Runaway Reign: RJ Marcotte Gets First SK Modified Win At Stafford 

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

STAFFORD – RJ Marcotte came into the 2023 season at Stafford Speedway confident he could find his way to victory lane in the SK Modified division. 

Friday night that hopeful confidence turned into dominant reality. 

Marcotte checked out from the field to run away from everyone in winning the 40-lap SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford. 

It was the first career SK Modified win at Stafford for Marcott, of Millville, Mass. The 17-year old Marcotte beat second place finisher Todd Owen to the line by 3.7 seconds. Marcotte, who ran eight events at Stafford last season, was making 22nd start in the division Friday. 

“It’s amazing,” Marcotte said. “It hasn’t even processed yet. I don’t even know what happened out there. But to know I won at the Modified of the track of the East, it’s great. Especially being a rookie. Since the beginning of the year we just haven’t had any luck. Finally we got some good luck tonight.” 

Marcotte’s fourth place finish in the July 7 SK Modified feature was his only top-five finish before Friday’s victory. 

“We came into the season thinking we could get a win,” Marcotte said. “Last year was about learning. We came here halfway through the season. We were out of the handicap. But this year we really did come here looking for a win. We had some car problems in the beginning of the year but we just kept plugging away at it. It just feels great to get a win.” 

Said Owen: “Awesome job for RJ. I know it’s awesome to win your first race at Stafford. He’ll never forget that experience for sure.” 

Owen’s second place finish was the 30th consecutive top-10 finish for the Somers driver dating back to last season. Owen is the two-time reigning SK Modified champion at Stafford. 

“That’s 30 times that this car didn’t fall apart of break down or anything like that,” Owen said. “My hats off to my guys and how hard they work on this thing. It’s just an incredible team effort.” 

Anthony Flannery of East Hampton had his second podium finish of the season in third place. 

“We’re ecstatic about it,” Flannery said. “It’s a great run for us. Our second third place and our second podium within a couple of weeks. We had a great car. Just started getting tight there.” 

Tyler Hines got the jump at the start with Marcotte settling in to second and Mike Christopher Jr. at third by lap two. 

Jimmy Blewett made his way from eighth to fifth over the first four laps. 

On lap eight Marcotte made the move under Hines to take over the lead off of turn two. Flannery used the outside lane to get by Christopher for third on lap 10. Blewett also used the outside to move past Christopher for fourth on lap 12. 

By lap 18 the top three of Marcotte, Hines and Flannery had checked out from fourth place Blewett, with Owen up to fifth. 

Marcotte opened up just over a second lead over Hines by lap 21. On lap 23 Flannery found a lane under Hines through turns three and four to take over second. Behind them Owen got by Blewett for fourth on on lap 25. By lap 27 Marcotte had opened up a 2.2 second lead over Flannery. 

By lap 31 Marcotte had opened his lead to 3.1 seconds over Flannery. Owen went by Hines for third on lap 34. Owen then used a diving move under Flannery into turn three on lap 36 to move to second place. By then Marcotte had a four second lead. 


  1. That’s the magic of racing. The kid needed green flag racing, got it and the joy he and his people experienced in victory lane had to give even the crustiest old veteran goose bumps. Owen comes over first thing to congratulate him, gentleman Anthony Flannery for third, it was Friday night short track racing at it’s best.
    But make no mistake. Owen’s pleasant demeaner belies a shark. He’s a man amongst boys at this stage dominating the division, slicing through an insanely competitive field of cars like Chick Stockwell used to do in the old Danbury RaceArena days. If there’s a caution the shark gobbles up the kid in short order but that didn’t happen, the best outcome was realized for everyone.
    Welcome back to the Flying Farmer DJ Burnham. Back after a couple years shook off the rust really quickly looking sharp in his heat race and mixing it up with some of the more successful SK’s back in the field.
    How competitive is that field of cars? Puleo comes in 9th and has turned a faster lap then the winner. The 85 team looked like a favorite to win the title this year just worn down by the brutal competition. A lot of teams have their moments, even Rocco but the shark is relentless and will not be denied.

  2. Agree 100%. While Todd wants to win every race, he is a CLEAN racerand the ultimate sportsman. I think when he decides to hang it up, he will go down as one of the best at Stafford, and all of CT for that matter, of all time!

    Way to go RJ Great Job!!!!

  3. Suitcase Jake says

    Great to see FIRST time Winners…!!! Congratulations to RJ and Family… GREEN TO CHECKERS is a sweet way to go out and grab your first SK win!
    30 TOP 10’S ….in a ROW is just incredible in the Racing Game…Owen is an amazing driver keeping his car clean coming through the field…when you are high in the points, it’s much harder starting further back in Heat Races and Features every week, you have to be constantly passing competitive cars every week , Very Very hard to do with the quality of the SK lineups…Super Impressive STAT .. . to say the least….Great job maintaining the Equipment by the guys in the SHOP !!! Great JOB too all those behind the scenes who keep the # 81 BULLET PROOF….each week ….This is why the 81 is a Champion …

  4. So will rufrano be fined/penalized for exiting his car before the safety crew got there?

  5. Zig13,
    That’s probably a question you might want to direct by email to Stafford management. I know Stephen Kopcik has told people that he believes I’m one of the individuals who decides on who gets penalized at Stafford Speedway, but they’ve actually never allowed me to decide on penalities for their competitors.

  6. Very very seldom does an SK feature go caution free,,,,, Id like to know the stats, Nice to see a new winner, was happy it stayed green…

  7. RJ was on rails! Congratulations to the entire team.

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