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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series




Denise DuPont

The Modified Racing Series (MRS) went to Seekonk Speedway Saturday, August 19th for the first time this year. Seekonk Speedway is a semi-banked 1/3 mile paved oval. As time moves on, the track still currently holds the distinction of being the longest continually operated race track in the United States opening in 1946. When the fans start filling in the grandstand and the engines start to roar, you know why the local track has been around so long.

When the Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) come on the track, their engine noise echoes off of the cement grandstands and meaning of why the modifieds are called ground pounders is well understood. With the track being both small and fast, if you blink you certainly can miss a lead change or two.

The VMRS drivers stepped up to the tracks challenge and they drove two wide when they could to get to the front. Les Hinckley is one of the veteran drivers that made the right moves to pass where he could and survive to take the win. Hinckley started the race fifteen out of a field of nineteen cars and did not stay there long. “The race was good from my seat,” said Hinckley reflecting on the race. “I imagine that the fans enjoyed it. We started pretty deep in the field. We then took our time getting to the front.”

Hinckley passed Dwight Jarvis for the lead on lap 79 and then he held off Jarvis to capture the win. “We had a pretty good time racing Dwight there at the end. It was pretty exciting. It is fun passing a lot of race cars when the end result is always good.”

Hinckley made getting to the front look easy as he mastered the groove while managing to avoid accidents that happened all around him. “It is tough on the way to the front. You try to keep a balance on what is going on in front of you and what is going on further in front of you. In other words, what you are immediately racing and what is going on in front of you. I tried to keep one eye up ahead of me and one eye on what was going on around me and I tried to stay out of trouble.”

Dwight Jarvis was ninth in points coming into the Seekonk race and still looking for a 2011 VMRS win. Jarvis drove in the top five from the beginning of the race waiting for the right time to go for the lead. He was patient and after a tap from Todd Annarummo he managed to pass Ananrummo for the lead. “The car was real good out there and I knew that it was going to be a battle going around the #12 car (Todd Annarummo). I got to a point where I said I have to go for it and he got me sideways. I managed to get it straightened back out.”

When he passed for the lead on lap 72, it looked like his first 2011 win was within his reach. Then before he knew what happened, Les Hinckley managed to pass him with little warning that he was coming. “I did not know Les was that close. I do not have a lot of chatter on my radio. I stayed in first gear running around the track for a while. They told me I had to start going forward and I knew that I had the car to do it. He just got by me.”

“I thought that I might have a shot passing Les at the end.” Said Jarvis as officials inspected his car. “I had no idea that he was so close and I was out there riding around where the tires were good and would last. When he got underneath me I knew then that I should have protected the bottom more. But that is racing. He went by me and never hit me. It was a clean racing. That is what I like. It was fun and I finished second. But I would like to win one though.”

Chris Pasteryak passed for the lead on lap 25 and thought that he was on his way for the win But Pasteryak used up his car when he and Todd Annrummo were dueling for second spot at the beginning of the race. “We were just a little too tight and it (the car) really went away again. The outside does not seem to be as good as it use to be. I do not know if it is just the night or if it is the way that the track has been all year. It could be completely different when we come back in October.”

Pasteryak settled for a podium finish in the end and was all smiles and happy with where he finished. “My finish was not bad. I was kind of throwing the anchor at the end. But that is all right. I got really tight at the end. Les had a really good car tonight. That was the most fun that I have had it a long time. That was a fun race and it was fun putting on a good show for the fans.”

Young Joey Jarvis quietly moved up through the field and was there at the end to capture a fourth place finish. He was in the wings waiting if the right opportunity came but if it did not happen he knew he would be satisfied with what he had. “I am happy with a fourth place finish. I am happy for our team. Everything went pretty smoothly. We are bringing the car home in one piece. We are always looking to finish better, but we will take it (fourth place finish). “

Coming into the race the #04 team set their sties and put together a plan that they hoped would get them into the top five. Are goal was to stay out of it (banging and spinning) and save the tires. That was about it. I think that we had a second or third place car tonight. But with the point racing going on, I did not want to make a hole where there wasn’t one.” So the quiet driver made his way up through the field and found himself where he wanted to be at the end of the race.

Norm Wrenn rounded up the top five finishers at Seekonk. He started the race about mid pack and like Joey Jarvis quietly made his way up through the field and was in the top five at the end. “It was a good finish,” said Wrenn in the pits after the race. “We just hung around all night. They were racing hard in front of us and I was just taking spots when I could take them. We lost the power steering during the last caution so at the end of the race I did not think that we were going to finish. But we held on. I will take a fifth place finish in this series any day.”

The VMRS will return to Thompson Speedway next Thursday night (8/24) for 75 laps of big track racing. Going from one of the smallest tracks on their series to the largest will certainly be a challenge for teams as they prepare to go racing.

What are your thoughts on the Seekonk Speedway race track itself?

Les Hinckley
“I love coming to Seekonk. It is a nice fun short track. A good handling race car always runs good here. It is an interesting place because of the seats all around. The fans surround the race track. You feel like they (fans) are right on top of you. I love coming here. The track people are very gracious to us and I enjoy coming here.”

Dwight Jarvis
“I love this place. It is fast little place. You are always Turing here. You have to be on the wheel. This car is awesome. I love coming down here and putting a good show on here. The people at the track are wicked nice here. Everything about this place other than being so far away from home is excellent. It is an excellent little track to run.”

Norm Wrenn
“I love the race track here. With a Pro Four Modified I won a lot of races here. It is a perfect track for the Pro Four Modified. It was a lot tighter with these cars. But I like racing these cars. I am getting better at racing these cars and I like the track so I like racing these cars at this track. It is a competitive track, so anybody can win here. It is a fast track and you stop fast here too!”

Joey Jarvis
“The track is alright. It (track) is too small for me really. But it is a fun little track and it is pretty quick. “

So what was Hinckley’s strategy to make it through the pack, keep the car clean and win if he can?

Les Hinckley
“There is only so much of that you can control when the guys start beating and banging like that and checking up. You just have to keep your car square to the one in front of you so that you can keep the wheels on it. That is just some basic habits that you get into to try to protect the race car through out the race. Sometimes luck is on your side and sometimes it isn’t. When Louie spun in front of us that was kind of nerve wracking. Coming up through the field you have to be on your toes. Thankfully we came out of everything clean tonight.”

As the VMRS drivers made there way to the front of the field or tried to maintain their spots, there appeared to be rougher riding then normal. Was it really rough riding or just hard racing?

Chris Pasteryak
“Rough Racing, I do not know if it was that bad. I thought that the race was a lot of fun. It was kind of like the Wednesday night show here when we hade a lot of Whelen Tour drivers in the race. The outside here is not as good as it use to be. I think that the track overall does not have as much overall grip as it use to. I did not think that anyone was being rough on purpose. I just think that the on the moves that you use to be able to make here for whatever reason the track just lost a little bit of that grip there and now you cannot make those same moves any more. If you just miss it a little bit you just end up sliding up on the guy on the outside of you. Where you get loose on the outside of somebody and pinch the guy down it does not take much. You are not going fast here so you just bounce off of somebody and just keep going. It was a lot of fun!”

Dwight Jarvis
“I do not like to race like that. And I do not like to get raced like that. I know that it is his home track (Todd Annarummo) and he was trying to put a show on for the people that know him down here. But I knew that I had a faster car than he did and I just said to myself to keep on going no matter what the consequences were. Eventually I just took it out there (on the outside groove) and went. Racing should not bee like that. When somebody gets aside of you, you should have the courtesy to give them the room that they need.”
“The car was awesome and I love this track. If I lived here I would race here ever week.”

Norm Wrenn
“It was a survival race. These guys were racing seriously, not giving any spots at all. They were racing tight. I made my mind when I went out there just to survive the race and to save the tires until the end. And it worked out for me.”

Todd Annarummo
“It was just racing. I did not go out there to intentionally hit him. I tried to get him low. He came down and we got together. That was just racing! I did not spin him out or try to spin him out. I let him make the move. That is just racing in my mind. If I had just kept my foot in it and put him in the infield then I am a dirty driver. But it was an accident and that is just racing in my mind. Then they pull my card for rough riding.
“But this all started when we got here tonight with the starter at the tire corral. He said that he was going to black flag us and of course he did. We got into a little argument. I guess that he shut his radio off so he did not have race communications. So that gave him the authority to do that because nobody could tell him otherwise. He is gone now so I guess we are going to have a better series going forward!”

Driving is any race series takes a lot of your time and some drivers are away from their families more often then they want to be. Seekonk winner, Les Hinckley, has two small boys and they follow him on the web when they cannot be at the race.

Les Hinckley
“My boys get pretty excited. They were both at Stafford last week and they do not take their eyes off of this yellow race car. They love it. They wanted to know where we were going today and how long of a drive that it was. So they are into it and like it. I wish that they could come more often but it is tough with them being young.”

Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: August 22, 2011

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