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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series




Modified Racing Series Once Again
Brings Excitement to TD Bank 250

Denise DuPont

The Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) completed their returnnorth to Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway. The series joined other racing activity to make it a super 2013 Oxford TD Bank 250 weekend for all. During the 100 lap VMRS feature, fans were on the edge of their seats as the modifieds provided action packed excitement with two wide racing, passing and swapping of the lead spot. Teams each had their own strategy to come from the rear to the front or if they were lucky enough to start in the front to maintain their position.

Rowan Pennink overcame the challenges that Oxford has dealt him in the past to take home his second 2013 win. “We have had our ups and downs here at Oxford over the past couple of years,” said Rowan Pennink after victory lane ceremonies. “We have had good cars and bad cars here. Today the car was decent in practice but it did not have a lot of speed. We did a little bit of work to it and got it comfortable to drive for me. Even though the car did not have the speed that a lot of other cars had in practice, we went with it. Gary made some awesome changes to get it set up for the race and the thing (car) was dream to drive out there. I just picked off the cars when I needed to. Brian Crowley told me when he thought it was time to go to front and we made our move and we were able to hold off those guys who pitted and swapped tires.”

Teams have learned that Oxford ‘s track surface is rough on the series tires so if they wanted to be there at the end you had to conserve the car and tires or have a strategy to swap the tires. Pennink started sixteenth and saved his tires the first half of the 100 lap race. He was very selective when he made a pass to make sure he stayed in conservation mode. “We saved our tires as a lot of guys did. Then others came in and swapped their tires. If we did not do what we did, we would have done that too. But either way it is a gamble out there. On this track you never get going straight, you are always turning. So what that does is lean on the right rear the whole entire race. If you are on it hard the whole race you are just not going to have anything at the end. So that was our strategy to just kind of lay off that right rear for the first half of the race.”

Somewhere after the mid-race mark Pennink started to make his march forward. “It is hard to be that patient sometimes when you know that you have a car that is going to go and you have to save the tires as much as you can no matter how much you want to get up there and go for it from the beginning. We just held back until we thought it was at the time where we could make it to the end and still be going hard at the end. And we did just that and the car lasted the whole way.”

Gary Casella, #25 Rosco Racing, car owner, was all smiles in tech as the crew took apart the car for inspection. And he had a lot to smile about, his team made the long ride to Maine and now they were returning home with a win. “The guys did an awesome job taking care of the car as always. Rowan drove one heck of a race. He is really good and very cautious. At the end of the race I was just worried that the laps were running down and the car was going to go away. With these tires they can give out at any time so you never know.”

Richard Savary has been touring with the VMRS full time in 2013. Running with the series this year Savary has been able to visit new tracks, gain more experience, and show some improvement. Arriving at Oxford, Savary was running in fourth spot in points for the VMRS Championship. Savary started the race mid-pack and the team also selected to save their tires until after the first 50 laps. When Pennink made his forward run, Savary followed him to the front to take home a solid second place finish. ”I am happy with the way that the day unrolled,’ said Savary. “Oxford just seems like such a great place to drive. I have never driven here before. Coming here our first time and throwing a setup in the car, I am very pleased with our second place finish."

Even though Savary was happy with a second place finish, like any sport’s competitor he wanted to do better and of course, win. “I am new to the division as a full time competitor. I have raced with the series before but off and on. Coming to these new tracks I am just looking for a top five and car that I can bring home in one piece. Tonight I think that we were probably the best car at the end. Unfortunately I myself did not get the job done. I wanted to pass every car and get by him (Rowan Pennink) clean and I wanted to finish it that way. I think there were things I could have done and sometimes there was lapped traffic and other times I believe that I was just too much of a gentleman. Hopefully that comes back around.”

Tommy Barrett came off of a win at Canaan Fair Speedway ready to rack up another one. Barrett though came up a little shy of his goal. He too charged from the rear to third place after pitting to swap right side tires. But in the end the car was just a third place car. “It was pretty much a third place finish for me. The car was not there where we wanted it to be. I saved a bunch of tires at the beginning of the race for fifty something laps. Then we came in and did the tire swap like last year. And we started going to the front. We got around the guys who had already used their stuff up and got behind Rowan and Richard and I did not have anything for them. I caught them a few times when they got stuck behind lapped cars but besides that they were gone. My car just was way too tight.”

A third place finish in the highly competitive VMRS series is a good finish to most but coming off of a win you want to make it two for two so anything less than a win is a disappoint. “We won at Canaan last week so had to start eighteenth either way so that kind of was the plan from the beginning – lay back and then come in and swap the tires. At Seekonk and today we have been off in our setup. The car has just been pretty tight today.”

After completing last week’s Canaan race with more 100 mile tape than any race car has seen, Max Zachem brought the #79 modified across the finish line with a solid fourth place. Zachem started his heat race on the pole and finish right there on the top. He then proceed to pull the #12 pill for re-drawing positions and then went forward to select the twelfth spot to start the race. Zachem pitted after a mid-race caution and restarted seventeenth. So as he said before the race: “There is no place to go from here but forward” and that he did. “I had a great car from seventeenth to fourth on that restart from half way. I cannot thank enough Dunleavy Trucks, Cliff Nelson, LuMac’s Package Store, Phil Moran from the #2 NWMT team and all my guys that put in a lot of hard work today. We had a lot of fun and we ended up with a top five.”

With the strong showings that Zachem has had this year in the VMRS, his finish at Oxford was a good turn around for him as he looks to improve his point run. “Lately we have not deserved the finishes that we have ended up with. We have been involved in crazy incidents and had some issue with the series, but things are starting to iron out. Hopefully we will continue forward and be that underdog going for the championship.”

Anthony Nocella had his best run going. He even led for the first time ever in a VMRS race. “It was a really good run,” said Nocella. “We tried to kind of save the car early on since we started last in our heat race it kind of ruined our starting spot. We started seventeenth so we wanted to pace it a little bit during our feature to save the right rear. The car was really good. We kind of took our time and end up getting to the lead.”

Then just as fast as he got the lead spot, he lost it saving his car during a spin on the track. Mike Holdridge had spun his #0 car in turn four where he ended up blocking the center of the track. The leaders came around from turn three blinded by the track lights nearly side swiping Holdridge as he sat stuck. “Right when I took the lead someone spun and I had to get on the brakes and swing through the infield to avoid impact. I had flat spotted the tires more that we initially thought that we did. After that the tires were all flat spotted on the front end and the car start shaking real bad. I could not run in the corner any more so we started dropping back. Overall it was a good run starting from the back and making it to the top five, I am happy with it.”

Louie Mechalides finished the race sixth after a good run. There were some issues with weak transponder signals and the tracking system had him in fifth, but a careful review of the race scoring found him finishing sixth. “We showed up and we thought that we were really good. We were out their just riding and picking off spots. The track just wore out the right rear and we held on for fifth or sixth. We thought we were fifth but there was an issue with some cars transponders and we actually finished sixth. We started up front so we rode up front pretty easy through the race.”

The VMRS teams will return to racing on Thursday July 25th for 75 laps of green flag racing as the Chase for the Tenth Year VMRS Champion continues at Thompson International Speedway. If you cannot join us at the track, please join us and follow the action on www.thechromehorn.com.

Race Notes From Oxford Plains Speedway:

With about 25 laps to go Rowan Pennink passed for the lead and Richard Savary was right there in his shadow to take second. What went through Pennink’s mind when he saw Savary right there with him?

Rowan Pennink
“Savary had a really good car and when I saw him coming I thought that I was just going to drive this thing as hard as I can, not make any mistakes and give up the lead with a mistake. If he was going to get by me he was going to do it the hard way on the outside. That was my game plan. If he got by us, he got by us. But in the end it worked out for us. Most of my passes to the front were made on the bottom so I was not going to give up the lead to someone on the bottom because I knew that it was the place to be for passing. “

What were Richard Savary’s thoughts on making his way through the field and trying to pass for the lead?

Richard Savary
“I think that I gave Rowan a good test. He knows the track and he has driven here before. He knew where he had to protect so that I would not get by him. He may have even known that I had a better car than he had. Outside of moving him around, I had a couple of shots but then there was lapped traffic which did not help.”

What happened on the restart when you were the new leader?

Anthony Nocella
“When I came around the back of the track into turn four my spotter said check up on the track. From the driver’s seat you could not really see him (Mike Holdridge) there. I lost him in the light for a second there so I had to jump on the brake quick and that is how I spun the car around. I did not want to wreck the car and I knew how fast it was running.”

What are your thought on the type of racing that you saw on the track tonight?

Louie Mechalides
“I do not know if that is really racing if they let those guys start in the rear and just ride around to save tires. I do know if that is really good racing.”

Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: July 21, 2013

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