Ring It Up: Rookie Anthony Bello Scores First SK Modified Win At Stafford Speedway

Anthony Bello celebrates victory in the SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – Last Friday night at Stafford rookie SK Modified driver Anthony Bello showed the crowd on hand that he was ready to go victory lane at the historic half-mile. 

Bello fought for the victory for multiple laps with eventual race winner Keith Rocco in the 40-lap SK Modified feature on July 22. 

Friday Bello showed he had the mettle to get the job done. 

Bello came out on top of a feisty late race battle with Marcello Rufrano to win the 40-lap SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford Speedway. 

It was the first career SK Modified victory at Stafford for the 16-year old from Newtown. 

“The way that me and Stephen Kopcik set up our cars and take care of cars week in and week out, one hundred percent from the Spring Sizzler when we finished eighth I knew that this year we were going to rack up one of these things if not a few of these things,” Bello said. “We’re on track. We can possibly rack up a few more. That’s what we’re going for.” 

Bello became the ninth different winner in 13 SK Modified events this season at Stafford. There were 10 different winners in 20 SK Mod races last year at Stafford. Eight races remain for the division on the 2022 schedule.

Bello started 17th and clawed his way into contention over the first 15 laps.

“This place, it’s tough,” Bello said. “Really tough. It’s probably the toughest race track racing wise that I’ve ever raced at. I’m just happy for this place to be my home track and race here every Friday night.” 

Rufrano, of North Haven, finished second and Todd Owen of Somers was third. 

Rufrano, looking for his first win the division, looked to have the car to beat much of the event. 

“It just tastes sour in my mouth,” Rufrano said. “We were just so close. Late in the run there it just seemed like the right front was losing grip and I just didn’t have the center roll [through the corners] like it had earlier in the race. Congrats to Anthony. Hell of a run he had. It was fun battling with him for the last 20 laps of that race. It’s just dejecting man. So close and I’ve just fought so hard in this division for the last couple of years.” 

With Rufrano leading, Owen got by Bello for second place on lap 25, but three laps later Bello fought back to regain second place. 

Bello stalked Rufrano at the front. On lap 35 contact from behind from Bello got Rufrano squirrelly on the backstretch. Rufrano was able to save the car from wrecking, but Bello was long gone before he could wrangle the car back in. 

“Marcello was definitely hard to pass,” Bello said. “I messed up a little on the backstretch. I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to get into him like that. I’m not sure what happened there.

“… We got a really good run coming off of [turn] two. Marcello is a really great kid. Racing with him is awesome. Me and him talked it over. Racing incident I think. We’re both racing hard for our first [SK Modified] win here at Stafford. Sometimes that’s what you’ve got to do.” 

Said Rufrano: “The backstretch deal is the backstretch deal. I’m not really worried about it. It goes in the memory bank for next week.” 

Owen, the reigning division champion and current points leader, was content with the third place finish. 

“It was a really good night for us,” Owen said. “We just did we had to do tonight. A situation getting ready for the [SK 5K]. Hats off to these two guys, they’re the young guys up front. They were putting on a pretty good battle.” 

In victory lane Owen offered a message for track announcer Ben Dodge who missed the second consecutive week of action due to illness. 

“I wanted to win for Ben,” Owen said. “I know he’s at home, he’s a little under the weather. I want him to know that there isn’t a moment that goes by here on a Friday night that we don’t miss his voice and miss his personality here for sure.” 


  1. So I’ve heard a number of drivers comment on Hines aggressive style. It hasn’t really been on my radar but now it is. Couldn’t see the actual cause of the spin but he was hammering JP pretty good leading up to the jingle. He says JP seemed to have spun on his own on the straight away of all places. I’m thinking possible but not probable.
    Thing is it was just so early in the race, no need to be bumping anyone in traffic and it took out guys in contention including Rocco and Christopher.
    Hines needs to dial whatever he’s doing back a bit in my view it will benefit everyone including himself the most.


    Not a fan of Hines but he might have been the meat in the sandwich. watch the replay. the pack(s) in the mods and the SKL were not kind to the slower cars especially down the front stretch and between 1 and 2 ..he would have been more credible if he said “I was getting pushed from behind and its a racing deal ” … he chose not to.. Puleo needs to learn that’s racing tough luck…

  3. Isn’t this terrific we get to watch the replays and debate what we saw?
    I was seeing no sandwich meat unless it was Hines between Ruffrano who was clearly using too much bumper that may of may not have influenced Hines and the spin.
    I stand corrected. Good call on getting pushed from behind deal and what he should have said. Puleo just seems to be a victim a lot.

  4. Great race after they got the first 10 laps done.

  5. on Flo it appears that JP lost it a little before being hit by Hines.

  6. check up or wreck up says

    a pack or cars or sometimes even a single car are are NOT going to lift if the guy in front of them is loose and slows in a corner or is waiting to get back on the gas. its a rare occurrence these days….I guess you could check up and cause a wreck or drive thru them with the same result. either way Puleo HAS been the victim many times this year….and that’s racing . patience in the early part of a race and getting acclimated to the way your car is handling might be best but clearly that is NOT being practiced. witness the SKL where everyone drives like its a 10 lap race in the feature..

  7. watching it on Flo it looked like Puleo got a little lose slowed down to gather it up and Hines got into him. I wouldn’t put all the blame on Hines on this one. I was a little surprised by Puleo’s comments during his in race post-accident interview. I was actually thinking during the interview I should look at it again but havent yet. I only watched it once with whatever replays Flo showed during the live broadcast. So I may be wrong, but that was my initial reaction.

    Overall, the Sk’s at Stafford have been great this year. Its the depth of the field which makes them great. So many different winners. Very competitive, pretty much 1 thru 15 has a chance to win. The feeder SK lights division numbers have been impressive as well which bodes well for the future health of SK’s. Kudos to Stafford they have a great open wheel program right now.

    I wonder what kind of viewership numbers Stafford is drawing on Flo. I know during one of the midweek dirt late models races the studio slipped out their viewership and, in my opinion, it was shockingly high. Much higher than I expected. I wish I remember what it was but I dont off the top of my head. I dont expect Stafford to pull in high numbers like Late models as they are more widely followed accross the country and there is less competition for a midweek show vs a Friday Stafford show. It would be interesting to find out the viewership for Stafford. Hopefully it is respectable, and the coverage continues.

  8. I think the race track calls on contact are ridiculous this year. If someone spins.. someone is going to the back weather it is intentional or over aggressive or unavoidable contact. The worst call I have seen was when contact was made and the cars behind the contact spun, never in my life I have seen a driver penalized for someone behind them spun. Not very consistent on the severity of penalty either. The only consistency is someone is going to the back if someone spins or crashes.

  9. I agree Stafford seems to be quick to penalize a guilty party when there is contact resulting in a spin. Its pretty much an automatic penalty it seems. Can be frustrating at times as you can see an argument for why no penalty should be administered. Then you watch a race from Bowman Gray and there are no penalties for spinning someone. It could be the first lap for 15th or last lap for first. The guilty party isn’t going to get penalized. Then you get the victim dangerously chasing the guilty party all around the track trying to extract some form of vengeance fueled justice. Stafford’s method is safer more professional of the two methods of dealing with on track incidents, Bowman Grays method seems to put more engaged fans in the seats. i would argue somewhere in between is probably the sweet spot but then you get into the scary area of judgement calls which can lead to questions of favoritism. No doubt It’s a tough spot for the race officials.

  10. I’m not seeing any of this over zealous penalty calling for contact at least not recently. Nothing called last week and two each the prior two weeks. Figure out the number of competitive laps and a couple calls is insignificant.
    What is less obvious is the trend toward bad behavior. The Anglace double middle finger episode got a lot of attention. More under the radar is the potty mouths when interviewed. Michael Bennett refusing to go to the ambulance. Ryan Fearn a few weeks back gets a drive through penalty then is parked for some other nonsense after the drive through. Adam Skowyra and another crew member of the 50 got suspensions for conduct unbecoming for actions unspecified last Friday.
    What’s going on here?

  11. Rosa Parks says

    Y’all talking bout penalties for bumps and spins. Why nobody talking bout the owner that got tossed out for a week for throwing round the N-word?

  12. Hello Shawn any comments or feedback ? Thank you.

  13. Steve M,
    Comments or feedback on what?

  14. Sorry Shawn my fault for not being specific: On the Stafford penalties of a team owner/ team members of a top SK driver. Thank you for this forum.

  15. In Da Know says

    I can comment as an insider. If you look at the penalty notices on the Stafford Speedway website for last week, there was no owner suspended for any reason. In the pits after the SK race, there was a driver who was taken out of the race late who did encounter a crew member from another team who had words including that N word. No penalty for that listed so I guess no complaint filed. The penalty that was listed with the members of the #50 team started with the 85 stopping in their pit stall on pit road after the race, and some hell broke loose. Ironic that the earlier incident I mentioned had to do with the same 85 Team – they seem to be in the middle of conflict weekly. JMO.

  16. Steve M,
    All I can say is what I was told is there was a confrontation with another team and members of the No. 50 team entered another team’s pit area which led to the penalty. There is plenty of talk on social media about other unsavory things that were said during the confrontation. I can’t say what exactly was said or what wasn’t said.

  17. Thank you for your response Shawn. If it was enough for Stafford Speedway to issue a penalty, is it enough to issue an article on the penalty of a top SK driver in the championship points ?

  18. Steve M,
    The driver of the team was not suspended. If the driver of the team had been suspended there would definitely have been an article.

  19. Bow Wow Wow says

    So InDaKnow yer saying just coincidence that the people who sounded like they were singing a Snoop Dog song were also the same two who got suspended?

  20. wasnt a driver suspended for a week for actions his crew did without him? I think some crew member went into another pit and started a fight. I think it happened witin the last couple of years. Maybe Rocco and Narducci. Anyone remember something like this at Stafford. What is the difference between the two incidences?

  21. CSG,
    I think you’re referring to the incident last year involving Bryan Narducci, Keith Rocco and Ronnie Williams. It’s my understanding of that incident that Ronnie Williams entered the pit area of Bryan Narducci and the ensuing confrontation took place in that area. All three were suspended.

  22. Regarding a driver suspension for actions of his or her crew there is a precedent. July 2019, George Bessette Jr. suspended for an incident instigated by his sister involving Meg Fuller.

  23. Stuart A Fearn says

    CSG has a very good point. The standard at Stafford (and most tracks in my experience) is the drive takes responsibility for the entire crew. If that standard is upheld then Ronnie Williams, driver of the 50 with the suspended owner, is also suspended for a week. It has been my experience also that the track reviews all issues over the course of a couple days and makes final determination on Monday after talking to the parties involved. After discussion with the offenders, consideration of the facts, and the impact of the penalties issued the track decided to suspend the owner only and not the driver.
    Ronnie Williams is second in points behind Todd Owen. A suspension of Williams is the death penalty and realistically too harsh. Charging into someone else’s pits is simply an invitation to fight and instigate. Happens way too much in my opinion. Bottom line is the driver dodged a bullet and avoided a suspension. Stafford was very lenient and compassionate in their decision.

  24. Doug and Stuart,
    You’re both right, there is definitely precedent for a driver being suspended because of the actions of their crew. I can’t speak for what it was about this situation, or how it’s presented in any situation, where that decision to penalize a driver for what someone else did is used. I can’t explain why that precedent wasn’t in play for this particular situation.

  25. “I wonder what kind of viewership numbers Stafford is drawing on Flo. I know during one of the midweek dirt late models races the studio slipped out their viewership and, in my opinion, it was shockingly high. Much higher than I expected.”

    I wonder if SRX being televised nationally on network TV helped put Stafford on the map for new viewers?

  26. “I think the race track calls on contact are ridiculous this year.”

    Race control may be seeing a very different incident than we see live.

    A lot of penalty calls are made after reviewing replays. One of the side benefits of creating the Flo feed is race control can ask for various angles and replays. I hear race control making requests to the production crew on the radio after many incidents.

  27. Capt. Mike Qbvious says


    Having seen a few instances of a driver being penalized for a crew member’s actions at my local track, the reasoning for it is that the driver is responsible for their crew. It’s the same reason a driver is disqualified for an illegal part even if they didn’t know about the part or weren’t the ones to install it. The driver is ultimately responsible for what’s in their car, and they’re also responsible for the actions of their crew members, so they’re the ones held accountable if either one is a problem.

  28. The driver is without a doubt responsible for the crew at Stafford. It’s clearly stated in the General rule book under the heading “Violations and Disciplinary Action
    General Scope of Penalties”

  29. Said poorly by me but that was the point of my comment. Top driver, suspended crew member, inquiring minds may be interest and this seems to be the forum for that info. Not an SK50 fan but I am a race fan that prefers to see it settled on the track vs what appears to be a smaller penalty of a crew member.

  30. Stuart A Fearn says

    I wasn’t there but it appears this was an off track deal, no one was injured or fists flying so therefore a compromise penalty. I’m sure the people being punished are not happy and possibly the “victim” as well, but again I have no idea. A settlement where both sides are a bit unhappy is a good compromise they say.
    On to the SK5K!

  31. Be real people, if stafford suspended ronnie williams every time his crew chief called someone the n-word at the track he’d be in about 4 races a year.

  32. “Owner/Driver/Crew/Team Members are all subject to all applicable rules and agreements found in their corresponding divisional rules and the SMS General rules. Additionally, the drivers are responsible for the actions of all their team owners, pit crew personnel, and associated team members.”

    To paraphrase the great Captain Jack Sparrow observing that the “Pirates code” was more of a guideline, the Stafford rules may be as well.

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