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   The Chrome Horn - Modified Racing Series



Masse wins MRS race at Waterford Speedbowl
by Denise DuPont

With summer in full swing “Wings ‘n Wheels” night took flight at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday August 14th. There was a good field of cars that showed up for the four open wheel divisions competing. The grandstands were packed and Mother Nature set the stage for a picture perfect night of racing.

As part of the “Wings ‘n Wheels” event the Modified Racing Series returned to “The Bowl” for the second time this year with thirty-one Modified Race Series (MRS) teams ready to race. After qualifying six of the MRS regular competitors went to the pits to pack up their equipment after failing to make the starting field.

When the event was over, young Steve Masse scored the win at the fast 3/8th oval track when he crossed the finish line first. He had led the race from the start to finish. After three cautions during the first twenty laps of the race, it was clear sailing from there forward for the #13 Masse Race Team.

Each race seems to start with just one lucky number. And from the beginning having the right number helps for the plan for a good finish. So just like Foxwoods having the right number helps you be at the right place at the right time. It also brings you to where you want to be in the end. “In these series drawing a number is one of the key factors to starting up front,” said Masse about the MRS process. “And then there is saving tires to be there at the end is definitely a real big help.”

Also part of the big picture are the most important components of it all, the race car. And a good race car Masse did have. “I had an awesome race car. I had the best car here tonight. I cannot say enough about it.” Second to the race car is a good crew. “I have to thank my crew. They gave me an awesome car to work with. It was a team effort. We are a small team and I am just happy to be in the winner circle right now.”

It is unusual for any race, let alone an MRS race to go for eighty green laps of racing. But at Waterford and the 100 lap MRS “Wings ‘n Wheels” it happened. Every one, including the winner, thought as each and every lap clicked off that the next one may be a caution. “I really thought that there was going to be a caution in the last ten laps,” said Masse reflecting on the race.

At the end of the race the track got slick and cars started to slide, but there was still no caution. “I do not know if there was fluid down in turn two but I was getting loose over there and on the straight way almost. It was a little loose on entry but it was nothing that I could not drive. I had a straight way lead my spotter told me so I was just taking it easy at the end.”

Masse had a good race car and was able to stay ahead of second place finisher. Ted Christopher but his eyes were always son his rear view mirror. “I thought about it (who was behind me) on the restart but I am happy to beat someone like that (Teddy) in a modified at his own game and I am just happy that I did it to be honest. It (the win) means a lot to me and it really has not settled in yet but it awesome. Hopefully I will get another one this year”.

Having a slight edge over Christopher meant that Masse received the famous Christopher warning that he was there and coming to get him and he heeded the warning. “I knew I had TC back there. He was giving me the bumper. Even going around on the pace lap he wanted to let me know he was there. But he got strung out and we were just hoping that there were no cautions because there because I knew I had a big lead on everybody. It just all worked out for the best.”

Ted Christopher crossed the finish line second but he did not make it to victory lane. His car spewed smoke at race end and TC headed to the pits. “The car was smoking a little bit on the track.”

“I did not think that it (the race) would go from green to checker basically from about lap 20 to the end like that. You sit there and you wait and wait and the next thing you know is that you have to go a little bit. We were a little bit loose and we tried to save our tires as much as possible. We were a little bit free in but we did a bunch of changes before the feature so we probably got it about 80% where it needed to be. But I did not have anything for Steven. He was real good. But in the end we had a good run.”

Doug Coby made a hard charge at the end of the race and made it from fifth to third but he ran out of time. Without the late race caution he was banking on, a podium finish was all that he got. “I was confident that there was going to be a caution the last ten laps. I hit full throttle for the first time on lap 84 when I realized that we were not going to get a caution and I better start moving. That was when I got the #73 and #25 (cars). The #20 car is just a great car there (Waterford Speedbowl).”

So what goes through the minds of a driver when the laps are clicking off, the track is getting slicking and you really want a caution? “You are sitting there and you still do not want to use the car up, said Coby. “What was going through my mind was just get going and get that caution out. I want to go out there and mix it up with them. I had more car then them but it just did not happen. It was a fun time tonight”

“I kept thinking that if we had just one caution. I wanted to make sure that I was in third. That was why I pressure Jon and Rowan so much. I wanted to be third and hopefully mix things up with these guys. Good job for the #13 guys and Teddy. Both made it interesting up there. We were coming and we had a good car but we just did not have enough time tonight.”

Rowan Pennink and the #25 team also continued to drive but thought that a caution was just waiting for the series around the next corner but it never came. They held on and drove to the end for a fourth place finish. “We were definitely expecting a caution near the end. It is not that normal for a race to go like that without a caution for that long. We had a good car. It just got a little free at the end. I do not think that we would have had anything for the #13 (Steve Masse).”

“The #00 was leaking oil bad and I did not realize it and I almost spun coming off of turn two. Brian (Crowley) had said that the #00 was smoking but I did not realize that it was putting down that much oil. The thing (car) just jumped right out on me and it allowed Coby to just get the big run off of turn two. It took me half way down the straight away to save it. I just brought it home after that.”

“I knew that Doug Coby was right on me and he just had a big run off of two on me. There was not much that I could do. I just got messed up running through the oil there.” But Pennink saved the car and went forward ensuring the team finished with a top five. “The #13 just had a dominant car tonight and I do not think that anyone had anything for him.”

2009 MRS Champion Jon McKennedy struggled all night at Waterford. It is a tough track and it is one of the tracks that just has not been kind to him. “We always seem to struggle here for some reason. The whole field is only a few tenths apart so when you are off a little bit it really makes you look bad.”

Unlike others in the top five, McKennedy was not sure he wanted to see a caution at the end of the race. He knew he had a top five finish and he wanted to end there. “Everyone was strung out. It was a long race with long green flag laps. The car was just too free the last half of the race. And I was just kind of hanging on at that point. If we had a caution who would have know what would have happened. We were off all day. Basically we had a fifth place car and it showed that in the race.”

The Modified Race Team heads back to the “Cement Palace” and the tight fast grooves of Seekonk Speedway on Saturday, August 21st for more close racing at high speeds.

Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: August 16, 2010

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