(Stafford Springs, CT)—With the NAPA Spring Sizzler® now in the rearview mirror, Open Modified competition is back at Stafford Speedway this Friday, May 19 for the CBYD 81. Marcello Rufrano, driver of the #48 Wheelers Auto Chevrolet, had high hopes for the NAPA Spring Sizzler® after finishing third in his NAPA Qualifying Duel race, but was caught up in a wreck and was relegated to a 29th place finish. Rufrano had pitted for fresh tires earlier than the majority of lead lap cars and was trying to ride around until the lead cars came to pit road and he could cycle to the front of the field, but the wreck ended any chance of that happening.
“I was running behind Bobby Santos and Jimmy Blewett coming out of turn 4 when everyone checked up and me, Jimmy, and Bobby all kind of piled into each other,” said Rufrano. “We didn’t really know what had happened. I was just trying to ride around for a bit and save our tires after we took our change set and we could cycle to the front once all the leaders pitted but obviously that didn’t work in our favor. We started the Sizzler® off on our duel tires on the left sides and stickers on the right side and our plan was to take 4 tires around halfway. We ended up spinning out and got our tires around lap 30 or so and we were going to just ride around and wait for the leaders to beat their stuff up and then we would have been in a prime spot once they pitted. We had high hopes for the race and it would have been a tall task to get by the 16 [Silk] and the 60 [Hirschman] because they were fast all day, but I think if the race had played in our favor we could have given them a good run.”
Rufrano will return to Stafford this Friday night not with his familiar #48 open modified machine, but a new #14 car owned by his SK modified® crew chief Billy “Bear” Calicchio.
“I’m actually teaming up with my crew chief Bear Calicchio to bring a new car this Friday for the CBYD 81 since my car is still a little ways away from getting fixed,” said Rufrano. “We made a deal during the off-season to do some races together and I think we’ll be pretty good this Friday night.”
In addition to the Open Modified CBYD 81 race, Rufrano will be looking for a rebound in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature as well. Rufrano had a miserable Sizzler® weekend with an engine going south one lap into his heat race and he encountered engine issues in the feature after he had driven from the rear of the field in 28th place up to 11th before retiring just past the halfway point.
“We started last and we were up to 11th after only making one lap in our heat race,” said Rufrano. “The motor scrambled itself apart in the heat race so my Uncle Frank Carbone went back to the shop and loaded up our other motor and he got back to the track about a half hour race before the race was starting. I really have to thank Doug Dunleavy, Cam McDermott, Woody Pitkat, and all his crew guys, they were right there working on the car with us getting the motor swapped out. They’re unbelievable and they all stepped in when they really didn’t need to and helped us out. With how fast the car was without making any adjustments to the chassis, I’m excited to see how we’re going to go this Friday night.”
Rufrano finished second in the SK Modified® points standings last season and with his eyes set on contending for the championship again this season, Rufrano knows that he can’t have many more bad nights and is focused on winning as many races as he can.
“We started off last season just like we started this season off,” said Rufrano. “Between missing a race like we did last season along with the DNF’s we had, we weren’t too far off of Todd [Owen] at the end of the season so we’re going to come with the same game plan and focus on getting the best finish possible. I know we have a really good shot every week with the car that we have and we’re going to try to go win some races.”
The 5th Annual CBYD 81 is scheduled for this Friday, May 19. Stafford’s SK Modified®, Late Model, SK Light, Limited Late Model, and Street Stock divisions will join the Open Modifieds in feature action. Tickets for the CBYD 81 are available now online at StaffordSpeedway.com/tickets and tickets will also be available for purchase at the admission gates. Tickets for the CBYD 81 are $30.00 for adults, $10.00 for kids 6-14, and free for kids 5 & under. Reserved seating is priced at $35.00 for all ages and pit passes are $45.00 with a valid 2022 Stafford Competition License and $50.00 without a Stafford license. If you are unable to attend the event, tune into the live stream on FloRacing, the official streaming partner of Stafford Speedway.
For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.