Mark Bakaj Declared SK Light Modified Winner At Stafford After Bryan Narducci Penalty

Mark Bakaj celebrates victory in the SK Light Modified feature Friday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – On June 5 at Thompson Speedway Bryan Narducci used a last lap turn three pass of Steven Chapman to win his seventh consecutive SK Light Modified feature at the track. 

Friday night at Stafford Motor Speedway the scenario played out once again, but this time it was Narducci left angry instead of elated. 

Narducci used a bump and run move to get by Chapman for the lead in turn three on the final lap of the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature at Stafford, but Narducci was immediately black flagged after taking the checkered. The decision gave second place finisher Mark Bakaj of Lebanon his first victory of the season. 

“I look at this way, a win’s a win,” Bakaj said. “No matter what way it is. Everybody is racing under the same rules. If a track calls it one way, the track calls it one way. I’ve been on the losing end of calls before, I’ve been on the winning end of calls before. I’ll take it.” 

Teddy Hodgdon IV of Danbury was second and Chapman, of Ellington, third. 

“It was a really fun race up there racing with those guys,” Bakaj said. “[Chapman] was blocking a little bit so I kind of feel bad for [Narducci].”

It was a feisty battle for most of the event out front. Mikey Flynn went to the lead past Robert Bloxsom III on lap seven with Chapman following to second. Two laps later Chapman got by Flynn for the lead with Bakaj following to second place. Narducci was up to third a lap later. 

On lap 15 Narducci got by Bakaj for second off of turn two and followed that move up by getting under Chapman for the lead into turn three. 

But on lap 17 it was Chapman getting into the back of Narducci into turn one. Smoke plumed off Narducci’s brakes as he saved his car from heading toward the wall in the corner. Chapman went under Narducci and regained the lead through the fracas. 

On the final lap Narducci hit Chapman going into turn three. Chapman drifted up the track allowing Narducci, Bakaj and Hodgdon to get under him as he gathered his ride back in off of turn four. 

Narducci was immediately penalized to 22ndplace at the conclusion of the event. 

“We had a good race going,” Narducci said. “We were rolling the top, the car was really good. Into [turn] three I was under him with a couple to go and he turned left and we got loose and we both saved it. Went down into [turn] one like two laps later and he just never lifted. I almost fenced it. And then I go down into [turn] three on the last lap and do half of what he did to me and I get penalized. I don’t understand but it is what it is.”

Said Chapman: “I tried my hardest. I had to win this, which obviously I fell short. I mean, he did it to me at Thompson, he did it to me here, so I had to get it back so. There’s no reason he had to do it here.” 

From his seat as spectator trailing the Narducci and Chapman dustups, Bakaj saw some incidents that could be judged in different ways. 

“[Chapman] definitely got into [Narducci] pretty good,” Bakaj said. “We were racing hard up there. It was good, hard racing. I know [Chapman] was the leader and he technically gets preffered line, but when I was trying to work him over a few times I felt like he chopped me a little bit. I just had to get a better line and make sure my car was in there further the next time.” 

As far as the Narducci penalty Bakaj said: I kind of feel that as long as nobody wrecks, it is what it is. I know that [race director Scott Tapley] runs a tight ship and he wants to keep it clean racing – hard racing but clean racing – so he made the call. I can’t fault him for that either. As long as he’s consistent with his calls it doesn’t matter.” 

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  1. Congrats to Mark Bajak and his team, what was a good night turned into a great one. Bad call by the SMS official. It’s not like Chapman wrecked off Narducci’ s bumper, he ended up crossing the finish line 4th. But it is what it is, I guess. Looks like the bump and run is illegal at SMS, and hopefully the official shows consistency in these calls

  2. Shawn,
    Reporting what happened in turn 3 on the last lap as a bump and run sounds like you are drinking the cool aid. Narducci drilled the 14. He didn’t tap him, he didn’t run him up, he didn’t race him. He flat out had a temper tantrum in the car and tried to wreck him. I always look forward to reading your articles but this is way out of bounds. Please tell it like it is.

  3. With all due respect to Bakaj who is an old school, bare knuckle racer that is happy to leave everything on the track, the powers that be got this hard call exactly right in my view. Narducci is literally just out of High School and Chapman not nearly that old. Hair raising finishes seem to be the norm in the Lights and the 14 and 01 will be in the mix for sure. It’s still early. A message had to be sent. It was.
    The call produced some hard feeling for sure but it didn’t seem to transfer to the stands at all. Chapmans clan that had to be twenty plus very active yet well mannered supporters I sat next to as well as the Narducci supporters seemed to take it all in stride. Soon after Bryan comes flying up the stands then flying out to join Owen after his SK win. Then I’m sure flying to the 7NY for the big race. The kid is literally constant motion on and off the track and honor student as well apparently.
    No tears for Bryan. He probably forgot it after that outstanding tour modified run.

  4. Ed,
    I’ve seen that same move used by so many others in so many instances. It was a hard hit, but I’ve seen worse let go. I also understand they were both warned before that which likely is the biggest reason for the penalty. We can agree to disagree on what it was. I’ll say that, I’m looking at it from an objective view. I don’t care who wins, whether it’s Chapman, Narducci, Bakaj, Hodgdon or Flynn in that scenario. It’s all a story to me and any one of them would have made a good story. You on the other hand, you’ve been leaving comments for two years here’s disparaging every move Narducci makes off the track and calling him a cheater and saying he has cheated equipment. You’re also involved with another SK Light Modified team at the track. So I think my opinion of last night’s incident is quite a bit more of an objective take than yours.

  5. No shawn, you have it wrong, if your going to report on racing you need to learn the difference between “drilling” a car and the “bump and run”
    Watch the video of Fern the same night, that was a bump and run, 01 is just drilling cars to get by them. I believe this penalty was not as much about what 01 did to the 14 on that lap but what he has been warned about before and has been doing all year.
    Each race 01 puts on his Ted Christopher mask and Cape and pretends to be someone he is not, TC had style and knew what he was doing. 01…..not so much. SMS made the call Thompson knows they need to make but refuses to.

  6. Wondering minds says

    Exactly, James. The 01 did it last race at Thompson to the 14. He thinks he is TC but there is and always will be only one. Not saying the kid isn’t a good driver because he is, but he needs to deflate his egotistical head in that helmet

  7. billy smith says

    That Was Not A Bump And Run Move I’m Sorry. That Was A Straight Up Drilling For Oil Move.

  8. I guess my question is why didn’t the 14 get penalized if he indeed do the same thing to Bryan a few laps before. Inconsistent already. Thompson was a completely different move – never touched his back bumper, used his nerf bar.

  9. I agree with Narducci penalty. His drilling of Chapman reminded me of Pennink drilling TC in 2017. Pennick did not lose the win, however.

  10. So it’s not enough that there was bad behavior on both sides, Chapman got to finish on the podium while Narducci gets the penalty. It now has to be worded in exactly the way you all think reflects the true gravity Bryan’s misdeed. Using that tired, overused reference and insult to the author that for a pro can’t get much worse then “drinking the cool aid”. In other words biased.
    Not that it would change anything. The proper adjectives and adverbs weren’t used.
    Worse yet dragging some bizarre, completely irrelevant assumption that the real reason that Bryan is doing what he is doing is to copy TC. Just spit balling here but I would think it is more likely he would want to be copying his Grandfather or Uncle, two very accomplished racers.
    It’s petty.

  11. Wondering Minds,
    The turn three move Narducci made on Champman on the last lap at Thompson on June 5 was not any way similar to the move that was penalized last night at Stafford.

  12. “Wondering Minds,
    The turn three move Narducci made on Champman on the last lap at Thompson on June 5 was not any way similar to the move that was penalized last night at Stafford.” Shawn Courshane

    So was the penalized attempt to wreck the leader a bump and run last night? The quote sure sounds like it was worse than the article portrayed it. I guess we will all have to watch the videos and decide.

  13. Impartial says

    It was surprising he was penalized untill you find out he was warned. It seems the penalty stems from the whole couple laps leading up to the incident not the bump and run. Looked like 14 passed 01 and 01 was clearly fast he made no attempt to race him or pass 14 simply rode behind him and waited for turn three and bump and run, and probably got little over zealous with his bump. Made it look very pre meditated and blatant, little more experience and he might hide it a little better and make it part of hard racing instead of calculated move. Either way fun to see couple young drivers out there starting a rivalry and racing each other hard.

  14. Wondering minds says

    Doug, do you ever hear him talk about his grandfather’s or uncle’s racing abilities and accomplishments when he talks about his racing? All the kid ever does is compare his racing style to TC and how TC did it this way and it worked for him so I did it. Obsess much?

  15. Buzz man says

    I just see it as racing, TC, Rocco and many others have done this with no penalty. The race Directory just needs to stick to consistent rules. He doesn’t have the track record in doing so. No cars spun and racing contact will happen. Warning drivers is fruitless. The race director needs follow at set of fixed rules it is not “”Rocket Science””.

  16. OK then Wondering I stand corrected. If you’re with Narducci, you hear him saying all the things you’ve said you’ve heard him say then that’s that.
    Clearly warning drivers is not fruitless. If you’re warning them and they show no regard for the warning it forms to basis for the penalty.
    Blaise Brodeur interviewed Chapman and Narducci at Thompson and asked each what they thought about the race at Stafford and each seemed to want to move on. It’s a losing proposition to let these young bucks with fast machines think they can make up their own rules. TC and Pennink were men with vast experience when they had their big dust up. Younglings need shorter leashes before someone gets hurt.
    It was a great call as far as I was concerned. Impartial is probably correct. It’s not an exact science. Bryan hit him a little too hard. The problem is it left Race Central no choice. If you do it on lap 10, 14, 17 they can let it go if the caution doesn’t come out. Last lap in the learning division, no way.
    I like watching Bryan. Think he’s a good driver as his run in the 7NY proved. He does however have a couple bad habits or should I say tactics that perhaps should be treated more like fine China and only used on special occasions.
    Like the penalty or not it seems to have had the desired affect at least for now.

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