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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series




Patience Plays Key Role as Masse Captures
Third 2013 VMRS Victory

Denise DuPont / Polly Reid

The Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) returned to Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday, August 30th for their second race of the season at the speedway. With the season winding down fast, the run for the championship has heated up and teams are more focused on racing to win.

2013 has definitely been a challenging year for the #13 Millis, MA. team of Steve Masse. The team has had stellar performances at some race events that have ended short with a harsh twist of fate. Coming into Friday night’s race the team’s strategy was to perform their best and chalk up another win. Running in the top ten in points the team really is thirsty for that 2013 VMRS Championship.

Masse started the race mid-pack and knew getting to the front was going to be a challenge as he saw Stafford, Thompson, ROC 200 and NWMT champions at the front of the pack. “We came to the track with some forward momentum today and we used it to our advantage. I saw Keith and Teddy on the front row and I knew it was going to be a hard fought battle up there. Once I got to fourth place I just rode around because we had plenty of race left and I knew I had a real good car. They (Ted Christopher and Keith Rocco) were getting pretty dicey with each other. So I just road and saw what came to me. Things turned out good in the end.”

Masse’s patience finally paid off when hard racing took the leaders out and he moved into contention for the lead position. “The best possible outcome came when they both got wiped out. They both had motors in those things and they were passing people at the end of the straightway. I did not know if I was going to be able to get underneath them with the motors that they were showing. So it really was a gift that they spun each other out.”

Masse passed Ryan Preece for the lead on lap 53. Setting his own pace, he quickly built up a straightaway lead between him and the second place car of Preece, “My spotter told me when it was about 14 to go that I had about a ten car length lead and I went into save mode and I did not drive the car too hard just in case a green, white, checker finish came.” When a late race caution came out with eight to go, Masse knew what he had to do to go forward for a win. “I passed Preece on the outside on the previous start so I knew my car was better in the corners, but he had a little more motor that I did. I knew that if I got a lead going into turn one that I had it.”

In the past Berlin, Ct.’s Ryan Preece has faced challenges when it has come to finishing a VMRS race. So his target at Stafford was to finish the race.

“The race was a good one and it is awesome to finally finish a race here in the MRS series. We have some work to do but second place is pretty good and I am happy with it. We can work on it from here. When I was vying with Stevie I saw exactly what I need to do to be better so I think that we will be alright. I am glad that Steve won.”

Behind the leader for the last portion of the race, Preece observed firsthand what he could do to improve for a potential replay two weeks. “We saw what our car would do at the end of the race. The car was just getting really tight in the center and I could not rotate the corners very well. We have a car in one piece and it is definitely good to finally finish all 80 laps and see what the car is going to do. When we come back here in two weeks we will have made some adjustments and will see how we make out. I am happy that the team finished second.”

Norm Wrenn of Nashua, NH qualified well and by the luck of the pre-race draw he started in the top five. He steered clear of any accidents, paced his race and finished with a podium third place. “We needed this. The last couple of weeks we ended up going home in a basket which is very discouraging for all the work that the crew puts in, we really needed this third place finish.”

“My car was good all night but to tell you the truth on lap 72 I did not want to see that caution come out. We had a really good car and I thought that I had something for Ryan. I also knew Ryan was loose. I actually got beside him one time and I knew he was loose, real loose,” Wrenn said about his run. “With the horrible outcomes the last couple of weeks I knew that if I touch him, even barely touched him he was going around. I tried a couple times underneath him and then towards the very end I started playing conservative. If he opened the door I put my nose there. If he did not open it I stayed off of his bumper because I knew all that it would take was a little bit. I did not want to go to the rear after the run that we were having. I wanted a real good finish for the crew. They needed it after having two crashed cars in the last two weeks and they have been working around the clock to get this car together. So I will gladly finish third every race. I do not have a problem with that. Ryan is a good driver and it is nice to be able to run that close to someone and run clean.”

Ken Barry of Preston, CT knows Stafford Motor Speedway. It might have been a little bit since he has been behind the wheel, but that was never a factor in the Shark Cycle 80 tonight. The Preston, CT driver lined up 13th and at the checkers, crossed the line fourth. “We really had a good car all night. We tried not to beat it up early, take it easy, then at the end we had a transmission problem and we only had high gear which made it a little hard- that’s why we were losing so much on the restarts. Other than that, it was pretty good.”

Jon McKennedy who has been a regular behind the wheel of the #21 had a conflict- running a Super at Oswego combined with not being able to take the time off from work left a seat open for Barry. “It was good to be back. I don’t get to do it much anymore- I just don’t have a whole lot of time on my hands so I don’t get to drive as much. It’s Stafford, the car isn’t going to sit in the garage if I’m around. This is where I grew up. I ran my SK here the whole time I was learning how to drive. I just love this racetrack- it’s my favorite place.”

A final caution of the night with 8 laps to go, Barry was able to hold onto his top five position. “Other than the transmission problem it was pretty much what we planned all night. The car was pretty good from the get go and stayed that way the whole race.”

Dave Etheridge took the green flag deep in the field rolling off seventeenth. When the checkers waved, the Portland, CT driver crossed the line for a solid fifth. “We finished third here last time it’s kind of nice to back that up this time. We did it the hard way this time, from the back.”

There was a need to adjust strategy when the team arrived at Stafford- with 36 cars attempting to qualify for 26 positions, getting into the main event became the first priority. “That was the biggest concern,” said Etheridge about qualifying. “During the week I didn’t really think about it until we got here then all of a sudden there are thirty-six cars – now we had to switch game plans because we came with a race set up and we had to switch gears so to speak and go to a good, safe, qualifying race to get us in the show.” Finishing sixth in the heat race, Etheridge was in. “We didn’t push it too hard in the heat race and got our spot. Last time we started up front and drove the car hard. This time, starting in the back we sort of took it easy the first 20 laps, I think we were faster right at the end – I we were probably the second fastest car on the track. Coming from deep in the field we were happy with fifth.”

The final restart with eight to go, Etheridge was sixth and picked off one more spot to take a top five. “We started sixth on the outside and Zane Zeiner had us trapped on the outside and we had to make it work. I could tell he was getting free getting in so that’s where I had to beat him, getting in- we just had a really good car.”

Tommy Barrett won last year’s Shark Cycle 80 race and came to defend his win. But from qualifying forward the #9 car had visible issues and it appeared that it was going to be real tough for Barrett to make it two in a row. “When I went out in the consi race we were pushing water and overheating. The issues carried over into the race because we could not find the problem. I kind of just stuck it out and did what I could. The car was 260 to 240 for about the second half of the race so the car was not handling too well. So I just pulled in at the very end. I did not want to hurt the motor any more that we had to. So it was a bad day overall.” So Barrett will return to school starting this week majoring in Business while his crew looks at the car to see what they can do before they have to do it all over again in two weeks at Stafford.

The VMRS teams will return to racing on Friday September 13th for another 80 laps of green racing as the Chase for the Tenth Year VMRS Champion continues at Stafford Motor Speedway with the Lincoln Tech 80. If you cannot join us at the track, please join us follow the action on http://www.thechromehorn.com

Notes from Stafford Motor Speedway

What is the significance of a Stafford win a track you do not get a chance to run too often?

Steve Masse

“This win is huge. Stafford Motor Speedway is a legendary track in this area and when you can say that you have won at Stafford it is a big deal.”

To get that caution with eight laps to go and just drive away with a straightaway lead on Preece at the checker the car was just that good tonight?

Steve Masse

“The car just handled amazing tonight. It had tons of corner speed. I kept the tires underneath me for most of the race and that was my plan. This motor is two or three years old right now and I knew that I was not going to be able to complete with them unless I saved my tires and be there at the end. That was out strategy and it worked out.”

Norm Wrenn has a lot of experience running bigger tracks. Was this a factor that was in his favor?

Norm Wrenn

“Absolutely, the speed does not bother me here at all and I like the big tracks.”

Source: Denise DuPont/Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: September 1, 2013

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