Showstopper: Marcello Rufrano Outruns Jimmy Blewett For SK Modified Win At Stafford 

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

STAFFORD – It was the kind of up front battle that has become part of the reason why so many point to the SK Modified’s at Stafford Speedway as one of the best short track divisions in the country. 

When the dust settled on a wild and aggressive battle out front there were two drivers on the podium elated and one driver disgruntled with the combative style. 

After a wild final 20 laps, Marcello Rufrano held off Jimmy Blewett on the final circuit to win the 40-lap SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford. 

It was the third career SK Modified victory at Stafford for Rufrano, of North Haven, who became the fourth different winner in four races for the division in 2023. 

“Those last 20 laps were a hell of a run,” Rufrano said. “I didn’t think we’d have anything for [Blewett] after he got by us, but it made it a lot of fun racing with guys like that.” 

Blewett, of Howell, N.J., was second and Cory DiMatteo of Farmington.

Rufrano joined Blewett, Michael Gervais Jr. and Stephen Kopcik as winners in the SK Modified division this season at Stafford.

“What’d you guys think in the stands?,” Blewett asked the crowd after the event. “You like that?” 

One driver who didn’t like it was standing just a few feet away from Blewett during the post race ceremonies. DiMatteo voiced his displeasure for the aggressiveness over the final half of the event. 

“Them guys are racing really really hard,” DiMatteo said. “We’ve got to race here all year. When stuff goes south and you start wrecking stuff it snowballs, and we’re not ready to put ourselves in that position. I got into [Blewett], I got shoved behind him, he threw the whole car at me down the frontstretch then stopped down in [turns] one and two. It’s just, the lack of respect, everyone might say that was a great race, but it wasn’t a great race. There was zero respect, no one holds a lane, the tower is screaming at everybody. It’s just not my style of racing.” 

It was the fourth podium finish in four events this year for Blewett, who is in his first season driving for the Petty Cash Motorsports team. Blewett won the season opening event on May 13, was second on May 19 and third on May 26. 

“Marcello, congratulations to him and his crew, his father, his entire team there and all his sponsors,” Blewett said. “He had the car to beat tonight and he’s in victory lane. But my hat’s off to my guys again, they gave me a great car. Week in and week out they’re putting me on the podium with this thing. They’re making me look good.”

On a lap three restart it was Rufrano going by Troy Talman for the lead with Mike Christopher Jr. following to second and Blewett to third. With Rufrano checked out from the field Blewett moved past Christopher for second place on lap eight. 

By lap 21 Blewett had closed the gap on Rufrano and was stalking his bumper as the caution flew on lap 22 for the stopped car of Wesley Prucker. 

On the ensuing restart it was Rufrano and Blewett battling side-by-side for the top spot, but a Prucker spin in turn four brought the caution back out before a lap could be completed. 

Another attempt at a restart saw Rufrano and Blewett side-by-side again out front, but once again the attempt was negated due to a caution for a turn three wreck involving Prucker, Talman, John Sandberg and RJ Marcotte. 

On the third attempt at the lap 22 restart it was Rufrano getting the edge on Blewett, leaving him to battle with Keith Rocco for second place. 

On lap 24 Rocco was able to power by Blewett for second place off of turn four. Caution was back out on lap 26 when the fifth place running car of Christopher ended up in the turn four wall. 

On the lap 26 restart it was Rufrano and Rocco going side-by-side for the lead for half a lap before Rufrano cleared Rocco off of turn four. Blewett took advantage of the lane under Rocco to move to second. 

On lap 29 Blewett got a run off of turn four under Rufrano and the pair was back to side-by-side racing on lap 30, with Rufrano leading at the line to complete the lap. 

On lap 31 Blewett was able to clear Rufrano to take over the lead off of turn four. 

On lap 35 Rufrano made a diving move under Blewett into turn three. Contact sent Blewett up the track and allowed Rufrano to go back to the lead off of turn four. 

On lap 37 Blewett once again found a lane under Rufrano off of turn four. Blewett was able to edge ahead of Rufrano off of turn two on lap 38 but the pass for the lead was negated due to a turn four wreck. It put Rufrano back to the lead for the lap 38 restart. 

Rufrano was able to get the jump on the lap 38 restart with DiMatteo getting by Blewett for second place. Blewett went back to second by DiMatteo on lap 39 and was able to get to Rufrano’s bumper just after the white flag was shown. 

On the final lap Blewett took a wide swing into turn three, but Rufrano defended the low lane masterfully through the final corners to secure the victory. 

“Jimmy was spot on tonight,” Rufrano said. “Racing against two of the best in the Northeast there, Keith Rocco and Jimmy Blewett. [Blewett] didn’t make it easy.” 


  1. That was an exciting race – Congratulations to Rufrano and crew… I’m surprised Blewett didn’t wreck anyone, he got away with that last pass of Dimatteo but it was the final laps. Dimatteo was impressive also

  2. Best race for the Sk’s so far this year. It was the guys running in the back that bought out all the cautions. Would have liked to have seen Rocco in the battle but his car seem to fade in the closing laps.

  3. Blewett running in the SK series should be great training to teach him how to race without wrecking. Seems to be working. Looking forward to see how this SK experience translates to NWMT driving.

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