Stephen Kopcik Scores Victory In SK Mod Feature At Stafford; Derek Debbis Tops SK Light Mods

Stephen Kopcik celebrates victory in the SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – For many crew members on the NASCAR Whelen Modified, the down time between qualifying and the feature means some relaxation before the big event. 

For Whelen Modified Tour crew chief Stephen Kopcik that down time Friday meant getting behind the wheel and going to victory lane. 

Kopcik, of Newtown, held off Todd Owen over the closing stages to score victory in the 40-lap SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford. 

Todd Owen of Somers was second and Tyler Hines of North Haven third. 

It was the fifth career SK Modified feature victory at Stafford for Kopcik. 

“That was definitely tough,” Kopcik said. “There was a lot of good cars tonight as there is every Friday night here. … It was good. We had a good car. I can’t thank everyone enough that helps us and makes it possible.”

Kopcik was also serving as crew chief for NASCAR Cup Series driver in Friday’s Whelen Modified Tour NAPA Spring Sizzler 150 at Stafford. 

The race featured some issues with some of the division’s heavy hitters. Keith Rocco went out on lap 23 with a right front suspension issue.

“I was in the gas coming off the corner and something let go on the right front,” Rocco said. “… It happened so fast. I don’t know what let go, but it was something.”

On the ensuing restart mayhem ensued when Ronnie Williams drove into the side of Andrew Molleur which collected Chase Dowling and left Molleur and Dowling in the turn two wall. 

Williams was penalized for over aggressive driving. Dowling didn’t mince words in analyzing the tactics by Williams to cause the wreck. 

“Ronnie Williams has got no talent at all,” Dowling said. “He messes up back there, he misses a shift so he wants to drive it in 25 [cars too] deep because daddy’s got big pockets and he can fix anything he wants. [Team owner] Adam Skowyra, I’m sorry but you’re going to have a car coming … you can tell daddy to buy him another car. I’m not going to get raced like that just by money. The kid probably doesn’t know what a half-inch wrench is in the drawer.”

Derek Debbis Oakdale held off George Bessette Jr. to win the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature. 

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

Derek Debbis celebrates victory in the SK Light Modified feature Friday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)


  1. The 22 should watch his comments he had the 50 ride and chose the Mod Tour.

  2. Charlie Brown says

    GOOD GRIEF! I’m sorry but if a driver doesn’t no a half inch wrench or a screwdriver, or how to read a tape measure, he shouldn’t be racing, better yet common sense🙄

  3. Stafford did not handle the terrible weather very well – two unnecessary skl consi’s, vintage mod heats should have been eliminated and feature run instead. They should of only ran two sk heats instead of 3. Most people left before the tour race. Could of had the program done by 9:30

  4. knuckles mahoney says

    Not defending anyone, but no talent Chase? 2 SK mod championships at Stafford, and a Tri-Track Championship. What do you have? Having said that, if he drives like a bonehead cuz daddy has deep pockets, go do something else. He wasn’t Gary Casella’s first choice to drive the 25, I can tell you that.

  5. Congrats to Stephan Kopcik, and crew for winning the SK feature. Good job.
    Another 28 days or so, and I’ll actually be able to safely attend the races. Got my first dose of the moderna vaccine Friday. Anyone hesitant to get it, I can tell you so far no side effects, and the needle looks bigger on TV then it really is, I didn’t feel a thing, and it took about 20 minutes because they have you stay for 15 minutes after you get the shot. Get Vaccinated people, so things can return to normal.

  6. Stafford seems to drag out the early season shows. From what everyone told me they get much better as the season goes on. The mod tour didnt hit the track until 9.40. That’s much too late given the forecast and temperatures. the schedule had them at 8.30. It’s not like there was a ton of divisions with full fields there last night. The limiteds, late models, and street stocks were all off last night. Usually they prequalify the local divisions when the tour is scheduled for a night race. Maybe they should go back to that type of program. Probably couldn’t for the sk lights given it was the first show but everyone made the feature in the sks. I agree should have combined the 2, 5 car sk light consis.m into one 10 car consi. I am sure they will get better as the season goes on. They typically do.

  7. Works for me. Love Kopcik a total race car guy with dirty hands. We’re two events in and the brick wall of Rocco/Williams/Owen that prevents other teams from cracking the winners circle most nights has a giant gap in it. Tyler Hines proves to be no flash in the pan with young guns Hodgdon, Arute and Korner getting solid finishes… Best of all the usually tightly wrapped Chase Dowling, another guy I admire as a total car guy uncharacteristically unloads on Williams with some spur of the moment zing-a-ding-dingers that were so good they almost appeared to be rehearsed. Who am I to disagree with Chase Dowling.

  8. Mod Guy says

    Thank you Chase for bringing to CT what is ruining the racing in the South. Punks who have no respect. Listen to you. Like you have EVER paid for anything. The hole below your nose is ruining your career kid. Grow up and learn to keep your mouth shut. I’ve heard about this side of this kid. Thank you Shawn for printing it how it is. Calls Ronnie a no talent? Really? Take 2018 off your resume and where are you Chase? I’ll wait here for the response.

  9. Diet Bud says

    Mod Guy thanks for the great post.

  10. Kudos mod guy. Take away 2018 and he’s a nobody. At the same time, in2018 & 2019 Ronnie won back to back SK championships, in the car chase didn’t have the talent to get results, and won a Trip Track championship along the way. Never liked the kid, and never understood all the hype around him. you could train a chimp to drive Ben’s equipment and get results. Put any tour driver in Ben’s equipment, and your talking instant championship contender, yet haven’t heard that about chase.

  11. Well the LFR year did happen and not for Williams. However if you’re being fair I think we can agree that both Williams and Dowling are pretty fair drivers of race cars. Both with significant wins and accomplishments but what are the differences?
    Williams is white collar. A bit of a gadabout enjoying the best a member of an upper crust can afford to provide for their son. Good education, enjoying racing, skiing and whatever other sports he cares to knowing all the time if he minds his P’s and Q’s a lucrative job is waiting for him when he’s ready to enter the workforce. And it all happened according to plan to his credit.. For the most part he’s gotten good rides after his modestly successful beginnings in the family SK. I’m not seeing him bringing sponsorship money to his rides so one can assume the sponsorship is mostly the family business which is about as impressive as it gets in local racing.
    I don’t know Dowling’s family situation but I come from his neck of the woods and if your home town is Roxbury, Ct odds are you’re doing quite well. Chase also a bit of a gadabout but of the blue collar variety not afraid to get his hands dirty. Does what he wants, rolling from one opportunity to another which he can because of a couple things aside from being a good driver. First he’s earned the loyalty of at least two or three significant sponsors on his cars. Second he knows race cars. Not just how to drive them but all the minutia required to make them go fast. He’s a worker bee buzzing around everything racing because it’s his focus in life.
    For me Dowling is the racing ideal that can build it, set it up and race to win. Ben Dodge clearly agrees giving him free reign on the 9ct. Williams is mainly just a good driver that can only race what others can give him. That’s not nothing but it not the entire package either.
    They both are good drivers so pick your poison. The guy with dirt under his finger nails that knows everything about race cars. Or the guy that can race to win every bit as good but is mostly slumming among the unwashed, using them to provide the machines he needs to have fun and doesn’t really care about what goes into how they do it.
    That last reference a bit unfair but not a fan of Williams so please consider the source.

  12. A tale of 2 cities, so to speak
    The way Doug lays it out, Ronnie is a wheelman, who just shows up and drives, Chase on the other hand is the quintessential driver, who does it all.
    In the past there have been both types of people, the wheelman and the racer. I’ve seen allot of wheelmen throughout the years they are referred to as wheelmen, because they show up and get results, letting someone else worry about the mechanical side. I’ve also seen those who do it all, allot of whom, although they can do it all have very little to show for it. Don’t forget, Ronnie win 2 championships driving the exact equipment that Chase couldn’t seal the deal with. Chase drove a full season on the tour for Rob Fuller, in the best possible situation, yet only had 1 win to show for it, a win that was handed to him when the leaders wrecked each other in the final turn. In short, Ronnie is the wheelman Chase wishes he could be.

  13. 🌈🦄2020 says

    Did anyone interview Fuller to ask her what happened? I would have blamed the wind.

  14. Telling it like it is... says

    I have been around long enough to know that there are two sides to every story, in racing sometimes more. I think that in this case it appears that no one (except Shawn) is even mentioning the fact that Ronnie was black flagged for the incident. I have attended many races over the years at Stafford and with the present Race Director, the black flag is not thrown too often and when it is there is a reason for it. The black flag was given to Ronnie because he deserved it, the replay clearly showed Ronnie causing the accident that took out not only Chase but Andrew as well, end of story. In the heat of the moment people say things, if the shoe fits wear it if it doesn’t ignore it. I do know that drivers tend to race others the way they race them, going forward I do not expect Chase to give Ronnie an inch, you need to give respect in order to earn it. Friday night was a long, cold, windy night, I guess we should be thankful that a member of Ronnie’s team did not choose to barge into the tower and confront the Race Director as she did at the 2019 World Series at Thompson. During the Sunoco Modified race Ronnie was given the black flag for contact with Todd Owen, after the penalty was announced, this woman from the 50 team,stormed the tower, which at Thompson also has the announcers in it and started screaming at the Race Director, which was broadcast throughout the stands! The owner of Ronnie’s car left the infield pit area and walked toward the start finish line to display obscene gestures towards the tower. The reason I am even mentioning this incident is people are quick to beat up on Chase about what he said in the heat of the moment, however I feel the actions of the 50 team at Thompson were far worse than what Chase said, after all the race continued on Friday without delay, that was not the case at Thompson! To those who are referring to Chase as “Blue Collar” and Ronnie as “White Collar”, it appears it does not matter what color your collar is, everyone has their undesirable moments! I prefer to call Ronnie a show up and drive, driver where Chase is a hands on driver.

  15. Wreath Kocco says

    That 50 SK team is all about two spoiled kids racing with money their families give them. The team owner is the same as the driver, everything he has is because his family buys it for him. Should call that team “I Want It Now Daddy Racing”.

  16. Don’t like the collar reference do you then how about this. Williams is a shower in the morning kind of guy getting ready for work at Empower Retirement and Dowling a shower at the end of the day kind of guy washing the days work off.
    Chase barely says much even when asked, he said too much Friday night and pretty much is getting trashed on Facebook as a complainer.
    We can like or dislike any driver for any reason. The only responsibility we have as fans is to limit our jabs to their performance on the track, their words and racing persona. I’ve seen Ronnie many a time making his way up to the press box after a win with his perfectly fitting, clean and crisp racing attire observing the ladies swoon as he passes by. He is dreamy for sure.
    Dowling was upset, unloaded in anger and I’m sure knows Williams is a good driver. I too know Williams is a good driver and thus see no point getting into tit for tat on Dowling vs Williams that is loaded with cherry picking and distortions. Every knowledgeable local modified racing fan knows they’re both good drivers. Multiple owners let them both drive their cars because they know they are both good drivers.
    Rocco, Dowling, Kopcik and Owen are the worker bees and I like worker bees. Hands on guys as talented with a wrench or MIG welder in the hands as Williams is with an Excel spread sheet figuring out the shortest route for the wealthy to maximize their net worth. . On the other hand I also realize that Williams, his family, Empower and the elite money they bring to racing is critical for it’s survival. Rocco loves to needle Williams on family money and hands off approach to racing and Owen mentions the buy a ride crowd as well with a bit of skepticism at times. On the other hand they both are making money on the growing buy a ride contingent so there’s that. It’s impossible to be against the idea of pampered children being provided expensive toys for their amusement because it’s so prolific now and arguably the single greatest reason for it’s resurgence.
    If Ronnie Williams is having a bad race that’s a good start to a good race for me and especially if it’s in a Skowyra car. Stafford did a shop tour of the Skowyra operation and it was well stocked with Ronnie rides and neat as a pin as you’d expect. Skowyra every bit as colorless and bottled up as Williams so kindred spirits indeed. What brought a smile to my face was the pile of wrecked parts in the back of the shop the result of a difficult year of wrecks for all things 50.
    With regard to racing I think Williams can be a bully at times going too far with drivers he knows are not likely to retaliate. Like Friday night, like the Thompson incident and a couple times in 2019 pushing Christopher and Kopcik out of the way for SK wins at Stafford. All incidents I may actually respect in other drivers but don’t for Williams. Mainly because I do love taking any opportunity I can to rhetorically spill some ketchup on the perfectly fitting racing suit of his.

  17. Yes – all of this is “part of short track racing”. So, we shouldn’t get too worked up about it. I find it interesting that Preece is not taking much, if any, heat for a very similar incident in the Tour race. I understand that Preece is, deservedly, class A short track racing royalty. But, Williams (who played blue collar hockey at a high level), regardless of occupation, source of funding and team composition/attitude,
    has had a great deal of short track success.

  18. Rafter fan, it’s rather safe to say that the Preece incident was precipitated by the wet racing surface conditions.

    No driver will call NASCAR or the track the bunch of idiots that they are for running with a wet surface, but we certainly can.

  19. The outside spin says

    I just have a question for the commenters on Williams and car owner being spoiled and having everything handed to them.. Do you follow and live with these guys personally to know this? Because I believe Adam works full time, with his parents hardly in the picture. And Ronnie, hm also works full time. Yes his job isn’t getting his hands dirty, but he’s earning a paycheck. Who at the track fully pays for their weekly rides? I can guarantee you, NO ONE. And dowling has Ben dodge to give him a check just for walking into the pits (no driving necessary). Same with Keith Rocco. I’m pretty sure none of his drivers would be racing if their wasn’t some sort of payment from parents or whoever. Hodgen, Mueller, Flynn, Puleo, Narducci, Mikey Christopher all drivers that their parents money is paying for their rides. Hard truth but Christopher doesn’t work on his car either (his dad screams at him for picking up that 1/2 inch wrench) and as a Christopher eh that’s embarrassing. And should any of them wreck, their “deep pocket” parents pay to have their cars on the track for the following week. So again, why are we bashing a single driver who may not be hands on and has support when nearly EVERY OTHER DRIVER DOES THE SAME?! Not everyone had the “poor me I grew up with nothing and had to work for any type of ride” like Keith. That song is as old as the “spoiled rich kid” song. As far as the accident goes, looks like Williams dropped a cylinder, not lost talent and missed a shift. Maybe if you worked on a car Chase, you would’ve noticed that too. Even if he missed a shift, it happens to everyone like Mueller over correcting into chase happens all the time. If dowling putting other drivers down makes him feel better about himself, since his own daddy screams in his ear that he sucks and can do better, than hey. Keep doing it. Shut up and race.

  20. 🌈🦄2020 says

    “White collar, blue collar. But I don’t see it that way. And you know why not? Because I am collar blind.” – Michael Scott

  21. Twenty Eleven says

    Every time someone beats Ronnie his car owner is trying to punch someone. He thinks physical confrontations with other teams and officials is the answer to every problem they have.

  22. Didn’t realize that dropping a cylinder or missing a shift can cause you to plow into the back of another car, you learn something new every day

  23. If anyone is still following this thread, here’s the missed shift and what followed:

  24. Wise guy says

    Not sure what replay you’re watching.. he barely tapped the back bumper of the 35.. I’ve seen far more aggressive moves from Rocco and tc and everyone cheers for it. If anything, Williams needs to get more aggressive. Week in and week out he gives everyone the extra inch or love tap to the Virgin Mary. There’s replays of TC plowing into people and the crowd goes wild. Tod Owen puts people in the pebbles, crowd goes wild. Rocco drives it in deep causing a driver to go sideways, and the crowd goes wild..

  25. Agree with Wise guy. What happened after that contact is on the driver of the other car. I mean, a Mod driver needs to be able to handle that kind of contact, and that means defend against it, be ready for it. As Wise guy said, there is far worse going on as completely normal racing.

    If that was TC doing the tapping, he’d be asking you what are you even talking about???? If that was TC, you people would be blaming the car in front for being in the way.

  26. Wise Guy,
    Ok, so the “Saint Ronnie” stuff gets a little old. I’ll say this, I think Ronnie Williams is a tremendous racing talent and will likely go down some day as one of the best Modified drivers of his generation. But I can’t understand why so many of his defenders feel the need to constantly strafe social media and the comments section here with these visuals of him as the angelic Wonderboy who is 10 times better than any of his competition and always the victim of everything.
    Some fruit loop on Facebook today whining like an untamed Karen that this website should be shut down for disrespecting Ronnie Williams by even comparing him to Chase Dowling.
    Again, I think Ronnie Williams is a great driver, but reading a comment like this one you just posted “Wise Guy” just makes me wonder about why his defenders see everything through the most rose-colored glasses ever made. It’s this weird phenomenon locally that seems to be oddly only uniquely true for Ronnie Williams when it comes to the SK Modified ranks at Stafford.
    One, Williams most certainly was overaggressive in what he did Friday. And obviously the race director felt the same because he penalized him for it. To say he “barely tapped” Molleur is like saying someone who is five feet tall is just barely under six feet.
    And to paint this picture of Ronnie Williams never showing an aggressive side on the track in his life is just downright laughable and entirely untrue. Again, not knocking his driving ability, but acting like Ronnie Williams has never moved anybody on the track or given anyone a slam going into turn three on the final lap is just spinning a fairy tale that’s not true. No, he’s not a wrecking ball, but he’s just as aggressive as the rest of the top competition in the SK Modified division at Stafford. The fact that so many people on here and social media constantly feel the need to paint him as the angelic victim in everything he does is beyond peculiar.
    Look at you Wise Guy, you’ve now used three different names on here over the last 24 hours to submit different comments painting these portraits of Ronnie as the altar boy who gets unfairly bullied by everyone and his crew as members of the local church choir who spend their free time doing volunteer work at the local soup kitchen.

  27. Wise Guy,
    The link I posted is Ronnie’s own in-car footage via Fenceline Films. It’s not a replay. It’s what happened in real time and HD. Notice that I made no judgement on what happened, I shared the link for everyone to draw their own conclusions. Different viewing angles can create different opinions.

  28. Drama queens one and all.

    Look, TC is the metric. TC would trash cars and fans would go wild in adoration. A social worker, psychologist or other mental health expert would be amazed at what goes on at track and how sheeple do what they do. If cars didn’t get out of TC’s way, they were setting themselves up to get walled by TC. Remember his rule… tap-tap and then get moved. If you didn’t get out of TC’s way, it was your fault. And you all LOVED it, absolutely LOVED IT!!!!! Somebody else gets aggressive and they are depraved, defiled, vilified and demonized.

    Ya’ll loved it when TC did it, why not when somebody else does it?

    Be consistent people. When your driver does stupid, call it it out just as you would any other driver.

  29. This is not about the physical incident. It’s about WHO is handing it out and WHO was on the receiving end. Change the names to other favorites and the argument changes directions.

  30. Long time ago when TC was driving the 3 and Lia was in the 4… at Loudon. TC was doing great, but got into it in T2 and hurt the car. He was hobbled and slowed down a bit, going down the front stretch all alone. The 4 was coming up from behind and because the 3 was hobbled, came up very fast and clipped the left rear of the 3, sending TC into the wall. TC was pissed and blamed Lia for taking him out. Truth was TC took himself out earlier in the lap with the tussle in T2 when he hobbled his own car. But in post race interviews when TC played the victim card, he emphasized that you can’t contact the left rear of a Mod or you get it loose and send it high. He was on the receiving end of what he doled out regularly, as standard operating procedure. So to some, Lia was the villain and TC was the victim. To others, TC did it to himself again and got into Lia’s way, making TC the villain and Lia the victim. Both pretty good positions, but you have to acknowledge that TC damaged his car, causing the mess. Ignore that and you can say that TC was a victim, and not his own.

    Be fair and objective and these conversations can be fun and educational. Be an advocate and you can get your feelings hurt.

  31. One Driver wears the Black Hat # 3 ,one Driver the White Hat # 24 ….Everyone picks a side .. Rest is History…. It’s been going on since Ben Hur >>>> People see what they wanna see and disregard all else… Truth is what you believe. Pick a side and don’t waver….

  32. Wise Guy says

    Shawn Courchesne,
    I’ve been around the pit a time or 2. I’ve also been an long time reader of your stuff. No one is painting an angelic picture of this lad and I have never said that nor am I trying to portray that. However, it seems as though you are quite on top of bashing Williams over any other driver. Not sure if there is a conflict of interest between you men or what. I suggest y’all aught to sort it out if that’s case with your big boy pants. However, if it was any other driver with the aggressive move it would be an applaud of an article. So it seems I am confused in that sense.
    I’ve watched the replays, I watched the race, and I’ve watched the in car cameras. And I’m sure I can grab several other In car cameras and replays that display harder hits from other drivers including Williams. This hit was a measly tap and hey, 2 drivers got the shit end because once again, ultimately, mueller over corrected.

  33. Wise Guy,
    Show me one article where I have personally written words bashing Ronnie Williams. Every story I’ve ever written for this website is archived and at your finger tips. Show me one where I wrote any words that were “bashing” of Ronnie Williams, as you’ve stated I apparently do regularly. Let me know when you have that list of stories ready to be posted.

  34. TC wasn’t an angel when he did it, and he played the victim card when he was called the villain. Yaknow, all those other cars were at fault for not getting out of his way… they got themselves wrecked.

    Shawn, these enabling types don’t like anything looking like anything other than praise. Even when all evidence indicates total guilt, you will be accused of bias for publishing said damning proof, even though you are not the creator of that content.

    They know how to boink a car out of the way, and do so, and will also scream 🙀 unfair and play the victim card when they are on the receiving end of getting boinked. It’s okay for them to move cars out of the way, but it’s really bad to get moved out of the way. It’s okay to be the boinker, but not the boinkee.

    It’s okay to say “a win’s a win” when done by moving a car. It’s justifiable indignation to cry when you are moved. It’s all about selling, perception, closing the deal, making the sale.

    As long as TC was glorified for it, it had to become mainstream. There was no stopping it after all TC did. Do unto others before they do it to you. And of course, play the victim card from any angle.

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