STAFFORD – On Wednesday 15-year old Marcello Rufrano spoke modestly about his expectations for his debut Friday in the SK Light Modified division at Stafford Motor Speedway.
“I’m not going to go out there and be a hero, I’m just going to go out there and do what I’ve got to do,” Rufrano said.
And all he did was make history.
After starting last in the 20-car field, Rufrano took the lead on lap 14 and went on to win the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Besides Chris Matthews winning in the division’s first event at the track in 2006, Rufrano is thought to be the second driver in track history to win in his debut in the SK Light Modified division, joining current Whelen Modified Tour driver Chase Dowling accomplishing the feat.
Daniel Wesson of Monson, Mass. was second and Joey Ferrigno of East Hartford third.
Rufrano said he never even pondered that he could be in contention to win Friday.
“We unloaded the car thinking we were just going to finish the race, put some time into it,” Rufrano said. “Little did I know we’d be leading practice and a contender for the win.
“I’m not going to bed tonight, I can assure you that. It’s going to take a while to sink in. I probably won’t even believe it’s happened until tomorrow. I’m just enjoying the moment and going along for the ride.”
Rufrano is the son of SK Modified team owner John Rufrano, who fields a car at Stafford Speedway full-time for former NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion Keith Rocco of Wallingford.
“I’m totally beside myself,” Rufrano said. “Oh my god. I drove my heart out coming from the back of the back of the pack. I’ve got to thank everybody here, my crew, I’ve got to thank my father, I’ve got to think Keith Rocco, everybody that helps on this car.”
Rufrano began racing at Stafford Motor Speedway in 2015 in the entry level DARE Stock division. He started this year in the DARE Stock division at Stafford while also making his debut in the SK Light Modified division at Thompson Speedway in April.
Stafford Speedway rules don’t allow a driver to compete in the DARE Stock division and SK Light Modified division at the same time. His family decided recently to sell their DARE Stock car recently and move to the SK Light Modified division full-time at Stafford.
Marcello Rufrano quickly made his way from the rear of the field up to the top-10 and by lap 13 he was up to third.
On a lap 13 restart he got by David Arute to take over second. A lap later he got under leader Wesson off of turn two to take over the lead for good.
“Going through the race we had a really god car on the bottom,” Rufrano said. “I just started working my way through the field and started coming to the front. Those restarts I was starting to get more and more spots. The last restart I just sent it in there and never looked back.
“I drove my race, I didn’t drive anybody else’s race. I took my time and in the end it came to us.”