Money Maker: Ronnie Willams Wins NAPA SK 5K For Second Consecutive Year At Stafford

Ronnie Williams celebrates victory in the NAPA SK 5K Friday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – In the ranks of Modified racing Matt Hirschman holds the moniker Money Matt for his success at capturing wins when big paydays are on the line. 

But when it comes to the true Money Man in Modified racing this week, nobody can come close to Ronnie Williams. 

Williams completed an astonishing week of success Friday by coming out on top of an epic battle with Keith Rocco to win the sixth NAPA SK 5K at Stafford Motor Speedway. 

It was the second consecutive NAPA SK 5K victory for Williams, making him the first repeat winner in the event. It was third consecutive victory in the event for his team owner Adam Skowyra, who won with driver Chase Dowling in 2017. 

Williams collected a $5,000 winner’s purse Friday at Stafford. It completed a six-day span where Williams scored $20,000 in winning purses over three events. He got a $5,000 win in the Valenti Modified Racing Series feature at the New England Short Track Showdown Sunday at New Hampshire for team owner Gary Casella. On Wednesday Williams earned a $10,000 payday for winning for Casella at the Tri-Track Open Modified Series’ Open Wheel Wednesday event at Seekonk (Mass.) Speedway. 

“It’s pretty cool,” Williams said. “It’s awesome. Gary gave me a great car. Adam gave me a great car. It’s all these guys, they put in the work. I’m just lucky enough to drive them.

“… You take it one race at a time. You don’t take anything for granted. Things can fall apart real quick so we’re going to ride this as far as we can. Hopefully we can keep this going. It’s great momentum.” 

Rocco, of Wallingford, was second by inches in a side-by-side battle to the checkered. Dowling, of Roxbury, was third.

It was the second SK Modified win of 2019 at Stafford for Williams, who won at the track on May 24.

The $5,200 Dunleavy’s Gamblers Challenge bonus was split between the 11th through 20th place finishers.

Williams was involved in a lap 41 crash that collected 12 cars off of turn four. After getting two flats repaired and work done to a twisted steering rack, he returned to the track to begin the rally from the rear. 

“I was trying to take it easy in the beginning and we just got caught up in a wreck coming out of [turn] four,” Williams said. “We had [two flat tires], the [steering rack] was all messed up. It just shows how good these guys are.” 

On lap 83 Williams went under Dowling for second place. At that point Rocco lead by just over half a second. Williams took huge bites out of the lead over the next four laps and was on Rocco’s bumper by lap 88. 

On lap 90 Williams dove under Rocco into turn three and the pair went side-by-side to the line with Rocco leading. Rocco fought back on the outside to clear Williams off of turn two on lap 91. 

On lap 92 Williams got under Rocco again in turn three and the side-by-side battle resumed. Rocco led at the line on laps 93 and 94 and then cleared Williams once again off turn two on lap 95. 

On lap 98 Williams went back under Rocco again in turn three. The pair went side-by-side for lap 99, taking the white flag with Williams leading by inches. Rocco stayed to Williams’ outside for the final lap with Williams winning the drag race to the line out of turn four to the checkered. 

“I was trying to race as clean as possible,” Williams said. “I know me and him have some history, going back to even this year at Thompson [Speedway]. Just make a show of it. I know he wants it bad. But I was hungry today that’s for sure.” 

Said Rocco: “We probably just needed to ride a little bit more in the beginning and save a little bit of tire. We were really good, we had good drive, but the right front got used up. … I think I’m the king of second in this race. Two years in a row I’m second to Ronnie. It was a good race, good battle, good show for the fans. He did a good job.” 

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  1. Congrats to Ronnie, Adam, Les and the whole #50 Let’s Auto Center team. Great job guys. 3 years in a row and coming back from a lap 41 wreck no less. Keep up the great work.

  2. Fast Eddie says

    Rapid Ronnie Williams strikes again! $20,000 for three wins in two different cars at three very different race tracks. Congrats the the Casella and Skowyra race teams along with Ronnie!

  3. What a finish!

    I think the margin of victory should be expressed as $1000 an inch!

  4. How was the Gambler’s Challenge money distributed?

  5. Rafter Fan,
    It’s in the story. Finishers 11-20th got it.

  6. Open wheel fan says

    One of the most exciting SK races I have seen. The SK and SK Lite division are very exciting to say the least. Being a modified tour fan the SK divisions are out doing the tour for excitement. Can not think of last modified tour race that we went home and said wow that was an awesome feature. I do attend the tour races but the Stafford SK races are much more exciting and entertaining. I attended the open wheel Wednesday this past week and another very exciting race. It was worth the 2 hour ride to the Konk. Thank you Stafford and Seekonk for very exciting modified races. Already looking forward to next year’s events.

  7. Todd Carey says

    This was one of the best races in a very long time and thankfully some people were in the seats to watch it. All those who said they would drive around for the first 60 have nothing to say today. Tell that to Mike Christopher Jr who shot the gap 3 wide going into 3 early on and came out the other side in front of the field. There were battles from start to finish. Some heavy contenders got knocked out and it will still a standing on your feet coming out of 4 to the checkers kind of race. Congrats to Ronnie on the sweep.

  8. If you don’t mind going down the modified pecking order a bit more how about the SK Lights that leave more people standing at the checkers then any other division.
    Honorable mention to Dowling. Moving up a ton of spots to contend. Moeller as well starting in oblivion and getting an impressive top 5.
    Nice comments by Rocco as well putting the early season hard feelings in the rear view mirror.

  9. Once again so sorry I live across the Sound I would be there every week man I wish we had a bridge or a tunnel lol

  10. What car was Chase Dowling driving?

  11. Todd Carey says

    Rob he was in the 31

  12. SK ModFan says

    Chase, the driver that had the fastest lap (lap 76)of the night, was driving the 31 car. This race boiled down to strategy and experience vs the field driving like it was a 40 lap race. The 82, 81, 31 all took turns at the front and burned out their equipment. The 88 and especially the 50 saved their cars for the final 10 laps. They put on a show while the rest of the field loosened up way too much. Ronnie was the fastest in the final 10 laps, and by the way, those are the most important laps to run. Chase had a faster car/lap time at NHMS and at the 5k and how’d that work out for you. I loved the video where he expressed that point and was mad about 4th. Deja vu. He got beat by a better driver. Experience and patience beat cocky and arrogant. I love it. All the drivers should watch the video and learn how to run a 100 lap race. Watch the 50!

  13. Dowling was in the 31

  14. wmass01013 says

    THE whole program was on FANS CHOICE TV, AMD THE crowd did look good!!

  15. Did make it this week. Was there 10 lead changes like last week?

  16. Thanks Todd. Is that the car Preece drove last year there for that 1 race?

  17. The 31 is Kopcik’s car from last year. It’s a CD chassied car that had been moth balled since Kopcik put together the new LFR car he’s driving this year. Not even the paint changed from last year on the 31.
    According to a pit interview Kopcik’s dad suggested they pull it out and go over it for the 5K and raced one prior event to work out the bugs. Clearly they did a good job.
    My view this and his flashes of speed with Tomaino show Dowling learned his lessons well from Fuller. He’s becoming a real force in not only driving but managing setups as well.

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