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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series




Steve Masse Has First Ever
“Budweiser Blastoff” Win

Denise DuPont

The Modified Racing Series opened up their tenth year anniversary season at Waterford Speedbowl with Thirty-three Valenti Modified Race Series (VMRS) teams ready to drive spring in with their ground pounding. Thirty cars competed in qualifying heats and twenty-six of the lucky teams took the green flag on race day.

As the laps clicked off it did not look like Steve Masse would be a factor in the race. Then he began quietly moving forward, before anyone knew Masse was in third charging ahead for the lead. With eight laps to go Masse took the lead and there was no stopping him then. “I was able to save my car early on in the run so at the end we had plenty left to pass anyone we needed to.” So as race came to an end Masse brought the family’s #13 modified to victory lane turning around last year’s twenty-third place finish.

This is the beginning of the season and there are eighteen more races go over the next seven months. But having the first win and the point lead this early in the season is a move in the right direction for a championship season. “This is just the first race and it is definitely a big boost in the right direction. It is still early in the season and we have eighteen races to go. Hopefully we can run for the championship. That is our goal and that means we won’t be wrecking a lot.”

During the off season racers work on their cars and pull together a strategy for the season, Masse has usually been a contender for the win but the team was missing something. So what did they do doing to fill the gap? “During the off season I worked real hard to find good people to help work on my race car. It definitely is paying off at the races. Today I was more competitive then I have ever been here.“

Early in the race Todd Annarummo made his charge to the front for the lead. Unlike Masse Annarummo used the car and raced hard to stay at the front and keep control of the lead. But his hard racing may have hurt him in the end. “On that last restart when Masse and I were running side by side I got up high on the outside into the marbles and I did not have enough for him. A second place finish at Waterford, we will take it.”

Last year Anthony Nocella finished thirty-fifth in points in driver’s points. The team missed qualifying for races and ran into hard luck in others. Finishing the first race of the 2013 season with a third place finish certainly gave the Nocella team has a strong start for the new year. “A third place finish, this is pretty awesome! Working this year with Jon McKennedy definitely helped us in this race. He helped me to set up the car and today he also helped on the radio. He helped me pace myself along during the race which definitely helped a lot.”

Rowan Pennink charged forward from mid-pack to contend for the lead but he was two spots shy of his goal when a caution came out on lap 98. A caution was the last thing the team needed with a tight car on their hands. “We had a really good car,” said Pennink from inspection. “We started in fourteenth spot and got up to the front battling for the lead just after half-way. I thought that we had a shot at the win or at least getting the lead but we had Todd (Annarummo) out on the outside one time and he ran me out of the way. After that the car got a little tight on me. From there we thought we had a third place finish. We did not need the last caution. But the car is not in bad shape. We have the wheels on it.” So the Roscoe Racing team will take their fourth place finish, will regroup and head to Monadnock where they will run for the win again.

If there was one driver that has more ups and downs during the “Budweiser Blastoff Weekend” it was definitely Mike Holdridge. We saw him spin, pit and come back through the field all race long. At the end, he was running right there with the lead pack and survived for a fifth place finish. “We really had a eighth or even a tenth place car so we are really happy with a fifth place finish. We had a lot of challenges today so coming back through the field and completing where we did we are really happy. Now we will head back home and go through the car to address some of the issues we think we shook out in today’s race. Hopefully we will find them all and we will be ready for Monadnock at the end of the month!”

VMRS teams have now packed up their haulers and headed home. Teams will take two weeks off, regroup and head to Monadnock Speedway on April 20th. We look forward to seeing you there for a fun night of modified racing.

Before the next race though VMRS teams will pull together to honor one of their own that was taken from the series way too early in his life. Next Saturday afternoon (April 13th), VMRS teams will take some time to pay their respects to car owner Chuck Montville at the Windsor Locks Funeral Home.

Note From Waterford Speedbowl:

Is there anything that you did to prepare for today’s race?

Steve Masse
“I was more patient today out on the track. My spotter was also a big help keeping me calm while I was in the race car. I am learning from my past mistakes especially not to burn off the right rear tire and to save my tires better. My friend Andrew spotted today. It was his first time and I guess he did pretty good! “

Todd Annarummo
“This is my car that my dad wrecked at Seekonk last year in the last race. So we basically rebuilt this thing spending a lot of time on it. So we have a lot of hours in this car so we are glad to see that it paid off. Our other car is sitting in the shop waiting for a motor to go into it. That car we will use at our Stafford’s race.”

Next the VMRS will return to Monadnock Speedway, any thoughts as the series heads there?

Steve Masse
“Monadnock is a tough track. Last year at Monadnock opening race we finished about eighth. I had some mechanical issues. The right rear loosened up on me but before that the car was fast. I am feeling confident for that race we have a fast race car and hopefully we can stay out of trouble.”

Todd Annarummo
“If we had finished one spot ahead then we would have had to go to Monadnock race so that way we would not have to start last at Seekonk. Other than that we are still sticking to our plans and running fulltime at Star Speedway for the Championship. Other than that we are real happy with the way that things turned out today. We would have liked one more spot but those guys (#13 team) were a whole lot better than us today and hats off to them.”

Anthony Nocella
“So far everything is going well so we will go forward to Monadnock race and hopefully finish as well as this. I will also be running the Midget for the team that I drive for in about six or seven races this year.”

What are your plans for you next race?

Todd Annarummo
“Next race is May 4th at the Star Speedway opener. They are starting to build a healthy field of cars us there. Doug Coby will be there in the Czarnecki car and Steve Reed is also planning on going. So it should be fun.”

Anthony Nocella
“The plan is to run the VMRS full time this year as long as everything keeps going well.”

Last Year you were Louie Mechalides Team Car. Are you again this year?

Anthony Nocella
“This is my teams own car that we are fielding but Stuart Automotive is helping us out whenever we need help. For this race they provided a motor to us. So they are still helping us out.”

Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: April 8, 2013

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