Stafford Notes: Adam Gray Wins Late Model Feature, Puts Stranglehold On Division Lead

Adam Gray celebrates victory in the Late Model feature Friday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – Adam Gray came to Stafford Speedway Friday leading in a tight battle for the Late Model championship at Stafford Speedway.

He left the track looking at a cruise control ride to his third division championship in the final event of the season next week. 

Gray got his sixth victory of the season in the 30-lap Late Model feature and also saw his two closest pursuers in the standings fall out of contention. 

Michael Bennett came into Friday’s event second in the Late Model standings, four points behind Gray. Albert Saunders sat third, eight points off the lead. 

Bennett ended up 17th in the 19-car field and Saunders was 16th. Gray will go to the final event of the season on Oct. 9 with a virtually insurmountable 36 point lead over Bennett and 38 point lead over Saunders. 

Gray also won Late Model championships at Stafford in 2013 and 2014. 

Derek Debbis of Oakdale got his division leading fifth victory of the season in a wreck-marred 20-lap SK Light Modified feature. 

Debbis passed division points leader Brian Sullivan for the lead on  a lap 12 restart and never trailed again. 

Sullivan, of South Windsor, was second and George Bessette Jr. of Danbury third. 

Sullivan will go to the final points event of the season on Oct. 9 holding a nearly insurmountable 42-point lead in the standings. 

Sullivan came into the night leading Alexander Pearl by eight points in the standings, but Pearl was involved in a wildly dramatic wreck on lap 10 of the feature. Pearl’s car spun into turn three because of a mechanical failure. The car of Josh Carey came into the wreck and went backwards over Pearl’s car, over the turn three barrier and into a billboard. 

Carey walked away from the wreck. 

The car of Josh Carey went over the barrier and into a billboard on lap 10 of the SK Light Modified feature Friday at Stafford Speedway

Andrew Durand of Chicopee, Mass. held off Alexandra Fearn of East Longmeadow, Mass. to win the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature.

It was the seventh victory of the season for Durand, who came into the night tied at the top of the division standing with Fearn.

Durand will take a two-point lead into the final points event of the season next week. Durand also holds the tiebreaker by virtue of his victory total. Fearn has two win this year.

Two-time defending Limited Late Model division champion Jeremy Lavoie of Windsor Locks was third Friday and goes into the final event 10 points behind Durand.


  1. CONGRATS to Adam Gray and the #97 team for tonight’s win. One more race to go. Keep doing what your doing, it’s working. Don’t forget to have some fun along the way.

  2. Congrats to Andrew Durrand and the 43 team. 1 race left, keep your eyes on the prize.

  3. I’m sure everything was kosher with the handicapping system Nonetheless it’s disappointing seeing Debbis and Sullivan starting 6th and 7th and Pearl thirteenth. Now the odds of a final week battle for the championship is effectively eliminated. On the bright side Bessett who seems to always generate solid if not winning finishes is in the hunt for second with multi week winners Debbis and Pearl.
    OK so Carey walks away from the fence jumper so lets get the footage of that deal on Facebook to generate some hype for next week.

  4. Sharpie Fan says

    Handicapping .2 by Sharpie Fan
    Handicapping is based on the last 3 races.
    Out of the top 18:
    — Pearl won 2 out of the last 3 races, that puts him behind everybody who qualifies and has raced 2 of the last 3 races
    — 72 & 89 were missing
    — 22, 14, & 1 had issues and did not qualify through the heats in which 7 qualified in each of the 2 heats
    As a side note, the 29 finally moved up to the top 18 as of last week. Before that the 55 had been taking that spot, had been a no-show, and was running at Waterford.

  5. Thanks Sharpie Fan
    I’m going to skip the handicap value system since it means nothing unless all cars are included and it’s not practical for me to do that. Lets talk finishes.
    I don’t know if the NAPA 150 counted as a handicap race so lets go back 4 races 9/26, 9/25,9/18 & 9/11..
    Pearl 4,1,1,22
    Debiis 3,3,10,23
    Sullivan 5,5,4,4
    Average finish for last 4 races Pearl 7.5, Debbis 9.75, Sullivan 4.5.

    All that is not the handicap system but just eyeballing what these three guys have done, where they are in the points and what is at stake my point would be the handicapped system failed. That will happen and when it does the track can make a promotors exception and get the outlier which in this case is Pearl in back of but in proximity to his competition.
    I made up the promotors exception but I bet it’s a thing. I suppose it’s all moot anyway since Pearl was the victim of his own leaky car.
    Enough whining. How about Nicole Chambrello finishing an SK Light career best 5th surviving a bunch of mayhem in the process. From 20th. Bet it was a sweet ride home to Kensington for the 4 team..They’ve been grinding and grinding away in consolation races and wrecks and the persistence paid off. Love seeing the teams that may not have the best equipment, that may not get the best finishes just come back and back and then get rewarded especially the chicks. Excuse me young women that toil in mid pack and don’t get the attention the ones in the winners circle always get like Fuller and Fearn.
    These teams compete in a window with their own goals that don’t necessarily involve winning that fans just don’t pay any attention to but for the 4 team I’m betting that was equivalent to a win.

  6. Sharpie Fan says

    You can thank Tom Fox for this latest handicap system.

    The 150 was a non-points race for the sk lights and used the +/- system which is even more head-scratching. lol
    They did get an extra tire credit for participating in that race.

  7. in my opinion this is the same basic handicap system used for the last 30 years. I believe Tom Fox simply switched from a money won last three weeks to a points based system which is approximately the same. The reason being is the money won created a lot of ties which then had to be handled with some secondary tie breaker. It’s still the last three weeks. You don’t show up it counts for approximately a win and a half (i believe).
    Bottom line is fast cars start in the back. If you have bad finishes for one reason or another a fast guy might start more toward the front. For instance Adam Gray started 11th friday, in front of the 10 and 11 even though he has live 20 wins this year. Well, he had two terrible finishes within the last three weeks so you have it. Stafford also has modifiers thrown in like winners this year cannot start in the top 5 (sometimes has changed by division or number of competitors). By the same token, there are also caveats like a driver can only start on the pole three weeks in a row I believe it is then if the driver is still the worsts handicap he starts 2nd.
    I believe it’s straight up and just part of the game. Don’t hate the players, hate the game.

  8. Who didn’t show up?
    Fast cars don’t start in the back. They start backish. Back is scratch. Only penalties force fast cars to start scratch under the system that exist.
    I have no idea what all that was about Mr. Fearn. No one is hating either the game or player.. No one is saying the points system is anything but fair. No one and especially me is in any way implying the system that exists is sub standard in any way. I won’t say Mr Fox walks on water but I will say he’s one of the reasons Stafford is where it is as far as respect is concerned.
    What I did try to point out is the in any system inequities will happen at the most critical times. Racing is about competition. At the end of the season it’s in every ones best interest to see that tight points races are nurtured regardless of the points system.
    A fan said it’s a shame that Pearl could not be behind the guys that he was contending for the championship. That’s all. If anyone cares it would be nice to have a promoters discretion exception to promote competition where appropriate.

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