ERIC BERNDT, MARK ST. HILAIRE SCORE CARQUEST FALL FINAL VICTORIES; CHRISTOPHER AND PITKAT CLINCH TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS
(Stafford Springs, CT)---Stafford Motor Speedway concluded its 2012 NASCAR racing season with feature events for the SK Modified® and Late Model divisions. Eric Berndt took the checkered flag in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, while Ted Christopher clinched his 8th career SK Modified® track championship. Mark St. Hilaire came up as the winner of the 30-lap Late Model feature with a dramatic last lap pass and Woody Pitkat clinched the championship even though he was caught up in a first lap crash that saw him finish 20th.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Kyle Spencer led the field to the green, but he spun in turn 2 and the cars of Curt Brainard, Mike King, and Raymond Grassetti were also involved to bring the caution out before a lap could be completed.
Glen Reen took the lead on the restart with Brian Sullivan and Tom Bolles side by side for second. Keith Rocco was in fourth, just in front of a side-by-side battle between Dan Avery and Danny Cates. Rocco made a move to the inside of Bolles to take over third place on lap-4 while Reen continued to hold the lead ahead of Sullivan.
Rocco continued his charge to the front as he moved under Sullivan on lap-5 to take over second. Dylan Kopec hit the turn 3 wall to bring the yellow out with 5 laps complete.
Reen and Rocco were side by side for a lap and a half on the restart before Reen got clear into the lead. Michael Gervais, Jr. spun in turns 3+4 to bring the caution out with 6 laps complete.
Rocco charged by Reen on the restart to take over the race lead, but Dan Avery, Todd Owen, and Tommy Membrino, Jr. piled into one another against the frontstretch wall to bring the caution back out and put Reen back in front for the restart.
Reen took the lead with Rocco settling into second behind him. Sullivan and Cates washed up the track in turn 2 on lap-8, which allowed Ryan Preece to charge his way by both cars and move into third place. Just as Preece made his move, Rowan Pennink spun to bring the caution back out and negate the pass.
Reen took the lead on the restart with Cates pulling alongside Rocco in a fight for second place. Eric Berndt was fourth, with Preece and Sullivan side by side for fifth place. Cates took the lead from Reen in turn 4 on lap-12 and Rocco moved into second, dropping Reen from the lead back to third. Reen continued to slide backwards as Berndt and then Preece worked their way by, dropping Reen back to fifth place on lap-15.
The caution came out with 17 laps complete as Rocco made contact with Cates on the backstretch while making a move to the inside of Cates that shot Cates into the wall and brought the caution out. Rocco was sent to the rear of the field for the contact with Cates, putting Berndt and Preece on the front row for the restart.
Berndt and Preece were side by side for two laps before Preece fell into line behind Berndt, with Reen, Matt Galko, Sullivan, and Joey Cipriano lined up behind them. Spencer made contact with Tom Bolles on lap-22, but both cars were able to continue and Spencer was given a drive through penalty for the contact with Bolles.
Christopher pulled alongside Sullivan on lap-30 and he made the pass for fifth place. Foster followed in Christopher’s tire tracks as he was also able to get by Sullivan while Berndt continued to lead Preece and Reen.
Preece was shown the black flag on lap-31 for leaking fluid out of his car, which moved Reen into second behind Berndt. Galko was third, with Christopher and Foster behind him. Tom Bolles spun coming out of turn 4 to bring the caution out with 36 laps complete and set up a four lap sprint to the finish.
On the restart, Pennink spun on the frontstretch and Heather DesRochers went through the infield grass to bring the yellow back out.
Reen was nose to nose with Berndt for a lap on the restart before he fell into line behind Berndt. Galko was third, but the caution came out again with 39 laps complete as Sean Foster spun while running in fourth place, setting up a green white checkered finish.
Berndt took the lead on the restart ahead of Reen and Galko, but Christopher spun on the backstretch to bring the caution out.
Berndt and Reen were side by side with Berndt getting the lead by a car length at the white flag. Berndt led the field back to the checkered flag as Ruocco got around Reen for second on the final lap.
In post-race inspection, Reen was found to have an illegal cylinder head and he was disqualified from his third place finish. This promoted Sullivan to third, with Rocco and Shawn Thibeault rounding out the top-5. Christopher recovered from his spin to finish 13th, which was enough to give him his 8th career SK Modified® track championship at Stafford.
In the 30-lap Late Model feature, there was a multicar incident on the backstretch that involved the cars of Ryan Posocco, Woody Pitkat, Sean Foster, Ed Ricard, Peter Thickett, and Paul Varricchio, Jr. that brought the caution out. Under the caution. Pitkat made contact with the car of Adam Gray.
Back under green, Tony Lafo was the leader, but Peter Portante got by Lafo to take over the lead on lap-2. Patrick Townsend moved into second, with Tom Fearn, Kevin Gambacorta, and Mark St. Hilaire making up the top-5 as Lafo was falling back through the field.
Portante was pulling away from the field, while Townsend and Fearn were nose to tail for second. Gambacorta was fourth, with Mike Quintiliano cracking his way into the top-5 by getting around St. Hilaire.
With 14 laps complete, Portante had built up a lead of a half straightaway over Townsend, but Adam Gray looked like he lost an engine as he came to a stop on the infield grass in turn 1 to bring the caution out.
On the restart, Fearn got a good run on Portante going down the backstretch and he was able to take over the lead at the stripe. Gambacorta followed Fearn by Portante as Portante fell from the lead back to third. Quintiliano was fourth with St. Hilaire right behind him in fifth place. Cliff Stakey spun on the backstretch to bring the yellow back out with 17 laps complete.
Fearn took the lead on the restart with Quintiliano making a great move to take over second place. Portante was third, with St. Hilaire fourth and Jim Mavlouganes was fifth. Portante got back by Quintiliano to move into second on lap-19, and his move opened the door for St. Hilaire and Mavlouganes to also get by Quintiliano. Quintiliano then dropped off the pace and came to a stop in the middle of turns of 3+4 to bring the caution out with 21 laps complete.
Fearn took the lead back under green, but Corey Hutchings spun in turn 3 to bring the yellow back out. The next restart saw Fearn take the lead with St. Hilaire moving into second. Townsend and Portante were side by side for third, with Mavlouganes in fifth place. Townsend took the position, with Mavlouganes getting by Portante to drop Portante back to fifth place.
Fearn held the lead until the final lap, when St. Hilaire made a move to the inside of Fearn in turn 2. The cars were neck and neck down the backstretch, but St. Hilaire was able to make the pass in turn 3 and he came out of turn 4 to take the checkered flag for his second win of the 2012 season. Fearn finished second, with Mavlouganes, Portante, and Townsend rounding out the top-5. In the championship chase, Pitkat’s first lap crash relegated him to a 20th place finish, but it was enough to give him his second career Late Model track championship at Stafford.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.