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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series



Pennink Gets Victory
When Rain Ends Race On Lap 53
Denise DuPont

With only three races left on their schedule the Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) teams headed to Seekonk Speedway for their ninth annual DAV Fall Classic 100 lap event. The series last race at Seekonk was cancelled due to rain in August and with weather pending once again, the VMRS feature event was moved forward in the schedule.

Thirty-three cars filled the pits early in the day with teams preparing to give it their all in qualifying. Only twenty-six cars would start the race and no one wanted to be one of the seven cars which would make the long trip home.

Valenti Modified Racing Series’ current point leader, Jon McKennedy, came into the race leading the points chase and working on his third series championship. But McKennedy started deep in the field, seventeenth, in the Art Barry’s #2 SPAFCO modified and time ran out on McKennedy’s charge to the front. The rain shortened race found McKennedy in tenth when the race was called.

Second in points, Rowan Pennink in the Gary Casella’s #25 Roscoe Racing machine started on the pole for the DAV Fall Classic feature event. The Casella team has had a race year which was marred with two disappointing finishing caused by engine issues. Determined to overcome their many challenges the team has continued to charge forward.

As the race reached closer to the half way mark with rain quickly approaching the track, Pennink’s team only words were to protect his turf and hold on as bad weather was quickly approaching. “There were some strong cars coming up behind us but our strategy was to protect the bottom.” Pennink said in the race hauler after the race. “If they were going to pass me they were going to have to do it the hard way and get me on the outside. They were not good enough to do that so we held them off until the rain came and we took the win.“

“We usually have a decent car here but we have struggled to get the car from about a fifth place to running further up front. The last two races here we have really stepped up our game here with the #25 car. Gary has been doing an awesome job along with Bob and Keith on this thing. We knew going into the race that it was going to be about a fifty lap race. So we decided to do whatever we could to keep it up front and we got it done.” And “get ‘er done” Pennink did as he held off the contenders for the front spot. Pennink kept the #25 car in front as the rain moved closer; until a caution on lap 53 brought racing activities to an abrupt end. A black/red flag combination was thrown and drivers were told to get off the track and head for cover in the pits.

Initially the thought was the rain was only a brief shower but rain continued to fall over the track. Series officials called the race complete at lap 53 when Seekonk Speedway cancelled the rest of the local track racing schedule. With the race called, winning car owner, Gary Casella, smiled as the crew struggled in the rain to load the #25 modified in their hauler. “This has been my first win here at Seekonk. This track has been our worst one. We have really been gaining on it the past few times. This win was a good thing. “

Race teams always want to race to the checkered flag at the finish line for a win. But when weather shortens a race and then determines the winner, a team just has to smile and take what has been handed to them. “I hated that it be won with rain but we will take it.” Said Gary Casella as the race win was officially awarded to the #25 Roscoe Race team. “Tonight we wanted to stay out front as long as we could. We were not saving anything except only when we were way out front. We have not shown it with wins, but the car has been spot on. It has been fast every race the second half of the year. If it were not for two engine failures we potentially could have had this championship.”

Steve Masse returned to the VMRS this year running part time with the family owned #13 Chevrolet. Masse started the DAV race in fourth and ran with the leaders striving for his first 2012 VMRS win. When the last caution flag was thrown and the race called, Masse was in second and threatening Pennink for the lead. “It was a good race for us. I am happy to take a second. I have always finished second or third here maybe five or six times over the last couple of years, but I really wanted to win one here. “

During a race restart on lap 48, Masses made it three wide as he tried to get under Rowan Pennink for the win. “We had a good car today. I knew that the rain was coming and I really did not try to make it three wide on the restart but it kind of happened like that. He (Pennink) kind of pushed up the track and opened up a door for me. I did not think that he was going to stick. I thought he was going to pull me going down the straight away, and he did. I was there and I thought I would have caught up. I just knew the rain was coming and I just wanted to get the best spot that I could. I knew I was racing for the win there on the last restart it was raining pretty good before the green flew. I was just driving my hardest because I knew the rain was coming and it was not going to be pretty. “

Todd Anarummo also was driving to chalk up another VMRS win with Seekonk Speedway his home track. He started the race in tenth and used cautions along with his knowledge of the track to advance to second place. But the last caution did not work in his favor. Masse passed him to put Annarummo back in third. Not what he wanted but a podium finish when you start a race in mid pack territory is not bad. “On lap 48, I would not have mind seeing the rain come at that point when we were in second. Once we went back racing it seemed like I lost power steering and the car was just not the same. We were fast real early. I was kicking myself in the butt that I did not push Rowan a little harder when I had the opportunity to get by and get the lead because I think I had a better car than him. A third place and out of here with a car in one piece, we will take it and get a little trophy. “

The Chuck Montville Racing has had a hard luck 2012 race season. The team returned to racing at Seekonk for the first time since the #06 car was literally destroyed in a racing incident on lap 43 on July 29th at Thompson International Speedway. “The car was pretty torn up after Thompson. It needed a front clip, a rear clip, right side frame rail and one of the caster bars went through the oil pan. There was not much that was not wrecked.” Hinckley said as he helped the Montville crew push the rebuilt #06 into the trailer. “We did not have a single problem today. It was a good day which boosts your spirits.”

Earlier in the day the crew unloaded the car and with only a few adjustments Les Hinckley qualified thirteen starting the race exactly midway. Hinckley drove cautiously and made his way up to fourth when the race prematurely ended. A fourth place finish after sitting out for a couple of months was a nice reward for the team’s perseverance and hard work. “We had a really good car. We were watching the weather and we left it a little free knowing that it may rain. A few more laps or if only that green flag laps could have gone a little bit longer I think that the outcome would have been a little bit different. But that is how racing works. We had a good car and everybody is happy. After two long months it is good to get out there. Aside from not winning the performance of the car speaks for itself. Everybody is happy. The car was great. I cannot say enough about the guys and the time they spent on this. We did not have a single problem today.”

After taking a year off, Geoff Gernhard of Salem, CT also returned to the VMRS series part time in 2012. As the year has progressed the family owned team has gotten stronger in the field. “It was awesome.” Said Gernhard as the rain fell around him. “I am glad that we finished fifth in a rain shortened race. I took a year off and returning to the series this year it is a little different now. But it is a good series.”

Gernhard had a great qualifying session starting the race in third. He was shuffled back to fifth as the race progressed and his car loosened. “I think that we have had some good speed and we are getting closer and closer. Hopefully pretty soon we will get that little extra bit and knowledge about setups. As we go to different track we pick up different ways to approach them.”

The VMRS teams will head to Thompson International Speedway on Saturday, October 13th as the series become part of Thompson’s World Series of Speedway Racing event with a 75 lap feature race on Saturday evening. See you at Thompson next weekend for more great racing.

Race Notes from Seekonk Speedway:

What are your race plans for the rest of 2012?

Steve Masse
“We are planning on doing Thompson next weekend for the VMRS and then the Lee Oktoberfest the following week. I am just going to stick with the Modified Racing Series because it is well run and it is real fun coming to the race track and racing with these guys. “

Todd Annarummo

“My dad will go to Lee and that will be his last race.”

With the rain coming were you giving it all you had?

Geoff Gernhard
“On the last restart the crew said “Just Go!” But the car was just getting a little loose and that was all that I had. They were looking at the radar on their phones and they said that it was right on top of us. That was why we did not pit to tighten the car up. “

Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: October 7, 2012

©2012 GeeLaw Motorsports/Wolf Pack Ventures, Inc.