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   The Chrome Horn - Modified Racing Series



Jon McKennedy Gets a Double Crown
by Denise DuPont

On October 24th, the Modified Racing Series (MRS) wrapped up their seventh year of modified competition with their season finale at Lee USA Speedway. The MRS teams joined the huge field of cars to celebrate the end of their race season and the track’s twenty-seventh Oktoberfest celebration.

It was a rain marred Oktoberfest Sunday though that brought a break in racing action for the MRS competitors. On lap 68, the red flag was thrown for weather and track conditions. Steve Masse was leading the race while point leader Jon McKennedy had made his way up to eleventh. Modified teams sat in the infield with their cars covered as they waited out the rain and track drying efforts. When racers were finally able to restart the race, over three and half hours had gone by. Cars had cooled, track conditions had changed and teams were chilled to the bone.

After the rain delay, race leader Steve Masse maintained his lead. “I knew that I had saved my tires and I knew my car was still awesome,” said Masse. “I had an awesome setup, so I was not too worried after the long red flag. I knew my car would feel exactly the same way that it did. The car was still on a rail and it was still fast.”

Masse had started the race on the outside pole and quickly passed Max Zachem to take over the lead. After making the pass for the lead (lap 6), Masse dominated the rest of the race. “My crew let me know that Ken Barry was coming up through the field. The told me how many car lengths that he was getting there. The lapped cars really killed me. I realized with them I lost a lot of my speed. I do not know if Ken had enough to get by me I was not driving his car. But it is definitely one thing to get up to someone and another to get by them. And he had to get by me so, I do not know if he could have done it.”

This was Masse third 2010 MRS win. “I just have to thank my crew for giving me the awesome car that we had when we unloaded. We only had fifteen minutes of practice on Saturday and that is it. Luckily my car was hooked up.”

Defending Oktoberfest 2009 winner, Ken Barry, had a plan to do a repeat of the race win this year. With the rain delay, Barry had a wrench thrown into his plan. “It almost went as planned.” Barry said about his second place finish. “We were pretty good. I think that we probably had a shot at it if they went back to a double file restarts at the end. But starting single file, we had to pass a lot of cars to get to Steven. I just needed another lap or two.”

When rain stopped the racing action, Barry had an unplanned delay inserted in his race to the front. “I was upset because we had a really good car. I was just hoping that we were going to stay green. I was probably one of the few out there that wanted to go back racing because I knew that we had a shot at it.”

Rookie, Max Zachem, had his best finish of 2010 when he crossed the finish line third. He was running in third before the rain came and he continued to set his sites on ending there. “I was hoping for the best. I just wanted to finish third where we were at lap 68 or better. We had a great car. It stunk waiting around for that time and it was a damp cold day. Finishing third I am happy.”

On his last visit to Lee this summer, Zachem came in last after a disappointing day. This time he ended his race on a brighter note. ”Being a rookie out here, this was redemption for the July race where I the rear end broke on us. We had a fast car. Steve Masse and Ken Barry have been doing this for a long time and it is an honor to finish third to them. It was an excellent race. I have to thank all of my crew guys and sponsors throughout the year. They gave me great support.”

Finishing fourth in the Stuart Automotive sponsored #85 was veteran Louie Mechalides. He had pitted on the caution just before the red flag was thrown and was able to make it back up through the field when the race went back to green. “The whole race car was pretty good,” said Mechalides reflecting on the race. “We were just riding and riding waiting to get into the race. Then at the end the caution came out (Lap 68 caution and then red flag for rain). I took a couple of laps to get some heat back into the car. And to get the car back running again. Fourth place was a good finish.”

Like most drivers, Mechalides came with a plan to win and the rain was not something he planned on. “The car was real good on the long run. I would have liked to have seen it (the race) go 100 laps green. That would have been a good race. I was just started to get going and running again when the ended.”

Andy Seuss came back to his home track with a car that he thought would give him a win. But the red flag changed the track and car setup too much and he did not attain his goal. “I just wish that the race went a 100 green laps earlier and that we did not have the break. It seemed to hurt us. The car was just free from the word go. I am sure that some of the guys probably tighten them up with the stagger. We were allowed to change air pressure and we probably should have done that too.”

When weather stopped the race, Seuss was running a solid second place spot right behind Masse. When the cars came back out to race though, his car did not dial in with the cold delay and he had to settle for a fifth place finish. “The long caution definitely hurt us. Maybe everybody was in the same boat, but it definitely hurt us. But that is racing though. We wanted to go back racing so it was all good. It did not help us this time. The car was really good and I was looking forward to a good battle with Steve Masse. Any top five is good so we will take it.”

Jon McKennedy returned to his home track with his eyes on a fifth win. McKennedy started the race in eighteenth position and was able to break into the top ten. But in the end there was not enough time to catch Masse for another win. “I just wanted to get it over with,” said McKennedy. “We only had two cautions during the race that kind of made it hard coming from the back. It was a long season with a 20 race schedule. We had a lot of ups and downs this year.”

To come back and win back to back championships is a great accomplishment for all drivers. Jon McKennedy has now joined the rank of drivers that can say that they have done it. “It means a lot to me. The series this year really stepped it up. There are a lot of good cars every week. They have been averaging thirty cars every race. It has been good competition.”

Now the MRS organization will end their end with a banquet to celebrate their seventh year of camaraderie and competition. 2011 will bring another year with more racing, new drivers, more competition and maybe even another track to conquer.

Race Notes from Lee USA Speedway:

Racing plans for next year?

Steve Masse
“All my plans are up in the air right now. I want to race as much as possible next year. I hope to be racing every weekend so we will go from there.”

Ken Barry
We do not really know yet. We are still looking for sponsorship for next year so if we find enough we will probably do the whole series again and maybe a couple of races at Loudon this summer with the Whelen tour. But it all depends on money.

Max Zachem
“Find some money. If I find some sponsorship dollars then we will go from there. Whether I am back with this team, still racing my Legend cars or selling them, or drive a modified for someone else, we will figure it out. It is long silly off season. We will go to the North South and Turkey Derby and go watch and help some people. We will go se if we can figure something out.”

Louie Mechalides
“I am just going to take the car apart and clean it up and get ready for next year. We will see if we can make it faster.”

Andy Seuss
“Just looking for sponsorship, just like everybody else. There may be less races next year and maybe closer to home. I am just looking for a ride for both north and south. We need sponsorship for down south. Rigss Race Team (#47 NWSMT Modified) may need a driver to bring money and I need to find a new deal. So I am just looking at all options for next year.”

Jon McKennedy
“I am not really sure. There may be a few ride opportunities but we will not know until after the banquet.”

Winning two back to back championships:

Jon McKennedy
“It means a lot to me. I am excited to win another championship. The guys that helped me worked really hard. Basically we got a new chassis with a hand full of races left to go. We got it all done in lass than a week. That was the big turning point. We won three out of the five races with it. The series this year really stepped it up. There are a lot of good cars every week. They have been averaging thirty cars every race. It has been good competition.”
“To win four races this year and the championship I am really happy. It was a great accomplishment. The competition was the toughest since I have been running the series. I am looking forward to the future. Hopefully we have some opportunities for next year.”

Do you enjoy racing and competing with the MRS teams?

Ken Barry
“I like racing here with the MRS series better than the NASCAR tour. It is a lot more competitive in my opinion. It is not about money. It is about driving and getting your car ready. For the most part these guys are fun to race with and pretty clean. There are not too many incidents. The other tour just seems to be a lot more soap opera-ish I guess. This is just a lot more fun. It is like racing Saturday night when you grew up.”

Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: October 25, 2010

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