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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series



McKennedy Gets His First Ever
Stafford Speedway VMRS Win
Denise DuPont

The Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) returned to Stafford Motor Speedway for the second time this year. It was a wild night of racing for both of the home track SK Modified division with a lot of spinning and bumping. There was even an air ride for one young driver in the SK Light Division (Dylan Kopec). So when the VMRS pulled on the track the question out there was: Would the wild night continue? But as the race unfolded there were few spinouts and little contact but not a wild night of action.

Former VMRS Champion, Jon McKennedy, came to Stafford to continue his quest for the series 2012 championship. McKennedy already has two VMRS Championships, 2009 and 2010, on his resume but this would be his first with the Art Barry SAFCO Race Team.
McKennedy took the checkers in the Lincoln Tech 80 lap race for his third win of the 2012 season. Winning, Jon extended his point lead. Now with only four races left to the season, he has strengthened his odds for another Championship. ‘First of all I want to thank everyone here, SPAFCO and everyone on Art Barry’s team,” said McKennedy from Victory Lane. “They give me a really good car and every race we should be a threat to win. Art provides awesome equipment that makes my job easier.”

McKennedy started the race on the pole but was passed on the first lap by Ted Christopher on the outside for the lead. McKennedy held on to second place pacing himself as the laps clicked off. When the time was right he gambled and made his move for the lead. McKennedy passed Christopher about half-way and then held him off for the win. “As far as the race, about lap 30th I thought that I was better than a second place car so I knew if I could get them at that point it would then be tough for them to get by me. So that was what I did. We had a few restarts there at the end and the car was real loose for a while on restarts. So I had my hands full.”

Every racer has a goal to chalk up a win on every track they race at. Three time VMRS champion Kirk Alexander has done it and those that follow in his tracks strive to do the same in the series. McKennedy left Stafford now being able to say that he well on his way for to meet his goal.“It feels great to win here at Stafford. I think that I have won now on every track on the schedule and that is a pretty cool accomplishment. This has always been a track that I have struggled at and this year I really improved. I have to thank Ken Barry he has helped me out a lot. I want to thank Lincoln Tech for sponsoring the race.”

Winning car owner Art Barry needed a driver for his team in 2012. When he approached Jon McKennedy, McKennedy was delighted and said yes. So far it has been a great match for both. “We have been more than happy with Jon. He is a great fella and he drives his heart out. I am real thrilled to have him in my car.”

Every week the #2 car unloads from the hauler looking like it just rolled out of a showroom. When Art Barry was asked if he had any changes planned for the car for the rest of the year he smiled and said: “We are just trying to stay in there the way that we are to get the points and hopefully we can will this championship. But the car is going good and we are just going to try to stay with it.”

end he was the runner-up for the win with a second place finish. Pasteryak ran with the leaders all night but after an incident on lap 74 when he made contact with then second place, Ted Christopher, he knew a win was not in his reach. Pasteryak’s car was then a little off and he did not have enough to pass for the win. “I think that Teddy may have gotten into Jon. I had my right front lined up with his right rear nerf bar and we got into him (Christopher) right when they both checked up. When they checked up, I was already on top of them. I do not feel real good about it and I should have finished third. But I will take second. Now with two seconds in a row, we will try it again next time.”

Pasteryak reflected on the race and provided his thoughts on what he could have done different. “Maybe if I just started the restart in front of the #00 and the #2 maybe I could have stayed there. I just did not have enough to get by them. We were close and we could hang with them, but that was it we were just good enough to stay there. We did not have enough to pass him. So we will take our second and go to the next one.”

Podium finisher Doug Coby was third at the end of the 80 lap feature event. Coby strove for a win in the Czarnecki brother’s #20 modified, but the team has just not zeroed in on the right combination yet to get the team back in Victory lane. When the VMRS series changed the tire compound it threw a few team’s strategies off and the #20 team is one of those still tweaking. “Our strategy was to save tires, but I am just disappointed. I saved as much as I could all day long but we still did not have it. We changed the tires like the #9 car (Tommy Barrett) does on the same lap. Then we went back out there and the car was good for ten or fifteen laps and it (car) started to get free again. We are missing something on this #20 team. It is great to finish third, but we are trying to get over that third place hump. We have had about three third place finishes here now at Stafford. Tonight we thought that we had a strategy that might work and it worked ot some degree but we just did not have luck. We will try it again next year and bring this thing back better than ever.”

Louie Mechalides brought the Stuart Automotive #85 across the finish line for a fourth place finish and Mark Bakaj followed right behind for a fifth place finish in the Bakaj family owned car.

The VMRS teams will now have a week off and head to the DAV Memorial Race at Seekonk Speedway on October 8th.

News and Notes from Stafford Motor Speedway VMRS Race:

What are your thoughts on adding a VMRS Championship to your accomplishments?

Art Barry

“Winning a VMRS Championship will mean a lot. We have won two of the national titles on the Whelen tour but to come back and run this tour and to win this championship is going to be extra cream on the top if we can pull it off. So we are keeping our fingers crossed.”
When Art Barry approached you for the ride in his car do you think that this was a good career move for you?

Jon McKennedy
“Absolutely, they give me a great car every week. I have gotten a lot of experience. Art provides great equipment. I just show up with my helmet and drive so it works out very good for everyone. I go to the track and I can concentrate on driving and it just makes a big difference.”

Did the switch of the front right tire to the left rear tire work as planned?

Doug Coby

“No. It helped us at the end with those guys with the single file restarts, but I still did not have what I thought that I would have. “I think that the tires are terrible and they are going to go away no matter what and have thought that for the past two or three years. I do not like the tires that they bring for late race racing. I do not think that it is the right deal. I think changing the right rear or better yet a new right rear would be maybe the right deal. As opposed to swapping a tire that you already put laps on in the front and putting it on the back. It did not work for me and I am going to complain until it does work, and then I will say that it is a good strategy. But it did not work bottom line.”
Is that the first time that you tried that tire strategy? “No we tried that two or three years ago at Lee and it did not work there either. I think that we tried it at Thompson once and it did not work there. We have eyeballs. We watch the #9 car and we know that he does it. And we wanted to try it and it was in the plan all day. So we stuck with it. That was what we set out to do: to prove a point that we could do what he does and blast from the back to win a race or not. And the answer was not.”

Jon McKennedy
“Yes, switching the right front tire has certainly been on our mind to come in and swap the tires because some of the teams think that it definitely helps. When you put the right front tire on the right rear to swap them it definitely give the car a lot more drive because the right does not work as hard as the left rear. So for a hand full of laps you get a lot more drive on the right rear and you are faster. But for the same token we are leading the points and we do not want to put ourselves in a situation where we are going to pit and restart start in the back. So if we were not in a point’s race we probably would try it more often. But I have won a lot of races now in this series and I have never done that. Sometimes it works and then sometimes it doesn’t.”

Chris Pasteryak
“I tried to save my tires during that long run but when I got to the time that I had to use it, I did not have anything left. So if I had not been running in third I would have come in and swapped the tires, but I do not. So we rode around and settled in for second. “

Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: September 15, 2012

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