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Jon McKennedy Wins his First 2010 Modified Racing Series Race
by Denise DuPont

It was the end of a long hot week in New England as the Modified Racing Series headed to Lee USA Speedway for the “Laticrete Port City 100” on Friday, July 9th. Thirty-one teams made the trip to qualify for the twenty-four starting spots.

Before qualifying began the modified racers made a special tribute to Series announcer, John Spence, Sr. Drivers lined up on the midway behind the starters stand with placards that expressed their wish to him for a “Happy 60th Birthday Sr.”.

Jon McKennedy, the 2009 MRS defending champion, was back in familiar territory at Lee. He found himself back at his home track and once again back in victory lane.

McKennedy had paced himself on the track while others sliced and diced for the lead. When there were about thirty laps to go, McKennedy started to make his forward charge.

Being patient paid off because he was able to pass for the lead on lap 74 and maintain the top spot as the final race laps clicked off. “We had a good car and the first part of the race I kind of rode around. With about thirty to go I started to go. Luckily I had a good enough car and I have enough laps around here that I know what I need.” McKennedy had won his first 2010 MRS race.

“All year we have had a great car,” said McKennedy while his #73 PowerMist car went through inspection. “We have had a few races where we should have had a win but mechanical issues took us out. But in the last few races three top threes in a row, a third, a second and now a win. I want to thank the crew they worked hard today. It was a long hard day today. The last couple of days I have been under the weather myself, not feeling too well. So it feels good to get a win here.”

Veteran racer Dwight Jarvis started the race on the pole fell back, regrouped and then made his way back to the front. He took back the lead half-way through the race and held on to it until McKennedy passed to take over the lead from him. Jarvis held on and crossed the finish line in second. “I knew that the car was going to be real good. When I had talked to Brad LaFontaine and he had us change it over some. The boys worked hard on it before the feature. I was trying to buy my time and just ride it out. And them guys got by me there in the beginning there, six or seven of them. They made me a little nervous up there dicing it out. I said to myself I have to get out of here. I then I got out front and I knew it was too early and that Jon McKennedy would be coming. We will take a second. He (McKennedy) is fun to race with and he passed me clean.”

Third place finisher, Jimmy Kuhn, left Lee USA Speedway last July with his first ever MRS race win. He came back to Lee hoping to make it two in a row. Starting the race from mid-pack, like McKennedy he paced himself waiting for the right time to make his move. “It was the same plan as usual. We just wanted to kind of feel out the car at the beginning of the race. It was going good but we made a couple of small adjustments. We came in a couple of time sand made some adjustments. We just wanted it right for the end of the race. And sure enough it was going real good at the end of the race.”

But Kuhn waited to long for a charge forward and in the end he had to settle for a podium finish. “We needed a caution at the end to kind of group us back up again. Caution cars riding with the lead cars really did mess me up at the end. At the end the lapped cars were side by side trying to run. I would got to the top and then one (lapped car) would fall out .It was hard but there was pretty much nothing that we could do about it. I was kind of worrying about the next guy behind me catching up. I think that it was Andy. We were really good at the end. I cannot complain, our car was really very good.”

Fourth place finisher, Andy Seuss had ended his qualifying heat prematurely after being involved in an accident. He went forward into the consi race where starting last and managed to avoid incidents to pass with two laps to go for a second place finish. “It was a really good ending to an up and down day,” said Seuss reflecting on his day. And yes it was a tough day: “Getting caught up in a wreck the first lap of my heat race, starting last in the consi race, getting banged around and then finishing second, and then getting a flat tire in the feature. I went into the pits a couple of times and then there was a good long run at the end that allowed us to get up to fourth.”

Not giving up after lady luck served up one challenge after the other paid off in the end for the #70 race team. Seuss was the hard charger of the night going from twentieth to fourth position on his home track.“ The car was real good at the end. We would have liked a caution there maybe with twenty to go to regroup the field. Jon and Dwight were pretty checked out and Jimmy Kuhn and I were together for on the track for a long time. So overall, a fourth place for the night that we had was real good. The car was banged up but the guys did an awesome job. The pit crew did not stop all day and overall it was a good ending.”

Rowan Pennink proved to be the driver though that finally had lady luck back in his camp. He managed to capture a top five finish after a long bout of bad luck. “I am happy with a fifth here. Other times when we have come here we have struggled. We started the race a little too free and we pitted about five times and made the thing a whole lot better.”

A hundred laps of racing though were not enough in the end to get the young racer really wanted, a win. “We just ran out of time. We needed a couple of cautions towards the end. I think that we would have been right for the win. But over all I was happy with a top five. This is a tough place to keep the car good the whole race. The guys did a great job in the pits making the car better. Overall we were happy with a fifth.”

Second generation driver Joey Jarvis overcame mechanical failures that have plagued him this season to break into the top ten before the race was half over. He clicked off a few more spots and finished the race sixth. “The last few times have been mechanical issues and at Monadnock we just did not hit it. This time we have something that works here. We got seventh last year in Oktoberfest and a sixth this year (at this race). We did not pit as many times this year and the guys that made the late race pit stops got us. I am not going to complain about a sixth place run after everything that we have been through. That was a great run.”

Doug Coby in the Czarnicki Brother’s #20 car had a great run going during his second race this year with the MRS. He had made it to the lead early in the race but ended up back in twelfth spot when the race finished. “I do not know what happened. I think that this race track bit me. When I came up through the field on the outside I was at a quarter throttle. I was just rolling with the race track, rolling with the traffic and I was very surprised. I did not use the car and I got to the lead. The all of a sudden the thing started to get a little free and then it got a lot of free. Then I kind of knew at lap 50 when we were third that we were not going to win with a car like this so I went in and we tightened it up and I planned to come back through. Well, there was no coming back through. It was just free the whole time. It was unbelievable.”

The MRS will head north again to another race at another state, Maine. The series will compete next Saturday night, July 17th, at the Oxford Plains Speedway, Oxford, ME.

Race Notes From Lee USA Speedway:

Where will drivers race next week?

Jon McKennedy
“The thing (car) has started to turn around and next week we go to Oxford. We won there last year so I am looking forward to it this year.” Jon McKennedy shared when he talked about next week’s racing. “It is the same deal as here. It is pretty hard on tires. It is a big circle you have to be really smooth on the gas pedal.

Rowan Pennink
“Next week? I think that we are going to head to Monadnock for the NWMT race.”

At the end of the race the leaders of the race caught up with lapped traffic. Did lapped traffic affect you?

Rowan Pennink
“No it was not too bad. I could not really tell who was lapped out there and who wasn’t so I was just passing everyone like it was for position. There were a lot of people out there that were really slow but on the lead lap and other guys that were out there that were decent and they were a lap down.”

Did your prior experience on the track help you?

Andy Seuss
“I think so. It is a real warn out track. The newer stuff that they are putting down on the track, the adhesion promoter throws a curve ball on it since I have run it. But this is probably out best run since putting that stuff down. So we were really happy with it. And I knew even though we were in the back just to save the tires, it paid off.”

Incident during first Heat Race ends Chris Pasteryak night.

The night’s qualifying ended as fast as it began with a caution. In turn one of the first heat race, three racers caught up in a hard charge for the six qualifying spots tangled. Their cars were collected up, spun and came to rest against the outside wall in turn one. Steve Masse and Andy Seuss were able to drive away, while second generation racer Chris Pasteryak ended his race day exiting his car with an injured wrist.

Source: Denise DuPont /
Posted: July 13, 2010

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