Misfire: Tony Membrino Jr. Scores Controversial SK Light Mod Win At Stafford

Tony Membrino Jr. (Photo: Stafford Motor Speedway)

Tony Membrino Jr. (Photo: Stafford Motor Speedway/Driscoll MotorSports Photograpy)

STAFFORD – Last week at Stafford Motor Speedway SK Light Modified driver Joey Ferrigno was upset about what he felt was an arguably wrong call by track officials to give a win to Daniel Wesson in a timing & scoring dead-heat photo finish between the two in the division.

Friday Ferrigno’s anger level was pegged far further by track officials.

When the dust settled on the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature it was Tony Membrino Jr. celebrating his third victory in four events in 2016, but it was a muted celebration for the Berlin driver.

A late race call by officials dramatically changed the outcome of the event.

David Arute of Tolland was second and Vin Anglece of Ansonia third.

Ferrigno, of East Hartford, went to the lead on lap three with Membrino following him to second place.

The pair went side-by-side before Membrino edged Ferrigno at the line to conclude lap 11. On lap 12 Membrino cleared Ferrgino off of turn four.

Ferrigno kept chase, but Membrino looked riding to victory before caution flew on the final lap. The first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish was stalled by a wreck at the back of the field.

On the second attempt at the restart, Ferrigno got the jump on Membrino and led him easily into turn one. But the yellow flag was flown to declare a false start, and then Ferrigno was black flagged by officials for jumping the restart and put to the rear of the field.

Membrino then went on to hold off a charging Arute over the final two laps.

But when Membrino was asked for his thoughts in victory lane he made a shocking statement directed at Tom Fox, Stafford’s director of racing operations and competition.

“Tommy Fox buddy, you messed up there,” Membrino said over the track’s public address system. “[Ferrigno] didn’t jump the start, he just got a better start. I know it was probably an honest mistake, just some constructive criticism. Hat’s off to [Ferrigno] for racing really hard for the lead, it’s always a classic battle between me and him.”

Ferrigno’s anger was quite evident in the pits following the event. He ended up finishing sixth.

“I have nothing to say except just like last week,” Ferrigno said. “Watch the video and decide for yourself.”

Said Membrino: “It wasn’t my best restart. He got a better restart than I did, plain and simple. I don’t know how. I fired first I believe. I got to the good RPM to shift, but he was just really able to pull me. Whatever the deal is, he earned it. … I talked to myself in the helmet and I said out loud ‘That’s [BS].’ That was wrong. If I had a [two-way radio] I would have keyed in [to track officials] and said ‘You guys need to go in there and fix that because that’s just wrong.’ I wouldn’t want it happening to me. I benefited from it, but I would have rather have him back on the outside of me to try it again.”

Fox said he was surprised by Membrino’s comments over the PA system.

“It didn’t look any different to any of us other than [Ferrigno] jumped,” Fox said. “I just went over at the driver’s meeting telling everybody they were going to get penalized. Unfortunately it was [Ferrigno]. But that’s the way it works. I made it clear that nobody was supposed to jump and I made it clear that I had a list of all the people that jumped last week as well. I made that very clear. It’s unfortunate for him.”

Membrino said issues with restarts need to be examined further by track officials.

“Based on how the car was after that long caution, I think he would have held me off,” Membrino said. “The wrong guy might be in victory lane, but it is what it is. I can’t change it now, he can’t change it now, Tom Fox can’t change it now. We’ve got to go back and look for room for improvement and move forward.”


  1. Starts and restarts have been an issue at Stafford for as long as I can remember. So called proper restarts are ingrained in Mark Arutes DNA. Any one that sits in the race directors chair must cary the burden of making those calls. There are lines and pylons, just about everything but remote control. That’s next.

  2. Ray Williams says

    Tony is a class act, he has matured into a great racer,there’s no doubt in my mind that he would have rather raced Joey for the win or finished second to him, and come back next week and try again.Hate the fact that they don’t give a second attempt and a warning like they used to back when. Congratulations on your win TMR

  3. wmass01013 says

    ITS CALLED RACING!!!! never understood in ANY division of NASCAR if you have double file restarts, which is the best rule ever made by NASCAR, than UNLESS AN OBVIOUS JUMP by the 2nd place driver that you let them RACE and if 2nd place guy beats P1, OH WELLLLLLLLLLL, my god LET THEM RACE!!!!!

  4. Yup … Oops .. Oh well…they do not care about the owners or the drivers… Car count tells the story.. What a waste of money..

  5. First off, I haven’t had a good thing to say about Tom Fox since what he pulled at the N/S shootout. I don’t care if he had to work the next day or not, if you commit to be the race director for an event, you should be there for the entire event. The drivers, owners, sponsors, and fans all deserved better on that one.

    How old is Tony? I respect him for his honesty, but providing “constructive criticism” to the race director over the tracks PA system probably isn’t a smart thing to do. Next time his car is near another car spinning or he is involved in a questionable restart… he’ll be going to the back.

    If he did jump the start, why wasn’t the 87 given a warning instead of being sent straight to the back? Was he on this list from the previous week?

  6. double file restarts, when the green comes out, let them go, polesitter or not. now lets see them race for the lead. that was a BAD call!!!!!!!!!

  7. MAYBE Tom made a bad call,and he’s made plenty , but Tony might have made an even worse one,tell him one on one

  8. getserious says

    Hey you guys that say the 87 should have gotten a warning. He jumped the start THREE times last week. I think you will find that they gave him, and everybody, a warning this week before the start of the feature. Soooo, he pulled it again this week, and to the back he goes. As he should. And as far as “when the green comes out, let them go” that is the whole point here; he doesn’ wait for the green, he “JUMPS THE START.”

  9. Tony Membrino says

    Since I pubically expressed my opinion of their being a mistake made in the officiating of Friday night’s SKL race, I will pubically express my second thought on that opinion.

    After watching my GoPro footage, which I will not share or post, it “appears” (key word) that the 87 was rolling and making forward motion ahead of me prior to me firing inside the start box. I stress the word appears because without high-tech telemetry, who’s to say I’m right? But maybe this is perhaps what Tom and the officials saw and made their ruling on, and with that in mind, I will openly admit that it is very possible that perhaps I am the one who was mistaken in regards to the issue of a clean restart. Does this mean I agree with the ruling to put the 87 to the tail? No, I don’t, but that is another issue entirely.

    And to be clear, this isn’t an apology, only an admittance of potential fault. If I was rude, disrespectful, and exxagerant like I have done in the past, then I’d apologize, but I wasn’t. I cordially stated my opinion based on what I saw just as Tom Fox and the officials make rulings and decisions based on theirs. If there is a mistake made on either side of that fence, it’s important to recognize it, acknowledge it, and work to improve on it the next time around.

  10. Tony Membrino says

    And while I’m on here, can someone explain to me the apparent issue with the fact that victory lane over the PA was the setting in which I chose to speak of the aforementioned “controversy”?

    When drivers make mistakes on the track, everyone knows about it, especially when a penalty follows. It’s announced on the PA, there’s video, pictures, press releases, Internet slander, there isn’t much drivers can hide their mistakes from nowadays. But if there’s a mistake made on the officiating end of things, we’re supposed to tip toe around it and deal with it behind closed doors and leave the trolls to make wild claims and speculations on the Internet afterwords? Why? That’s ridiculous.

    Say my GoPro footage did 100% prove the ruling wrong, and I was right in what I said, don’t the 87 team, their supporters, and the people who paid their hard earned money to watch the races deserve to know what really happened right then and there? Of course they do. I did what I felt was the morally right thing to do, and I am not apologetic of that.

    As far as the comments on here and at Waterford the next day about me having to worry about rulings going against me because I “spoke out of turn” are concerned, if I feel that theory becoming reality for one second, I have no problem exploring other options in regards to how I occupy myself on the weekends.

  11. Rob Wallace says

    From where I was sitting it appeared to me that Stafford may have been trying to help David Arute get his first win at the expense of the 87.

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