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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series



Oxford Plains Speedway Ain’t Just Flat Anymore

Denise DuPont

The Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) completed their annual trek up to Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway. The series joined other racing activity to make it a super Oxford 250 weekend for all. On Saturday there appeared to be standing room only at the 14,000 seat facility as fans waited in long lines to get in. During the Brackett Mechanical RB Performance 100 lap VMRS race fans sitting on the edge of their seats as the Valenti Modifieds raced to the checker.

The move of the night award though went to Joe Doucette when he went under the leader, Chris Pasteryak, to pass for the lead on lap 97. A win has been a long time coming for Joe Doucette and the #55 team. He has been participating in the field of the VMRS for about six years and more often than not he has always been the driver that would be considered for the hard luck award. But this week the driver shed the cloak of bad luck and ran with the “Big Dogs” proving that he could not only do it but also win while doing it.

“It was unbelievable!,” said Joe Doucette smiling about the win. “That is the one word to explain it – It is just unbelievable. We went from the slowest car in practice at the bottom of the time charts. We made wholesale changes. The crew just did an unbelievable job. They made major changes for the night. We said do not get excited the track will come to us. We had a great starting spot (sixth) and just rode for a while. About 50 laps in I looked up and I said “Holy cow I am on the scoreboard! You know I have a pretty good car here. A podium finish will just make my day.” Dwight and Les were running real hard in front of me. So I just sat back and watched the show and let them wear their stuff out. Then I finally got by them and then I saw Chris kind of bring up the pace a little bit. They must have told him on the radio that I was coming and my car looked pretty fresh. So he picked the pace up. I noticed as he was driving hard he started to push up into the center of the corner. My strong suit was that my car was running in the center real well. So I just kind of waited and waited until it was ten to go and kept sticking it under there. I knew I had to make the move coming out of turn two because that was where he was the weakest and where I was the strongest. When I got up beside him there was no holding us back. I respect that he raced me real clean. We rubbed just a little bit and once I got by it was just holding my breath for the last few laps. It was just unbelievable!”

Oxford Plains is a three-eight mile flat oval track and is a hand full to master. But once a driver meets the track’s challenge, you see a smile come to their faces and know they have conquered the asphalt and are ready to come back for more. And Doucette is one of those driver’s that is pumped up and ready for more. “I never thought that it (a win) would come on a flat track. Now I love it (the Oxford Plains track). We have struggled here and at Beech Ridge and sometimes Seekonk. We spent a lot of time and money over the winter on the car. The changes seem positive so far this year. We have not had a lot of opportunity to show it. At Lee we should it a little bit. We have had a little bit of bad luck but we are here now and it will be nice to get our name in the paper.”

Point leader Chris Pasteryak started the race on the pole and led the race for 96 laps until Doucette passed him to take ownership of the most important lap, the last one. Pasteryak was happy with a second place finish, but he even appeared happier to see a fellow competitor finally get his first win. “At first I was hoping that he used up everything that he had to get up to me. Then after about five or six laps I realized that he was not going to go away. He was going really good tonight. I tried not to go overly wide. I tried to give him a lane to race. But I also tried to take away his momentum whenever I could. And he raced me clean. He raced me as clean as you could ever possibly ask any body else to race you here. I did everything I could to hold him off. He is a true gentleman and he raced me clean, He earned it tonight. He has been getting better ever week and it showed it tonight. He won with the best car.”

As the laps clicked off and Pasteryak continued to lead the race what went through his mind? “I kept saying to myself - “Do not burn it up. Try to go slow Try to go slower and do not burn it up.” And I burnt it up anyways. Oh well, what you are going to do. It was fun. We had another good night. I had the fastest car on the race track except at the end. We were going really, really good but we were just too tight. That is the best that I have ever run here. It was a good night, good race and a good deal. “

In his sophomore year of racing the VMRS young Max Zachem had his best series finish He finished the race in third coming forward from his sixteenth starting spot. “The car was awesome. I have to thank my family, crew and sponsor for sticking with me this year with the tough year that we have had. I have always had a part of Oxford in my heart. I ran Legend Cars here for several years and the Oxford TD 250 you cannot get a lot better weekend to have a top seat run. Hopefully we can go this strong the rest of the season.”

Zachem has had a tough year and running twentieth in driver points reflects the challenges he has persevered this year. It looks like the team finally may have turned around their season though at Oxford. “It is amazing. I have to thank my crew. They are the ones that did all the work here. I just get behind the wheel and drive it. Basically I do the work at the shop but at the race they take over for me. The way this season has been, I can see how you would think that we were a lapped car. But you know what I think that we are proving ourselves worthy that we can run with the big dogs.”

Rowan Pennink started from the rear of the field after a spin during his heat race. When he spun in the same spot a during the race, we started to wonder whether it was it the track or the car.

“It was an interesting race,” Pennink said after it was all done. “We had a good car from the start up until we spun. It got a little tight on the high groove and I was real loose on the bottom of the track. So it was kind of like two different cars that I was driving whether I was on the top or the bottom. This was difficult because if someone was running in the high groove that was where my car was best. And I was real loose on the bottom, but if they were running on the top I had no choice but to try to run on the bottom to pass. That is how I ended up spinning out.”

So mastering a track where you feel like you were switching cars was not in the plan for the #25 team as they race for the chase Pennink pitted during the only caution. The crew adjusted the car to make it drive like only one car and Pennink went out to make the forward charge. “The car was too loose on the bottom so we made a couple adjustments during a pit stop. It (the car) was pretty good for about 20 laps after we pitted and we ended up just getting a little too tight after the 20 laps and seized up that right front a little. It then kind of leveled off. We ended up fourth so it was not too bad.”

Norm Wrenn has become a consistent runner in the VMRS field. This was the second week in a row he has captured a top five finish. The team worked hard over the winter and totally revamped their racing program and they are being rewarded for their hard work. .”Since last year we changed everything. We changed the motor we changed the whole setup. I thought that we were pretty good in practice. Then we changed a few more things before we went out. We start thirteenth and the finished fifth. I could not be happier. I told my crew chief, Dave Berghman, “Dave, I like the place!” So we are coming back next year. I know I was not too happy about coming this time, but next year I will be looking forward to it. We have a good plan to go by and I think that we are going to improve.”

So with another race in the books the VMRS packed up their haulers and headed home. The teams will now regroup and get ready to return to a bigger track as they return to Stafford Speedway to finish the rain delayed Shark Cycle 80 next Friday, July 29th.

Racing Notes from Oxford Plains Speedway

Thoughts on the Oxford Plains Speedway Racing Groove

Chris Pasteryak
“Up until tonight I kind of hated it (the track). I liked it a little bit to race on but it is really boring to go around. I am going to have to change my opinion now. We are starting to run better here. It is Oxford. It is historical. If they tried to copy it I do not think that you could. It is its own little unique place. I do not think that you could copy it if you tried. It makes for some really good racing.”

Norm Wrenn

“I love this track. Last year when we came we were completely out to lunch. I was actually regretting coming back. Last year we pushed like a truck.”
“I actually raced pro-stocks here. So I was use to the pro stocks with the track dipping. So I was prepared for that. It makes it kind of interesting. It does make for a different race track and it makes a different race. We need different racing. That is why we are a touring series.”

Max Zachem
“I love Oxford and I love Beech Ridge. I ran Legend cars at both places for several years and I won a lot of races around here. It is my type of race track momentum where you do not have to worry about having the big horse power and everything to have the car move down the straight away. This is my kind of fast race track and it proved it tonight.”

This was a very, very popular win among the VMRS family. Drivers, owners and crew members came to offer heartfelt congratulations to Doucette on his first win.

The crowd at Oxford, well, they went wild cheering the late race pass and a first win.

This was certainly a special time.

Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: July 24, 2011

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