Suspensions Handed Down To 18 People Stemming From Fight During NAPA SK 5K At Stafford Speedway Friday 

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

Editor’s Note: On Tuesday Stafford Speedway management rescinded penalties originally given to Nick Danuszar, Morgan Danuszar and Nick Romano. The three members of Stephen Kopcik’s crew were part of the original penalty report but were later deemed to have not participated in what took place Friday.

Stafford Speedway management announced suspensions Monday for 18 people involved in a fight during a caution on lap 25 of Friday’s NAPA SK 5K

The fight erupted following a crash between Stephen Kopcik and Dan Wesson in a battle for third place. 

Wesson was fined $250 and suspended indefinitely. The penalty announcement stated Stafford management would review his possible reinstatement in January 2023. 

“I want to apologize to the fans for the way things spiraled out of control,” Wesson told RaceDayCT. “I didn’t mean to embarrass the track. I know everyone holds Stafford to a very high standard. They’re a very prestigious track in the world of short track racing. I don’t agree with the severity of the penalty. … At the end of the day I understand the track has to make a call. All I can say is I apologize to the fans and hopefully we can all move forward.” 

Kopcik, who has three SK Modified victories at Stafford this year, was fined $250, suspended from competition for the next four events and barred from being in the track pit area for the next two events. 

“I don’t want to say much, but I think four weeks is pretty harsh,” Kopcik told RaceDayCT. 

Seven SK Modified events remain on the schedule for this season at Stafford.

On lap 25 of the 80-lap feature Friday, Kopcik made a move to get under 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 said Wesson came to car his car and spit in his face, which led to him climbing from the car and tackling Wesson to spark the melee. 

Asked if he had any response to Kopcik accusing him of spitting in his face, Wesson said he had no comment on that. 

Other various suspensions were handed down to Wesson’s team owner Eric Wesson and 15 other crew members from each team. The other crew members who were given various suspensions were Shannon Wesson, Morgan Wesson, Mark DiMauro Sr., Mark DiMauro Jr., Griffin Wolunsky, Dave Day, Shane Peele, Glen Edwards, Nick Kopcik, Bruce Clark, Archie Paloian, and Anthony Camerota.

Click Here For The Full Stafford Speedway Penalty Report

Crews make their way onto the track during the fight Friday at Stafford (Image: FlorRacing)

RaceDayCT Poll: Your Thoughts On The Stafford Penalties For Fight During SK 5K


  1. Rich Gourley says

    Pretty stiff penalties handed out by the track. I personally thought the incident was the highlight of the night, but I understand Stafford’s position.

  2. I think the fines are appropriate. I know it’s hard to show restraint, especially on a hot & steamy night, but you cannot have full on “benches” clearing brawls ON the track. If Wesson had just did the usual yelling, pointing finger and such, it would have been done. But I think that it’s safe to assume what Stephen said about the spitting MUST be true, just look at the “NO COMMENT” remark. If I am accused of spitting at someone AND did NOT do it, I’d be screaming from the roof of my hauler saying so.

    I still think it was a bad racing deal. Kopcik being a little “over” aggressive AND Wesson coming down HARD.

  3. I think the suspension are uneven really! Kopcik did a divebomb move that took out and cost slot of people slot of money, he also got out and tackled another driver from behind with punches thrown that also led to the bench clearing if you want to call it that. Wesson spit in Kopcik’ s face which is tasteless in its self but how does that warrant a heavier suspension then Kopcik? Sounds a little bias if you ask me

  4. I agree with Kopcik 4 weeks is a little harsh you can’t expect someone to not react after being spit in the face , that little twerp is lucky he can still walk and talk , can’t imagine any sponsors would stand behind him

  5. ray charles stafford turn 4 official says

    who cares ! . a bunch of baby`s crying…. what about the 51 of Oulette for hooking Sr ?

  6. Things have been really petty at all 3 tracks lately and sooner or later its bound to get messy at one and here we are.

  7. Stiff penalties, maybe. But, if you consider what happened, maybe not stiff enough. To have 2 drivers brawling may have earned them each a week off, but when the crews get involved it takes it to a whole new level. What if one of them boneheads got hit by a race car or safety vehicle? Or what if they injured a safety worker? I do agree Kopcik should have gotten an equal penalty though, and don’t understand why he didn’t, especially seeing it appears he caused the wreck that started all of this

  8. I honestly thought Kopcik made it three wide when I was there in person, I was watching the leaders and caught it out of the corner of my eye. After I saw it on the big screen I thought it was a driver trying to protect the spot at the last moment. Just like the last TC/Pennick battle at Stafford. Everyone can pontificate. But spitting in someone’s face? I guess some people would think that is the most demeaning act someone could do. Others, I guess would like it??? I think it depends on your point of view, like everything. I for one think Kopcik needs to respect himself. And he did. I think it was a response to something nobody does.

  9. Wicked Porgy says

    Holy Canolie Batman,thems some stiff penalties. Stafford puts on too good a show every week to tolerate that kind of behavior from drivers and crews. While entertaing to some fans, I can understand how Stafford wants none of it.

  10. … if Stafford doesn’t address this in a firm manner, the dogs will continue to pee on the rug..

    If you enjoy these kind of highlights, Bowman Gray sounds like the place for your entertainment..

  11. Don’t think the penalties have anything to do with the accident but everything to do with the nonsense after the crash ,could have been a lot worse if Jap ,Leo Cleary or Jimmy Spencer got spit at , no holding those guys back and I wouldn’t blame them , spitting on someone is about as low as you can go

  12. I think the suspension are to severe for a first time offense- Don’t know why things have changed over the years. Many punches have been thrown over the years without such suspensions. Even the Cup guys can have a scuffle without suspensions… JMO

  13. Hillary 2024 says

    So how many times should you be able to spit on someone before you get suspended? It’s no wonder Kopcik went ballistic.

  14. Law and order day…

    Mar-A-Lago raided by the FBI.

    Racist murderers sentenced to life in prison for hate crimes.

    Suspensions handed out to 18 people for fighting at the NAPA SK 5K

    I gotta tellya, it was pretty funny watching people waddle out to T1-2 from the infield. Plenty of very unfit people that were barely able to make the trek.

  15. People, neanderthals, cretins, and other low life forms… the suspensions had nothing to do with the wreck. Wrecks happen all the time with no suspensions.

    These suspensions are all about the idiocy after the wrecking. To be clear, it started with Wesson going to Kopcik’s car, then it just snowballed. Even the good folks at Bowman Gray are laughing at us.

    If the WWE mimicry didn’t happen after the wrecking, there would be no suspensions.

    Take a careful look at the wreck from the perspective of the tower camera. You can see Kopcik started turning, but the left sides were in the dirt, the car then stopped turning and went up quickly into Wesson.

  16. Wesson may have gotten an indefinite suspension, because in some states spitting on another person is considered assault. I don’t know if Connecticut is one of those states. Maybe Kopcik should have kept his helmet on.

  17. Maybe Stafford should go back to no infield pitting. They should at least limit the number of people with each car. You don’t need 8-10 people to put an SK

  18. I Wanna Play says

    Waterford may have some new teams .

  19. Just questions. Are these penalties stiffer then the Rocco punch last year because it was in front of a live and streaming audience? Is Stafford saying enough already and sending a message that the nonsense has to stop? Or was the fact the benches cleared the deciding factor?

  20. The penalties need to be harsh . That way it doesn’t become a common thing . That way racers think twice when it comes to physical fighting . Tough deal. Too bad.

  21. Totally agree RP. 5 max in the infield pit area

  22. Pokey Swan says

    Both of them…. cowards! Acting the way they did …. Is totally stupid!

  23. Rob p. is on to something… limit the people that are allowed in the infield. Owner and just a couple crew. It will reduce the size of the pig piles. 🐷 🐖 🐗

    Or institute a tag-up rule. 🤣 😝

  24. I guess no one noticed the $100.00 fine given to the winning driver for a burnout on the way to victory lane. To me that bridges the gap between running a tight show and just being anal.

  25. Drive shaft says

    WTF. Don’t agree with reducing or eliminating crews from infield. Punish the offenders only. DONT SPIT ON OTHERS. Imagine If there’s a fight in the pits,reduce pit members,fight in the parking lot, reduce people parking. I could keep going. I played and enjoy the infield,so please stop,you party poopers.

  26. well, I thought they would come down hard on them and Stafford did not disappoint. I thought Kopcik would get it worse because he chased after wesson and tackled him which really started the bench clearing brawl. I didn’t know about the magical loogie which when not denied probably happened. Long suspensions here will hopefully deter other drivers from similar behavior. Stafford’s loss may be Thompson or Waterford’s gain. They could use the cars. Stafford has enough cars that they can afford to suspend these two individuals without hurting their show too much. It’s a nice position to be in.

    honestly this same incident happens at Bowman Gray and next week Kopcik and Wesson are starting the feature without penalty. They are probably starting next to each other and pitting side by side on pit row. The Track would probably have a pre-race boxing style weigh in to build up the hype. It’s the Madhouse, more entertainment than racing there. Thiis SK race and altercation will probably be the most talked about weekly feature of the season. What are there 23 comments on the penalties issued, 21 comments on the race story for a total of 54 comments in 4 days. Last week Anthony Bello won his first race story generated 32 comments in 11 days. So perhaps a little entertainment isn’t the worst thing for the track.

  27. WHM,
    The story here is about the fight that took place and the penalties that went along with that fight. This story has nothing to do with the penalty for the donut. Plenty of people before Marcello Rufrano have been penalized for post race donuts and I’m sure more will be in the future. All drivers know about the donut rule before the races. I understand why the rule is in place, which is for the safety of people on the track.

  28. Should’ve given all 18 (or however many) involved a $100 fine. Used the money to buy some speed for the 82 Late Model.
    Nobody gets suspended. Probation for the two drivers.
    Let the handicappers work their magic and start Wesson ahead of Kopchik in the same heat for the next month.
    You betcha I’m buying a ticket. And a hot dog. And a beer.
    Don’t ever recall my non racing friends sending me a video of two drivers patting each other on the back and saying “good job buddy”.

    Happy August! I’m belligerent from the heat 😅

  29. Drive shaft please explain why one car needs more than 5 people in the track pit area.
    Tire guy’
    Jack Guy
    Tune Guy
    Chassis Guy

    What are the rest doing out there??? NO NEED

  30. Shawn…
    I’ve seen others bring topics not covered in your stories (example: politics) to the comment section. I thought that was allowed. Won’t happen again.

    To the subject of the fights and penalties…. For the crews it seems about right for what happened…enough to get their attention. IF Wesson spit on Kopcik (I personally believe he did) then his suspension is not excessive IMHO. As for Kopcik….I’d wager that 99.9% of the drivers in attendance would have reacted the same way he did given the same set of circumstances. That doesn’t make it right but I’m not sure it’s worth 4 weeks off.

    Crew limits… I don’t like the idea of limits. Why punish those who have committed no infractions? Need? Many hands make light work if nothing else. How about shop help? Someone volunteers time during the week to work on the car but they can’t go to the pits when you race but others can? Maybe bringing a couple of potential sponsors to the pits to see how things work….get them involved and hooked on your car and willing to write checks. The list is longer, but I hope I’ve made my point. Punish those that violate rules, not those that abide by them.

  31. Drive shaft says

    Ok police. One,watch race with your friends. Two, Watch the race with your family. Three,grandpa comes twice a year. Four,electrical,five,young people getting into the sport. Chances are the tire guy,chassis guy,etc are the first to fight. So tell me police,what should SMS do.

  32. You clearly need your girlfriend/boyfriend, brother/ sister. mother, father and the primary team sponsor in the pits. You start limiting the people in the pits you are taking revenue away from the track. Pretty sure Stafford requires a license for crew member to go onto pit row LM SK and tour types. Not required for members staying in the paddock area SKL LLM SS. So limiting the amount of people on pit row would be limiting the license revenue they bring in. In this altercation among 2 teams 18 people are penalized you can certainly make a point that there are too many people on pit row per team.

  33. Stuart A Fearn says

    Ken L – that sounds like a very simple answer but just like a lot of things it’s just not that simple. When stuff goes down and the championship might hang in the balance between getting the car back out there or losing laps then it’s all hands on deck brother. Could take ten guys all working at different things to get it done, you never know.
    Very infrequently is there an issue with fighting between the crews, especially when the drivers are not there. Lots of trash talking but rarely a fight. For instance, just last week, the crew one or two spots from us started getting some crap from one individual that was behind the wall unexpectedly early. This crew (or driver of said crew) had nothing to do with this guy getting knocked out of the race. Some words but no fist-a-cuffs.
    In my opinion there is not a problem. One event does not make a problem. This erupted when one chose to spit on another in anger, like it or not those are the facts.

  34. Cheryl Membrino says

    Daaamn, I missed a brawl on the infield?!?! (kidding) 🏁👊🏻

  35. WHM,
    The way your comment was worded I read it that you were trying to say I should have mentioned the fine to Rufrano in the story also. Was just making clear that the story had nothing to do with that penalty.

  36. Dareal and anyone else. If you see a car coming down to you coming into the turn, do you not react and turn left? Or do you just Neanderthal into a car? I guess I have a new phrase! You all enjoy Neanderthalling some more. I guess we know who likes my latter, not former. Keep on being, and enjoy…

  37. There’s a lot of merit to the limit be it 5 or whatever. Certainly enough to get the job done most of the time, More importantly equalizing the personnel for all teams something that is fundamentally more fair.
    Can’t help but think though that there were 42 SK and LM teams on pit road at some point and only two got into it. The rest multiplied times all the events this sort of thing has not happened over the years that is for all intents and purposes all of them best I can recollect.
    So a friend at work who isn’t into racing for some reason decides to buy you a couple tires because he considers you a buddy. You tell him he can join you in the infield for the feature and get a first hand look right in the thick of the action. Might even create a new race fan or sponsor. But no that’s not allowed under the new rule because a couple teams did something that almost never happens.
    Punishment has been dolled out, point made. No changes.

  38. Off topic but infield pitting is terrible for watching racing. When we raced I loved watching from the pit stands, sitting with the other teams, every time the yellow came out you had to anticipate running down to your pit. Once they went to infield pitting the experience of watching the races is lost, screwing yourself into the ground watching just you car. IT won’t stop fights.. we had plenty back in the day but we never got suspended or fined

  39. csg, I don’t think anybody is saying limiting people in the pits, but limiting people that go to the infield. Big difference.

  40. Take infield pitting away from the SK’s for a week. No pitting,vid you break you park. Then limit the crew for each car to 6 people. Guaranteed you won’t see anymore turn 1 brawls.

  41. You can enter pits without a Stafford license but you can enter infield only with a Stafford license so it is somewhat limited , if it also was a spitting free area that would help a lot too

  42. Next drivers meeting….
    What’s the sign say?
    No Spitting!!!

    What’s that sign say?
    No fighting!!!

  43. Now we will have the Spitting Police. 👮‍♂️

    And then we will have the Libertarians saying it is a free country, I can spit where and when I want!!!!

    As if the Thought Police weren’t enough.

  44. Didn’t Competition Director Fox speak about behaviors during Driver’s meeting Friday? That it wasn’t Bowman Gray? My how people forget less than 4 hours later. Not the image Stafford wants to portray.

    Scope of penalties – driver responsible for actions for team members. It says so in rules. Do people forget this? You get a mass of crew members/spectators/family violating policy clearly on video tape. There is no valid debate here. Period.

    Didn’t Wesson shove a safety official when exiting car on video? That combined with reports of he spitting on another competitor, along with the visible actions on camera (and who knows what off camera that we didn’t see) of his crew/family are reason enough for he to sustain higher penalty. In Covid/Post Covid era, bodily fluids should be kept to self – no brainer.

  45. Rob no more brawls ? Your going to just walk away after someone spits in your face ,gee whiz that wasn’t very nice please don’t spit on me again ,that should do it

  46. The good folks from Bowman Gray are feeling a bit threatened lately.

  47. If you take infield pitting away for a week and make it crystal clear that if there is another incident the people involved will be suspended, it won’t happen again. If you make it clear that anyone who spits on someone will be ejected for life, and criminally charged it won’t happen either. Would you want to be the person who ended infield pitting? It’s a privilege the track gave to the teams some years ago. Before that if you broke you had to sit in the infield until a caution, and once in the pits, you could get trapped in there. You should be able to pit a car with 5 people, and everyone should be able to behave.

  48. Judge Smails says

    Also at the next driver’s meeting.

    I’ve sentenced boys younger than you to the the gas chamber. Didn’t want to do it, felt I owed it to them.

  49. Wow unbelievable…..I remember when Leo Cleary and Don Flynn we’re rolling down track in first turn….at that time they went to Stafford Police Station for a visit….

  50. Wow unbelievable…..I remember when Leo Cleary and Don Flynn we’re rolling down track in first turn….at that time they went to Stafford Police Station for a visit….what a night

  51. OK then now they we’ve all vented with everything being as the Stafford management wishes and not what any of us would like to see how about thinking about how this affects upcoming races.
    Tell you what that penalty notice has to be a record setter in terms of shear length and perhaps severity of the penalties for a large group of people. The Wesson clan is done at Stafford for this year in their entirety seeing as the team is essentially the entire family. Will they be on to the Speedbowl? From outward appearance it seems like a perfect fit for the Wesson clan.
    Stephen Kopcik another matter. He’s not only the driver he’s Stephen Kopcik Motorsports. Responsible for cars other then the 21 and not being at Stafford for couple weeks not just a points issue. Can’t race in the Lincoln Tech open either. Could be a set back seeing he’s been in the 179 for 3 of the 4 opens so far including the Sizzler.
    So who’s going to hold a grudge against the track and who isn’t. History says no one will. Rocco may or may not have dialed back his open participation after last years suspension. Otherwise he, Narducci and Williams clearly knew the reality, the 21 and 92 teams will as well. If you want be a major player in modified racing and you live in Connecticut you’re going to be wanting to race at Stafford.
    Will the 21 race tomorrow night with a different driver? You’re gonna need a new crew as well as driver for that to happen so one would think no.
    Will the racing be sub par tomorrow night without the 21 or 92 a couple of really good teams? Please, have you looked at the results lately. The division no longer dominated by 3 or 4 cars it’s a cauldron of equal competition by gum.
    How good is Wesson and how big a loss is it to the track? Well funded team, completely committed and Wesson has shown glimmers this year of improvement. I’d rate it a significant loss.
    How good is Kopcik and how big a loss is he to the track. He’s one of three major contributors to the SK division with his hand in more then his own car so the loss really big. As for driving he’s almost there but not quite. Seems to fail to see the bigger picture at times going all in on risky moves that aren’t worth the gamble in my view. Like last Friday night. Really how many times does a bottom shot pay dividends in turn one and how many times does it end badly? That and under Dan Wesson of all drivers. Patience grasshopper and look to 3, that’s your meal ticket to the championship next year.
    Ben Dodge went under the knife recently in one of the ongoing steps to help him deal with the big C. Obviously for privacy reasons there can’t be any complete explanation of his situation but if interested Chase Dowling Racing on Facebook may a good place to check into from time to time. For the rest of us we wait, watch and hope for the best.
    Zoom, zoom!

  52. Rafter fan says

    2 weeks for Kopcik and 4 weeks for Wesson would have made sense to me. But, in the end, I opt to remain in the “Stafford knows best” camp.

  53. Dareal. My comment was to the point Stafford requires a license in order to go onto pit row infield pitting. Limiting the amount of people on pit row would reduce revenue for stafford in the form of less licenses sold. Anyone can go in the pits but to go on pit row you need that license. There really isn’t any need for a crew member license if you aren’t going to the infield pitting. At least that is how I remember the license requirement when I looked into it when they dumped Nascar. This altercation, while unfortunate is really the exception rather than commonplace. They have been infield pitting for years and I dont recall any other altercations that turned into bench clearing brawls. Maybe its my goldfish memory but aside from a few pushes yelling and what not I don’t recall fighting on pit row being a big problem. The offenders in this altercation have been punished severely as an example and warning to other teams on pit row to show this type of behavior will not be tolerated. I don’t think limiting pit row occupants’ mid-season is necessary at this time. How can you sell a license to allow team members to go on pit row at the beginning of the season then say each team is only allowed a certain amount of people.

  54. csg, that’s cool and I understand you and your use of terminology. I see you are indeed one of the most experienced and knowledgeable folks around these forums. But for the benefit off others, such as the Barcaloungers, they need to understand the difference between the pits and infield, and you did a great job 👏 explaining that. I only hope they can understand.

  55. C. J. Martone says

    Lesson Learned — I was not there this week. My first time as an out of state family member I was in the Pit a few weeks ago. All I can say is — Talk About “Team Work” I could not believe how ALL got in worked and got the car out on the track-barely talking to one another-just picked up a part and worked on it, until it could be on the track again–like I said “Team Work” — Now it would be great if OUR WORLD could have that kind of TEAM WORK — Love 92 and ALL who are connected !! Now who would want to be spit upon — at least no body parts got broken or bruised; except egos — and all of us have one!! No matter what age, we can always learn and this is harsh for all. Pray it will be remembered. I just know that “F” word was not spoken by anyone!!!!! Ha Ha Enjoy Life

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