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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series



Surviving the Melee
the VMRS teams put on a Good Show for Fans

by Denise DuPont

The Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) headed to Lee USA Speedway Friday June 29th for 100 lap of green flag racing. The “Port City 100” event was presented by Laticrete, a worldwide manufacturer and marketer of ceramic tile and stone. Through their generosity, additional money was added to the winner’s purse and to the top five finishers. In addition to that a long time area race fan, Lucky Young, posted $100 to the best finishing rookie driver. This has been what we have seen as a continuing trend of local business and individual support for short track racing. It has been a tough year for tracks, race teams, fans and media alike and we all thank those who have stepped up to support the sport.

The VMRS race at Lee USA Speedway started like a normal race with limited cautions and a lot green flag racing with hard charges to the lead. Jon McKennedy, Chris Pasteryak and Rowan Pennink all took their turn leading the pack with Pennink capturing the largest share of laps led.

Then the race took a turn. On lap 89, it was caution after caution as melee arrived at Lee USA Speedway. There were four lead changes as racing moves took out leaders one after the other. The worst incident happened when rookie Tom Barrett went inside leader Jon McKennedy to pass for the lead. The two made contact coming out of turn three and spun right in front of the field. The field backed up and scurried everywhere. Barrett and McKennedy drove away but other competitors were not as lucky. They sat in their cars stacked up between turn three and four. If I were to use a Matt Buckler type quote here, “Cars were stacked up like pancakes waiting for the maple syrup to top them!” Tow truck crews worked feverishly to untangle cars while the rest of the field was maintained under red flag conditions.
Race winner Les Hinckley dodged incidents left and right to win the “Survivor” race. Hinckley himself had spun in separate incident on Lap 89. After spinning he found himself at the back with only 11 laps left in the race.

But Lady Luck was on Hinckley side as he managed to stay clean and bring home a win for the Chuck Montville #06 team. “It was a crazy race that is for sure. I do not know what I could say about it,” said Hinckley after the race. “It was a calm race and then it was just madness at the end. I have never been in a race where leaders got taken out at so many different spots. We will take it. A win is a win! “

Chuck Montville owner of the CMR Race team just keeps smiling and bringing the pristinely prepared #06 car to every race. With all the challenges that hard racing brings the #06 team keeps coming back struggling to meet their goals. “Well it is about time. We finally got lucky for a change. We have a had a good car capable of winning the race but I just did not think that it was going to happen after making contact with Rowan (Pennink). We had to go to the back and after the big jam-up over in turn three and four I thought now we have a chance again. Then everybody started smashing and taking everybody out and there we were at the front. So I will take it!”

Montville’s team member and biggest supporter Debbie Marquis is there every week to help the team through all the ups and downs. She summarized the team’s night the best: “I cannot believe we won. It was such a race. I just cannot believe it! Les was upfront and we had a good chance at it. We tried to pass Rowan (Pennink ) on the outside and they touched and he lost it (Les). I thought “We are not going to come up back through because Les kept saying that the right rear is going away. So we came in with 19 laps to go and they switched the right side tires and we went back it. It just all fell in place. We started seventh passed a couple cars and then the two leaders tangled and there we were – right in the right position. After what happened at Thompson we deserved this, we needed this. It is good for the team, good for morale and good for our pocket. It is just wonderful to finally win a race this year. It has just been a tough year for us. But that is racing and that it how it goes. I am just excited. I cannot believe we won!”

Todd Owen has not been with the #17 Jack Bateman team very long but his move into the seat to take over when Bateman retired has proven to be a very positive move for the team. At Lee he held on tight and wheeled his way to a second place finish. “It was a crazy race. We were pretty good for the first half and then it (the car) started to go away a little bit. So we pitted and then we tried to work our way up a little bit and stay out of trouble. And that was what we did. The spots kept coming to me. I was not getting the spots. But you take them anyway that you can get them I suppose.”

Somehow Owen managed to avoid the big crash and several small accidents afterwards. “I do not know if it is some of my experience at Stafford (Speedway) and always keeping my eyes open or what. But I saw people spinning and I looked at the situation. I just hit the gas to get away from it. It was a challenging night for sure.”

Coming off of a series win at Seekonk Speedway, veteran driver Louie Mechalides also managed to avoid race incident and hang in there for a podium finish. “They kept on wrecking and wrecking so I just rode around in the back just waiting and waiting. And I ended back up front when the big crash happened. Before the wreck I was running fifth and they put me way back to about tenth. Then it was an easy way to pass all those cars after they crashed.”

Over the years Mechalidies has seen a lot of things. But this race was definitely unique and hopefully future racing will not unfold with this type of race end. “The second part of the race was a real rough race. The beginning of the race was really good and I do not know what happened. I do not know if everybody got a little anxious or what. I just do not know.”

The VMRS teams will now prepare for next Saturday night’s Monadnock Speedway’s Firecracker feature event. And hopefully next weekend the only firecrackers we see are in the sky!

Notes from Lee USA Speedway:

Les Hinckley spun on lap 89 after running for the lead. It was a mishap that could have led to defeat or making the best of the situation. Hinckley did the later and it proved to be the best decision. After the spin he had to regroup and decided what to do next.

Les Hinckley
“I was mad and I cannot believe that this is going to happen again. That we are not going to come out of a place with a decent finish after running up front all day. My spotter Scooter said it best after the race: “You did a good job keeping your cool.” I started to get pissed in the car obviously but then I said “you just have to make the best of this. It is Lee.” We came in and swapped right side tires and then said let’s go see what we can get out of it. Then we had a big wreck and then a couple of smaller one. But it all worked out for us. It does not always happen that way but it did tonight and that is good for the team.”

Les Hinckley came to Lee winless in 2012. At the end of the race he not only had his first win in 2012 but also tied Kirk Alexander with three wins at Lee USA Speedway.

Les Hinckley
“That is an interest fact with Kirk. He has won a lot of races so that is a fun fact. We have had our fair share of success here. I have always liked coming to Lee. “
More than one racer has said that when it comes to winning a race it is 80% luck and the rest the talent that gets you there. I asked Chuck Montville his thoughts on that.

Chuck Montville
Luck it not always on our side but it was tonight. Normally we have the talent and we have the car.
But the luck we sometimes do not have it. But tonight we had it.

Todd Owen is running weekly in the SK Modified series at Stafford Speedway. June 29th was the rescheduled 39th annual CARQUEST SK Modified 100 XMART race. Owen selected to head north to Lee USA Speedway 100 lap VMRS event where he had already committed to run versus the SK race.

Todd Owen
Listening to how that race turned out tonight I am kind of glad that I am here. I heard that they had a tough night there. Jack (Bateman) has given me an awesome opportunity here. This is probably what I want to do in the future so to miss one race at Stafford to get a top ten like this is an easy choice.

Source: Denise DuPont/ TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: June 30, 2012

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