Crowning: Chase Dowling Runs Away With Tri-Track CBYD Modified Classic 81 At Stafford

Chase Dowling celebrates victory in the Tri-Track Open Modified Series CBYD Modified Classic 81 Saturday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – On Aug. 8 at Stafford Speedway Chase Dowling celebrated victory in one of the track’s well-established crown jewel events, the NAPA SK 5K. 

Saturday the Roxbury driver doubled the winnings in adding another special jewel to his 2020 crown in an event that seemingly took on instant classic status at Stafford. 

Chase Dowling left the field far behind in cruising to victory in the inaugural Tri-Track Open Modified Series CBYD Modified Classic 81 at Stafford Speedway. 

Dowling earned a $10,000 winner’s purse in grabbing victory in the first Tri-Track event ever run at Stafford. 

“This [car] was unbelievable,” Dowling said. “We came here and tested and we were off. I’ve got to thank Rob Fuller. He told me I was a quarter second off. That was my biggest motivation of the night. We came back and dominated. I can’t thank [team owner] Ben Dodge and Start/Finish Motorsports enough. … To do this together is unbelievable.” 

Ronnie Williams of Tolland was second and Matt Hirschman of Northampton, Pa. third. 

Hirschman’s third place finish clinched his fifth Tri-Track Modified Racing Series championship. He won four consecutive from 2015-18. 

A caution-marred event rewarded fans with a plethora of heated restart battles between Dowling and Hirschman. 

Dowling went to the lead past Ryan Preece on a lap 38 restart with Hirschman moving to second a lap later. 

From lap 46 to lap 61 Dowling held off Hirschman over six restarts. Dowling used the outside for the final four of the restarts, rocketing off turn two by Hirschman each time. The race went green to conclusion after a lap 61 restart and Dowling checked out on the field. 

“That was a long long race it felt like,” Dowling said. “It felt like it was never ending. I was trying not to get in my head there at the end. It was just caution after caution after caution after caution.” 

Said Hirschman: “We were right there. Chase, he just had a great handling race car. We were right there with him. I can’t complain. It was a good run. I hadn’t been here in a while. But I took right to it. It’s like riding a bike. I’ve made plenty of laps here at Stafford over the years. I’m happy with the finish. I want to win all the time of course, but I’m happy with the run.” 

Williams was able to use a late move to get by Hirschman for second. 

“These guys always bring me a good car and I know we’re always in contention to win when we come to these open shows,” Williams said of his Adam Skowyra owned team. “I can’t thank them enough. Just got a little too tight there at the end. I would have loved a caution [late] obviously, but I think we got plenty of those throughout the race.” 

Justin Bonsignore, who clinched his second Whelen Modified Tour championship two weeks ago at Thompson Speedway, finished fourth. The Holtsville, N.Y. driver was making his first start for team owner Jimmy Paige. 

Matt Swanson of Acton, Mass. rounded out the top-five in the 32-car field. 

Richard Savary, Les Hinckley III, Todd Owen, Ron Silk and Burt Myers completed the top-10 respectively. 

NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Preece and six-time Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby were taken out together during a lap 46 incident. The two were running side-by-side into turn three when Dana DiMatteo tried to make it three-wide and sent Coby into Preece. 

“We were still coming forward,” said Coby, who was driving for team owner Gary Casella. “I know Ryan was backing up a little bit. I was really patient with him on the outside and I got a good clear run and got down and one of the guys behind me didn’t want to lift. It’s just a shame. I think Ryan and I would have put on a nice show coming back from the back with some tires with maybe 20 to go or so.” 

Said Preece: “Stupidity. … We had a really good race car. Obviously when you’re backing up and everybody has tires you wait until it’s your turn and you put them on. At the end of the day nothing to show for it. A lot of time and just a bonehead move.” 

Woody Pitkat and Jon McKennedy each walked away from a scary wreck on lap 31 when Pitkat’s car ended up on wedged on its side against the backstretch wall on top of McKennedy’s car.

Woody Pitkat climbs from his car after a scary wreck on lap 31 of the CBYD Modified Classic 81 Saturday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

Event Contingency Awards

Green Construction Hard Charger ($1,000): Todd Owen 

Stone’s Performance & Parts Fastest Lap Award ($300): Chase Dowling 

Pepsi Challenge Heat Winners ($300 each): Chase Dowling, Ryan Preece, Keith Rocco, Burt Myers, Ronnie Williams 

Pepsi Challenge Consi Winners ($300 each): Eric Goodale, Marcello Rufrano 

TFR Hard Luck Award ($500 Gift Certificate to TFR): Woody Pitkat (Car Owner: Stan Mertz)


  1. Way to many cautions for what was supposed to be the best of the best

  2. Lots of yellows, lots of attrition, Stafford regular wins, Coby doesn’t finish, yadayadayada.

    I was right on all points.

    Ho-hum. Just another day of more winning for darealgooodfella.

    Real bummer for Preece and Coby. It would have been awesome to see those two get tires late.

  3. A Stafford regular wins? What does that mean? Almost the entire starting field were Stafford regulars at one point or another. The 9 is WMT car with a spec engine. They were clearly the fastest car from the get go

    Sloppy, sloppy race

    Andy J ‘s first ever start at Stafford. An emotional day for that young man.

  4. I think Ryan Preece should have pitted with the leaders earlier. Then he would have been if front of all the cautions and wrecks happening, But what do I know I am just a guy sitting in the stands.

  5. The Atomic Punk says

    When i read Dareal it reminds me to thank my parents for the attention they gave me as a child. Thanks mom and dad, you helped me dodge a bullet.

  6. Last year Preece took on rubber really late in an open then charged through the field to win. It looked like he was going to try the same strategy but it wasn’t meant to be.
    Coby in the 25 was on fire in the heat charging through the field, the Casella 25 was a contender but that too was not meant to be. Rocco and Pitkat would have been in the mix at the end but a clutch and freakish lap with wrecks on opposite sides of the track ended that possibility.
    Maybe the mix would have been a little different at the front but in the end the best car won. An eclectic group effort involving Dodge, Kopcik, Dowling with some help from a former employer getting an LFR/spec to do what the others couldn’t. Driving away from the 60 on the high side multiple times on restarts was memorable. Ben Dodge basking in a victory as opposed to framing the scene for others poignant as well.
    Aside from the cautions the entire presentation was swell. Tri Track and Stafford pulled off a well run program that moved right along leading up to the feature.. The rules tweaks for the most part accomplished the goal of equalizing the field. Most everyone that said they would come was there. B Main was well populated and a fun prelim. The streaming product sublime. Camera angles, replays, racing anecdotes from the broadcast team and pit reporting first rate. Post wreck spot interviews capturing the emotion of the moment timely. . Coby and especially Pitkat distinguished themselves by providing fan focused insights on what happened even in the worst of circumstances.
    Not Stafford’s most profitable year for sure but perhaps it has to be one of the best managed in the tracks history pulling a rabbit out of a hat in a hurricane.
    Thank you Stafford and TTOMS!!!!!!!!

  7. So, Dowling win the 2 biggest races of the season at Stafford – the SK 5K and the TTOM 81. Congrats to Chase!

  8. JH, waiting until late to take on fresh tires was a great strategy, by both Preece and Coby. They knew there was going to be plenty of cautions and opportunities to get tires. Let the rest of field come in early to get tires, wear them out, then Preece and Coby come in late to get their tires, and pass the field with their fresh tires. B-O-O-M!!!

    Open races are perfect conditions for these strategies. The melting pot of drivers and cars makes for plenty of cautions and opportunities to pit.

    TC did this all the time, that’s how he did his legendary late race marches to the front. TC spent the early part of the races making adjustments to the car to get it right, then took on tires at a late caution. The rest is history.

    The 176 car was racing way over his head, it was black flagged for stupid. Trying to run that car in deep like that was a pure Biff Tannen move.

  9. CONGRATS to Chase, Ben and the #9 crew for the win. Thanks for this article Shawn, wish I could have been there

  10. I found that comment by Matt B. about quite humorous, not only since many drivers in the ’80’s and later during these open races employed that strategy, especially The Reg, whom I believe did it best, but also since he had pointed out that Reggie had done it first during one of those same open races.
    Personally, I considered the penalty a little extreme. Without question, it ranked as the least intelligent and arguably most impactful move of the race, yet three-wide racing occurred everywhere.
    Side note/question: Did anyone else notice that Matt Butler interrupted and spoke over Ben Dodge so many times? I lost count. They also focused their announcing to the people who were not there, i.e. those who could see replays, and made reference to such.
    The race sure could have benefited from the big screen that used to stand at the beginning of the backstretch for replays, most especially that lap 30 mess. I remember when an official stood in the stand there in the late ’80’s.
    Without question, the fastest car won. I don’t believe either Preece or Coby could have caught him, even with new tires. I’d have loved to have watched them, though.
    Overall, a wonderful day of modifieds, “like the old days”, despite more cautions than I had expected.

  11. BOOM, guess we will never know because it never had a chance to happen. Guess that strategy didn’t work out did it……….

  12. Never good to see fast cars with proven drivers out of any race early. Top ten definitely could have looked a little different if Pitkat, Coby,Rocco, Preece, Goodale and others had been around to fight it out. Either way good night for Dowling and Williams and Hirshman was Hirshman, doesn’t seem Stafford is so scary for him he was fine. Really too bad so many good cars eliminated by others over aggression, people weren’t paying to watch place holders wipe out half the field but in their defense they had to do something right to even make the race, also props to Todd Owen taking full advantage of his provisional best showing in a tour car by far this year.

  13. The missed shift by Coby on the first lap 30 restart really triggered a huge mess. It looked like Sapienza may not have known the yellow was out when he hit a few cars on the backstretch (resulting in the Pitkat spectacle).

  14. Coby needs an automatic transmission. He caused a huge pile up at Loudon when he didn’t go on a restart.

  15. From reading these comments, it appears there were allot of cautions, some brought out by experienced drivers, some by inexperienced drivers, and some by pure boneheaded moves. This is to be expected when you have a 32 car field, an 81 lap race and over 10 grand going to the winner. 5 heats, 2 consi’s, a 25 lap B main and an 81 lap feature. Add to this an SK Lite feature and a Street Stock feature, and it sounds like a great day of racing. Wish I could have been there, and if not for my unfortunate luck would have been. Can’t wait for 2021.

  16. Charlie Brown says

    Coby is just a poster boy for the tour and nascar he is the biggest baby an complainer, he should be sponsored by Kleenex Tissue, instead of crying stay home, besides Coby caused that wreck with wonderboy; Thanks Shawn for all your work on a great season; See ya next year ✌️

  17. Goodfella the 2 car at London spun the tires on the restart then got run into lots of guys spin tires on restarts didn’t miss a shift at Stafford went in a little hard stood on the gas and the RR drive flange broke in half one wheel drive

  18. Great run by Chase and the #9 team! I think Ronnie in the #50 ran out of car from battling with Hirschman. And speaking of Hirschman, 3rd place on a “non bullring” track! A good run for him in the red #60 team at a track he hasn’t run at in a while. The only complaint I had couldn’t really be fixed. If the sun came out for most of the day instead of only a few 2-minute intervals, I think the warmer racetrack would have helped with tire spin on the restarts, which would have made for less restarts overall.

  19. Barney Rubble says

    Maybe Doug Coby’s car had a special Muncie M22 Rock Crusher transmission installed. When he saw someone in the grandstands who looked like Frank Ruocco, he tried to get it so spray the crushed rock…

  20. In a Stafford TV interview, I believe Coby said he missed a shift.

  21. There may have been a lot of yellow flags ,but just think how short a race that might have been if it was Nascar ,I’m thinking maybe around 40 to 50 . Tri track is the best racing series for modified if you ask me since the days of the old Yankee All Star series of the 60’s and 70’s . I haven’t missed a race since the very first race at Star ,SBM 125 and are going to less Nascar sanctioned races

  22. 🌈🦄2020 says

    I’m sure the track made out great at the back and front gate, plus with the live streaming. But was the actual race really that epic?

  23. That was a big 50% crowd.

  24. 🌈🦄, I’d say the feature race did not live up to the expectations. No, not at all. Just way too much wrecking.

  25. Robert , I agree. Green flag laps that count , yellows don’t. Best for fans. The Drive flange change the 25 crew pulled off on pit road without losing a lap was big. If yellow laps counted, the 25 would have been many laps down and out of contention for the Win. Great job changing the drive flange, getting car back on track with a chance to Win adds an element of great crew to the overall story of the race. When Coby went to the right on restart and bounced off the wall, Most mechanics already knew he either broke an axle or drive flange. A six time Champ does not hit the wall on the straight away. Something broke and shot the car to the right. I was there and the crowd was great and festive atmosphere. Big Money Matt silenced his critics once again, fighting for the Win at the end. Hirschman Can run up front on any track he shows up at… Enough said…..

  26. 🌈🦄2020 says

    From what I’ve read on Facebook, some people are claiming that the stands were well above 50%. But the track is replying to those comments saying that they actually sold under 50% on purpose. Maybe the way the numbers are counted isn’t from the capacity of the stands.

  27. Fast Eddie says

    It’s easy from a distance to think the stands are full. I have found that to be somewhat of an optical illusion. Looking from the bottom up, they look much more full than from the top row down. From up top looking down you can easily see all the empty sections of rows in the stands. I’ve found that most people naturally skip a row between themselves and people behind and/or in front of them, even long before COVID. People naturally tend to not sit right next to other people if they can spread out a little and give themselves more room.

  28. In a Stafford “All Access” post-race interview, Chase said that running a NASCAR Spec engine left his car down on power and “heavy”. If that’s the case, why does the Spec engine dominate the NWMT? Is it better weight distribution, and/or does NASCAR allow Spec powered cars to run at a lower weight than cars with “built” engines?

  29. Rafter, it’s not that is simple.

    The NASCAR SPEC results in a car with a lower center of gravity that allows the car to turn better, exit faster, etc. The 6 and 51 were the first cars to run the SPEC and they were slicing and dicing the field in the turns.

    I *think* the rules at this TTOMS event had the NWMT SPEC cars carrying more weight than they usually do for a NASCAR event.

  30. Dowling blew away Hirschman on the outside of turn 2 on restarts – impressive. I don’t believe there were too many Spec engines in the field(?). Whether it was the Spec, or the Dowling/Kopcik set up (without help from Fuller?), the 9 was dominant.

  31. According to the information provided by TTOMS there were 7 NASCAR specs in the field.
    With no one engine package dominating it’s clear Tri Track did an outstanding job tweaking the rules.
    In the end the 9ct team was not just fast but consistently fast mostly because they spent a day testing and tweaking. Getting the most out of the care even with the added weight. They also got the job done pitting then getting back to the front ASAP to avoid the mayhem going on in back of them.
    The thing I’ve always liked about Dowling is he’s so genuine. Very grateful to all those the helped so much so that he was a little emotional that for him is not common at all.
    In these pages people have had harsh things to say about Chase especially after he left LFR and the 82. Yet he continues to engender friendships, sponsorships and loyalties that put him in a position to compete at the front of the field and win races with several owners. He’s the epitome of a racer’s racer in my view when you consider ability, knowledge and demeanor.

  32. I don’t remember “Open” races during the 80’s and 90’s. I know Stafford ran “tour type” modifieds as their top division till ’83, they were just called modifieds back then, and we’re run at allot of tracks in New England. The closest thing to an “open” race would have been the Icebreaker and 300 at Thompson, and the Sizzler and Fall final at Stafford, which usually attracted allot of cars. Could be wrong though

  33. Cars were testing pretty much all week ,some days double sessions and I believe around 5 cars per session ,so that’s pretty much half the field

  34. Testing is mind numbingly boring and only the most analytical and patient do it well.
    It can be testing different packages. Or making one or limited changes to an established package. Component changes of adjustment changes or both. Seeing how different packages or changes work on fresh vs worn tires. Making notes, getting driver feedback, checking times. Tedious man tedious.
    We only see the results. I’m seeing Dowling stay at or near the front most of the race. The 6 that did a ton of practicing faded badly on worn tires and the result was a disaster.
    Both spent an enormous amount of time doing their homework yet the results were so different.
    From the Barkalounger I’m thinking the 9 team had Fuller training and perhaps some suggestions on their LFR chassied newer car. Fuller may be the master of meticulous, pains taking analytics and his former employees the perfect combination to execute his technique.
    Not all practice is equal. Sure looks like the 9ct got everything out of their time and money spent one could have hoped for.

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