Bullish: Late Pass Gives Eric Berndt SK Modified Victory At Stafford Speedway

STAFFORD – Third place finishes have been a fairly common occurrence of late for Eric Berndt.

Eric Berndt celebrates his first SK Modified victory of the season Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway (Photo: Stephanie Kimball/Stafford Speedway)

Eric Berndt celebrates his first SK Modified victory of the season Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway (Photo: Stephanie Kimball/Stafford Speedway)

Coming into Friday’s event at Stafford Berndt had three thirds over the last four SK Modified events at Stafford Motor Speedway.

And the Cromwell driver looked ready to celebrate the third spot on the podium again Friday.

Then it all got a little crazy.

Crazy enough for Berndt to celebrate victory.

Berndt passed Dan Avery for the lead on lap 39 restart and held on to win the 40-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford.

It was the first victory of the season for Berndt. Doug Coby of Milford was second and Avery, of Somers, third.

“Sometimes it’s better be lucky than it is to be good,” Berndt said. “We’ve been working hard on the car and here we are with a podium finish and a win. We’ll take it. What a great last restart.”

Avery went to the lead early in the race, but by lap 16 division points leader Ryan Preece was stalking all over his rear bumper. Preece got under Avery in bids to take over the lead multiple times, only to be held off by the veteran.

On lap 25 Preece gave Avery a tap in turn four, enough to send him up the track and get under him to take over the top spot. In the process Avery lost second place to Ted Christopher.

But Avery fought back to get by Christopher for second. A late caution set up the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. After the white flag was shown, Avery got under Preece in turn two, but contact between the two sent Preece spinning down the backstretch.

Preece blamed Avery and Avery blamed Preece.

“I was the leader and he took me out,” said Preece, who has six victories in 12 starts this year at Stafford. “It’s a long season ahead. We’ve got a car that win. I hope he can outrun us.”

Said Avery: “I was just trying to race Ryan the same way he was racing me. He was turning me sideways every other lap when I was in the lead, I just decided if he wants to drive that way I’ll just drive the way he wants to drive, and he didn’t like it. Then when I came up off [turn] two he just cut down on me and caused that big wreck. So that’s the kind of driver Ryan is.”

Berndt didn’t mind the mix up at all.

“That was definitely crazy,” Berndt said. “[Preece] probably had the car to beat. [Avery] was pretty good. I don’t think, by far, we had the car to beat, but here we are.”

Keeping with the theme of trading jabs after the race was Coby, who was upset by Ted Christopher,

“Some of us can run side-by-side and not touch anybody and half this field just is all over the place,” Coby said. “… I just try to stay out of trouble. Nice that [Ted Christopher] was flipping me off down the backstretch when he hooked himself across the front of my car. I guess he’s a little old these days so he can’t see if there’s a car on the outside of him.”

—- Follow RaceDayCT at Facebook
—- Follow RaceDayCT on Twitter


  1. First off I think Tom Fox is doing a great job, but he missed it Friday. The 10 should have been sent to the rear after contact with the 40 which caused the spin and the crash with TC. 2 good cars were taken out. The rule is (or should be) you cannot spin the leader. I understand it was payback, but still. From the amount of booing in the stands after the race I was not alone. I don’t like what the 40 did to the 10, but the 10 was blocking. Ask TC about his 3 tap rule.

  2. Bob Parkes says

    Maybe I have different set of eyes, but the 40 lost the race when he pushed up in turn 2 and allowed the 10 to get under him coming off. The 40 was the one who came down on the 10 when he realized he might lose the race lead. The officials review video replays of the incidents and there must have been no indication of any deliberate contact (just racing at Stafford as Coby always says).

  3. Joe White says

    The 40 pushed up in turn 2 because he was hit from behind by the 10. The 10 was determined to get even and he sailed it into turn 1 so fast that he was in a 4 wheel drift slide until he hit the 40. That saved him. The 40 did try to turn down to block, but I’m not sure that matters. If you are involved in an incident where the leader spins, you both go to the back. If you don’t have and enforce that rule, no driver would want to lead the race. It is much easier to be second and on the last lap you spin the leader and win the race. Look at how many people were upset at the officials in Florida.

  4. Hard racing ,the Sk guy’s run every lap like it’s the last . sometimes what happened last night started weeks earlier,

  5. The 10 was blocking Preece for 15 or 20 laps, mirror driving, pushing him up the hill and chopping him low just about every lap. When the caution came out for the 00 spin the 10 was greeting with a chorus of boos from pro and anti Preece fans alike. Preece finally had enough and gave a TC esque 3 tapper to the 10 in turns 3 and 4 to get under him. It was totally justified after getting run all over the track for the majority of the race.

    I would hate to be in Tom Fox’s shoes to have to make the call on the incident during the GWC. Avery clearly and very deliberately drove into the back of Preece in turn 1 and Preece clearly and understandably tried to block Avery’s run down low causing the wreck down the backstretch. Both drivers aggression and lack of respect over the course of the last 20 laps caused that incident.

    Thankfully it was Eric Berndt who was the victor when the dust settled. In a race that was dominated by questionable driving tactics it was great to see the event won by one of the cleanest and most respectable drivers in the divison. It’s a shame so many good cars were balled up during the course of that race.

Leave a Reply

Copyright 2018 E-Media Sports

Website Designed by Thirty Marketing