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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series



It was a Long Time Coming, But the Win is Really His

Denise DuPont

The Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS continued their summer racing competition traveling to the Maine seacoast and Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. The track is a small one-third oval that is very racy. There were several spins and at least ten cautions during the race which is not the normal VMRS race venue showing how challenging the track was.

Mike Holdridge started fifth and had a stellar night as he maintained a top five spot all night. The race veteran has had a VMRS win eluded him in the past for several race seasons. But on Saturday night Holdridge was at the right place at the right time and the race was his. “A long time coming is an understatement. I did not think that it was ever going to come (a win). So I am really excited. Joe (Doucette) gave me some hope last week that the old timers might be able to get one done.”

Holdridge drove a smart race saving his car and tires for when he needed it most at the end of the race. “They had a good car for me. I cannot thank my father enough for all that he has done and my family and my crew. It is a real small crew and tonight I am missing a guy, Matt. I wish that he was here so he could see it. So I will have to do it again. We will have to do it again I guess at my next best track, Waterford.”

There have been several races in the past where there were only two laps to go and Holdridge met with bad luck. So as he drove his heart out he kept waiting for “Lady Luck” to pull the win right out from his grasp. “My luck is never usually that good. I was just waiting for somebody to come alive. If you save the car here it usually pays off in the end. I was sure that someone was coming, Les, Dwight or one of them. I am just happy that I had a little bit extra at the end. That is all. I was going to make it hard for whoever was going to try to pass me; I was not going to give it away.”

Les Hinckley had a good car and kept making it from the back of the pack to the front after pitting for car adjustments. But even with all the changes, Hinckley came in one spot shy of a victory taking home. “I was one spot shy,” said Hinckley about his run. “I had some extra motivation this week to try to get that spot (a win). But Mike was solid. He was really good. I could not be happier for him and Dale and the whole team. They are really good people. It was a tough one. We just could not hit on it like we have been fortunate at some other places where we have been really able to nail it down. But we were just on every side of neutral tonight.”

Hinckley tried the both the top and bottom grooves in the track and he just could not find the right line to allow him to lead at race end. But a second place finish after a hard race is not a bad spot. “I thought that the outside was going to work a little better on that last restart but I do not know what happened. It did not seem like anything worked. When we were tight on the bottom with a car on the outside of us it was bad. And then when I would get to the outside it felt OK when you had a guy pinned down on the bottom but then when you were by your self it made no difference where you were. Traffic had more to do with it tonight more than anything else.”

Dwight Jarvis celebrated his birthday at Beech Ridge with a podium finish. He had thoughts about not coming to race Beech Ridge but in the end he was glad that the team came to race. “Earlier in the day the car was a piece of junk and the boys went to work on it after our qualifier and they changed a lot of stuff.” Dwight said reflecting on the race. “They had the car pretty good. It was a good race, but it was hard out there tonight. The car loosened up on us at the end. We did not want to give up our track position so I hung up in there. But we used our tires up right it the beginning and I just lost the right rear tire (the tire went away).”

With several caution laps and re-starts, Jarvis’s car had time to cool the tires. Did the cautions then help Dwight Jarvis in the end? “I think that they did because they let the right rear tire cool off and come back to me a little bit. Also on that last re-start I found a different groove to run. I moved it up some and the car stayed a little tighter for me. I was gaining on Les in the end there but I do not know if I could have done anything with him. But I am happy with it.”

Tony Ricci knows Beech Ridge track as well as the back of his hand. He has raced there weekly and done quite well. But racing with the VMRS modifieds on his home track he felt himself challenged. He once made contact with a fellow competitor sending him spinning and then later on in the race spun himself. “I think that my experience on the track hurt me. Because I drive this track pretty much the way that everybody does that races here on a weekly basis. We roll the bottom and I think that was what got me in my messes tonight.”

“These guys drive in and diamond up and shoot up the track and pivot it out and press on the gas going from the top to the bottom. That is just not the way around this place. That is not the fast way.” But the VMRS drivers may have not gone the fast way around but at least three of them were faster than Ricci because he had to settle for a fourth place finish.

Young driver Joey Jarvis finished fifth in only his third time out with the #04 car. He drove a clean conservative race and his efforts paid off. “At the beginning of the day I did not know what was going to happen. We were as slow as could be. We threw everything but the kitchen sink at it and it (car) came into it somehow.”

But unlike other racers, the cautions did not help Jarvis as he raced to the front.. “The cautions did not help us at all. Our car seemed to come into it the longer that we ran. Other than that I do not know what to say. This is only the third race with the car.”

The VMRS will return to Stafford Speedway next Friday night (8/12) to finish a race that they started there on June 24th. Rain has now delayed the race finish twice. During the initial race Keith Rocco was leading when the rain moved in just shy of the half way mark. So we will see on Friday if he can get the job done with a win in a VMRS car.

Beech Ridge Speedway Race Notes:

Having a great 2011 season, has Mike Holdridge done anything special to the car this year?
Mike Holdridge
“I have been running with more patience and trying not to burn the tire off. That is all that I have been doing. I have been being patient and saving the tires for the end. Not spinning the right rear and no wrecks.”

Did the many cautions help your race?
Les Hinckley
“Definitely doubling up and having the double file restarts helped us. It was tough when we were tight on the bottom but other guys were struggling too. It definitely helped us by backing the field up. It helped our track position and helped us get back up (to the front).”

A caution on Lap 84 involved several drivers competing for the same third spot. Hinckley did not spin and managed to make a nice recovery as he passed for second on the race re-start. “Thankfully I did not get taken out The #13 (Steve Masse) got dead sideways in the center of the race track after some contact with the #25 (Rowan Pennink). I was right in the center of the bee’s nest but I made it out of it clean so I am thankful for that. I am definitely thankful that we are making it out of here with a second and all four wheels on it even thought we were not as good as we should be.”

Tony Ricci
“I do not know if the cautions helped me or not. With everything that happened. The thing that killed me was getting sent to the back there after the incident with the #25. That is what hurt my chances of winning that race. As long as they do the same thing for everybody I am OK with it. Hopefully I come to a few more races and it is the same for everybody. Right now it is a little sour but oh well.”

Veteran Racer David Pinkham led the race for twenty-six laps and then suddenly his car lost its momentum and he was out of contention for a win. What happened?
David Pinkham
“I am sure that something broke and something got really loose. We do not know what it is yet. It was more that just a flat tire. Something happened and it took the handling away really bad. “

“When I was leading I thought that I had a really good car. It happens. It just went away and I do not know why. It just got really loose.”

Your thoughts on the Race at your home track, Beech Ridge.
Tony Ricci
“I guess if they have a rule where the guys make contact and they are going to send people to the back as long as they do it for everybody I am OK with it. But that deal with the #25 car there I do not know how much cleaner you can setup to pass somebody. To be running up front there and a car that was very capable. I really think that it was very feasible that I could have won that race. I had not really pushed it that hard up to that point. It is just a tough deal. “

“I have never had as many wrecks or have as many drive over my right front when you are up all the way under. They have spot mirrors now. When I stopped racing the tour in 2009 you could not run a spot mirror on the left. They now have them back. I want to go out and knock some of them off those guys’ cars now. You see them looking and blocking you. It is too bad because there were a lot of cautions and this was a slow long race. It does not need to be.”

Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: August 9, 2011

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