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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series




A Night of Remembrance

Denise DuPont / Polly Reid

The Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) returned to Monadnock Speedway on Saturday, August 24th for their final race of the season at the speedway. This 100 lap feature event was dedicated to honor the memory of former VMRS competitor, Victor Johnson. Johnson lost his life in a house fire in May 2011. It is always an intense race for the drivers when they come together to honor one of their own and the third annual Victor Johnson Memorial event holds a special place for the people of Monadnock region.

Todd Patnode of Richmond, NH took the lead on lap 84, survived two late cautions that included holding off Jon McKennedy and Dwight Jarvis in a fierce green, white, checker finish to capture the win in the Valenti Modified Racing Series Victor Johnson Memorial 100 presented by Swanzey Oil at Monadnock Speedway.

“We try to win every race but it is the Victor Memorial, no one is going to forget Victor, he was an awesome guy- real competitive racer, we were friends with him,” said Patnode. “It’s our first Valenti win and to do it on a night like tonight, that’s good.”

Jon McKennedy crossed for second with Dwight Jarvis third. Max Zachem who led several laps finished fourth and Rowan Pennink completed the top five.

Running a limited VMRS schedule, Patnode used a combination of years of experience at Monadnock and race strategy to take down his first VMRS win.

“I actually used Rowan (Pennink) to pace myself the first three-quarters of the race,” said Patnode. “He usually knows how long to ride before he goes, I paced myself behind him, behind him, behind him, then when we got 21 to go- that’s when I thought maybe he was a little tight at that point to go so that’s when we made our move to go forward.”

Starting tenth on the grid, Patnode made his march to the front with precision picking off one car at a time. Patnode actually passed Jarvis for the lead just as a caution came out and was denied the position. Patnode lined up second on the restart for another attempt. Powering past Jarvis on the outside, Patnode completed the pass with 16 to go, survived two more late caution flags to take down the special victory.

“Both are real hard runners,” said Patnode about Jarvis behind him and McKennedy on the outside for the final green, white, checker. “Both race clean so I wasn’t afraid of anything as far as like being shoved up or anything like that. I’ve run with them enough to know they run really hard but they run clean. The Spafco cars were just hooked up tonight.”

“We’ve had some bad runs, the guys really deserve this. They keep digging in with the car when most people might have walked off on us- we hit a rough patch. I kept telling them if we could just get the first one over with, the rest will probably fall into line for us. The car was really solid tonight, we knew it was good. Two or three races ago we had an equally as good a car and I just took off way too early and cost myself the rest.”

“There were a lot of family and friends here that normally wouldn’t be so that was good. Last year they watched me lead this race until lap 89 and then had a tire go flat.” The night will be one to remember for Patnode who admitted the win probably would not sink in until sometime later.

Three time VMRS champion, Jon McKennedy, won his heat race and started the feature race mid-pack. McKennedy is a very smooth driver and he is among the best when it comes to pacing himself during a race and saving the car for the end. With 15 laps to go McKennedy was sitting in the top five ready to use the car for the win. In the end, he was one spot shy of his target. “We had a really good car. Before the race we were tinkering with the car to try to make it a little bit better. The crew did a really good job and all worked hard.” McKennedy said about pre-race car preparation.

“We had a really good race. We started out a little ahead of mid-pack. Then throughout the whole race we were racing with some really good cars and we were certainly in the mix. I ended up second, just one position shy. Congratulations to Todd Patnode.”

“It was a special race for Victor Johnson and for us racers it means a lot. It was a good night and I would have liked to have won but second is not bad either. So now off to the next race and we will try it again next week.” So the #21 team of Art Barry will review their race notes and bring the pristine #21 car to Stafford Speedway ready for the next challenge.

Veteran racer, Dwight Jarvis, came to the race to defend his 2012 memorial race win. Monadnock is Jarvis’s home track and you always expect a top run from him followed with a little wit. “It was a good race. Third is better than last. I thought that I saved the car enough but I guess that I used it a little harder than I thought. At the end she was a little tight but it was still fast. We had a good finish and I was happy with the outcome even though I would have rather won. Todd (Patnode) did a heck of a job beating me and he deserves the win. He raced me clean and I guess he was a lot faster than us tonight. I would not have done anything different for today’s race. I love this track. It is a good old place for a good old boy!”

2013 has been the year that we have seen young Max Zachem blossom into a top contender. He has taken the challenges that he has been dealt in the past and used them to develop and mature into one of the series front runners. At Monadnock, Zachem had the luck of starting on the outside front row. He jumped to take the lead at race start and dominated the position for 77 laps. Pacing the field, Zachem drove a smart race saving the best for the final laps. But in the end he missed the setup a little. “I was just trying to ride and save the car. But I did not tighten up the car quite enough. We were starting to get a little free in so I was trying to save it a little bit. I knew that there would be multiple restarts because the last few times that we race here there were a lot. So I was trying to save the car for the end. We still ended up with a top five so I will take it.” He crossed the finish line fourth.

Zachem is a popular series driver and has a lot of support behind him. “I cannot thank my race team enough, Dunleavy Truck and Trailer Repair, MSIII Racing with Phil Moran and all the guys at CLN. Cliff Nelson is here tonight and I cannot thank him enough and all the people that support me. It helps a lot. We are finally getting our stride here with some luck. I am excited to go to Stafford next.”

VMRS point leader Rowan Pennink rolled off for the green in ninth and ended the Victor Johnson Memorial fifth. “It seemed like we had a good car the whole race. We started working our way up and got to the top five with about 20 to go and the tires just went away on me. We needed to be a little tighter with the set up but it was a solid finish for the 25 car. It was a good night for points, we stayed out of trouble, kept the car in one piece and we’ll head on to Stafford one of our better tracks.”

The VMRS teams will head to Stafford Motor Speedway next on Friday night August 30th for 80 laps of green racing as the Chase for the Tenth Year VMRS Champion continues at Thompson International Speedway. See you at the track or if you cannot get there join us for live updates at TheChromeHorn.com.

Source: Denise DuPont/Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: August 25, 2013

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