Bullish: Eric Berndt Scores Victory In Wild SK Modified Closing At Stafford

Eric Berndt celebrates with his family in victory lane after winning the SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – With the laps closing quickly to conclusion of the SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway, it looked as if Eric Berndt would be a spectator watching the podium celebration for the event.

But the driver tagged “The Bulldog” by track announcers proved to have a bullish stubborn desire to not only crash the podium, but climb to the top.

Berndt passed Mike Christopher Jr. for the lead on green-white-checkered restart to win the 40-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford.

It was the third victory of the season for the Cromwell driver.

Christopher, of Wolcott, was second and Todd Owen of Somers third.

“That was a crazy one,” Berndt said. “The last couple restarts were kind of tough. We probably didn’t have the car to get there at first, but the restarts tightened the field up.”

Division points leader Ronnie Williams looked to be on cruise control to another victory for much of the event, but late cautions changed things dramatically.

Williams held off Christopher on a lap 37 restart, but on lap 39 Williams ended up spinning to the infield coming off of turn four.

Berndt was running fourth before Williams spun. With Williams trying to wrangle in his car on the backstretch the leaders came to the white flag with Christopher leading Rocco, but contact between Rocco and Berndt left Rocco wrecked on the frontstretch and bringing out the caution.

“Crazy,” Berndt said. “For a while it looked like we were going to be a fourth place car at best. And sometimes it’s better to be lucky than it is to be good. … You never know.”

On the green-white-checkered restart Berndt held the outside lane for lap 39, leading the tandem in the side-by-side battle the white flag. Berndt cleared Christopher off of turn four on the final lap.

“Outside worked good for us.” Berndt said. “We had the run going side-by-side with [Christopher]. Beating, banging, everything going on. Just a never give up attitude and here we are.”

Said Christopher: “We were there racing against [Williams] and [Rocco]. The top was really working tonight. We had the bottom on that last restart and the tires just weren’t clean enough to run down there. The top really rolled tonight. Congrats to Eric. That was a good race up front with all those guys. It was fun charging through the field.”

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Comments

  1. It appeared that Berndt turned the 33 and then the 88 , looked like the 88 turned the 50 and nobody was put to the back , some weeks driver’s get put to the back when it appears questionable, doesn’t seem to be any consistency , maybe it depends who you are I guess

  2. COS’S CENTRAL AUTO & NORTH END AUTO PARTS would like to thank everyone for all their support .Eric’s do not give up attitude and confidence in his team and equipment . is what made the difference in this season .as for what happen on the race track you need to speak to the drivers involved ,as would of the great’s all time Stafford Drivers would say you F*** with Bull you Get the Horns !

  3. The 11 Hummell car hit EVERYTHING.Driver does this every week and nothing done.Going to be a witch hunt Vasser.Never saw a driver make so much contact with other cars.

  4. With all due respect Eric’s can do spirit is admirable for sure but the consistent top tier lap times can only be attributed to one Mr. Stash Butova.

  5. James Scott says:

    That 11 is a windshield wiper. All over the place. Great race Eric! Hope more to come!

  6. Question from a new poster. Chase Dowling breaks track records, runs top 3 and is the car one would pick to win a tour race at Stafford against 30 of the toughest race teams on the east coast. I followed this race online and he never even touched the top 10 in a 15 car field. Can someone explain this please? I really don’t want to hear negative bashing. Just opinions. I’ve read posts that the LFR tour cars are Illegal blah blah blah. Not the case obviously but there is something missing with him in his SK.

  7. Let’s just call him. Matt Diasaster cuz that’s what he is

  8. Are you talking about the SK’s exclusively Danny?. The car count has never been as low as 15 and Chase with his new team consistently turns high second tier lap speeds, is 8th in points having missed a race and has won a race. He came in 6th last night. What am I missing?

  9. I dont remember last year the 11 being so out of control and hitting everything.Not that i go every week,but GEEZE.He is a menace.

  10. Last year i dont recall the 11 being out of control,whats the deal,car looks like a pinball on the track,GEEZE,what the heck,OUT OF CONTROL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.0 car control,just boucing off other cars to maintain or gain position.

  11. I never remember last year the 11 s/k hitting or been so out of control,hitting everything.Car looks like a pinball on the track.Bouncing off everything to maintain or gain a position.GEEZE.

  12. Danny,
    To start with, there were 19 cars in the race last night.
    Second, you pretty much lost me at “followed this race online”. You’re making a judgement about someone based on seeing lap times and running order on race monitor? That’s like posting a review online about how the food tastes at a restaurant based on looking at pictures of the food.
    Third, Dowling finished sixth, so how did he never touch the top-10?

  13. Oops.Sorry for repeats.lol.Me bad

  14. Whodoirootfornow. says:

    Don’t want to take anything away from Eric, he always has a top car and is a clean driver… nice to see him get another win! That being said, If it wasn’t for Rocco taking out Williams on the restart with a few laps to go, the race would have been totally different. Was anyone else listening to Rocco’s radio? The crew chief called for Rocco to wreck Williams because they were 66 points behind in the points race! Is that the way they run? Can’t beat em, wreck em? He might have been able to pass him as his car was performing well, but instead he chose to purposely send him into the grass. Why no penalty right away? It was clearly a planned attack. At least he got what he deserved and got some of his own medicine. Stafford has its favorites and will allow just about anything as long as it keeps the point so race close and can put fans in the seats. Let’s see if the Tuesday penalty’s reflect this statement. As for me, I don’t care who wins the title, as long as they deserve it and don’t resort to tactics like this to win it.
    Rocco has lost me as a fan for sure.

  15. The 11 has a different driver from last year , and he came from late models maybe he thinks he still has fenders, you also had Reen who was pretty much a menace out there

  16. Shawn, that’s correct. Being in NC that’s all I can do really. On race monitor it showed 17 cars I believe. At lap 33 Chase was 13th. I honestly stopped watching at that time. He was not going to have a shot at going for a win at that point so we decided to stop following that race. Don’t get me wrong I am a Chase fan. I worked with Fuller down here and love what he does and brings to that series. I just can’t quite get what’s going on with Chase in the SK. I can’t be the only one asking what’s going on. Maybe just the dumbest to post the question.

  17. It’s always best to go to the races and monitor the lap times on your smart phone. Failing that it’s always better to be at the races phone or not. Failing that race monitor can be as exciting and informative as listening to a baseball game on the radio if you’re knowledgeable of the drivers and their historic lap times. From practice to the heats to the feature you can see the lap times unfold and in many ways be better prepared to predict how the race will unfold jingles notwithstanding. In the SK’s I always lock onto Williams, Rocco and Berndt as top tier lap leaders and Dowling as a personal favorite. No we obviously can’t see the bumping and banging but seeing the yellow then waiting for how it shakes out when the green flashes is riveting. Like last night. Seeing the yellows in the last few laps, then Berndt winning was mind blowing even though how it happened was a mystery to be solved the next day.
    It’s accepting you can’t taste the food as you see the people going to the restaurant to have a meal. But it’s knowing how the different meals were rated going in and having a very good idea of what a person will say about the eggplant parmesan when they come out. And making you look forward to the next time you can actually taste the meal.

  18. Joe Lajoie says:

    Commenting on a race after following Race monitor is like asking Stevie Wonder what he thought of his visit to the Louvre Museum.

  19. Danny B that team and crew was put together just weeks before season started through the efforts of Ben Dodge , so that being said he’s not doing that bad,

  20. Danny B – The car that Chase is driving isn’t his and it has a bent right side frame rail that the owner doesn’t want to have fixed. He’s doing the best he can for what he has.

  21. Eggplant parm vs a blind person at the Louvre. You win Joe as usual. Looking forward to Friday.

  22. Danny B it’s great you’re a fan of Chase and Rob.
    Check the Stafford site and you can get his results from week to week Race Monitor can give you time and place information so you can see how he checks out compared to the other driver lap times. Generally speaking he’s doing well in the second tier of lap speeds making the most of what he has as others have said.
    Tune in this Friday and you will see him show up in the SK’s and the VMRS results as well. Most likely in the 25. Race on.

  23. sour grapes of slander says:

    if race frequencies are monitored by track officials and I believe they are they would NOT tolerate bear collichio ordering his driver to wreck another competitor. its possible it will be reviewed and penalty issued however its irresponsible and a little slanderous to make this statement without proof.rocco doesn’t`t need to drive that way to win.

  24. Still a rookie team says:

    Video is on Facebook. Looks like Williams spent some time in the middle of the track. Coming out of 2 it looks like Rocco is way on the Bottom of the track and when Williams went to block Rocco just never lifted. If he just drove into the back of him I’d say yeah he “wrecked him”. All my years at the track I’ve never heard someone say wreck him on any radio. I’ve heard move him, don’t lift for him etc…. all I ever hear on Rocco’s radio is lap times. Those guys know there are 10 teams listening to them everyweek. If the 50 claims they heard that on the radio they should step back and focus on themselves more than on what Rocco is doing. Williams should also take the mirror out of his car and run without one like Rocco. Look forward Ronnie not behind you. Then you could win a championship. Blocking never works.

  25. Stuart Fearn says:

    Still a rookie is right is all i can say.
    50 car was trying to block both lanes and that is whats gonna happen. It’s a race track not a block track.
    Rocco has no mirror in his car, rookie is right. Maybe others should follow suit.
    What someone says over the radio and what the driver does are two completely different things believe me. A report by an anonymous clown on the world wide web of what he heard should be held completely without merit and dismissed immediately.
    Just my opinion

  26. To my old friend Ben Dodge after listing to your green white checker call friday night I was just a little set back after Erics win ,when you said Stash Butova car,Yes Sash is part of the team that produced the winning car,after last years dismal season Eric and my self said we need to fix it or quiet ,let me set some light on the people that make th 66 team a winner first Lianna Berndt who supports her Husband 100 percent with 3 kids a job and helping Eric run the Junk yard and that extra time and dollars to go racing .then thiers Nicholas Berndt who for the last 10 years I have been trying to convince to come back on the team and finally was able too.Nick gets up 5 Am runs the car crusher till 2pm and goes over to the race shop and works on the car helping Stash go threw every nut and bolt bracket not once or twice more like 3 times a week and comes to the track weekly .they thiers Ricky Rotondo who has been moved to the spotters roll who with his bad knee ‘s climb the bleachers to the spotters stand and has been with Eric for the last 20 or so years and comes down from the spotters stand and says what panels do I have to make this week ,O yes and there’s Tod who will jump threw hoops for the team cleans the car send him to T/A for the motor,send him him to Rocccos for nerf bars and takes the brunt of are teasing Libby Big Rick Gt tire who work on the car at the track and in the shop and how about Tony are Engine Builder who is on top of me for valve springs fresh motors and don’t for get those 150 dollar oil change comes by once a week to make sure are motors are up to snuff and gives us great support at the track Sarah and Jeff who come every week and help out in the pits move are Giant pit box in and out of the pits and last but not least its Eric’s Grandfather Ron who got Eric Start at 15 and half lol at the speed bowl who health has keeped him home on friday nights but he stays up on the back porch see the trailer pull in at midnight to ask Nicolas did we win So Ben its PEOPLE PROCESS AND PRODUCT THAT MAKES THE 66 GO ROUND not just one person.and there’s me .

  27. Ridiculous says:

    Yeah Ben Dodge! Make sure you name off every person who touches the car every time you talk about it.
    What a silly self centered comment.

  28. Disagree, the comment was great and nice to hear about all the people behind the scenes that make the team go.
    And discouraged about people that are harsh to actual racing folk and give them disincentives to offer comments in this forum.
    Thanks Cosnos

  29. Sorry, Cosmo.

  30. cosmo williams says:

    The point is it’s a team effort of course you have never owned a race car how would you know

  31. Doug, you seem like you know what’s going on. Is the car he is driving bent??? Doesn’t he work at LFR?? Not sure how to take that one. This is great info though. All these facts I had no idea on. The race monitor app is all I have. Some funny comments for sure but I am not sure how else I would follow the races. I can not get to many races at all but enjoy following them. Does Chase and Stephen Kopcik work together at Stafford? Is Fuller there helping in these cars as well?

  32. Sure Danny. I don’t know if the frame was bent but the person saying sounded credible. I would normally doubt it because of the access Dowling has to the LFR resources as an employee. Click on this link and you’ll have the basics of Chase’s relationship as an employee of LFR and Rob Fuller.

    http://racedayct.com/2018/06/youth-movement-dowling-kopcik-succeeding-together-on-mod-tour-with-rob-fuller-motorsports-and-lfr/

    You can also go to the search function, type in a key word and get stories on things that will help you catch up. Scott Running of Stafford Speedway does the most detail race recaps of the races so you might want to check that out.
    Go to youtube. They have most of the races a few days after the event.
    I do not know what involvement of the owner of the 36 Kevin Starchak has. I’ve been under the impression Chase and some of his guys prep the car but I could be wrong. Maybe someone else can chime in. The car has consistently turned good second tier speeds but he hasn’t really been able to get to the first tier with Rocco, Willams and Berndt. The race he won he was the beneficiary of a big lead and no yellow at the right time.

  33. Forgot.
    For a minimal contribution Danny you can also subscribe to the Unmuffled podcast Shawn provides that gives you the inside story from the actual participants not available anywhere else. Dowling is a regular guest.

  34. Cosmo, what brand of oil do you run that cost $ 150 ? Great job on the win. And it’s the COS CENTRAL AUTO # 66. Any racce fan should know that. Yes Stosh has help you guys, but at the end of the day your the one writing the checks. Good Luck going forward

  35. I have followed the #50 ever since Woody drove. Les Sowyra is a freind of mine, and I’m really hoping they hold on and win the SK championship this year. All this being said, I find it hard to believe that Keith would intentally wreck Ronnie. I find it harder to believe that Bear would tell him to wreck someone on the radio, as the track does monitor communication. If Keith did intentionally wreck him, his plan didn’t work, as Ronnie managed to finish ahead of him. And if it was intentional, I’ve lost all respect for Keith.

  36. Talk to Chase, I have, he’s very open on what is going on with his SK. Even though Chase works for LFR, he doesn’t have permission to fix the chassis. Also it would cost someone to fix because LFR sends all chassis repair work to Eddy Flemke. Rob doesn’t help on the SK side of the business, his focus is with Tour cars. Stephen and Chase work together as well as good friends. Stephens crew helps on pit road when needed as Chase doesn’t have a big crew.

  37. Whodoirootfornow. says:

    I get lit up for asking the question if any one else heard the radio comments by Rocco’s crew chief…… apparently this answers my question…. not the first penalty, the second penalty.
    #88 SK Modified®, driver Keith Rocco
    Infraction- Contact with the #50 car on backstretch on lap-38 of the feature, involved with cars #76 and #00 on frontstretch on lap-38.
    Penalty- Placed to the rear of the running order under caution flag conditions for the contact with the #50 car and also deemed an accident car from the frontstretch accident following contact with #50 car.

    Off Track Infraction
    #88 SK Modified®, driver Keith Rocco
    Infraction- Actions detrimental to the sport, on-track, contact with the #50.
    Penalty- Placed on probation through the completion of the 2018 season

  38. In my opinion not a harsh enough punishment for Rocco. Should have suspended him for a week if not more, but it’s SMS and they do play favorite

  39. OK Whodo you get a big AT-A-BOY from me and good call.
    I thought you went too far with actually saying a respected team talked of intentionally wrecking someone on an open frequency. And we don’t technically know that was what the off track penalty was for but clearly something big was afoot and you called it.

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