Anthony Bello Disqualified From SK Mod Win At Stafford; Mike Christopher Jr. Declared Winner 

Mike Christopher Jr. (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

Mike Christopher Jr. left Stafford Speedway Saturday thinking he had just one more chance this year to avoid going winless in regular SK Modified features at the track in 2022. 

That all changed Tuesday. 

Following a review of the event, Christopher was declared the winner of the 40-lap SK Modified feature from Saturday at the NAPA Fall Final. 

Anthony Bello won the race on track but was disqualified after it was determined that adjustments were made to his car following the race.

“That feels good,” Christopher said. “I hate if for Bello, but whatever, it is what it is. My old man will be happy, We’ll get a nice little check to finish out the year.” 

It was the first SK Modified victory of the season for Christopher at Stafford and his 11th overall in the division since 2018. The Wolcott driver became the 12th different winner in 20 SK Modified features this season at Stafford. 

Keith Rocco of Wallingford was moved to second in the final running order for the event and Bryan Narducci of Colchester was credited with a third place finish. 

Bello was disqualified for illegal adjustments made to his car during victory lane ceremonies. 

Modified veteran Stephen Kopcik – who was competing in the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series feature Saturday at Stafford later in the day – also was serving as Bello’s crew chief at the event. Kopcik joined the group celebrating in victory lane with Bello following the win.

Kopcik has worked with the 16-year old Bello all season on preparing the SK Modified for events at Stafford. During his interview following the race Bello said: “If it wasn’t for Stephen Kopcik I wouldn’t be standing here in victory lane.”

While the celebration was taking place in victory lane, a Stafford official noticed Kopcik seemingly making adjustments to Bello’s car. A later review of video from victory lane by Stafford officials showed Kopcik kneeling down by Bello’s car and putting his right arm into an area behind the left front tire just before a group photo was taken by the car. After the group photo is taken Kopcik walks around the front of the car and leans down near the right front tire and reaches his arm toward something on the car. Seconds later Kopcik walks to the front of the car and lifts up on the front bumper. 

It appeared to Stafford officials that Kopcik was adjusting shocks on the car to help the car pass ride height inspection. 

While Anthony Bello celebrates Saturday’s SK Modified feature victory at Stafford Speedway, Stephen Kopcik can be seen reaching into the area behind Bello’s left front tire (Image: FloRacing)

The Stafford rulebook states: “You may not check your car or work on it in Victory Lane. … Nothing may be put in or taken out of the race car while it is in Victory Lane, on its way to the scale inspection area, or on its way to technical inspection.” 

Kopcik, in his role as the car’s crew chief, was suspended for Friday’s NAPA Championship Night at Stafford, which is the final event of the season.

Bello, of Newtown, got his first SK Modified win at Stafford on July 29. Before Saturday’s event he had five top-five’s and 12 top-10’s in 19 starts and was the leading rookie in the division’s standings.

It was a long awaited points paying victory for Christopher, who had three wins in 2021. He won the non-points TC 13 Shootout on Sept. 9. 

“It’s been a tough year,” Christopher said. “Our biggest problem is tires. We haven’t been very good at how we put tires on. When we have old stuff the car is horrible. And for a reference, I can tell you that from Friday night to Saturday we finished 14th compared to second. We changed nothing on the race car. Nothing at all. We added a little more stagger. The only thing we did change was put three [new tires] on the race car. You could see the thing was lights out. When we do put tires on it the car is competitive and we can run up front. But we only did that a handful of times this year.” 

RaceDayCT Poll: Your Thoughts On The Disqualification Of Anthony Bello – Click To Vote

Video: Floracing


  1. Rookie Scammer says

    That’s a poor use of sizeable personnel. He had plenty of size around him that he could have used to block anyone from seeing him

  2. REALLY?!

  3. Really. I thought Kopcik was smarter than that. Glad it was caught. Cheating doesn’t justify winning.

  4. Looks like TA Tony would know what was done

  5. Monkey Wrench says

    Looks to me like he is checking the swaybar for play.What kind of an adjustment is at the bottom where his arm is?..I think for some reason Stafford has it out for this guy ,just saying.How do they know without reasonable doubt he made an adjustment.Come on now.

  6. He’s obviously taking clicks out of the shock to get the car up. He pulled the same thing last time Bello won!

  7. No one checks the sway bar from the back and definitely not without the driver in the car. Don’t make excuses. We all know he is a shock specialist

  8. How can he change the ride height with his hands only and the car on the ground not jacked up? Please explain.

  9. As usual the comments are all over the place and one even suggesting a grudge against Kopcik by the track. That one rears it’s ugly head almost every time.
    What-a-ya-say we make this as simple as possible. What he could do with or without tools, where he was reaching and what it can mean………irrelevant.
    Rule is crystal. Get on your knees and fiddle around get some butter because if they spot you you’re toast.
    Flemke, now Kopcik. Come on man it’s not like you guys came in on a turnip truck and this is all new to you.

  10. Monkey Wrench says

    With all these maybe’s and should have not and should have’s.To convict someone of doing something without solid proof is wrong.Is that all the track has?.Plz explain also.

  11. Some of you need to google how adjustable shocks work.

  12. I will be selling Free Kopcik shirts in the parking lot prior to Fridays event. What did he make it back for one week.

    Nice to see MC Jr get a win. What is that 12 different winners in 20 events this season? That is really impressive. Can we get a 13th winner. Leary was close one race. Flannery Hodgdon and korner have looked good at times, Anyone know the record for different winners over the course of a season in the SK? We have to be close to setting it, if not there.

  13. This is to all you knuckleheads it’s plain and simple you cannot touch the car whatsoever after the race. Everybody knows that.

  14. Capt. Mike Qbvious says

    Monkey Wrench,

    The Stafford Motor Speedway rule cited in the article states, “You may not check your car or work on it in Victory Lane.” So even if Steven was just “checking the sway bar for play” as you claim, that’s still illegal. The track doesn’t have to know whether he was making an adjustment or not, because simply checking the car was against the rules.

  15. Didn’t think they reviewed winner circle films before declaring an official winner. Makes you think who is watching who…

  16. Saw it in TV says

    I watched on FLO .. I was yelling cannot do that in victory lane. There is no reason to do that in victory lane ! Stupid is as stupid does ..for goodness sake call it what it is .. you broke the rules.. cheated whatever.. props to Stafford for making the call ..everyone has to follow the rules no exception ..not even a preece lacky.. BUSTED !’re a loser !

  17. With the deployment of cameras all over the place, you need to be careful.

    Somewhere, there are pics of you with your finger up your nose, or you are caught picking your seat, or worse.

  18. just watched the video – he was worried about making the minimum ride height, adjusting shocks shouldn’t affect ride height at static state (not even sure you can adjust shocks with one hand) but he broke the rules buy adjusting something in victory lane. pulling up the car isn’t going to help if the car still has to drive to the inspection area. I’m assuming that the car passed inspection…dumb move by Steven he should of let it be

  19. It’s pretty clear what the rule is on this, the conversation trending to that realization so at some point transitioning to a longer view Stephen Kopcik’s tracks in the snow over the last two years may have value.
    I gotta ask…what the suck Stephen? For those of us that spend a lot of time in the weeds Stephen Kopcik Motorsports is an emerging success story. Kopcik pretty well known as an A to Z racing mind that can do it all from the build to waiving the checkers as he emerges from the winning car in victory lane. Something is missing though.


    4/19/2021. RaceDayCT, “Stephen Kopcik Ready For Breakout Season In SK Modified Division At Stafford”. Boy did that turn out to be correct….almost.
    9/24/2021. RaceDayCT-“For The Win: Stephen Kopcik Uses High Drama To Get Fourth Consecutive SK Mod Win At Stafford”
    That was the high water mark in victory lane having just won. There was the bonehead move earlier in the season taking out Hines and himself on the front stretch erasing a good points race but that was a speed bump. As September unfolded the 21 was on a serious roll, arguably the favorite at that point to win the championship then it all went south at exactly the wrong time.
    9/25/2021. RaceDayCT. “Stephen Kopcik DQ’ed From SK Mod Win At Stafford; Todd Owen Clinches 2021 Championship”
    Illegal shocks, what the heck was that? Erased completely from the 9/24 race, crashes in the finale and limps to a third place finish for 2021.


    4/2/2022. RaceDayCt. “Firsts Aplenty: Stephen Kopcik Wins Sunoco Mod Feature At Thompson Icebreaker”
    6/3/2022. RaceDayCt. “Double Up: Stephen Kopcik Scores Second Consecutive SK Modified Victory At Stafford”
    6/15/2022. RaceDayCt. “Make It Two: Stephen Kopcik Stays Perfect In Sunoco Modified In 2022 At Thompson”
    7/2/2022. RaceDayCt. “One Up: Stephen Kopcik Tops SK Modified Shootout At Stafford”
    8/16/2022. RaceDayCt. “Tackling The Competition: Stephen Kopcik Gets Third Consecutive Sunoco Mod Win At Thompson Speedway”

    8/5/2022- Stafford penalty notices.
    “ #21 SK Modified®, driver Stephen Kopcik
    Infraction- Unsportsmanlike conduct; safety violation; failure to follow directives of Stafford Speedway safety team; Actions detrimental to the sport of auto racing.
    Penalties- $250 fine payable to Catherine V. Hubbard Animal Sanctuary Foundation via check. Suspended from Stafford Speedway for next 4 completed events (next 2 events out of paddock area, next 4 events from competition). Disqualified from 8/5/22 SK Modified® feature event.”

    8/23-24/2022-Stafford Penalty notices
    #51 SK Modified® driver Anthony Bello
    Infraction- Violation of Stafford Motor Speedway General Rule: You may not check your car or work on it in Victory Lane. Nothing may be put in or taken out of the race car while it is in Victory Lane, on its way to the scale inspection area, or on its way to technical inspection.
    Penalties- Disqualified from Sept. 24, 2022 SK Modified® feature finish order.
    Crew Chief Stephen Kopcik suspended from paddock area for next completed event.

    Just ask Todd Owen how many shots you get at championships earlier in your career and how many don’t pan out even when you’re doing everything right?
    Who knows. Maybe he was happy with the risk/reward in 2021 when he tried passing Hines and wrecked out. Maybe happy with the turn one bottom shot that took out he and Wesson in early August. The brawl and 4 week suspension the cost of manning up I suppose…..whatever.
    Near as I can figure Kopcik is a gunslinger out for wins and has an aversion to winning championships sabotaging his own efforts at critical times. How else can you explain reaching under the car in your fire suit in victory lane knowing full well it’s an infraction and being recorded.
    Even if Kopcik isn’t your main guy I’d think most of us admire what he’s accomplished on the local short track scene and root for his success. But really that’s two seasons of bad judgment, bad racing and inexplicable decision making at critical times. Besmirched a good word. Not by a track, nor a fellow racer or a stable of cars he competes with. Besmirched by his own actions, his longer term reputation at risk. It’s a complete waste in my view of what in many respects has been a huge local racing success story.
    Reassessment in the off season may be a wise use of time.

  20. That was dumb. He knows better. Just a cocky smartass thinking he can get away with “stuff”.

  21. The car was to low in his first win and everyone complained but he wasnt DQ’d in that one because the ride height wasnt checked before the race.

  22. 🤣🤣🤣 none

  23. The rule is the rule, no problem there. As I am not familiar with all of the new, hi-tech shocks available, which brand has the adjustments at the rod end? All the one’s I’m familiar with, the adjustments are on the body. I would like to check those out. Always trying to learn.

  24. George – I believe they run the JRI shock – Stafford should only allow one shock like the SKL’s, it would same the teams a lot of money.

  25. Stuart A Fearn says

    I always love the save money argument. How exactly would a rule change like that save money?

  26. What’s dumber is the Tour doesn’t have a ride height rule or I think neither does MRS so why does Stafford

  27. Racer wrote: “What’s dumber is the Tour doesn’t have a ride height rule or I think neither does MRS so why does Stafford”

    Read the rulebooks dumbest dummy.

  28. I thought the SK’s had a cost cap on their shock rules. It couldnt be over x or something like that. Not sure how you do that when the prices of stuff is going up 10 to 50 percent over the course of a season. Couldnt a shock purchased at the beginning of the year be deemed unacceptable because the price of the shock went over the price cap due to inflation. How do they check to see if a shock is legal? you provide a receipt showing how much you paid for it. Why couldnt a sponsor buy some really expensive shock then sell it to his driver for a fraction of the cost. Always wondered how they policed that. I know Stafford is better than most tracks with their tech,

    Rule changes that are designed to save teams money rarely do. If you mandate a specific part everyone already competing has to go out and buy the new part making all the old parts paper weights. It just cost all your teams money they didnt need to spend.

    I love how the SKs were the new affordable modified. Then the SKs got expensive. In comes the SK light the now affordable modified. What is the next iteration of the affordable weekly modified and when will it come to fruition?

  29. I guess you guys saying shock rule and him being a shock guy most of these guys with the money and resources are replacing the inside of the shocks with good stuff what do you think it means when they said he got caught with illegal shocks means. Almost or most teams are doing the same but haven’t got caught depends what they tech that night so a shock cost rule means nothing.

  30. There is a max amount cost for shock assy also part numbers are specified. Not sure what the amount is today but a couple of years ago stafford said – “next year there will be a spec shock TBD”-..never happened. Skl shocks are specified one make and model cost is around $150 each, some sk shocks at least double.

  31. Just Me - The Original says

    Stafford SK Shock Rules
    20E- 12.3 COIL OVER SHOCKS –
    The following shocks are permitted for competition in 2022:
    JRI – 200-426 or 200-427
    Koni – 30 Series
    Penske – 7500 series or 7150 series
    Pro – AC series
    QA-1 – 62 Series

    Shocks will be disassembled and/or dyno’d for inspection and comparison.
    The quantity and the thickness of factory supplied shims on the piston may be altered, all other components must remain as manufactured.
    The piston shim stack and the shock oil are the only components you may change, every other component must be as factory produced by the shock manufacturer.
    All shocks must be single adjustable, available to all competitors “race ready” with a published price of $440 or less ready to race, less any separate coil-over kits.

    All shocks subject to SMS Officials’ approval.

  32. Goodfella dumbest of all there’s no ride height rule at the tour anymore

  33. Coil over shocks, yuck. What a pain.
    Why wouldn’t one shock like the Lights save money? Maybe that’s not even something SK teams care so much about they want chassis tuning flexibility.
    Chassis setup is about searching. The endless, unrelenting, constantly changing search for incremental improvement. It only makes sense if you have multiple choices teams are going to buying all kinds of options to experiment with.
    So how’s it work anyway. Besides the shock options do you have multiple shock/spring packages tuned and documented on the rack to make changes efficiently at the track when needed? Complete sets of 4 spring and shock packages?
    Springs are hard enough to manage. It’s not one spring its how four work together. Endless spring combinations and constant testing to see how they’re changing over time.
    One shock, one set of dyno specs to test to see if mischief is afoot has to equal money saved intuitively speaking. How does the idea of the one shock idea deserve an offhand scoffing.
    Maybe they just don’t like the limited range of a one shock rule and Stafford is going with the flow. I mean really what is there about SK’s now that’s about saving money? Everything has passed SK’s by on that score including crate engine packages that could easily give you more horsepower at a lower cost is that not true??? Saving money is for when car counts are struggling and what about Stafford’s SK population leads one to believe there’s a problem on that score?
    Two SK features 9/23 and 9/24. 29 and 25 cars respectively. So what’s the problem?
    Next up. Saving money in the SK Lights by going to the narrower tire.

  34. NASCAR Modified 2022 Rules

    “20D – 12.8 Body Height / Ground Clearance Requirements

    20D – 12.8.1 Body Height Requirements
    A. Body height will be determined by measuring (with the driver) the overall
    height of the vehicle six (6) inches back from the leading edge of the roof at the
    roof centerline. The minimum height must be 39-1/2 inches. The rear of the roof
    at the highest point must not be more than 3-1/4 inches higher than the actual
    front measurement.
    B. Competitors presenting vehicle for inspection must have their tires inflated
    to the recommended technical inspection air pressure as specified by the
    participating tire manufacturer for the Event. If tire pressure(s) are not at the
    recommended technical inspection pressure(s) after competition, tires will be reinflated to the recommended technical inspection pressure(s) as specified by the
    participating tire manufacturer for the Event.

    20D – 12.8.2 Ground Clearance Requirements
    All ground clearance requirements will be measured with the driver in the

  35. Stafford actually has a board with examples of allowable parts for shocks by manufacturer.

  36. Racer wrote, “Goodfella dumbest of all there’s no ride height rule at the tour anymore”

    We have a winner of the dumbest dumb of all time. Reset the bar.

    What do you think is being checked when the NASCAR inspector slides that thingy under the chassis, behind the left front wheel?

  37. Good fello of dumbness ask anyone on the tour if they slide the thingey under the left front anymore even last year now your way above your ski’s and look stupid

  38. Also from the 2022 rulebook:

    “20D – 12.8.2 Ground Clearance Requirements
    All ground clearance requirements will be measured with the driver in the vehicle.”

    “E. Vehicle height adjustments will not be permitted on the left front suspension during a Race unless approved by the Series Director.”

    The left front chassis ground clearance is always checked. When the cars roll over the scales, the left front chassis clearance is always checked. Only people that have watched this would know.

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