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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series



Keith Rocco Won his First Ever Touring Series Win

Denise DuPont

The Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) returned to Stafford Speedway on Friday August 12th to complete a race that was originally started on June 24t h. The race resumed on Lap 32 with Stafford track regular Keith Rocco in the lead. The weather was picture perfect with race teams and fans alike were ready for racing.

Keith Rocco brought the field of cars around and maintained his lead at the restart of the race. From then on it was Rocco’s race as he fought off attempts to take the lead spot away. At one point Hirschman passed Rocco to take the lead on lap 54 but then series founder Jack Bateman spun bringing out a caution. So as fast as Hirschman took the lead spot, the caution returned it right back to Rocco.

Using the same tires that he started the race with a month and a half ago, Rocco saved what he could for when he needed it to get his first ever Touring Series win. “The race was great. We did not know what we had when we came back because the tires sat for so long,” said Rocco after the race. “The car was real good. I wanted to save the car as much as I could for the end of the race and that was what we did. At the end of the race we had great motor bite so the thing had plenty left. We saved as much as we could in the middle of the race because we did not know how much tire we had left. Then we gave it everything we had the last ten laps. I am sure that Todd (Owen) was just trying to get by me and then ride but we just did what we had to do. ”

Todd Owen has tried his hand at racing with the VMRS. But he has gotten bitten by the bug again and is ready to try his hand at more races. Friday he suited up and jumped into the #29 car own by Luther Hosmer. Owen used his home track experience to wheel his way up to second on lap 62. His car was strong and if there were a few more laps he may have taken over the lead. “What a blast! I started in the back and it (the race) took almost two months to finish it but in the end it was fun. When I got to second I thought for sure that that race was mine to win. I did not know if Keith running up front used a lot up to get there. He had a little bit at the end. We were good at the end but we were not going to pass him. It was just a great run for the Cooker Construction car.”

Doug Coby started the race in fifth and hung out racing the car conservatively until it was time to make his move forward. He was rewarded for his efforts at the end of the race with a podium finish “We were good in practice. We tried to setup the car the same way as last time we were here which was about a month and half ago. We were a little tight and there in not much you can do about it but beat the heck out of the car and have the tires go away. I was decent at the end but I just did not have enough for those two (Keith Rocco and Todd Owen). They were both pretty fast so I just stayed out of trouble.”

Coby not only stayed out of trouble but managed to be at the right place at the right time to take advantage of others race misfortunes. “When the #13 car (Steve Masse) bonzai’d the #34 (Dave Etheridge) and then lost it, so I gained two spots. Then Todd (Owen) and the #59 (Matt Hirschman) got together and I got to pass them It was a good car. I was kind of hoping that Todd would drive into Keith’s nerf bar a little bit and it would open the door. But he (Todd Owen) drove his best. It (#20) just was not a winning car tonight.”

ROC champion, Matt Hirschman, had the lead once only to have the caution flag fly taking his lead away. He drove a good clean race but “Lady Luck” just did not give him the break he needed for a win. He made the best of the situation and completed the race with a strong fourth place finish. ”We had a car that could win tonight. There was just a bad timing with the cautions. I was racing Keith clean and I had him twice. Then the caution came out. During the last restart I was not able to get back down. The #20 (Doug Coby) filled the second place spot underneath me. He then squeezed me up off of turn two. And I dropped back to fourth. From that point on it seemed like everybody equaled out. But definitely earlier it seemed that we had a real good chance of winning. It was just bad timing.”

The VMRS finally completed their Stafford race and then headed to Waterford for a double header. Veteran racer Jerry Marquis filled in for Rowan Pennink at Waterford and took the #25 team to Victory Lane as he returned to race after four years away a driver’s seat.

Notes from Stafford Speedway VMRS Race 8/12/2011:

After capturing your first win at your home track in the VMRS, what are you thoughts as a racer on the series?

Keith Rocco
I think that this is a great series. It is cost effective with the tire rule. The payoff is real good. I think that it is a real thing of the future.

What are your plans for the future for competing with the VMRS?

Todd Owen
“I will be at Waterford tomorrow (8/13). We said if I made it out of here in one piece we would go to Waterford. We will see if we can do a few more this year. I am buying the car from Luther Hosmer. Right now I am trying to get the money to put the deal together. So we may come back here or go to Thompson, but we will see where we go from there.”

Doug Coby drove back from Loudon, NH NWMT qualifying to finish Stafford’s VMRS race. Coby was grateful to the #20 crew for their efforts in getting his car ready for him.

“The car was tight for the first half of that race but it actually came around at the end. I want to thank my guys for hanging around here all day waiting for me to come back from Loudon. The #20 car is a great car in the series. I am fortunate to be able to drive it. I just want o give a shout out to modified legend Bob Polverari. He is in the house and he is helping out our team.”

Did Keith and Todd Owen have a extra advantage over other VMRS competitors running the race at their home Track?

Matt Hirschman
“Keith runs here so obviously he knows the track well. He is winning here all the time. I knew that he wasn’t going to give it up or make a mistake. But we did at one time clearly have him and then he ran me clean. It was just bad timing. It is just luck I guess. I do not know what else you could say. But it is part of it. You cannot take anything from Keith because he ran a good race and he still held off everybody at the end. So I cannot change the timing of the cautions. That is all part of racing. The shoe could have been on the other foot. I could have gotten saved by it too. But it always stinks when it happens to you.”

Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: August 15, 2011

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