
lap nine with Mark Bakaj in the #5 moving into second. On the next
circuit Bakaj got very loose, almost taking out the entire field! He
straightened it out and everyone kept going, but it gave Baral a
chance to open up a large lead.
Frank Ruocco in the 91 moves to second followed by #88 Keith Rocco.
Making the pass on the outside, Rocco gets by Ruocco as they cross
the stripe for lap 20, the half-way point. Rocco sets his sights on
Baral, but has a half a straight-away of space to make up. With 13
laps to go, Rocco is gaining 2 to 3 tenths of a second on Baral. He
begins to close rapidly on Baral as they come up to ten-to-go. As
they head off turn three on lap 30, Rocco dives under Baral and
effortlessly takes the lead.
He continued to extend the distance of his lead to capture his tenth
checkered flag in 16 starts this year (between Stafford, Thompson
and Waterford Speedbowl). It was his third win at Stafford in the SK
Prior to this weekend, he was the leader in the NASCAR National
Point Standings. Rocco stated, “The longer we ran, the better the
Finishing second was #20 Jeff Baral; third #91 Frank Ruocco; and
fourth #5 Mark Bakaj.
Second-to-last of the regular divisions are the Limited Late Models
in a 20-lap main event. The #42 of Michael Wray led the field to the
green, however, he quickly fell to second as the #88 of Duane
Provost passed him for the point. By lap seven, Wray would re-take
the lead and Provost would drop to fifth. The #32 of Dave Yardley
III moves to second with #23 Kevin Gambacorta third.
Wray would make it back to the front and hold on to take the win,
however on the last lap the #23 of Gambacorto would spin heading in
to turn three and the #19 of Carla Botticello would t-bone the
passenger side of Gambacorta. Fortunately, both drivers were OK. #32
Dave Yardley would finish second, followed by #41 Daniel Flannery
and #58 Shawn Thibeault.
The final feature before the Tour race is the Late Models. Alan
Provost of Monson, MA, in the #23 would pace the field to the start.
On the second lap the action got rough as the #94 of Dillon Moltz
got spun on the backstretch, the as the field came back to the
stripe, the #82 of second place Tony Lafo hit the turn one wall, and
the #7 of Keith Rocco got spun coming off turn two. As a result, the
#64 of Michael Bennett and the #99 of Scott Cook were both black
flagged for rough driving. And we’re not done yet -- the #94 of
point leader Dillon Moltz was black flagged for unsportsmanlike
conduct for slamming into the #7 of Rocco.
Provost would pace the field until the #88 Woody Pitkat would pass
for the lead on lap six. On lap ten both the #17 of Jim Peterson and
the #87 of Corey Hutchings get by Provost for second and third.
Pitkat had opened up a huge lead, but a caution on lap 20 would
erase his gains. On the restart it’s Pitkat, Hutchings, Peterson and
#7 Keith Rocco. Another restart on lap 23 and Hutchings gets the
jump on Pitkat, but couldn’t hold the spot. With five laps to go,
another tangle in turn four between #92 Tom Fearn, #3 Mark St.
Hilaire and #23 Alan Provost.
St. Hilaire was involved in yet another tangle in turn four
involving several cars -- all drove away, but another caution comes
out. The #7 of Keith Rocco is black flagged for over aggression on
the race track.
Point leader, Dillon Moltz, has worked his way back up to fifth
place for the restart. Pitkat again gets a good start and pulls
ahead of the field. Moltz is up to fourth by the backstretch,
heading for third. Peterson in the #17 is second as they come to the
checkered flag. Michael Bennett finished fourth.
Finally, the Whelen Modified Tour TS Harley-Davidson 125. The field
takes the green at 10:00 p.m. After the redraw, pole winner Bobby
Santos, will start on the outside front row next to Ron Silk. By the
time the leaders hit the backstretch, Santos had pulled ahead of
Silk on the outside for the lead. Eric Berndt in the #54 managed to
move into second and a few laps later, the lead. He and Santos would
play leap frog for the next few laps.
On lap 15 the #38 of Jake Marosz was black flagged for failing to
maintain minimum speed.
Bernt began to open up his lead on Santos by about 10 car-lengths by
lap 18. They were followed by #59 Chuck Hossfeld and #6 Ron Silk.
Rounding out the top-five is the #39 of Richie Pallai Jr.
Ted Christopher in the #36 started ninth and continues to hold in
that position, though he is gaining on eighth place #51 Justin
Bonsignore. The field is strung out around the track and the leaders
are catching the back of the field.
The first caution comes on lap 35 as the #79 of James Civali tags
the turn two wall. He is able to drive away and heads to pit road
along with many of the mid- to back-of-the-pack cars.
The field restarts on lap 41, but caution quickly comes out again as
the #76 of Eric Beers spins into the turn two wall. He also drives
Berndt leads them back to the green and Silk moves up the inside
into second ahead of Santos. On the next lap the #59 of Hossfeld
also moves by into third, pushing Santos back to fourth. Rob Summers
in the #1 is fifth and the top five open a gap back to #14 Jimmy
Beers is black flagged on lap 60 for failing to maintain minimum
speed. the #38 of Jake Marosz is also done for the night with
Berndt has opened up a 15 car length lead at the half way point,
while Hossfeld keeps trying to get around Silk to no avail. He
finally clears him on lap 68 and Santos also sneaks through to
At lap 80 the leaders have not changed -- there is a few car lengths
between each of the top four. The battle right now is between Silk
and Blewett and Blewett is able to get by on the inside, with
Summers also passing Silk. they move into fifth, sixth and seven,
Lap 90, and Berndt’s lead has grown impressively. Hossfeld is still
second with Santos in third and Blewett fourth. Christopher
continues to hold ninth.
Lap 103 brings caution number three when the #10 of Ed Flemke Jr.
bounces off another car in turn four.
Restart lap 108 and Hossfeld gets a huge jump on Berndt and Blewett
gets by to second as well. Todd Szegedy in the #2 gets up to fourth.
On lap 111 Hossfeld and Blewett get together as they cross the
stripe, spinning Hossfeld to the infield grass. Santos is back in
the lead followed by Szegedy, Berndt and Blewett.
Restart on lap 117 with Santos jumping to the lead and Blewett
racing past Szegedy for second. Blewett tries to get by Santos as
they come back to the line, but can’t make the pass -- not yet
Lap 119 major wreck in turn three involving the #10 Flemke; #90
Dupuis; #59 Hossfeld; #50 Goodale, as well as a few others. Everyone
but Flemke drives away and it will be a two lap, green-white-checker
shootout between Santos and Blewett on the restart. Santos takes the
lead and Blewett pulls inside to try to pass -- but caution comes
back out as #36 Ted Christopher and the #8 of Glenn Tyler tangle on
We’ll try it again for extra laps -- green-white-checker with Santos
on point. Restart lap 128 as Santos leads the pack. Blewett dives
under Santos as they come off turn two to pull ahead, but as they
hit turn three, mayhem breaks out on the backstretch involving the
#50 Goodale, #0 Arre, #28 Pitkat, #3 Preece and #54 Berndt.
Third try for green-white-checker! Restart lap 136 -- Santos jumps
in turn three and pulls ahead, but Blewett almost gets by. Santos
holds him off after almost losing the lead several times to take his
second checkered flag in three starts.
Apparently Santos was ordered to pull back as they crossed the
stripe since he jumped the restart. If he hadn’t let Blewett pull
even with him, he would have been penalized for jumping the start
and sent to pit road. He had to “earn” the pass and the win on the
“It’s pretty awesome! The whole team did a great job. Jimmy taught
me a lot at the end - he took me to school on those last few
restarts. I had to give that spot back. Jimmy made me take off early
but I got it back!”
Jimmy Blewett stated, “Bobby’s a good driver. It’s two races we’ve
been up front. It was a great car. Our day will come.”.
Source: Hazel Meredith