Late Arrival: Marcello Rufrano Scores Bud Light Open Mod 80 Win At Stafford

Marcello Rufrano celebrates victory in the Bud Light Open Modified 80 Saturday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – Over the years Marcello Rufrano has always been a driver ready to throw some surprises at the fans at Stafford Motor Speedway. 

On August 5, 2016 Rufrano got into an SK Light Modified for the first time at Stafford and won in his division debut. 

Saturday Rufrano, a second-year regular in Stafford’s SK Modified division, gave fans another ending they hardly saw coming.

After qualifying through a consolation heat, Rufrano used a dramatic late run to score victory in the Bud Light Open Modified 80 at Stafford Speedway. 

“My mind is going just about as fast as my car was tonight,” Rufrano said in victory lane. “I’m speechless. I don’t know what to say. After the year we had last year, not winning one race. … Just coming back, it’s amazing man.” 

Rufrano, of North Haven, became the sixth different winner in six Open Modified events at Stafford since 2018. It was Rufrano’s first victory in a Tour Type Modified.

The only thing tempering the post-race celebration was that the 19-year old Rufrano couldn’t celebrate with the winner’s stash of Bud Light. 

“I can’t drink it but my crew certainly can,” Rufrano said. “I’m seizing up. I could use one of those but I can’t drink it.” 

Chase Dowling of Roxbury was second and Joey Cipriano III of Waterbury third. 

After starting 24th in the 26-car field Rufrano deftly worked through traffic all race before finding himself in contention with under 10 laps left. 

Rufrano moved to second past Craig Lutz on a lap 74 restart before caution flew again on lap 77. On the ensuing restart Rufrano powered through the outside lane off turn two to take the lead from Dowling, who had led every lap up to that point. Rufrano was able to hold off the charges of Dowling on a green-white-checkered finish.

“I’ve got to thank [my spotter] Brian Crowley up there in the stands,” Rufrano said. “He piloted Rowan Pennink to all them wins over the years and he did the same for me. He did all the work for me. All I had to do was drive the car.”

The always gregarious Rufrano parked his car on the frontstretch under the starter’s stand following the event and climbed to his roof to salute the fans. Rufrano kept the entertainment going by harkening back to Days of Thunder when asked why his car was so good late in the race. 

“My crew chief had some matched perfect and staggered special tires waiting for me on the wall over there,” Rufrano said, “Just what I needed towards the end. It was perfect. The car drove itself.” 


  1. Çongrats Marcello and your crew on your first Open 80 tour type modified win.

  2. What was Ron Silk disqualified for?

  3. knuckles Mahoney says

    WOW, no one saw this coming. And he didn’t have to bang the leader to get it done like the rest of the dirt bags.

  4. Rob. P,
    Was told it was a tire inventory issue.

  5. Ken Latham says

    Fantastic race. Worth every penny. Thought McKennedy’s move a little over aggressive to spin Williams but for the most part. Great Race

  6. Thanks Shawn

  7. Good mod show for sure! Congrats kid! Impressive high side pass for the lead! Learn anything kid roc?…. lutz and the rest of u dump n run guys

  8. getserious says

    And Dowling was a gentlemen, too. He easily could have knocked Rufrano out of the way like those other bozos would have for the win on the last turn. Easily. A super professional, decent, 2nd place finish.
    But, boy, that PPV needs some work! We won’t do that again,

  9. getserious says

    And Dowling was a gentlemen, too. He easily could have knocked Rufrano out of the way like those other bozos would have for the win on the last turn. Easily. A super professional, decent, 2nd place finish.
    But, boy, that PPV needs some work! We won’t do that again, “No questiion about it.”

  10. What was wrong with the Payperview? I had it on Friday and it was pretty good.

  11. getserious where in the world did you here “no question about it “

  12. Fast Eddie says

    Overall a great race weekend at Stafford! 8 classes for 8 hours of heats and main events in two days for $50. Glad I was able to make both nights!
    I always like to see different teams win, and Rufrano was on my list of “hopefuls & possibles”. Although it didn’t look promising initially, needing to get in through the consi, he worked his way up to the front and made a great move to get the lead and keep it. Congrats to the Rufrano team!

  13. knuckles Mahoney says

    Forgot to mention, congrats to the Rufrano team. Getserious, I agree with you. Dowling could have dumped Rufrano on the last corner, but he didn’t. He drove like a true professional, and took a second place. I’m proud of him, and made a fan out of me.

  14. Rufrano up and coming star. Lets call him “Baby Roc” !

  15. Great racing all weekend!

    It crossed my mind last night that Dowling may have been sore from the wicked shot he took Friday night in the SK. If so, that makes his results in the open even better.

  16. Ken Latham says

    I think they should consider adding this as a bi-monthly deal, or somewhat more, and run them on Saturday with two lower support div. from a combo of SKL, SS, LLM just my 2 cents. 36 Mods, 4 heats 2 consis, great show. $30.00 great deal show done a little after 9PM, everything ran smooth. not too much down time.

  17. Exciting finish to last night’s Open 80, thanks to late cautions/restarts and Marcella Rufrano. He injected some energy that the Opens series needed. And, the show ended at 9:15 pm (vs. 11:15 pm on Friday night). The earlier finish is worth the extra $10 admission charge. It was disappointing that Rocco (waiting for engine) and MC, Jr. (conflict for Baldwin team?) weren’t in the field, but Rufrano more than made up for their absences.

  18. … Marcello ..,

  19. getserious says

    Haha. OK, Elect, “Where did you hear that.?” It’s a subtle joke.

  20. davborski says

    they made thier magic, no question about it.

  21. Baby Roc?

  22. Agree with Earl.

  23. “No question about it” vs “making magic”
    My vote “no question about it” won the two day event.
    Next up “literally”.
    Love Ben Dodge. Best driver introductions ever.

  24. wmass01013 says

    Lets Not go overboard Ken, not here to trash the night but Yes 36 CARS 4 heats 2 consis on a night when no other track or series running and only a couple races at all in 2020, 23 sk lites 16 street stock compared to 36 and 26 NIGHT BEFORE, $35 TO GET in and u want to run LLM’s, yes night done at 9pm welll when u only have 3 divisions of course EARLY night, it was a ok open race and a nice night lets not act like a new wheel was invented!

  25. No question about it lapped the field this week it’s still ringing in my head

  26. Silk and Stone were tossed for cheating. Something with tires. Either way they had to cheat to get in for the consi. Pathetic. This kid however has talent. Hate to see him get involved with the wrong people in the future. Stick with what’s working.

  27. 🌈🦄2020 says

    Maybe Stafford should race every Friday and Saturday now. Maybe they have some input from Dafella. No conflicts on Saturdays with Waterford starting soon and hopefully Seekonk. And I think Dafella is making a wise decision staying home for the next few years. I was at Stafford waiting in the food line and this woman kept on creeping past the line they had for the social distancing behind me. I was beginning to fear for my life when she realized what she was doing and stepped back. Thank God. No way Dafella would survive in this environment.

  28. What WMASS said.

  29. I think the aggression drivers are showing is rooted in anxiety. We’re in a pandemic. Many tracks saw their seasons start late, if at all. The drivers are anxious. They don’t know if the race they’re in may be the last of the season. Face it, nobody knows what tommorow may bring. An already shortened season, combined with the prospect of the season being cut short causes some drivers to drive more aggressively than they normally would have. Chances of a victory this season grow shorter each week, but under the current circumstances, this race might just be the last race, so given a chance of victory that hinges on moving someone, 9 out of 10 drivers are going to go for the win, and move people to do it.

  30. Ken Latham says

    wmass, maybe I was not clear. What I was stating that on a regular basis, instead of running open shows on regular nights with ALL regular Divisions, that they hold the Opens on Saturdays always, with 2 support divisions. When they get to the point of no restrictions, they can lower the ticket price, OR better yet, keep the price pay bigger purse throughout the night (all divisions) and possibly draw a more stout field. SHOW them the money, and they will come. I think it could work that is all I am saying.

  31. Rufrano got first on the second to last restart when Dowling bobbled and went to third behind Cipriano. Cipriano stuck on the outside on the last restart lost second to Dowling. Dowling never got to Rufrano and bobbled again crossing the finish clearly on spent tires. Rufrano never made a pass on Dowling at speed.
    Under the radar is Joey Cipriano. Sure he started up front but fade back then made a run to finish third. A banner achievement for him as well.
    There was a bump and run. Williams gave Tommy Catalano a shot around lab 50.
    Long Island gang strong all race but you just can’t bet against Stafford regulars. They’ve won 3 out of the 6 opens so far against some pretty good competition in the process.
    Owen losses to Rocco on Friday and has to be disappointed with his 10 place finish.
    Matt Buckler says Ronnie Williams blasted from 11th to 8 at the beginning and turns out that was pretty much as good as it got for him.
    The front may have been tedious for the first three quarters of the race but there was a lot of movement 5 to 15. Tommy Catolano spun on lap 73 and rallied back for an 8th. That was a pretty big deal. KRR supplied cars 33 and 35 were fast as Gervais was up the third before fading. Moeller was moving up but had a mechanical issue.
    The reviews are in on Facebook and they were very positive..
    August 1st is a problem with the NWMT and Waterford if it opens as rumored. Otherwise Stafford dodged and weaved around conflicts and that 8/22 date with the open late models and mods may be really fun.
    If a kid with absolutely no record of success in opens comes from wayyyyyyy back to first beating a lot of grizzled veterans to do it how does that not rank up at the top of open surprises ever.
    Turns our opens are like a box of chocolates

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