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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series



Art Barry and Jon McKennedy Start the Season
Just Right - Two for Two

by Denise DuPont

Saturday, April 21st, the Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) came to the high banks of Monadnock Speedway to continue the 2012 chase for the championship. Taking the checkered flags, two time champion Jon McKennedy made it two for two winning the season’s first two VMRS races.

The McKennedy and Barry team also has widened the driver/owner series point lead, now ten points ahead of Norm Wrenn and his car owner Advance Gas Distributors.

This year McKennedy made the decision to sit the behind the wheel of Art Barry’s #2 SPAFCO modified instead of the family owned #73 car after Barry made him an offer he could not refuse. And now it appears that making the move to the number two may prove to be the move that will bring McKennedy the opportunity for his third VMRS championship as he chalks up two wins in a row. “The team up with Art Barry is working; there is no doubt about that. Two for two to start off the season is a great way to start off the year. But I am just the driver. I have to thank Art (Barry) and all the guys they give me a great car.“

“Luckily we had a lot of cautions,” said McKennedy about the race. “All day long the car was a little off during practice and the heat race. The team pulled together and we talked about what we wanted to do for changes and everything worked out. We changed a bunch of stuff and every time that I went out we made it better.”

“When the race started it (#2 car) was not perfect but it got better. In the long run, if the race would have stayed green and there was only a caution or two, I do not think that we would be here. But luckily the race had a lot of cautions bunching everyone up and it gave you more of a chance.” There were six cautions starting with the first one on lap 40. “I was able to adapt my line to make the car work and it was good enough to win. We started eighteen so with a win, I am really happy.”

Veteran racer Norm Wrenn finished the Bond Auto Parts 100 in second spot and was very grateful to the race sponsor that help to make it all happen. “I wanted the first spot real bad but I just did not have anything for Jon (McKennedy). I do want to thank Bond Autoparts that sponsored the race here tonight. If it was not for sponsors like Bond Auto Parts we would not be racing.”

Wrenn started the race from seventh after qualifying fourth in the heat and did not have to go as far as others to get to the front. “The first ten or fifteen laps the car was awesome and I knew that I had to save whatever I could.” So with his experience and position on the track, Wrenn knew he had to save what he could to be a lead contender at the end. “The car was a little tight towards the end coming out of the corners. I just waited for the restarts and saved everything that I had for the restarts and tried picking up spots on the restarts. And it worked to our advantage at the end. I did not want a double file restart at the end.”

“Before the last restart I thought that we had something for the leader as I pulled away from the first place car. I actually thought that I saved a little bit for the last four or five laps and I actually thought that I could take Jon (McKennedy) down on the inside. But when the last caution came out I actually settled for second. I did not want to but may have spun out and the crew works very hard on the car. So I settled for second.”

Les Hinckley had an exciting night starting the race right where he wanted to be, on the pole. But disappointment set in when the #06 car again was again plagued with issues. On lap 26 Hinckley lost the lead spot as he started his battle handling the car. “It was real good in the beginning, and then I do not have an answer for you we lost power steering again like Waterford (Speedbowl opening race). We had a problem at Waterford and thought we fixed it. We sent everything out last week. We came here to practice and test it and everything was fine.”

The #06 team practiced and then qualified the car all thinking that their issues were behind them. They had done everything to prepare the car for racing and they were leading the race. Then just when it looked like the team would be a dominate factor in the race, the power steering issues started again. “Pretty much throughout the day everything was fine and then shortly into the feature it (car) started to act up and started getting tight. Then I just struggled and fought it the rest of the race. It came back a little bit after we had that caution after the long green flag run it got better. When I could use the whole race track I could go faster than when I had to try to protect the bottom I would get behind my steering in the corner and I would buzz the right rear off.”

“I was wheeling it for all that it was worth but it just was tough with the way that it was. I ended up hurting the right rear and I had to be careful. Jim (Boniface) was getting back toward the front and I thought maybe that I could hold him off using the race track. But with no power steering you get all could up and bound in the corners and centers. Jon (McKennedy) got me off of two and then I was just kind of along for the ride then. It was a good car and the guys did a good job. We will get this thing figure out and we will be out front soon.”

Finishing his first VMRS this season fourth, Dwight Jarvis was all smiles and ready for the next race. Jarvis is a man of few words and when he is at the track he is there to race and do the best he can. “We are real happy. I just wish that I did not get spun out in qualifying and run those extra laps in the consi. The guys on the team did an excellent job. The car was on a rail. I just run out of tires at the end.”

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series driver Doug Coby joined the VMRS first race at Monadnock to get some time on the track and learn what he can before he has to compete there with modified tour on May 12th. Coby wheeled the Wayne Darling #52 car with the leaders most of the race.

The Darling team ended up finishing the race sixth after a late race pass by Jim Boniface on lap 98. “We had a good car the first sixty laps. The longer the run was, the better the car was. All of those restarts kind of hurt us. All of those guys were pinching and rubbing. When the faster cars came from the back I had to run a lot harder then I really wanted to. We got a little free at the end. But we came here to learn. I have only raced here once before other than this race and never at night. So it was good to come and see what the track does at night early in the season which is when we run here with the tour. My crew chief has never setup a modified for this track so we came here with a setup that we wanted to try. It worked pretty good and we worked on it a little bit today and made it better. The car was pretty good during the race.”

The teams will now regroup and get ready for their next race at Thompson International Speedway, a 75 lap feature event on Sunday, May 20th.

Race Notes from Monadnock Speedway:

What would your VMRS plans have been if you had not connected up with the Art Barry Race Team?

Jon McKennedy
“We have a brand new chassis sitting at home that Eddie and Reggie had built for us and we planned on racing that this year in MRS competition the off weeks from the Super. But Art called me and basically gave me an offer that I could not refuse. It feels good and it helps too. I can now focus more on driving. Most of my racing career I raced and then I had to focus on my own setups always being hands on. This deal here gives me more of a chance to take a hands-on as a driver and let others do some of the setup. It has been good for everyone.”

Do you think that you have an advantage having experience and a lot of time behind the seat at Monadnock Speedway?

Norm Wrenn
“Luckily I do have a lot of laps on this track. When I first came here I was driving a Pro-Four Modified. Last year we had a decent run here with a big modified here and we leant a little bit. We even learned a little more in practice. I think that we have a good setup and I love the track.”
“Last year I believed that we could win in this series and this year I believe I can win in this series. I would just love to do it for the crew because they work every day hard on the car.”

What are your thoughts after completing 100 green laps of racing At Monadnock Speedway?

Doug Coby
“The race was pretty tame, probably unlike the other one that will be here in about a month.”
“We have some homework to do. We have to do some things to make the car last a little longer. But the first six laps I was very happy with it. We just got into a rhythm and rode around with it. We clicked off some good laps and the car never really changed so that is a good thing for us.”
“The tires went away but not as bad as Waterford. I expected them to go away sooner here and they did not which is good. We probably had at least five restarts in the last thirty laps and that was one of those deals where I needed ten or twelve even eighteen laps to really get going. If the race had gone green to checker, I think I had a winning car. But it did not go green to checker so the other guys whose cars were better on restarts did better. We lost a little forward drive at the end trying to race with people but that is what is going to happen.”

Source: Denise DuPont/ TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: April 22, 2012

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