Last Corner Drama: Noah Korner Wins Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night SK Light Mod Special At Stafford



Noah Korner celebrates his first career SK Light Modified victory at Stafford in Friday’s 40-lap Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night feature (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – Noah Korner will have no worries remembering the details well of his first trip to victory lane in an SK Light Modified at Stafford Motor Speedway. 

The dramatics proved endless for the SK Light Modified division rookie Friday at Stafford. 

In the biggest event of the season for the division, Korner used a final corner pass to take the lead and then won a contact-filled drag race with Teddy Hodgdon to the checkered flag to win the 40-lap SK Light Modified feature on Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night at Stafford. 

Korner, of Canton, said he was channeling the late Ted Christopher – Stafford’s all-time winningest driver – as he set up to dive under Hodgdon in turn three on the final lap. 

“If it worked for Ted Christopher I might as well try it once and we came out on top just like him,” Korner said. 

Hodgon, of Danbury, held on for second and Jon Puleo of Branford was third. 

“My father and I have been working on the car until 10 o’clock every night,” Korner said. “To finally have all the hard work pay off, it’s unbelievable. You can’t forget about Doug Dunleavy who put on this great event. The amount that he does for Modified racing is spectacular.” 

The dramatics of the evening also seemed endless for Hodgdon, though in the most negative of fashions. 

Hodgdon looked on the way to an easy victory, holding a massive lead on then second place Mark Bakaj late in the race. 

But on lap 38 Hodgdon went into turn three facing down the backmarker cars of Alina Bryden and Ed Chicoski running side-by-side. Hodgdon looked to split the two cars but contact sent Hodgdon toward the wall with the sliding Bryden. Hodgdon somehow squeezed between Hodgdon and the wall in turn three to hold the lead with the caution coming out. 

On the ensuing restart Bakaj looked to overtake Hodgdon into turn three, but Hodgdon was able to stave off Bakaj’s attack coming off of turn four. On the final lap Bakaj was all over Hodgdon’s bumper through turn three, but the caution flew once again as the cars rolled through turn four to set up a green-white-checkered restart to decide the race. 

On the final restart Hodgdon led taking the white flag, but drifted up in turn one battling Bakaj. It opened the bottom lane for Korner. Hodgdon still held the advantage on Korner off of turn two, but Korner got his nose under the leader into turn three. The pair came off turn four side-by-side and bounced off each other twice coming to the line, which Korner edging Hodgdon at the checkered. 

“That was a wild finish,” Korner said. “I saw Teddy wash up into Bakaj and I figured that was my shot and I took advantage of it. I guess it worked out, we’re on top.

“For $2000 on the line and for a win at Stafford Motor Speedway, you can’t be mad about anything. Neither of our cars are junk and we both came home in one piece and we’re on top so it’s even better.” 

Said Hodgdon: “I screwed myself going into [turn] one there. That was all my fault. I left the door open for Noah and he made a move in [turn] three which was fine. I know it’s a big race. I get it. We have a lot more races this year and we know we have the fastest car here so we’re just going to go show them the rest of the year. I showed my mark out here and we’re going to do it again. … I have no words. Just an unfortunate loss.” 

With Bakaj getting spun out of third in turn four on the final lap, the rookie Puleo was able to move onto the podium after running in the top-five most of the event. 

“I started a little too tight with all the fuel,” Puleo said. “Congrats to Noah, he ran a great race. We all raced really tight and really clean.” 


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Comments

  1. Still trying to figure out how Hogdon got first place back when he got caught up in turn 4 with lapped traffic?? He took wrong line and was sent towards the wall which caused the yellow to come out he should have been sent to the rear for causing yellow??? Instead they give him his spot back really why he made the wrong move on traffic that’s his fault next time someone else is leading and this happens lets see if they give them their spot up front back….

  2. If any of you Light drivers are out there reading this great race. You’re dicing it up running a bunch of laps under a blanket without too many cautions. Very impressive.
    Just a suggestion.
    After viewing the video a few lapped cars did not seem aware the leaders were coming up on them. Not just the Hodgdon incident but it happened a number of times. True it was because of the extra distance but nonetheless it is an issue. Stay low and don’t be fighting for position if a leader is coming up on you.
    This message has been brought to you by one of your biggest admirers.

  3. Modfan,
    He wasn’t the reason for the caution coming out. The car in the wall was. He never stopped his forward momentum and he didn’t cause the caution.

  4. Shawn he was the car in the wall he was the car scraping wall and was passed by the 2nd to 4th place cars when caution came out watch Robert Bagot video watch video from the 10 cars roof cam I’ve watched them at 24:17 of Bagot’s video Hodgdon and the 2 lap cars go up into wall Bakaj Puleo and the 14 car all pass him then caution he should have been 4th or 5th not first

  5. Modfan,
    While yes he did get pushed toward the wall, his forward motion never stopped. He was not a caution car. The caution came out for the car stopped in the wall. Hodgdon avoided that car and never stopped forward motion. If we start putting cars to the back for swerving to miss other cars on the track you’re going to be penalizing three quarters of the field every race. And it doesn’t matter how many cars passed him during the incident, the running order would go back to the last scored lap. I’m not sure you quite understand the rules at Stafford.

  6. That’s my point. Bryden was going for the pass on a slower car giving Hodgdon who was flying no where to go. It was inexperience with longer races and not being aware of leaders coming on fast. Happened numerous times including with Hodgdon and another car before Bryden where he had to dart low to get by.
    Bryden brought out the caution having been spun as I saw it as Hodgdon scooted by on the high side. . My question is could Hodgdon be put to the back of the field for plowing into Bryden or is the slower car always at fault for not giving way? Seems like it was a more involved call for race central then it may first have appeared.
    I

  7. Lauren McDermott says

    Also hard for lapped traffic to know distance behind them to the leaders without a spotter! Just another reason this division should have spotters, would make it alot easier for lapped traffic to stop racing with the cars they’re close to and fall into line if they have a second set of eyes guiding them into an open spot. Very hard for race control to stay on top of everything happening with every car, especially in a long distance race where the fastest cars take off like they did

  8. Lauren McDermott says

    And, where they put their front bumper is the responsibility of the driver. If you’re a fast car and approaching lapped cars that are racing each other and clearly don’t know you’re coming or aren’t getting out of the way fast enough, you also have to be smart and pass the right way. If you’re that fast and deserve wins, lapped traffic is a part of racing and you need to know how to navigate through them without ruining your race. Happens in the big leagues on the tour all the time. Teddy is a great driver and he’ll be in victory lane somewhere soon, that’s the beauty of the lites… Everyone is learning!

  9. Lauren M says

    Where they put their front bumper is the responsibility of the driver. If you’re a fast car and approaching lapped cars that are racing each other and clearly don’t know you’re coming or aren’t getting out of the way fast enough, you also have to be smart and pass the right way. If you’re that fast and deserve wins, lapped traffic is a part of racing and you need to know how to navigate through them without ruining your race. Happens on the tour all the time. Teddy is a great driver and he’ll be in victory lane very soon, that’s the beauty of the lites… Everyone is learning!

  10. The spotter thing is frequently suggested and the answer is still the same. Putting another burden on a thriving learning division for essentially one race where the extra distance creates the lapped traffic is not a fair burden to require.
    There is the guy on the stand that displays a passing flag. I recall it well. Drivers merely have to pay greater heed to the flag man and understand their relative position on the track to the leader. It’s been done for decades without a guardian angel whispering in the drivers ear. A simple reminder at the drivers meeting may be all that is needed.
    Aside from all that, this is now the time that things could really start to get good. Hodgdon may think he has the fastest car but that may have been adrenaline speaking. Through a series of unfortunate events Bryan finds himself deeply behind the 8 ball as far as the championship goes. Looks like the top tier will include Bakaj, Hodgdon, Korner and eventually Pearl, Narducci and perhaps Chapman. Learning curves are going to be Mt. Everest steep. Competition intense. Should be great to watch.
    I’m thinking Narducci will win some races going away. However to get back in the championship hunt he’ll need patience, a steady stream of good finishes and to avoid dust ups.
    Finally I want to give a shout out to momentum racing. When the Lights get the green it seems like it takes forever for them to get up to speed. Meanwhile they are mostly in a pack, being careful and looking for opportunities. Then at full speed the real racing unfolds, the fast cars that can corner get a jump on the straight away and the outside is as important as the inside unlike many divisions. It’s simply great racing all in all.
    By the nature of the division we don’t know who the favorites will be early in the season. Now we have an inkling of who the players are.
    Best division of many good divisions in my view. One of the best divisions I’ve ever witnessed at Stafford from a competitive standpoint.

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