Stafford Notes: Johnny Walker Grabs Fifth Straight DARE Stock Win

Johnny Walker (Photo: Jim DuPont)

It seems there’s no slowing the locomotive like push to a seemingly inevitable second consecutive championship at Stafford Motor Speedway for Johnny Walker.

Walker continued his wrecking ball like late season roll Friday by scoring his fifth consecutive DARE Stock division victory in the division’s 15-lap feature.

Though Friday’s event was hardly an easy cruise to the checkered flag for the Ludlow, Mass. driver.

Vince Gambacorta of Ellington was second and Mike Hopkins of Springfield, Mass. third.

On lap eight Walker went by Chris Bagnall for the lead with Brandon Michael moving to second place.

On a restart with five laps remaining Walker and Michael began a feisty duel for the lead. That duel continued following a lap 12 restart with the pair going side-by-side to the white flag, with Michael leading by a nose. Walker came back to regain the lead and take the win. Michael crossed the finish line in second, but after the checkered he made contact with Walker and was disqualified from the runner-up position and dropped to 12th in the final rundown.

“That was more like a demolition derby race than anything,” Walker said. “There was a lot of bumping and banging. I think my crew chief has his work cut out for [him] fixing the body work on this thing. That was some pretty spicy racing toward the end. It got a little more physical than it probably maybe should have.”

Marcello Rufrano of North Haven held off David Arute on the final lap to get his third victory of the season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature.

“It was just hectic,” Rufrano said. “I was driving everything I could get out of this car tonight. I can’t thank [crew chief] Jim Fuller and my father [enough] for getting this thing where it needed to be tonight. It was just on rails. I just climbed through the field.

Arute, of Tolland, was second and Mark Bakaj of Lebanon third.

Division points leader Glen Reen passed Matt Vassar for the lead with two laps remaining and then held off a banging challenge from Vassar to get his his third victory of the season in the 30-lap Late Model feature.

“I’ve got to thank the good lord for the opportunity to be here. The last couple weeks we’ve had some trouble with this car. These guys do not give up. This whole team, and family I’m going to call them, they just don’t give up. They don’t know that word and neither do I. They work their butts off and this car is back to winning form as we can prove.”

Vassar, of Plantsville, was second and Tom Fearn of East Longmeadow, Mass. third.

“I saw him getting a little bit loose there so I kind of got into him just lightly then he decided to try to drive through me on the backstretch,” Reen said of Vassar. “It is what it is. I’ll remember that in my head.”

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Comments

  1. OK according to Wicker that sounds like a person that is the driver of the 01 all this winning is the result of tedious and unending attention to detail in race car preparation and a skilled driver. Well how about this. If a person wins so often in a division specifically designed to create an even playing field either the winner is too cleaver to be caught making mischief or the division rules are fundamentally flawed. This is ridiculous and bad for the division and racing. Go to the records. How often has a car been so dominant in weekly racing in one division. I’m serious. I’m sure it’s happened but but remind me when one car has been so dominant during a season at Stafford.

  2. Adam Gray was VERY dominant in the late models a few years back.

  3. Just a Observer of the racing at Stafford. I have seen as Ken mention Adam Gray in late late models, to be the winner every week a couple years ago. When he left on questionabe turms. Then it went between the Furn and Bennet show. I never understood it, if a race car was so fast. Why in heck are they bumping cars in the corners? Obviously to get around the car in front of them. I can see if your fast and tap the person in front of you, on front and back stretch. I love it in how Alexandria Furn, was able to take her position back on the outside lane. Now that was some good racing. As for wicker, I never seen the kid bump somebody in the corner unless someone bumped him first. Just think about it. If he was so fast as some say he is, why was the 74 able catch him? Then start to bumping him in the turns. All the 74 bumping during and after the race is why he lost his 2nd position. (mainly for after the race) The first time the 38 came out a few weeks ago got a 3rd. Just Week ago the 74 gets 2nd. The answer is experience. The cars are pretty close to being equal. Some guys put the car in the trailer. It stays in there until the next race. That’s why they ride in the back. You can only get out of it, what you put in to it. Over all I like the racing at Stafford. When ever it’s left up to a human to make judgment call they seem to lack consistency. That’s not going to change.

  4. The #01 pushed the #74 from the flagstand all the way through turn 2 on the last lap………and how is the #01 able to gain 1 or 2 car lengths on everyone on the straights? sometimes it looks like he has about 20 extra HP lol

  5. John Walker says:

    We’ll just so we’re all on the same page. My engine did get pulled this Friday night to be checked on a dyno to prove that it has no more horsepower then any other engine. It comes down to good old fashion hard work and homework and dedication to your car. Even on weeks that we win, our car is back on the lift being gone through and when you slowly learn from all your mistakes and learn what makes your car fast. Over time you get to be fast. I have shared with struggling teams and try to give them pointers. Things I learned the hard way, articles I have read. It all adds up. And as Mt Man said, experience comes into focus. Cars like the 38 and the 74 are back and now I have my hands full. The 74 and I were dead nuts for most of the race. It came down to some solid racing at the end. But in the end, my engine was the only engine to get pulled and I’m completely alright with that. No bitching at all from our team. It will simply prove we have just as much HP as everyone else, it’s just how you set up ur car. It comes at a cost though, we will have to spend quite a few hours putting the engine back in but it will all be alright in the end when we can finally cease the rumors of us having an illegal motor. 💪🏻

  6. I’ll tell you Mr. Walker you’re points may be entirely accurate but some are hard to take at times. I’m hearing you work harder, are smarter and race cleaner then just about anyone else. It’s like you’re an island of competence in a sea of chaos trying to get to the front without the masses getting you dirty in the process. Forgive the hyperbole.
    On the other hand it’s not hubris if it’s all true. All I said originally was I would like to see the top three point leaders engines dyno’d. They’re doing the 01, know the horsepower parameters for crate engines so this is all that’s needed seeing as how the 01 wins most races. Wicker said they inspected the engine before so I guess that was cursory as opposed to this in depth examination.
    Thank you Mr. Walker for participating in this conversation. Your comments have been informative and it’s so rare to hear a front runner keep we fans in the loop and do it so articulately. This testing is simply the best thing a clearly dominant car can have done. If all is well your reputation for excellence will be enhanced immeasurably and the naysayers like me squashed like bugs. Good luck.

  7. Dear Mt Man, thank you for the entertaining comments.
    The 74 did not lose his position for bumping before and after the race. He lost it strictly for post race antics.
    The idea that some teams put the car in the trailer and don’t pull it out until the next race is ridiculous. I’ve done some racing in Street Stocks and know that’s virtually impossible unless you want to hurt yourself, waste money and time.
    Alexandra Fearn, I love the way she competes. Friday night her performance was epic in that it was arguably one of the best performances in the division this year in arguably the best race of the year in LLM. And what separates her is she never, ever complains in victory lane or in public. Never. If anyone has the right to say something after Narducci walled her once and made a bonehead sucker move going three wide in turn three not once but twice she does.
    So Wicker never bumped someone at any time in the corner unless he was bumped first. That again is a virtual impossibility. Look harder.

  8. Doug, as THE person that does that weekly tedious attention to detail, I take great pride in how that car performs on the track. Our race usually lasts in the realm of 15 minutes…I take 2 HOURS cleaning and nut & bolt checking it all, before we even think about fixing and servicing anything on the car. We’ve learned over the last 5 years how to maintain it properly, and we’ve hit on a set up that works for our driver’s style. Just a couple tweaks with wedge & sway bar on race day, and that’s all we’ve done for the last two seasons. That’s the entire secret to our success. As far as who else has had this kind of success in the Dare Stocks? Kyle Casagrande won 7 races in 2012, with 250 lbs of extra weight by the end of the season, and he was racing against Austin Bessette, the Saunders twins, Jeremy Lavoie, et al..VERY stiff competition back then! I think THAT trumps what we’ve done this year, by far

  9. John Walker says:

    Just received word from the track. Our engine just came off the dyno. Bitter sweet news. The sweet being that it is in fact within spec horsepower wise. The bitter news is that it’s actually down 6 horsepower from when we first bought it a season ago 😕

  10. Well that is good news indeed for the 01. Proves everything you all have said from the start with a clean bill of health. And again thanks for keeping the fans updated as events developed. So now that you have been proven completely legal within the rules and in an elite group of dominant winners any thoughts on moving up to the LLM or Lights? What’s left to prove?

  11. John Walker says:

    Actually thinking of settling down a bit. I’m realizing that I’m 30 and will never be able to afford a house if I keep blowing all my money on racing. I have just enough money to buy one set of tires to carry me to the end of the year. Definitely not enough to buy another racecar. I plan on pulling back the throttle a little and racing sporadically all over New England next year with a big trip to the high banks of Bristol to tackle a new challenge.

  12. Ya, none of that makes any sense at all on the surface. Me thinkst thou ist making sport with me.
    I just talked to 55 year old John Walker having traveled forward in time. He says forget all that s__t. Keep the car, race a few times at Stafford next year to help you kick the racing high you’re on now and get the house.
    Best wishes and thanks again for the inside scoop.

  13. John Walker YOU Are The Most HONEST,Careing,Concederate,Fair,ETC… Dare Stock Driver here @ SMS.You Show Other low lifes.That You Do Not Have to “CHEAT” To Win. Hats off to You Brother.

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