JON MCKENNEDY BREAKS BAD LUCK STREAK WITH MONADNOCK WIN
Qualifies for “Ricky’s Race For Kids,” Doubling his luck
by Denise DuPont
Saturday July 2nd the Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) returned to
Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH. In less than forty-five minutes the
modifieds provided more ground pounding excitement than the fireworks show
that was to wrap up the evening events.
Defending series champion, Jon McKennedy has had a bumpy year with a lot of
ups and downs during the 2011 race season. During practice the #73 car of
McKennedy continued his roller coaster year with his car having issues with
the rear end. McKennedy’s crew hustled before heat racing began to ensure
that the car was ready for a night of action.
In the end, the car certainly was ready to take McKennedy where he wanted to
be, up front as the checkered flags flew giving him his first 2011 series
started the race in seventh and managed to find his groove. It was not a
long way to go but he deftly maneuvered his way through the field of cars.
He saved the #73 car enough to take over the lead on lap 65. Then there was
no stopping him “We had a really good race car first off. The guys worked
real hard. We blew a rear end today in practice on the third lap. So I only
got about two laps of practice today and I think during those two laps I was
playing with my brake bias the whole time. So I literally had no practice
today. I had to go off into my heat for my practice and I made some
adjustments for the race. It all worked out. We had a really good car. I am
glad to win here. Going into this season I had a goal to try to get a win at
every track that we run in this series. So after tonight we have one less
track. We will see what happens at the next race.”
With the Monadnock win, McKennedy also became a guaranteed starter for the
prestigious “Ricky’s Race For Kids,” scheduled for July 16, at Canaan
Speedway, Canaan, NH. That race carries a $36,500 purse with the winner
bringing home $12,000.
The winner of the main event will also receive a 7’ Grandfather Clock
presented to them by Dick Cyr, the founder of David’s House.
Monadnock is Kirk Alexander’s home track where he is dominates the asphalt.
But on Friday the team’s tire strategy for the VMRS race may have cost them
the win. “I wished that I did not swap the right side tires. It was off a
quarter inch of stagger that was what happened.” Alexander stated as he sat
in second place at the end of the race. “I lost stagger in the car and it
tightened up in the center and I just lost a lot of speed. Jon’s car was
right on the money when he wanted to be. Yes, He (Jon) had a great car and
he beat us tonight. And we ended up second.” So in the end Alexander had to
settle for a second place finish.
Les Hinckley made a hard charge to the front but got caught up in traffic.
He had a good run on the outside but was forced down on the bottom and he
used his car up more then he really wanted to. Hinckley completed the race
with a podium finish, two spots shy of where he had set his mark. It was a
finish but once again not where the team wanted to be. “We had a good beast
(car),” said Hinckley during inspection. “It was a tough road getting up
through traffic and we just used the right rear up a little bit in that
process. Jon on that one restart was just able to get through it a lot
better than I did. I thought I was going to be able to follow him through
and then I got hung out on the outside and then trapped down on the bottom.
When you are out on the outside beating the right rear and then on the
bottom pitching the car trying to stay ahead of the guy on the outside of
you and race him clean it uses the car up. It was good. I would have liked
to have another restart to see what I could have done. But it was a good
As the leaders raced around the track, Hinckley took advantage of the
situation to try to learn from Alexander some of his racing tricks. But
Alexander had an off night and Hinckley could not take advantage of any of
the lessons. “My line tends to be a little bit different than Kirk’s. I
decided at one point that I was going to try to track him down in his tracks
and see if he was doing anything different than I was and getting any better
than I was. And I was not getting anywhere so I went back to doing what I
was doing. I talked to him later and he said he was a little off tonight so
that was probably why. So I went back to my typical line and started not to
come down when I finally decided to put the hammer down when I thought that
we were going to get a late caution. But it is six of one and half a dozen
of the other.”
point leader, Rowan Pennink, made a run for the lead and got all the way up
to second. Doing so he ran the car too hard which caused him to loose his
momentum soon after the race passed half-way. “I was trying to save the car
as much as I could at the beginning of the race. The 1NH (Rob Goodenough)
was running me a little hard wanting to pick up the pace a little bit. He
should have just ridden by me and it might have worked out a little bit
different. But he just wanted to race hard. We were off a little bit. We
needed to start the race a little tighter with the car and I think we would
have been right there.”
Pennink maintained his point lead at the end of the race with a fourth place
finish but the gap between first and second place has shrunk to just an
eight point difference. With Hickley finishing in front of Pennink he moved
closer to the point lead. “It was a good run for us. We needed a top five
out of it. I do not know where Chris (Pasteryak) finished but it was not in
front of me, so it was a good point’s night I guess.”
Series regular Rob Goodenough rounded off the top five of finishers.
Goodenough started the race in third but as he raced hard to challenge the
leaders his car freed up and he lost positions. “I am happy with a fifth
place finish. We wanted a little bit more than that but we got a little bit
too free with the car. We came in and freed it up a little bit and both ends
ended up freeing up on me in the feature. So we were really fighting it. A
fifth place finish, we can roll it (car) in the trailer and we just passed
tech. So it was a good night. We need it better for the next race and we
will see if we can do better.”
The VMRS will head next to Lee USA Speedway in Lee, NH on Friday, July 8th.
The Lee race is also the last guaranteed starter event for the July 16
“Ricky’s Race For Kids” at Canaan Fair Speedway, Canaan, NH. Double-points
are being awarded for the “Chase To The Race” qualifying series finale.
Qualifying races begin at 7:15 PM.
See you there!
Race Notes from Monadnock:
At the start of the race was there any doubt in
McKennedy’s mind when he started the 100 lap race that the car would not be
there for him when he needed it?
“I try to go into the race as confident as I can. I knew the car was pretty
good. I was just hoping that nothing mechanical was going to happen to us.
And luckily the car stayed together. It was good enough to make it without
having something happening to us again. So everything worked out.”
Driver’s thoughts on “Ricky’s Race For Kids” at
Canaan Fair Speedway, Canaan, NH.
“It will be a great race. It is a good track for me. I won there and I have
a third there. So I am looking forward to it. There is going to be a lot of
stiff tough competition, but we will see what happens”
Once again Kirk Alexander was a racer with little words, but he got right to
the point: “I am going into win!”
“The competition going into the race does not bother me at all. The only
factor that I do not care for going into that race is that guys that have
not run with us coming in and being allowed to buy seven tires. And they
will practice on good tires that put them into a better position then a lot
of us regulars. It is a good advantage for tuning your car during practice.
I really do not care for that scenario. I am definitely excited about the
money. I have won a handful of races in a pro-stock car there and several
modified races. So I do not think that there is anybody better that what we
will be there. So we should have a good beast and meet the challenge.”
“My thoughts about the big show at Canaan, is getting into the show first. I
have had a really good time there. I like the track at Canaan and we have
always handled well there. We have been down on horse power when we have
been there and I think that we got it a little bit better this year. So I am
actually looking forward to it. I am just a little nervous with the car
count because there will be a lot of cars there looking for the money. We
have to get in the show first.”
Within one week Rowan Pennink competed in the
NWMT and the VMRS at the tight quarter mile of Monadnock Speedway. What were
his thoughts on running the different modifieds at Monadnock Speedway?
“The tour was definitely a lot tighter race. There was side by side action
with the tour, especially on their starts. This series was strung out a
little bit. It was pretty much single file the whole time aside from
McKennedy coming up pretty good.”
“The last couple times here we have not had the best car. This was an
improvement and I think for next time we should be able to hopefully hit it
on the head the next time we come here. The track always frees up at night I
think that the race may have been a little freer than it was for the tour.
That is probably because it was at night when the track gets a lot looser”.
The last two VMRS races at the bigger
tracks of Thompson and Stafford, Jon McKennedy ran a backup car. Why?
“That was just a car that I was driving because we blew up my engine a few
weeks ago. That was something to get us by the last couple of races. It is
good to get our engine back from Performance Technology from Jim Michaels
out there in Indiana. They put out a powerful engine. We just got it back at
the end of the week. It ran really well so I have thank him It has awesome
power. We will see what happens the rest of the year.”
DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com