Southbound: Marcello Rufrano To Make Whelen Modified Tour Debut At Richmond Raceway

Marcello Rufrano (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

Over the last decade Marcello Rufrano has established himself as one of the big players and big personalities on track at Stafford Speedway. 

Next week he’ll take the lessons learned at the half-mile at Stafford to a bold new playground. 

Rufrano, of North Haven, will make his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour debut in the Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 150 on March 29 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. 

“It’s one of those things that really just sat in the back of my head,” Rufrano said. “I never really wanted to rush to the [Whelen Modified] Tour. It’s always been a thought, but being that there’s so much Tour Type [Modified] racing around, it kind of lessened that want to go do [Whelen Modified] Tour stuff. And if you’re going to do a Tour race you might as well do it with someone that is going to put the time and effort to be competitive.” 

Rufrano, who won an Open Modified event at Stafford in 2020, will drive for car owners Michelle and Michael Davini at Richmond. 

“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a bunch of different people on the [Whelen Modified Tour] and I’ve seen the good and the bad,” Rufrano said. “Frankly, you need people and I felt like if I was ever going to get an opportunity to go run something that I’d have to see it being a good opportunity for myself. This is a really good opportunity for me to go run with these guys. It’s all brand new stuff, brand new car, brand new motor. Everything is there to compete well. It’s one of those deals that just seems right. If I didn’t think we could go there and be competitive I wouldn’t be doing it. 

The 23-year old Rufrano has been a regular in Open Modified events at Stafford since 2019 and has also made two career starts with the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series. He has four SK Modified wins at Stafford – including a victory in the 2022 NAPA SK 5K – and 11 SK Light Modified wins at the historic half-mile. He was the 2018 SK Light Modified champion at Stafford. 

The .75-mile Richmond Raceway will offer a new challenge for Rufrano, who is one of 28 drivers currently on the entry list for the event. 

“You don’t really want to say you’re going by the seat of your pants, but it kind of is that,” Rufrano said. “… It’s definitely going to be a little bit of a learning curve, but it’s not something I’ve never dealt with before. Everybody goes to the race track for the first time in their life. It’s one of those things where you get yourself comfortable and give your guys the best feedback you can and hope for the best. I’ve personally watched the past couple of races there hundreds of times in the past week just trying to prepare myself for how the racing is.” 

Rufrano, who will run full-time in the Stafford SK Modified division and at Stafford Open Modified events for his family run team in 2024, said the venture to Richmond with the Davini family team could open doors for more events with the group. 

“Mike called me and asked me if I wanted to run Richmond for now and obviously there’s more races down the road if I want to do it,” Rufrano said. “But I really just want to see how the first race goes and go from there. I’ve got all the faith in the world with them and I think they’ve got all the faith in the world in me. Ben Dodge kind of orchestrated this behind the scenes for me and really put in some good words for me. … For now we’re just going to do Richmond and see what happens.” 

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