Teams and Drivers,
Submit your FREE profile
 for 2010

   The Chrome Horn - Modified Racing Series presented by



Rowan Pennink Third Different 2010 Winner
by Denise DuPont

The Modified Racing Series (MRS) and Race of Champion (ROC) modifieds returned to Albany Saratoga Speedway on Friday May 21st to complete racing activity postponed a month ago due to weather. And yes the scene was definitely different for the racers when they returned. Rain and slippery mud was replaced with sun and dry dirt. The primary change though, was the field of cars had whittled down from fifty to twenty-eight teams.

Gary Casella’s #25 race team was one of the teams that returned, overcame many challenges and survived to become the winner’s of the first ever modified “East-West Showdown”. The team’s driver, Rowan Pennink, put aside early troubles to go forward and win the 100 lap event.

On lap 3 of the caution laden event, Pennink was involved in an incident where the car sustained damage to the right rear and a flat tire. “The #55 got was up there and got into the rubber and hit the fence and came back down right as I was going underneath. He hit me in the right rear and he flattened the tire. I went down in turn one and there was just nothing left.”

After the accident Pennink came back starting at the back of the field ready for the challenge to make his was back to the front. “I was not too happy about having to go to the back, but we just stayed patient and saved the tires.” Showing the true champion that he is, Pennink was able to remain calm, avoid further incidents and make his way to the lead with the help of his team. “Brian did an awesome job spotting and he got me to the front without getting caught up in any wrecks or anything. The car was unbelievable. Gary did an awesome job setting the thing up and Bob again doing all the work at the shop. Again it was an unbelievable race car that we had today.”

Regular ROC competitor Earl Paules, started fourth, managed to avoid mishaps and crossed the finish line second. Paules took over the lead on lap forty-eight after passing the dominate leader Pete Brittain. Then just when it looked like the West had the race in their corner, Pennink came under Paules to rob the race for the East. “My radio came unplugged and when he (Rowan Pennink) was in second I never knew where he was.” Paules not having the eyes and ears of his spotter drove not knowing he was soon to be challenged. “So I would have ran a different line. But the line I was running before I was pulling away from everybody. It was just one of those deals.”

In the beginning of the race there were more caution then green laps. It took four cautions and several yellow laps before the racers could get beyond the first three laps for green lap racing. ”We just could not get going. We could not get a lap in. Then we finally got a green flag then caution, caution, caution…” Even with all the cautions, Paules maintained his own running with the lead cars. “We ran second just about the whole race. On restarts we tried to get going with out being beat by the third place guy. That was tough.”

Driving the series founder’s car, Sean Bodreau was able to overcome car troubles to make his way from a last place start to a podium finish in the #17 MRS car. “I would say, it was a pretty tough race. There was not a lot of give and take out there. It is pretty hard when it is a one groove track. The restarts were critical. If you were in a good groove on the restart you moved up. If you were on the outside you really had to struggle.”

“It was tough coming back up through the pack.” But with the many cautions drivers at the back of the pack were able to sit back and put together strategies on how to get through the field. Cautions allowed them to migrate forward as leaders fought to keep their lead. “The restarts really helped. It was really hard to pass. You had to work hard to get by a guy if he was holding on to the bottom of the track. If he wasn’t giving up the bottom it was tough. So the restarts definitely helped us. I had a good race.”

Veteran MRS driver, Les Hinckley, also made the truck from the rear of the field a few times but the journey was worth it for the CMR Racing Team. They brought home a fourth place finish. “It is a tough track and we made it more difficult on ourselves than we had to. We got up to fourth on the outside. We just missed it (the setup) a little bit. It was really good for about for a fifty lap race and then it got a little bit too free early and we got trapped on the outside. We tried to squeeze in down in on the inside and I got turned around.”

After being turned around on the track, Hinckley headed to the pits and it was time for the crew to do their job. They adjusted the car and Hinckley headed back out for more racing. “But it (the spin) actually worked out good because it gave us the opportunity to come in and adjust the car. That is a difficult decision to make on your own when you are running in the top five or ten spot. So after getting turned around, we came in and adjusted the car and then marched back up to fourth.”

With four laps to go, ROC Champion, Matt Hirschman went from a potential fourth place finish to fourteenth in the blink of an eye. Hirschman had all the right moves going to complete in the top five when he had his plan altered abruptly with a caution on lap 96. “I am just disappointed to not come away with a top five,” said Hirschman from the pits. “We started twelfth and we were able to get up in the top five.”

When young Jacob Dore made a late race move to pass Pete Brittain for third Dore jettisoned over the top of Brittain eliminating from the top five the two of them and the then sixth place runner Hirschman. “They tangled and I was already committed a little wide into the corner (turn four). I went up the track and I tried to come back down and miss them and I got clipped in the left front end and it broke the suspension in the left front.”

The Albany Saratoga “East-West Showdown” race is now in the books and race teams are going forward with Memorial Day Weekend race plans and their dreams for a win.

The MRS will have a busy weekend as teams travel back to New York for an inaugural race at Airborne Speedway, Plattsburgh, NY on May 29th and then cross Lake Champlain to cap out their weekend at Thunder Road International Speedbowl, Barre, VT on May 30th.
The ROC teams will also return to New York for 75 laps of racing at Oswego Speedway in Oswego, NY on May 29th.

Albany Saratoga “East-West Showdown” Race Notes

Racers Thoughts on Racing at the New Asphalt Track
Did you have issues passing on the track? Was there more than one groove on the track?

Rowan Pennink
“My car turned so good I did not have a problem getting up a good run and running up underneath people on the bottom but if you car was not that good you had a hard time passing. I was able to pass plenty of cars.”

“Everyone said that the outside was going to be so terrible. But if you were faster than someone you could pass them on the outside.”

Earl Paules
“The track was good. Once that top opens up a little bit, it will be better. The track has a little bit of bite in it and it was good. It was fun.”

Sean Bodreau
“The track seemed to come in to it once it got a little more rubber on the outside groove. It was a little better at the end of the race. I think that the more rubber that they get on the track the better that it will be.”

Les Hinckley
“The track is hands down better than it was when were here in April. And hopefully it continues to go that way. It was a lot racier than I though it was going to be so that is encouraging. So hopefully the outside comes in a little more as they continue to race and put more rubber on it. “

“It was tough making it back up through the pack. We had a good car and passed a bunch of cars but it was tough. There is not a whole lot of opportunity here to pass. You get the cars rotating pretty good and you get where you can cut underneath a guy it works that right rear so bad.”

Matt Hirschman
“It is great what they are doing here. Any time a track is freshly paved it tends to be a little tougher to race on. We did a little passing and stuff but it was a caution filled race. I think that was part of the tough conditions of being only able to pass a little bit. It definitely will be fine. It is a good track.”

“Coming here was a learning experience.”

Combining Race Team from MRS and ROC Series

Rowan Pennink
“I race with so many different people that between the SKs, MRS and the tour, it does not matter who you run against. You just try top beat everyone.”

Earl Paules
“The competition was good. I was up front all day so I did not really have to race with anybody. Pete (Brittain) a little bit and then the #25 car a little bit and then the #17 car there at the end. Otherwise than that, it was good.”

Sean Bodreau
“The more cars the better is the way that I look at it. They are all tough guys and they run good. You have Matt, Earl, and Pete who had a rough run tonight. They are all front runners and they all run good. So yes, I would say the more cars the better.”

“Starting 28 might have been too much particularly for a one groove track like this one maybe. It is hard when you have 50 cars like we had in the beginning. There were only 28 cars that came back but it was hard to send that many cars home the first time.”

Les Hinckley
“I could not have told you the difference unless you told me that there were 28. There was no big deal starting the extra cars.”

Matt Hirschman
“Originally you almost had too many cars. You had fifty cars here. If both series support it in full it is almost too much. But there are probably a couple of tracks or if this race was not the first race of the year for most people to do. You would probably get a nice quality field of racers at some of these places where neither group is going to pull a thirty car field. If you put the two together, you could probably do it at only at a couple of places.”

“There is nothing wrong with it. There are a difference where our rules (ROC) versus their rules (MRS). They did their best to work it out but there are some things that I probably would have liked to have seen done differently if they were to do it again. But overall I think if it is in the right place I think it would be a great idea. There are certain places where I do not think it would be. The only reason that you could go back and say maybe it was not a good idea here was because it was the opening of the season, it was something new and everybody wanted to come try it out. That was why you had fifty cars. That was probably too much. It was great for fans to watch qualifying but not good for the amount of cars to go home. But in its place, it worked out.”

Were There Any Issues with Tire Wear?

Earl Paules
“Yes the right rear with all the cautions and the heat cycles that the rear went thought I just did not have the grip like I did earlier in the race. It is a second place finish. We will take second and a car in one piece.”

Sean Bodreau
“Tire wear all depended on the pace that you took to run. The guys that were running up front probably lost there tires at the end. They had to run hard at the beginning of the race where Rowan and I we both went to the back really early so we were able to conserve a little bit coming up though. It is all what you do for your pace in the race.”

Les Hinckley
“The whole thing went… but it was hurting the right rear. I think that we tightened it up and got by some guys afterwards that were not as good but there is not much of an outside here yet.”

“I think that we might have a had a little something left for them in the end but after the red flag we had a front left flat so we barely finished at all. It was a long night with a little luck.”

Thoughts on the Abnormal Number of Race Cautions for Both Series

Earl Paules
“I saw one car that was in a caution three times. It is just one of those things; it is pretty much the same people all the time (in the cautions). What are you going to do; they are racing pretty hard back there.

Sean Bodreau
“Everybody wanted the bottom and they were fighting hard to get to the bottom. We had a plan to go out starting last and if we saw a hole we would take it and if not we would back off. We got caught up in a couple of the cautions there and because of everybody wanting the bottom so. We got out of it with minimal damage and we were able to pick and choose our way up though to go home with a third. We will take it.”

Source: Denise DuPont /
Posted: May 23, 2010

©2010 GeeLaw Motorsports/Wolf Pack Ventures, Inc.