Pointing Right: Todd Owen Scores Victory In Caution Plauged SK Modified Feature At Stafford

Todd Owen celebrates victory in the SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – Management of Stafford Speedway and the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series made the decision Friday morning to postpone Saturday’s NAPA Fall Final at the track due to the expectations of Tropical Storm Ophelia hitting the area. 

On Friday night the track’s SK Modified division had its own stormy conditions to deal with. A storm of cautions and wrecks made for a long night for the track’s premier division. 

After a rash of cautions it was Todd Owen celebrating his second victory of the season in the 40-lap SK Modified feature. 

“That was awesome,” said Owen, who also won Aug. 4. “A lot of fun up top with these guys behind, Keith [Rocco] and Marcello [Rufrano]. 

“I want to thank everybody that sticks by me with this crazy schedule we do. It takes a team to make this work and I’ve got the best one here.” 

Owen will take a 68-point lead in the standings over second place Cory DiMatteo into the penultimate event of the season next Friday at Stafford. If he can leave the track with a 50-point lead next Friday he will clinch his third consecutive SK Modified championship at the track. Owen is looking to become the first driver in Stafford history to win three consecutive SK Modified titles. 

In victory lane, Owen remembered longtime team owner and team supporter Jean-Guy Poulin who passed away. 

“I want to give my condolences to [Brigitte] Poulin on the loss of [Jean-Guy],” Owen said. “He was a really special guy and I’m definitely going to miss that smirk when he was walking through the pit area. My thoughts are with him and his family.” 

Keith Rocco of Wallingford was second. 

“Everybody was so equal up front,” Rocco said. “It was a lot of fun. One spot short. We’re close, but just always that little bit we need to get. We’re working on it.” 

Rocco also had remembrances for Jean-Guy Poulin, who he raced for early in his SK Modified career. 

“Jean-Guy and Brigitte, I can’t say enough about the opportunity they gave me at the start of my Modified career,” Rocco said. “They were the first one’s to really give me a shot to do this and stick with me. I can’t thank them enough. Jean-Guy was one of a kind, there’s no words to describe him. It was always a pleasure to work side-by-side with him.” 

 Marcello Rufrano of North Haven was third. 

“Really wanted to put this in victory lane for Jean-Guy tonight,” Rufrano said. “Sadly he passed away. Just really feeling for Brigitte right now. Really sucky situation.”  

Tyler Chapman went by Troy Talman for the lead on lap three. One lap later Talman went back by Chapman to retake the lead, with Rufrano following Talman into second. 

On lap six Rufrano was able to get by Talman to take over the lead, but the pass was negated due to a caution. On the lap seven restart it was Anthony Flannery moving past Rufrano to take over second. 

On lap 11 Flannery got under Talman through turns one and two. The pair came off turn four side-by-side with Flannery leading at the start/finish line. On lap 12 Flannery was able to clear Talman through turn two, but Rufrano found a way under Flannery to go to the lead down the backstretch, with Rocco moving to second place. 

By lap 20 Rufrano and Rocco had checked out from then third place Owen. 

Caution flew on lap 22 for a turn four wreck with Rufrano leading Rocco and Owen in third. The first attempt to restart the race was negated by a wreck at the rear of the field in turn one. 

On the second attempt at the lap 22 restart it was Rufrano and Rocco going side-by-side for the lead for a lap with Rufrano leading at the line to complete lap 22. Owen found a way under Rocco through turn one on lap 23 and came off of turn two with second place. Flannery follow by Rocco into third. Caution flew once again on lap 25 for a slowed car in turn one. 

On the restart it was Rufrano holding off the challenges of Owen in second place. Caution was back out on lap 28 for a turn three wreck 

On the lap 28 restart it was Rufrano and Owen going half a lap side-by-side before Rufrano took back control of the top spot. 

With Rufrano leading Owen and Flannery in third, the seventh caution flew on lap 31 for a wreck off of turn four. 

On the restart it was Owen going by Rufrano to take over the lead. 

“I don’t know what happened to [Rufrano],” Owen said. “I don’t know if he just got a bad start or whatever. He would have been really tough to pass. I don’t think I would have actually been able to drive by him.” 

Said Rufrano: “The last restart there I really didn’t need, freaking [Flannery] jacked me up there and I missed a shift. It didn’t really help me out any. What are you going to do? It’s part of racing.” 

Caution was out one lap later for another wreck at the rear of the field. 

On the the lap 31 restart it was Owen getting clear of Rufrano through turn one. Down the backstretch Rocco moved past Rufrano for second with Flannery going to third. 


  1. This man is a SOLID wheelman!! Aggressive, but not overly aggressive, and his record speaks for itself. Brings the car home in one piece (ALL FINISHES in TOP 10), and he builds/works on his own stuff!!!…

    WTG Todd

  2. Unbelievable- 70 mods on a regular Friday night. 41 skl’s. Starting more than 30 cars is too many IMO. If there are 10 or more non qualified cars run a non- qualifying race at the end if time permits. Victory lane pictures for the winner Pay last place money for everyone that runs – similar to the 21 means 21 race back in the day

  3. Suitcase Jake says

    Hand Him The Trophy…. It’s over… Three Time Consecutive… Champion.!!
    If your a young DRIVER , Study Todd Owen…. Watch how he doesn’t force any of His Passes.. His front bumper rarely needs replacing…Watch how smooth he is as he circulates every track he races on …. Watch how he gets through traffic , week after week, Observe how the Team prep and maintain their racecar, Watch his restarts… Watch how he uses the outside lane effectively , makes the pass and returns down to the lower lane without getting the car off balance or out sideways, I mean , like how many times have you seen the # 81 out-sideways .. ??? hardly ever .. unless to avoid a situation or wreck…Great Driver to try to emulate as a young Driver coming up the ranks, Todd Owen has fine tuned His driving style and maintenance program over many years , 31 top 10’s in a row is an Amazing Track Record..Like many of US KNOW…Consistency is the Hardest and most important element in Winning Championships !!!! He has learned over many many years of failure and things breaking to be able to put on paper a maintenance schedule that keeps the # 81 BULLET PROOF making it to the Finish Line Week after Week ….

  4. Has anyone mentioned Poulin was a pretty fair Late Model driver? He and a partner whose name I forget split a car. Poulin at Stafford and the other guy at Riverside. The record book shows no wins at Stafford but he did have a very competitive car. Maybe I have it backwards, little help on that if you please.
    That race had a Rufrano win written all over it. Take his word that Flannery helped mess up his track position but also give him credit for getting Anthony back. Clearly ticked he was all over Flannery’s back bumper. He eventually got him just the right amount in the corner to get under and by him. I know a lot of people don’t like that but he really was quite expert at pulling it off in my view.
    What was the deal with Puleo in the heat race? Great explanation by Dodge observing something amiss in the rear of Hines 99. Looks like Puleo is ticked for being held up, pulls up on Hines left and purposely puts him in the wall. Easy now, that’s not Puleo’s MO, it probably had something to do with the rear steer but it sure as heck looked like a purposeful walling.
    I’m not convinced it’s the driver so much as the car. Owen’s always been smooth but that car of his is just special. I count 4 cars that had faster laps then Owen. One fast lap tells nothing as far as consistency goes but it’s a clue. I’m thinking more along the line that while the 81 may not be the fastest or best driving the preferred line the car is by far the best both high and low. Through his career Owen has always taken what his car gives him and right now it’s given him a combination that no car can come close to matching that perfectly fits his driving style.

  5. Congrats to Todd and his team for the win, and most likely the championship.
    Condolences to the Poulin family. Jean-Guy was a fixture in the Stafford paddock for decades, fielding cars in late model, pro stock and Sk modified. He definitely will be missed

  6. Doug,
    Gary Pelletier was the other driver with Jean-Guy.

  7. Yes, thanks. Gary Pelletier as I recall owned an auto repair shop on Hillside Ave in Hartford. Fact checks invited please.
    8 wins for Pelletier at Stafford so I got them reversed. A shame no Riverside records are readily available I know Poulin had wins those guys were a really successful combo.

  8. After driving for Jean in the #78, Gary fielded his own car #85. I don’t know if he had any wins in the 85, but I do remember a very scary wreck when his throttle hung going into 1, he dove into the infield attempting to spin and ended up shooting straight into the turn 1 concrete. The impact was so hard it split the engine block, and bent bars in the rear of the car. Very scary.

  9. Actually I think the 85 may have been the car he drove for Jean. When Jean moved up to pro stock Herb Bennett ended up buying the 78 late model, but never enjoyed the success Docherty had with it.

  10. Friday not looking to good right now – will they make the show up? If they don’t Owen and the Pup are the champions

  11. Steve,
    It’s a 30 percent chance of rain. To me, that means there’s a 70 percent chance it doesn’t rain. Also, if they don’t race and don’t make it up, all five division championships would be decided, not just the SK Modified and SK Light Modified championships.

  12. Shawn, I like your weather forcast!! Nat’l Weather Svc. showed 60-70% chance of rain as of this morning.

  13. Fast Eddie,
    I looked at the Weather Bug app and the AccuWeather app this morning and both list 30 percent chance. Just looked at National Weather Service on my desktop for Stafford, CT and it’s currently listing 30 percent chance of rain for Friday: National Weather Service Forecast for 06076

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