Doubled Firsts: Todd Owen Wins NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K At Stafford Speedway 

Todd Owen celebrates victory in the NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K Friday at Stafford (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

The question was one quite a few people were asking around the pits at Stafford Speedway of late. 

When would two-time defending SK Modified division champion Todd Owen find victory lane in 2023 at Stafford Speedway? 

Friday night Owen answered the question and did it in the division’s biggest event of the season. 

When the checkered flag fell at the conclusion of 80 laps Friday at Stafford it was Owen, of Somers, celebrating victory in the 10th NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K.

It was Owen’s first victory of the season and his first win in the SK 5K. 

“I can’t thank [Stafford Speedway] enough for putting this incredible race on,” Owen said. “It’s awesome to finally win one.” 

Owen took home a $5,000 winner’s purse for 19th career SK Modified win at the track. There was also a $5,300 gambler’s challenge pot up for grabs. Owen drew for the top-three to split the challenge pot, adding another $1,766 to his payday. With contigencies and bonunes Owen walked away with $7,600 for the victory.

“My guys deserve this,” Owen said. “They work their tail off for everything that we do and all our cars that we work on. This thing was driving by itself.” 

Noah Korner of Avon was second and George Bessette Jr. of Danbury third. 

Owen dedicated the win to his longtime friend and coworker Craig Ferro who passed away on July 24 after a three and half year battle with esophageal cancer.

“I’m pretty emotional,” Owen said. “It’s been a long two weeks for me and our company and my family and the guys I work with. I lost my real close friend, my coworker, my partner. He battled real hard with cancer for a long time and it finally got him. He hated racing because it took me away from work all the time. But I know he’d be happy with this one. This one is definitely for him and his family and his kids.” 

Owen also recognized longtime track announcer Ben Dodge, who couldn’t be at the track Friday. 

“I also want to put a shoutout to Ben Dodge,” Owen said. “My thoughts are with him. He’s not announcing tonight. I know he’d have smile on his face just being so happy for me. I hope he gets back here soon, we definitely miss him.” 

With Korner holding just under a half second lead on Owen, caution flew on lap 73 for the spinning car of Ryan Morgan in turn two. Korner was able to hold the top spot through the restart, but Owen got a run off of turn two on lap 75 and went to the lead through turn three. 

“I was just being patient.” Owen said. “The old guy just figured I’d just be patient and just wait. He was setting a really good pace and he was going really good. But I kept seeing him wiggle a little bit. I said ‘Ok, I’ll just be patient.’ We were slowly catching him. He was running really good. And we had that restart and I just had a little bit left. Hats off to him. He ran a really really good race.” 

Said Korner: “It was great. Just getting relaxed out there. When you’ve got a great piece underneath you. Keith Rocco really knows what he’s doing. We were just out there riding for half the race. We got around and we were cruising in front. Unfortunately got the [suspension] knocked in a little bit and [Owen] had a better car at the end. It was a fun race though.” 

Troy Talman held the top spot at the start. Caution flew on lap 14 for a Keith Rocco spin in turn four with Talman leading and Jon Puleo in second. 

On the restart Mike Christopher Jr. spun off the backstretch to bring the yellow back out. On the next attempt at the lap 14 restart Talman held the top spot. On lap 17 Korner got under Puleo for second place. 

On lap 20 Korner found the lane under Talman into turn three and came off turn four with the lead. Caution flew on lap 21 for a wreck in turn four involving Tyler Leary, Steven Chapman and Art Caruso. 

On lap 23 Marcello Rufrano was up to second and got to the inside of Korner. The pair went side-by-side to the line to complete lap 23 with Rufrano moving into the lead on lap 24 into turn three. 

On lap 29 Korner made a diving move into turn one that nearly ended in disaster, as he got into the dirt in the corner. Korner saved the car and then clawed back to Rufrano’s bumper by lap 37. 

After stalking Rufrano for 10 laps, Korner found the lane low going into turn three and came off of turn four with the lead over Rufrano on lap 48. 

On lap 56 Owen got by Rufrano for second place and began cutting into Korner’s big lead.


  1. Fun fact. The first SK5K was run in July 2014, the winner Rowand Pennink winning the race and $5000. Considering inflation, for the 2023 version to have the same value the winners share would be the SK6.2K. But there was deflation in the laps run from 100 to 80 making it work out all very nicely. Or was that shrinkflation?
    Well done Mr. Owen. If anyone deserved that win on his resume he did.

  2. ****Pit Road Police****

    I spotted at least 2 pit road violations during the event.

    I believe it was a guy from blewett’s crew who was over the wall without a helmet arguing with one of the 82 crew guys while they were replacing his axel.

    A member of the 99 team ( i think) was working on their engine leak without a helmet as well.

    Both instances had SMS officials staring at the violation and did nothing about it.

    Hopefully both gentlemen get letters in the mail this week. And Stafford steps up their enforcement. Head injuries are no joke. Rules are rules, and they are in the rule book for a reason.

  3. Just Saying says

    I have a solution for that bring back Tapley. He wouldn’t tolerate any of that crap that’s going on on Pitt Road and on the track.

  4. Congrats to Todd and the whole #81 team for winning the Napa SK 5K. Great job. Getting a share of the Gambler bonus along with both 2nd & 3rd is pretty good too.

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