STAFFORD – It was a Sunday cruise on a Friday night at Stafford Motor Speedway for Eric Berndt.
Berndt rolled easily to his second victory of the season in the 40-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway.
It was the second victory of the season for Berndt, of Cromwell.
Ronnie Williams of Tolland was second and Dan Avery of Somers third.
The major moment of the race for Berndt came when he was able to avoid a lap nine frontstretch pileup that collected more than half of the 22-car field.
“We got by that big one luckily,” Berndt said. “We had a good car tonight, a really good car tonight. It was fast all day. Before I left home to head here all three of my kids were like ‘Dad, we’re going to win tonight.’ I said ‘I’ll see you in victory lane.’ Well here we are. Sometimes that doesn’t work out the way you want it to, but great car, great motor.
The wreck was set off at the front of the field between then leaders Matt Galko and Tyler Hines.
“I was tucked up on [then third place Mike Christopher Jr.] and I saw him start to go low and I just followed his tracks and all of the sudden I just saw cars start to go sideways and I just cranked a hard left. Thank god nobody was trying to go to the inside of me. And then my spotter told me there was four [cars] left rolling.
“That was the game-changer right there, just to avoid that. And then who it collected. I don’t want to say it made it easier, but it definitely collected some heavy hitters.”
The ensuing restart saw Berndt was able to go by Christopher and then checked out from there.
“It is hard because now you’re racing your self more than anybody else,” Berndt said. “You’re trying not to screw up, trying not to sail it into the corner too hard. You just don’t want to abuse the car more than it needs to be abused. [Christopher] still had a really good car and at some points he’d close in a car length or two car lengths and we’d open it back up. But you don’t want to make any mistakes.”
Caution flew again on lap 36, but Berndt was able to easily leave Christopher behind again. Williams and Avery were able to also move past Christopher over the closing laps.