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   The Chrome Horn - Modified Racing Series



Ted Christopher wins “Shark Cycle 100” at Stafford Motor Speedway
by Denise DuPont

The Modified Racing Series (MRS) went to Stafford Motor Speedway for their first race ever on the historical half mile on Friday, September 11th. There were thirty-eight modified teams which had made the journey to race their way into the twenty-eight starting spots at Stafford’s inaugural MRS event. Several NWMT modified drivers and Stafford’s own SK Modified division joined the MRS regulars to create an impressive field of modified competitors.

But in the end, “The King” of modified racing at Stafford Motor Speedway, Ted Christopher once again showed everyone why and how he earned his title. Christopher won the “Shark Cycle 100” at Stafford after leading ninety-nine of one hundred green laps of racing.

Christopher has mastered more than one hundred wins in six different divisions at the asphalt he calls home. Up until this race though, a win in the MRS division has eluded him. It is kind of fitting that he had to return to his home territory to accomplish the task.

“It is really weird how I wait until I come to Stafford to finally get one (win),” said Christopher from victory lane. “That car has been going really good the last three races. We finished second to Rowan at Thompson and we were good at Waterford until the ting (car) overheated. We took it (the car) to our shop this week and cleaned it, the radiator and all kinds of things. We put in more fans. It stayed so good until about fifteen to go and then it started to get loose. They said if you get a caution they come right back.” But the race did not see a yellow caution flag after lap thirty-five.

The #00 team of Joe Brady has been competing with the MRS races for the last four years. Until this race though the team has had mixed results. Adding the home track may have been one of the key things that the team needed to pull all of the pieces together. “I have been trying for a while. Joe and these guys really have this car going real good.”

Christopher took the well prepared car, found a groove on the track that he felt comfortable in and went forward to lead 99 laps of the main event. “I was just running a whole different line then other people. I was just getting such a good bite off of two and four (turns). I tell you about fifteen (laps) it definitely gave up. It (#00 car) just did not give up as much as everybody else.”

Ron Silk crossed the finish line second after a great run for the Ed Partridge #6 team. Silk had won his heat race and started the feature event on the pole. When the green flag flew Silk led the field but he was passed by Christopher after completing lap one. Silk settled into second and running strong he stayed right behind Christopher the whole race. “We had a pretty good car all day. This is the first race that I have ever run in this series so it is good to get a decent finish. Our car was good for a while. I was kind of saving stuff for a while. We were just getting too loose by the end. I was too free at the end,” said Silk about the race. “Congratulations to Joe Brady, Ted and them guys they had a really good car.”

Rowan Pennink completed the race with a podium finish in the Gary Casella owned #25 modified. The team had a fast car right out of the trailer. Pennink scored the fastest practice time, won the second heat race and started the race in second. “We had a strong car all day. We were the fastest in practice and we won our heat (race). I think that we were a little better than the #6 (car of Ron Silk). It (the car) kind of went away a little bit at the end. We did not have anything for the #00 but we are happy with a solid top three.”

In 2010, Pennink has been competing full time with the MRS racing. The team has had a lot of ups and downs this year but has finally been able to pull the right parts together. “I have to thank Gary Casella, Brian Crowley and the whole #25 team for an awesome car,” said Pennink after the race. “Once again we had a good point night. I am glad to come out of here with a top three finish and the car in one piece.”

Jeff Malave loves racing a modified car and weekly competes in the track’s SK Modified division. Malave ran the forty lap SK Modified event, finishing third. He then jumped into his MRS mod which was waiting for him on the sideline. “This is my home track,” said Malave from post race inspection. “We are all happy. The team works hard. When you come away with two top fives in one night it is a beautiful night. Both cars are clean.”

Malave had started the MRS feature event sixth and maintained his momentum on the track to capture a fourth place finish. When he can he has competed in the MRS races and his runs have been consistent. “I know these guys. They are all clean racers so you have clean races.”

Chris Pasteryak returned from the injury list last week and has run in the top five since returning to the MRS ranks. At Stafford he finished his heat race second, started the race in fourth and motored to a fifth place finish. It was not a win but it was a solid fifth place finish. Pasteryak would have liked to have seen a caution to group the field together for the final race laps. But after lap thirty-five, the yellow flag never flew. “We needed a caution probably along with about half the field at the end. It was a lot of fun. I just botched a restart, the last restart. And I got behind Eric Goodale and he was going just good enough. By the time I got by him I was a half a track behind the leaders. It was fun and the car is in one piece, so we will go to the next one.”

MRS front runner, Les Hinckley surprised a lot of people when he pulled out on to the track for practice. The Chuck Montville owned #06 left Waterford last week with a badly damaged car not know what their future would be. But the team did not give up. On the ride home they decided to give it their all and spent the night working on the car. “We actually went home after Waterford and stayed at the garage and stripped the car down enough so it was ready to go on the jig on Sunday morning, But it was Labor Day and Kenny was busy. So it (the car) was on the jig on Tuesday morning and we got it back Tuesday night. We worked late pretty much every night and we were ready to load it on the trailer Thursday night about midnight,” said Hinckley after the Stafford race. “Everybody worked hard. It was a long week. As discouraged as you are when it first happens you really have to just tighten up your belt and keep at it. There is no quitting in racing.”

MRS teams now will have a couple of weeks off to regroup and prepare for their next race at the Seekonk Speedway, the D. Anthony Venditti Fall Classic, scheduled to take place on October 10th.

Race Notes from Stafford Motor Speedway:

Did the Tires Compound Make a Difference in the Race?

Ted Christopher
“I think that they are a lot better than the 28’s. With the others we would have been sideways by lap 40 with those. I know we run them at Thompson and they are barely good for the forty lappers. They run them on the open show there. These (tires) are real good. It just seemed like once you run a lot of laps (without a caution) they glaze over almost.”

Chris Pasteryak
“I think that the tires hold up better but I think that the racing is worst because of it. I really do. It is not as competitive. You have guys that would specifically give up at the beginning of the race to be good at the end. Now you pretty much have to be good the whole time. Or you can only ride around where you are on the race track. It made cars that were off in their handling just fast enough where they are still not handling really good but they are fast enough to hold up a good handling car. And you can almost see that a little bit with a few of the lapped cars. They are going a lap down but if they are only a couple of tenths fastest there isn’t enough.”

“I do not know what it is. I am not a tire engineer. There is not enough give in them. And there is not enough compliance in them or actual grip, because they are harder. They do not give up enough to allow you to move around to try to pass anybody. You see that a little bit everywhere. Dwight was way faster than the #21 at Waterford and he could not get him. Steven was way faster than Max (Zachem) and the # 21 (Geoff Gernhard) and it took him thirty laps to pass them at Waterford, and Waterford is usually a two groove track. Stafford is normally a single file so it does not really matter. “

“From a competitor’s side, we are better off because we are not wrecking a lot of cars. But we also might be better off having a little bit tighter racing at the end in the Modified Racing Series race.”

Did running as a regular in the SK division in the past help in the MRS race?

Rowan Pennink
“I knew after having run here in the past with the tour and SKs and having a decent amount of experience here that I would hopefully have a little bit of advantage. But there is a lot of tough competition. There were six or seven top of the line tour drivers in this show so I knew it was going to be tough. We had an advantage over all the other MRS guys having the experience here. So I expected to run upfront. And I ran upfront but I just did not have enough for the #00 there. “

“We came to run the SK Mods here at the beginning here seeing that we would eventually be running the tour. The tour comes to Stafford more than any other track. So it definitely helped not only with the tour but now that the MRS race is at Stafford it ending up paying off for us in this series.”

Would you have liked to have seen a late race caution?

Jeff Malave
“No, we were fine where we were, because four of us broke away. I was just trying to save the right rear and hopefully have something with ten to go. But we did not save it enough.”

Les Hinckley
“From where I sat obviously there were not too many cautions. It seemed to be a pretty clean race from what I understand. The field got pretty strung out there and we got a little free. I think that we could have been a little bit better with a caution to tighten the field up. That being said cautions end up with guys with wrecked race cars and we do not like to see that also. So selfishly, I would have liked to have gotten the field bunched up to get some spots. But you never know if you are going to be the caution. Initially I was happy when the race ended and the car was in once piece after the month that we had. After about three or four minutes it began to set in that I was aggravated because we should have been better.”

MRS Series Point Chase

The MRS series point chase has widened out a little with Jon McKennedy the 2009 champion leading the driver points followed by veteran Dwight Jarvis in second. Rowan Pennink is now third in the series driver’s points, while his car owner, Gary Casella leads the owner point chase.

Rowan Pennink
“We had a good car tonight. Not quite good enough for the #00 and #6.
I think that we might have taken over the owner points again. I think McKennedy had the point lead and we beat him by eight or ten spots. It was a good point’s day for us and I am happy with a third place finish.”

MRS Twin State and World Series on same day?

I guess it is a tough decision if I am leading the driver’s points. We will see how that goes. I am leaning towards the World Series but we will see how these next couple of races goes and we will figure it out then.

What are your racing plans for next year?

Jeff Malave
Next year we will be back here with the Davidson team and we will do as many MRS races as we possibly can. We really like racing with the MRS. It is a real working mans division.

Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: September 12, 2010

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