Three-Wide Wildness: Mark Bakaj Wins In Breathtaking SK Light Modified Finish At Stafford

Mark Bakaj celebrates victory in the SK Light Modified feature Friday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor)

STAFFORD – Two drivers were angry, one driver was elated.

Such would be the resulting opinions when the recipe cooked on the track is a sparking, dust swirling three-wide finish to the checkered flag.

Mark Bakaj came out on top of a three-wide thriller of a finish in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway.

Bakaj was on the outside with second place finish Bryan Narducci in the middle and third place Teddy Hodgdon in the low lane coming out of the final corner and onto the frontstretch on the final lap.

Both Narducci and Hodgdon expressed their disdain for how Bakaj raced on the final drag race to the checkered.

“It was a lot of fun out there,” Bakaj said. “We were beating and banging up front, but everybody kept their car underneath them. … When they’re giving me the bumper, I’m going to race them the same way. If they want to call me dirty when they’re doing the same thing, so be it. It is what it is.”

The three-wide finish was the second three-wide showing between the trio over the closing laps.

Bakaj went to the lead past Hodgdon on lap 15 with Narducci following to second. On lap 19, coming to the white flag, Narducci made a move low on Bakaj while Hodgdon tried the high line on Bakaj. The three came off the corner three-wide, with Narducci edging ahead of Bakaj just before the caution flag flew right after the trio took the white flag.

“That three-wide I feel bad for [Hodgdon] because me and him had a good run going and [Narducci] stuck his nose down and didn’t keep his car down, just let it drift up into me,” Bakaj said. “I had smoke pouring off my left front trying to hold [Narducci] down so I didn’t run [Hodgdon] up into the wall. But it does make for exciting racing.”

On the green-white-checkered restart it was Bakaj staying with Narducci on the outside over lap 19. Through turn four Hodgdon got his nose low under both Narducci and Bakaj coming onto the frontstretch.

Contact came first between Narducci and Hodgdon through the corner, with Bakaj then driving Narducci lower as the threesome edged toward the checkered flag three-wide.

Hodgdon had fallen back to about a half car length at the line, with Bakaj edging Narducci by inches at the checkered.

“It was a blast,” Bakaj said. “It couldn’t get any better than that. I thought I had him but I wasn’t sure until they come across the radio. I was driving my heart out.”

Narducci said he was upset with the way Bakaj raced him coming out of the final corner.

“We definitely had the car to beat,” Narducci said. “It’s just a shame that we’re running a good race and these guys drive us like that. We’ll get them next week. … I thought we ran a pretty clean race the whole race and coming out of [turn] four [Bakaj] just decided to turn hard left. I’ll remember that for next time we’re racing hard together.”

Said Hodgon: “These guys want to race dirty we can race dirty. If that’s how they’re going to be I’m do it to them the next week. It was kind of crazy out there throughout the last five laps. Everyone was kind of roughing us up out there. It was a chain reaction thing. People were defending for the win. Whatever happened happened.”

It was the second victory in the last three events for Bakaj.

“Those two wins are the same set of tires,” Bakaj said. “So we just won on three week old tires which means the car is really rolling them good.”

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Comments

  1. bystander says:

    there are NO MORE FREE LUNCHES in sk light. you want it, come and get it

  2. getserious says:

    Narducci complaining about the roughness of someone else’s driving? Boy, that’s a good one !

  3. getserious says:

    Narducci complaining about the roughness of someone else’s driving?? Boy, that’s a good one !

  4. The best race of the night!! The LLM and LM are so boring. Please Artue family do something to either get more cars or combine them and bring in something else like the legends or trucks.Great job by all three drivers on an awesome finish!!

  5. And some guys here want to put these cars on 10 inch tires? Ya that’s not happening at least at Stafford.
    Are you kidding me. These guys stole the show at the second Open as well leaving the crowd standing at the end and they’ve done it again.
    All three drivers are right. Depending on what end of the rub rails you’re on it was dirty racing or magically opportunistic and successful. If it had left three wrecked cars we would be having a different conversation. But it wasn’t. I was some of the best racing of the year…………AGAIN!

  6. So two wide going for the win in 3&4 and Narduch throws it in on the bottom making it 3 wide and just expects everyone to move over and give it to him? Really? NOT! You better suck it up buttercup, no free lunch here. Cry me a river about dirty driving, if you were the car to beat why were you third on the last lap, final turn? Sounds like a last ditch effort, pull the pin and throw it in. No sympathy here!

  7. One word description of that race… Wow!

  8. sour grapes of wrath says:

    easy for narducci to drive that way I am sure he`s been told “don’t worry we will fix the car”. he`s driven the same way all year ..add to the fact he is an immature kid who hasn’t been “bit” behind the wheel of a race car . getting your bell rung after a trip to the wall usually puts things into perspective even for young kids who think they are invincible.. not wishing this to happen just making an observation.that’s the recipe right now .. does make for exciting racing though

  9. Wow! Another notch in the Paul French Horsepower Hill Racing teams belt!! What ever Bakaj is paying him for his guidence and advice I’m sure it’s not enough for the tour car Calibur crew chief guidence he’s getting!!! Imagine if Bakaj had the money behind him like Narducci, Molleur or Rufrano does??? Lights out boys! May as well leave it in the trailer!!!

  10. It was Hodgdon that rolled in on the bottom of turns 3 and 4 making it three wide. Looked OK to me. Normally the outside car would be wall bound or backed out but it’s to Bakaj’s credit he made it work. The only thing I saw was Bakaj chopping down on Narducci and Hodgdon just before the start finish line sending them into the dirt past the finish line. Did it affect Narducci’s finish? Indeterminate but he may have a beef. I’m sure they asked Bakaj why he didn’t maintain his line.
    That wasn’t just the best finish of the night. It had to be a contender for finish of the year.

  11. just looking on says:

    I just love watching from the sidelines as a car owner looking for the next driver for my car. I can tell you from my past experiences that when any driver gets out of the car and opens his mouth and bitches and moans about being raced hard it is a huge RED flag for me. Suck it up , be professional, go home do your home work and come back again. You both got beat by a car on the outside. He was faster and had a bigger set of balls. Go home pop some “grow-a-sack” and try again.

  12. SK Lite Fan says:

    The 3 wide move 3 laps earlier by the 01 took out a few cars. This 3 wide move would have taken a few more, shows no skill only balls. He is not going to like it when he gets raced that way. That is not young talent. The cream of the talent pool may not win every week but we all see who is good on equipment and fast each week. They will be the ones who move on

  13. Again Bakaj and Narducci had their lines and Hodgdon was the guy making it three wide that looked risky but OK in my view. The one question is Bakaj doing a hard left just before the start finish line. Look at the Stafford video round up. Freeze it, replay it and see what happened. This stuff about Narducci making it three wide as far as I can see never happened.

  14. Bystander says:

    Al…he does have money behind him. All he brings to the table is talent.

  15. Doug,

    Narducci had made it three-wide coming to the white flag before the final caution flew.

    From the story: Bakaj went to the lead past Hodgdon on lap 15 with Narducci following to second. On lap 19, coming to the white flag, Narducci made a move low on Bakaj while Hodgdon tried the high line on Bakaj. The three came off the corner three-wide, with Narducci edging ahead of Bakaj just before the caution flag flew right after the trio took the white flag.

  16. From your article:
    “Both Narducci and Hodgdon expressed their disdain for how Bakaj raced on the final drag race to the checkered.”

    10/4 big guy but I was only referring to the final lap beef and specifically turn three and four and the photo finish. Now my question to you would be did you notice Bakaj move left before the finish line that put the two other cars into the infield and what did you make of it?

    Aside from the specifics this is just terrific this division is getting so much interest for the exciting shows they are putting on. And as far as the beefs are concerned they seem well contained, completely civil and are the perfect spice to exciting racing.

  17. So my comment to your question Doug is if you were on the outside of a 3 wide battle coming out of 4 for the checker and were getting squeezed into the outside wall you would be pushing left in a big way. You have two choices, get wrecked or move left. And if that causes aggravation with the two drivers to your immediate left then they will promptly get over it. Do you really think either one of them would not have done the exact same thing given the circumstance? If their answer is no they are full of BS.

  18. Good observation humphry as usual. I would argue it would be a mild loose condition coming out of 4 with your foot in it with a right over compensation then the left to compensate for the overcompensation. Either way it makes sense.

  19. just looking on says:

    It is nice to see a driver win on the outside, shows so much about him or her and if they are getting ran to the wall, well they guy or guys on the inside have to expect a little rubbin. As far as i’m concerned if the contact is square side to side and its coming out of four on the last lap then let the sparks fly. Everyone needs to remember we are part of a show and we are paid to be on the stage. If we give a performance like that at every event its in everyone’s best interest. I myself as a car owner will gladly deal with the occasional bent wheel or scraped up Nerf bar to be part of a performance like that on a weekly basis.

  20. Yikes that was good Just Looking!
    Hopefully someone with keep the thread going because these guys and gals deserve all the credit they can get.

  21. Thanks Doug, you are taking a gentleman’s approach to your explanation, me I am just telling it like it is……

  22. Here’s the deal humphry, I get you now. The comment in the other thread about Fuller working to get the car ready for Wed is brilliant in it’s simplicity and how obvious it is. Dagger planted, wait for the screams.

  23. Please don’t bring back the legends on the go kart track. That was difficult to sit through. If you want Legends put them on Monday nights with the rest of the small cars.

    Since no one asked, this is what I would do with Staffords weekly program for next year.

    SKL
    1 promote the SKL to Nascar division 2,
    2 run them 30 laps,
    3 increase purse for additional laps and allow infield pitting.

    Late Model/Limited Late Model
    4 Combine Late models and limited late models into one 25 lap feature.
    5 Make the combined late model Nascar division 3,
    6 decrease purse or adjust purse to reflect car count. 15 cars purse x + money
    7 allow ACT style late models to compete, adjust with weight penalties to make the new combined late model division competitive for whichever car you bring.

    Other changes
    8 Run open Mods once a month with point series approx. 4 or 5 races. allow whelen cars adjust weight to make competitive.
    9 Heat races for divisions with more than 16 cars, 15 cars or less timed practice
    10 Any division with features containing less than 16 cars goes at the end of the show
    11 Add a midseason championship race. Pay points leader through 10 some money midseason
    12 if allowed in CT, have a 50/50 drivers point fund raffle to fund additional point funds(midseason/open mods)
    13 Honor TC with a 113 lap SK race

  24. Julio, down by the schoolyard says:

    I just watched the race on youtube… The 01 has nothing to complain about, he ran the 76 way up in 3&4 right before the caution to get the lead. The 76 wheeled that car on the outside and flatout out drove the 01 and 55 to win. Not to mention if you look closely the 01 has a ton more motor than the other cars.

  25. Narducci is a class act- shook the 76 hand and congratulated him as soon as he got out of his car. Said he will get him next week.

  26. wmass01013 says:

    Brilliant cg, one of my biggest complaints about tracks is how stale the schedule gets and how lil the promotion has become besides we are racing this fri/sat/sun. like I have said in other post, make the open shows FUN and different for both FANS and Teams then points racing nights, you might be surprised what you get in a good response and car count.

  27. You must be blind says:

    If you look even closer you would notice the kid is in the gas WAY longer then anyone else out there and back in it before anyone else has even thought about it. 76 is a hack he clearly turned hard right before the finish, what about the time he smashed the 01 in the bumper after the checkered then couldnt drive his car into the pits…

  28. 🤦‍♂️ says:

    Most of his gains come from the exit of the turn to the end of the straight. Not from the center on. How could the 76 smash him in the bumper as you say if he is on the gas longer than anyone else?🤔 must be because he lifted at the checked instead of driving into one with people behind you. The 76 also had a piston that was in 4 pieces that night. That’s why it couldn’t make the pits.

  29. Funny how we all see different things in races. I saw nothing in the Light race video other then hard racing. Daring moves yes, foolish no. The dust up in the victory lane chats even with adrenaline fueling them were fairly tame and probably already forgotten.
    CG that was one of the best comments I ever read here thinking outside the box, in a creative way on a multi layer level. Racers and management frequently make fun of the comment section but likely monitor it for feedback. Hopefully your voice will be heard by the people that make the decisions.
    I particularly like the monthly Open race idea with points and the 50/50 raffle. This year Stafford had two Opens and two VMRS races so effectively they had this type of modified almost monthly anyway. I myself only go to the Opens and VMRS races having grown weary of sitting through the LM and LLM heats and features.

  30. You must be blind says:

    You missed my keyword “after”…. he smashed into him after the race was over

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