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   The Chrome Horn - Modified Racing Series



Jon McKennedy Crowned Series Champ Second Year in a Row
by Denise DuPont

The Modified Racing Series (MRS) ended their seventh season on Saturday, November 20th with their annual award banquet in West Springfield, MA. MRS founder, Jack Bateman, started the evening’s festivities with a brief recap on the year. For the series it was another successful year of both racing and growth.

Bateman also announced the signing of a three-year deal with Bob Valenti Auto Mall as the title sponsor for the series. Starting next year, the series will now be known as the “Valenti Modified Racing Series”. Bateman also released the 2011 schedule after which he emphasized it was tentative at this point until logistics are worked out.

The evening was highlighted with the crowning of the repeat champion, Jon McKennedy. Awards were also presented to the top fifteen in points followed by the series specialty awards.

The major announcement of the evening though was the plans for “Ricky’s Race For Kids” with the winner to receive a purse of $12,000. The event will take place at Canaan Fair Speedway in honor of the late Ricky Miller on Saturday, July 16th. The annual event will benefit David’s House; in Lebanon, N.H. David’s House is now the official charity of the Valenti Modified Racing Series.

Jon McKennedy was a four-time winner in the 2010 with wins at Lee, N.H., Waterford, CT., Seekonk, MA., and Claremont, N.H. McKennedy #73 team had a lot of ups and downs in 2010 but they always regrouped coming back stronger and rising to the top. The MRS competition have grown and gotten tougher over the last seven seasons. McKennedy expressed his thoughts on the continued success that has spurred the growth. “The amount that it (MRS Series) has grown and the exposure that it has gotten in the last two years I think it has been incredible. If you look at it a few years ago, the certain venues we were going to and the amount of cars that it had been getting and the quality of cars compared to now I think is just night and day. Now you have on average about thirty cars each weekend. We go to some great facilities. I would say that 60% of the field is great quality cars with great drivers. So it is has come a long way.”

In 2011 the Valenti MRS teams will have an aggressive schedule with at least eighteen races that includes the bigger tracks in Connecticut – Thompson International and Stafford Motor Speedway. “I think that the schedule is pretty cool,” Said McKennedy. “I think that the very convenient for a lot of people. This series is based on guys like myself that do not have a lot of money to do the big touring series with all the travel. So it is nice to have everything within an hour or two of distance.”

Second generation driver Todd Annarummo received the 2010 Koszela Speed Rookie Of the Year Award. Annarummo took over the reigns of the famous black #12 modified from his dad, Vinnie “Who” Annarummo, in 2010 to compete full time with the MRS series. Following his dad’s footsteps he has had some strong runs and even captured his first series’ win at Seekonk Speedway, his home track. “I will never be able to fill those shoes. He is my dad and I thank him for everything he does for me and the amount of help that he gives me.”

“It was a great year,” said Annarummo reflecting on 2010. “We had our ups and downs. But I think that the ups outweighed the downs. We got essentially had two big wins and had a couple of podium finishes. The team, myself and everybody had a lot of fun and that is the big thing.”

“I am excited about next year. I think that a lot of the new tracks that we did go to (this year) we did pretty well. But we were always missing a little bit. I think that we are going to be a lot better prepared to move forward next year.”

The series premier award, the “7-11” Award, is named in honor of New England Hall of Fame driver Bob Polverari. This year it was presented to veteran driver, Rob Goodenough. Goodenough was both surprised and delighted with the presentation.

“Everything that Bob Polverari has done is very important to the sport of racing.” Goodenough stated after receiving the award. “To see the people who have received this award and to now to be amongst those people, means a whole lot to me. It was all just a shock to me this year and it means a very lot to me to receive that award.”

So another race season comes to an end, it is time for racers and fans alike to give thanks to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. There is a lot of racing planned for 2010 for the MRS teams. So rest up, enjoy the holidays and get geared up and ready to head to the track when spring comes to the Connecticut shoreline in March!

Valenti MRS Banquet Leftovers:

Most Memorable moment?

Jon McKennedy
“That is a tough question and I have won a lot of big races. It may be winning my first race after my second time ever in a Dirt Sprint car. That was pretty cool. I raced asphalt my whole life and to win a race the second time ever in a sprint car that was pretty cool. I have had a lot of great wins in Super Modifieds and certainly winning two championships in a row it pretty neat.”

“I am a racer. It is what I have done that my whole life. There are going to be times when you are going to struggle especially getting into a new or higher series or division of racing. But I think that good race car drivers adapt pretty well to any type of car. And within a few races they are very competitive I think for the most part. A perfect example of that are guys like Mike Stefanik, Teddy Christopher and Bobby Santos. To me these are really great drivers that sticks out in my mind around New England where any car that they get into they have a legitimate shot to win with very little seat time”

Rob Goodenough
“Two championships in the Pro Stocks at Monadnock meant a lot to me. Winning the two modified races at Monadnock meant a lot to me. To win those two races in that division against the competition that I was against meant a lot. But then again the two Championships in the Pro Stock meant a lot too. We had a very good race at Lee and we came very close to winning that race. That would have been a huge accomplishment to me. But finishing second in that still was. Especially being at a different place and being so strong.”

Thoughts on Modified Racing Series Continued Growth
But as the series grows and the teams dish out more money, they are looking to see if the race purse will also increase.

Jon McKennedy
McKennedy expressed his thoughts and wishes for the series future when a driver takes those checker flags. “If there is one thing that I would like to see the series do this year or in the future is to try to get more money in the purse. I feel like all the tracks that we go to we fill the place. The grandstands are full and we put on a good quality show. I think that realistically that we should be getting a little bit more money. Who knows hopefully that will come in the future, time will tell.”

Rob Goodenough
“I am seeing it getting beyond what it started at. I am very low on the money. Every year trying to get going with this and it is getting tougher and tougher every year. For the series going where they are going, it is making it very difficult for the guys that started this division. I just feel that they are going by us. They are not listening to us and they are going by us. I am upset about it I know that it is a growing sport and I am very happy to se it grow as well as it has. It just has gone way beyond what it was meant to be.”

Should MRS Compete at Bigger Race Tracks?

Todd Annarummo
“They are race tracks and we are racers. I like racing at them. It is a whole different type of challenges especially when you get people that have had a whole lot of time at those tracks. It I just a little bit different for me coming from the real small tracks going to those tracks. I think that we will do pretty well. Thompson is just only track that I felt that I struggled at the most, but we got better as we went.”

“Thompson is the only track that you notice the speed when you are by yourself. All the other tracks when it comes time to go racing and you go it is all relevant. You do not think about the speed, you just think about beating the guy in front of you.”

How are you preparing for 2011?

Todd Annarummo
“We have a new chassis on order with Kenny (Barry). I twisted mine up pretty good between the Stafford and Thompson wrecks. So we have a chassis on order and we plan on doing the complete series again.”

2011 Valenti Modified Racing Series tentative schedule:

Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: November 24, 2010

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