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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series



Pennink Wins the Inaugural VMRS
Thompson World Series Event
Denise DuPont

Every fall fans look forward to the annual World Series of Speedway Racing at Thompson International Speedway. This year the Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) were added to the Saturday night program.

With only two races left for the series, thirty-six modified teams filled the track’s back pits preparing to give it their all in qualifying. Only thirty cars would start the race and no one wanted to be one of the six cars which would make the long trip home.

There were series teams along with some NWMT teams that brought a car to run the Saturday night VMRS race. Saturday night at Thompson felt more like winter than fall but the chill in the air did not stop fans from filling the grandstands.

NWMT regular Justin Bonsignore started the race on the pole. His lead was short when Todd Owen wheeling Jack Bateman’s #17 modified passed Bonsignore for the lead on lap 4. Chris Pasteryak then took his turn leading on lap 19 which ended with a caution and restart on lap 40. Rowan Pennink found an opportunity and did a slingshot move under Pasteryak for the lead.

Thompson is one of Pennink’s favorite tracks and adding a series race late in the season was just what he was looking for. Pennink started deep in the field, eighteenth. But he used his knowledge of the track and the Roscoe team prepared #25 car to make his way to the front. “This #25 car was awesome the entire race,” said Pennink elated with the win in Victory Lane. “I just have to thank Gary Casella and everybody from this team, they did an awesome job. We picked cars off as we could and tried to pick the right lanes and work our way up to the front at a reasonable pace and we got it done.“

Pennink had series point leader, Jon McKennedy, in his rear view mirror during the final laps. McKennedy was all over Pennink’s back bumper waiting for an opportunity to make a move. On lap 74, a late race caution came out just as McKennedy came off of turn two under Pennink to pass for the lead. Pennink sighed for relief while McKennedy knew he had to do it all over again. “I knew on the restart even if he was underneath me, I also knew that once I got on the gas on the backstretch he was not going to get me. But he was definitely tough.” Pennink stated about the last race start.

“Jon McKennedy had a good run going on me and then the caution came out. A green, white checker is a hard thing for that car (#25). The engine has a steel motor and it does not seem to pick up quite with the restarts like the 18 degree motors that McKennedy has. So I was not looking for cautions.” Pennink said about the late race caution. “I just had to keep him behind us there with those late cautions that we did not need."

Gary Casella, owner of the #25 Roscoe race team was all smiles after the race ended. But when the caution came out on lap 74, Casella just could not believe it. He knew that his car did not work well on restarts so the last three laps were going to be tough. “The yellow do not tend to work out for us all that well. So I was freaking out when the last caution came out.“

With two wins in a row for his race team, Casella knows that it may be too late to capture the series 2012 championship, but winning has helped improve the team’s morale. “Rowan did a heck of a job today. This car has been really good the second half of the year. We knew we could make it up to the front. It was just whether or not you could stay there or use the car up getting there. He was in the lead by lap 40 and the question was did he use the car up to get there.“

VMRS 2012 Championship point leader, Jon McKennedy, started the race mid-pack knowing he also had the challenge of getting to the front before him. So he knew he had to pass cars while saving his car for any moves needed for a win. “I tried to pass the cars and I tried not to use too much tire up in the beginning. I was in the top five with thirty or forty laps to go with still a lot of the car left.“

On lap 56 McKennedy passed for second and was now behind Pennink running for the win. “Rowan was tough. He always runs good here. I think that we were just as fast as him at the end. But to get by him was a different story at the end. It is tough racing and hard to pass here. The cautions gave me a couple of chances to get by him or at least try to get by him and get us all close together again.”

McKennedy had a good car and made all the right moves, but the Roscoe Race Team had one up on them in the end. The SPAFCO #2 finished second perhaps just one last caution may have taken their win. “In the long run we were good too. We finished second and the crew worked hard. Next week we will go to Lee and hopefully close off the deal. Who knows, anything could happen. So we will see what happens.“

Steve Masse came from a second place finish at Seekonk last week looking for a Thompson win. A third place finish after a heat race incident was a good come back for the Masse team. “I am happy with a third place finish. I had a good car and I definitely had the opportunity to win the race but once we got going after a couple of laps, they had a little bit better drive coming of the corners. So they were able to pull away from us. Jon and Rowan had the best cars for sure. I was definitely a third place car tonight and I am happy with it.“

During the VMRS second heat race Masse was involved in an incident just after turn one where his car got a little sideways. Masse then backed up on the track as he attempted to get his car under control. In the process, he collected up both Shelly Perry and Doug Coby. The accident took Coby out of the race while Perry drove away. Masse sustained damage to the whole right side of his car in the mix-up. His crew was able to get the #13 ready to race but the car was still a little off.

At the end of the feature event, the #13 car had nothing left to reach the leaders. “The right rear was buzzed off a little bit and we had a little wreck in the heat race. It was my fault. We had to replace just about every part on the right side before the feature so I am just happy with getting a third. I would have liked to finish better but there is always the next race and we are real good at Lee. I am looking forward to going there.“

The VMRS crew will now have a week to prepare for their season finale race at the Lee USA Speedway’s annual Oktoberfest 100 lap feature event on Sunday, October 21st. Have a great week and see you at Lee next weekend.

Thompson International Speedway Racing Notes:

Going into Thompson’s VMRS race Rowan Pennink was thirty-three points out of the lead. Knowing that the team would not catch point’s leader Jon McKennedy the Roscoe Race team raced on.

Rowan Pennink

“It was going to be tough to win the championship now, but I am racing for wins at this point. The car was awesome, it rolls here. It has been a long time since we have come here and struggled. That thing is always fast here. Gary has a good setup here for it. We tried stuff like he runs in my car but with the tire differences it is just not the same. But what Gary has here with these tires.”
“It is nice to get three wins in a season. It would have been nice not to have problems at two races with mechanical problems. Then we could have still been in the chase here. But stuff like that happens and you cannot plan for it.”

Normally Pennink is a spectator for Saturday night’s World Series racing. This year meant a change of venue for Pennink with the VMRS feature race highlighting Saturday nights racing events.

Rowan Pennink

“We do not normally race here on the weekend of the World Series. I am always down there in the stands hooting and hollering and the other side if it now is pretty awesome. I will never complain when they add races here at Thompson. I was excited when they added the race and I was excited to come.

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

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