Finally Found: Marcello Rufrano Scores First Stafford SK Mod Victory In NAPA SK 5K 

Marcello Rufrano celebrates victory in the SK 5K Friday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – It’s a fair argument to say over the last three seasons Marcello Rufrano has been the most snakebitten driver in the SK Modified division at Stafford Speedway. 

Time and time again the North Haven driver has been in position to score his first SK Modified victory at the track, only to have it snatched in way in depressing fashion each time. 

That was the case last week when Rufrano lost the lead in the SK Modified feature to Anthony Bello on lap 35 of the 40-lap event. 

Friday at Stafford – in the biggest event of the season for the division – Rufrano finally shook off the snakebitten tag. 

Rufrano drove away from Todd Owen over the closing laps to win ninth annual 80-lap NAPA SK 5K Friday at Stafford. 

“Man, this means everything to me man,” Rufrano said. “It’s been a hell of a four years let me tell you something.” 

It was Rufrano’s first SK Modified victory, coming in his 68th career start in the division. Rufrano has run full-time in the SK Modified at Stafford since the 2019 season. 

“It’s been a burden for the past couple seasons now,” Rufrano said. “We felt like we’ve been there a bunch. This year we’ve been knocking on the door. Finally got it all together. I can’t say enough about my guys. This is absolutely amazing. We went through this car this week like you wouldn’t believe. We found so much stuff that was wrong. We got it back to where it needed to be.”

Rufrano become the 10th different winner in 14 SK Modified events this year at Stafford. There were 10 different winners in 20 SK Modified races last year at Stafford. Seven races remain for the division on the 2022 schedule.

Rufrano dedicated the victory to longtime Stafford announcer Ben Dodge, who has missed recent events at the track due to illness. 

“This is for a special man tonight,” Rufrano said. “This if for Ben Dodge. I texted him on the way here. I told him I was winning this one for him. He’s struggling right now and we need all the prayers for him.” 

Owen, of Somers, was second and Keith Rocco of Wallingford third. 

“We had a great car,” Owen said. “Marcello was way overdue. I’m happy to see him and his family, they come here and support the race track, they gave a little extra for the heat race bonus today. Hats off to them. He’s been working real hard.” 

Said Rocco: “Congrats to Marcello and John [Rufrano], it’s long overdue. They’ve been trying for a while to get that win. I’m glad they got it.” 

Rufrano earned $5,725 for the victory. 

The event also included a Gambler’s Challenge with 31 drivers putting up $100 each and the track matching the pot with $3,100. The draw for the bonus went to driver’s finishing sixth through 10th which was Anthony Bello, Jon Puleo, Andrew Molleur, Ronnie Williams and Michael Gervais Jr. respectively. Each driver earned a $1,240 bonus. 

Rufrano went by Dan Wesson for the lead on lap 13. Caution flew on lap 23 when contact between Williams and Bryan Narducci sent Williams spinning in turn three. Narducci was penalized for the incident. 

On the ensuing restart Owen got by Wesson for second place. 

The race was then stopped on lap 25 when a brawl erupted on track following a wreck in turn one. 

Stephen Kopcik made an aggressive move to get under third place running Wesson going into turn one. Contact between them sent both cars into the turn one wall, also collecting the car of Mikey Flynn. 

After the wreck Wesson’s car came to rest near the wall with Kopcik’s car stopping on the grass in turn one. Wesson climbed from his car, shook off a track official and ran toward Kopcik’s car. Wesson went to the side of Kopcik’s car for a moment and then began walking away. 

Kopcik then rushed out of his car and sprinted at Wesson, bear hugging him into a huge takedown onto the ground. As officials tried to break up the two on the ground crews poured from pit road to where the fight was taking place and more scuffles broke out.  Kopcik alleged that Wesson spit in his face, which he said elicited his reaction to get out of the car and tackle Wesson.

Stephen Kopcik tackles Dan Wesson after a wreck on lap 25 of the SK 5K Friday at Stafford (Image: FloRacing)

Rufrano held the lead on the ensuing restart, but it was Owen moving past him for the top spot off turn four on lap 33. 

Caution flew once again on lap 37 with Owen leading Rufrano and Keith Rocco in third. 

On the restart it was Rufrano moving past Owen for the lead with Jon Puleo moving to second and Owen falling to fourth. Rocco moved past Puleo for second on the next lap. Owen was able to claw back and move by Rocco for second with 12 laps remaining. 

“We were just playing the game there in the beginning,” Rufrano said. “Once [Owen] got by us I knew we had a pretty good car and I just needed to maintain my pace behind him and save my stuff. And then once we got that restart that was kind of golden for me. I took advantage of that last restart and got out front and just walked away.” 


  1. Get Serious says

    Well, we won’t be seeing Kopcik on the Stafford track for a while. Fool.

  2. bill michael says

    congratulations marcello good job driver and crew.

  3. knuckles mahoney says

    Kopcik = Idiot

  4. Not the headline or even a footnote for that matter but we talked about Puleo last week and something happened that was relevant. Lap 7 toward the front Williams comes up on a lagging Puleo, bumps him, JP stumbles to the outside lane and Williams is gone. Puleo recovered nicely to finish a strong 7th but there’s a lull in his driving style that they might was to take a look at. It happens too often.
    Narducci and Williams making life miserable for each other on the track is getting to be a regular theme this year. Does it go back to the paddock dust up and suspension last year or before that?
    Never thought Marcello was a gifted driver. You know the young phenom that blasts on the scene doing remarkable things with a steering wheel. More the type that paid his dues, learned and now is a complete driver.
    Had goose bumps in anticipation of the win. Hoping there wouldn’t be a caution and he could get that first win under his belt. Watched the young man for years and he’s just so elegant. So many wrecks, second place finishes, tires going away late and he’s handled all the disappointments as well as anyone could. That has to come from mom and dad so well done on that.
    Todd Owen over to congratulate him was nice to see. Apparently too far for Rocco to walk even after all John Ruffrano has meant to KRR. Did congratulate him in his interview so check the minimum box as complete.
    Thought the jingle was a racing deal. Wesson had the line, didn’t calculate that Kopcik would be inside him and bad things happened. Bing, bang, boom it happened so fast. What’s the verdict, racing deal or was a driver error afoot?
    Don’t suppose we could interpret the sprint, tackle and fall as a rush to apologize between two buddies that looked bad because Kopcik may have tripped. Didn’t think so. I suppose the precedent is the Rocco two race suspension plus extra’s. We’ll see but this extends the bad behavior so one has to wonder.
    What the suck you guys!

  5. Stuart A Fearn says

    See Doug this is what happens when you don’t leave your sofa and all you do is watch from the couch. Do you love insulting Rocco and his interviews. What you don’t know is Rocco comes over and talked to the Rifrano‘s every single week in the pits. Before the races, Win lose or draw. They’re good friends so that’s some stuff you don’t see from the sofa.

  6. David Fisher says

    Kopcik’s fault. He made a late move, and had full view in windshield. The other guy couldn’t have seen that coming. Stupid move by a usually-good driver. Suspensions for the fight should be announced soon.

  7. It’s a Barcalounger and I have to say I’m a little hurt that you would be confused about that it’s not like I haven’t mentioned it.
    Here’s the deal big guy. I say a lot. I get most of it right but also frequently get things wrong. I know that because I say a lot and am on the edge constantly it riles people up such as yourself. Then you respond waiving your finger, throwing around the most convenient taunt and you’d think it would bother me but not at all. In fact it’s a good thing as long as it motivates someone such as yourself to give the inside perspective from the paddock.
    When I wrote that line I thought there was a high likelihood of a strong response. Not from you so much but you did carry some water on this one, the people that read it learned something and that’s what this forum should be about.
    Thanks for that!

  8. Stuart you are absolutely right , Rocco is not one to put on a show for the cameras , I didn’t stick around but I bet in tech he was probably the first to congratulate Ruffranos and crew

  9. What week hasn’t Dan Wesson been in a wreck

  10. I went to a WWE event and a race broke out!!!!

    🤣 😝 😆 😂 😛

  11. IT’S A MADHOUSE!!!!

  12. Stuart A Fearn says

    barcalounger. I stand corrected.
    At first watch I put the blame on Kopcik too but Wesson very clearly changed lanes and tried to use the whole track while in tight traffic. 92 caused Stephan to have to take evasive action and went into the grass.

  13. Stuart A Fearn says

    Suspensions will come, might be Mrs Mom Wesson as well…. she was right in the pile landing some haymakers! Her arms were going like a windmill. FLO video when the track official has Kopcik over by the ambulance you will see.
    Momma bear mode. Can’t blame her, she’s protective!

  14. Kopcik tried to do something usually reserved for the stupid drivers. Very surprised to see Kopcik do something like that. There were plenty of laps left. Bad move. Really bad move.

  15. wmass01013 says

    Shows how little you really know about racing you fool Kopcik’s car was wrecked, so plenty of more laps to do what????????????.

  16. wmass01013, you idiot… there were plenty of laps left for Kopcik to make gains, instead he chose to force an issue and got his ass wrecked. Capice, chooch?

    Kopcik was in the dirt before Wesson appears to get low. Kopcik had his left sides in the dirt and only had two tires to work with, not good at all when you are trying to go deep, as he was. You can see the proof in the video where his car is laying down sparks because the left side of the chassis is low when the left sides are in the dirt. That upset his car. His car seems to have lost grip and moved up rather quickly into Wesson.

    Kopcik usually races much smarter than that. He put himself into a bad position.

    If Kopcik’s car didn’t lose grip, they might have gotten away with rubbing through the turn for a bit.

  17. knuckles mahoney says

    wmass, he was talking pre-wreck. He had plenty of laps to get by him. Never understood the rush when you’re clearly faster and have laps to go, why you put yourself in jeopardy. Dumb, Dumb, Dumb.

  18. Stop the Bitching let’s Give The Winner congrats 🎉

  19. All Seeing says

    Doug must be smoking that pack if he thinks rufrano was never a gifted driver.

  20. Congrats to Marcello and the whole team. They say the first is the best, even better when your first is an extra distance special event.

  21. dirt is for farming , the octagon for fighting , says

    kopchick left sides in the dirt prior to wesson moving down. kopchick was committed and lost the car….call it a racing deal if it makes you feel better or blame wessons spotter ! . wessons car is JUNK. PS its embarrassing to see crew running to the scene ,reminded me of the three stooges or the keystone cops. man and women great and small falling, tripping, spitting ,throwing haymakers LOL …embarrassing ! . why cant people just leave it between drivers? what was more egregious is oulette clearly overdriving on the last lap for one more spot should be a driving instructor at the police academy on how to end pursuits . he caused a very scary wreck and the best run for Sr. very lucky that cage didn’t collapse. Oulette is a moron. Rufrano finally got what was probably the most expensive first win in Stafford SK history but was honest and gracious in victory. Owen of course the gentleman and Rocco if he remains consistent should have a much better season here on out although he going to be busy busy fixing wrecked cars this week.

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