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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series





The Valenti Modified Racing Series kicked off its 11th season with a banner field of cars on hand at Waterford Speedbowl for the tracks annual Blastoff Weekend Saturday and Sunday. Keith Rocco scored a convincing victory for car owner John Rufrano following the 100-lap feature, wiring the race from green to checkered flags to finish off a big weekend for the second-generation driver from Berlin (CT). Rocco won the track’s NASCAR SK Modified and Late Model features Sunday as well, tying a 54-year old track record with three wins in a single day at the speedway.

The buildup of anticipation for the series over the offseason culminated with a star studded 33 entries vying for the 24 starting positions for Sunday’s 100-lap feature. Saturday’s three 12-lap heat races were won by Keith Rocco in the Rufrano #68, his brother Jeff Rocco in the Pane #57 and Ted Christopher in the Brady #00. Justin Bonsignore brought the Barry #21 home a winner in Saturday’s 15-lap consolation race.

Keith Rocco drew the pole position in the redraw for starting spot and lined up with Rowan Pennink in the Casella #25 on the front row to bring the field to green for Sunday’s feature. Rocco got the jump over Pennink at the initial green flag and pulled out to the lead. The front runners quickly singled out and settled in with Rocco leading Pennink, Mike Holdridge, Max Zachem and Todd Annarummo as the early top-five.

Caution would wave for the first time on lap-10 when Brad Van Houten spun his #09 car, giving several teams the chance to pit for adjustments. The #85 of Todd Szegedy, #53 Norm Wrenn, #86 Shawn Solomito, Bonsignore and more were among those to take advantage.

Rocco led Pennink off the line for the restart and picked up where he left off. Annarummo was up to third with Christopher coming on strong, moving to fourth around Zachem on lap-18. Caution flew again on lap-20 when Bonsignore and Solomito tangled on the back chute, resulting in Solomito’s day coming to an end on the business end of the hook. Bonsignore suffered rear sheet metal damage on his car sending him to a return visit to the pit area.

Rocco spun his tires on the restart but recovered to hold his lead on Pennink. Christopher continued to march forward, moving to second spot past the inside of Pennink on lap-22. He and Rocco teamed up to pull out to a several car length lead as Pennink trailed in third, ahead of the #34 of Dave Etheridge and two-time series champion Chris Pasteryak in his familiar #5 machine. Anthony Nocella was another driver on the charge as he piloted his #92 from his 15th place starting position into the lead pack.

Christopher continued to press Rocco hard at the front and the duo’s pace enabled them to open over a straightaway advantage over the field. Yellow returned on lap-41 as the #66 of Dylan Kopec and #32 of Tom Abele Jr. tangled exiting turn two with both cars spinning into the racing groove for a quick caution period.

Christopher lined up to Rocco’s outside with all eyes on the front row to see which would come out on top for the restart. Rocco got a great jump and resumed his position at the front. Just after Christopher ducked in line looking poised to continue his pursuit of the lead, his engine let go at the end of the back chute on lap-42 spewing a massive oil slick onto the racing surface. A tightly bunched pack behind had little control as they approached turn three and several cars piled up in a grinding wreck. When the dust settled defending race winner Stephen Masse’s #13 car had the #99 of Richard Savary perched atop his machine. Holdridge and Szegedy were both involved, as were Wrenn and Bonsignore who were wedged in the turn three armco barrier. The incident drew the red flag for a lengthy cleanup. When the race returned to the yellow flag, Pennink ducked to the pits from his position among the to check over his machine following the melee.

Pasteryak and Nocella moved in behind Rocco for the ensuing restart. Pasteryak tried to catch Rocco offguard, ducking in line behind him through turns one and two and tried a crossover move to the bottom of Rocco exiting turn two. Rocco fought off the bid and regained control with Pasteryak in tow. They were able to slowly extend themselves away from Nocella, who ran all alone in third as an extended run of green flag racing continued. Pennink was storming his way back to the front, chasing Jeff Rocco down for a position among the top-five during the stretch of clean competition. Those two hooked up in their own battle for fourth position as Pasteryak stayed in Keith Rocco’s tire tracks out front and Nocella was content riding in third.

As the race approached the final 25 laps Rocco’s pace out front appeared to be too much for Pasteryak. The lead slowly stretched out as Rocco hit lapped traffic at the tail of the field. That proved little to slow Rocco’s charge, however a caution erased his advantage when Van Houten spun again between turns one and two on lap-84. Another great restart by Rocco was negated as Pennink and Dylan Kopec went hard into the turn one wall with Mike Willis Jr’s #38 collected.

Rocco got away from Pasteryak one final time on the restart and was able to cruise from there. Pasteryak was under fire from a fast closing Szegedy who had arrived back among the leaders for the final run to the checkered flag. Szegedy wrestled third position away from Nocella, who slid back in the latter stage. Rocco closed out the win with Pasteryak able to hold back Szegedy for second. Jeff Rocco finished a solid fourth and Zachem got around Nocella on the final lap to claim fifth.

VMRS Blastoff 100 Race Results

  1. 68 Keith Rocco
  2. 5ct Chris Pasteryak
  3. 85 Todd Szegedy
  4. 57 Jeff Rocco
  5. 20ct Max Zachem
  6.   0 Mike Holdridge
  7. 58 Eric Goodale
  8. 92 Anthony Nocella
  9. 12 Todd Annarummo
10. 38 *Mike Willis, Jr.
11. 90 Jeff Pearl
12. 32 Tom Abele, Jr.
13. 15 Charlie Pasteryak
14. 17 Todd Owen
15. 25 Rowan Pennink
16. 66 Dylan Kopec
17. 09 Brad Van Houten
18. 34 Dave Etheridge
19. 21 Justin Bonsignore
20. 00 Ted Christopher
21. 13 Steve Masse
22. 53 Norm Wrenn
23. 99 Richard Savary
24. 86 Shawn Solomito

Did Not Qualify - Dana Smith, David Schneider, Matt Mead, Roy Seidell, Dennis Charette, Danny Cates, Chris Bakaj, Rob Richardi, Jr. and Gregg Hurley

Time of Race: 1:01:53
Margin Of Victory: 1.243 seconds
Best Lap: #68 Keith Rocco- 14.171 seconds
Waddell Communications Lap Leaders: #68 Keith Rocco 1-100
Caution Periods: 6 Cautions- on laps: 10, 20, 41, 42, 84, 84

Next Race: Saturday April 19th at Monadnock Speedway Winchester, NH


  Source: Brian Darling / Valenti Modified Racing Series
Posted: April 14, 2014

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