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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series



Barrett wins
King Cadillac GMC 75 VMRS Thompson Race
Denise DuPont / Polly Reid

The Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) came to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (TSMP) with a stellar car count of thirty-four for their first race of the 2014 season at the facility. With only twenty-six modifieds taking the initial green flag, the competition was strong. Qualifying was so tough that two times series Champion Chris Pasteryak and 2013 champion, Rowan Pennink, found themselves racing in the consi for a starting position.

Todd Szegedy of Ridgefield, CT in the Kevin Stuart owned modified dominated the King Cadillac GMC 75 Valenti Modified Racing Series event at TSMP leading 74 laps. On the last lap heading into turn one, Tommy Barrett made his bid for the top spot diving low and forced Szegedy above the high groove. Barrett cruised to the checkers with Rowan Pennink second, Ted Christopher third, Richard Savary and Dave Etheridge the top five. Szegedy was able to collect up and save his car to cross for sixth.

Early on in the race everyone thought Tommy Barrett, Jr., of Millis, MA was not going to be a factor in the chase for the checkers because he was not exhibiting his typical race style. Barrett started second and hung with the lead pack rather than dropping to the rear of the pack. With nine laps to go in a race, Barrett proved that it is not over until it is over. When a late race when the opportunity came Barrett seized it to move to the front. “We tend to lay way back like in the twentieth position, but I just wanted to stay up front and not let those guys, , Teddy, Keith and Todd, get too far away from me. And that played out just the way that we want too. We ran a top five or a top ten and at the end we got the caution that we needed. I got a good restart. I followed Keith running in third and then got by him for second. Before I knew it, it was the last lap and it was time to make a move. I thought we were a little too loose after the caution, then Gracie (Ryan) came over the radio and said you are a couple of tenths faster then those guys up front. So I just got up on the wheel and got it done.” With their first 2014 VMRS under their belt, it looks like things are finally falling in place for the family owned #9 Victory Lane Bar and Grill sponsored VMRS modified of Tommy Barrett.

Starting on the outside pole, Barrett definitely had to make a decision on his race strategy from the start. Charge to the lead, compete with the leaders, drop to the rear of the field or run his own line. Knowing that Thompson has not always been his best track, he selected to run his own line. “I held back a little bit. Obviously, I did not want to run like Teddy (Christopher) and Todd (Szegedy) with a half a track ahead of everybody. I did fall back a little bit more than I wanted to. I was running right around fourth and I fell back to seventh. I said to myself- “this is it”, those guys have good cars. But I just saved myself like I usually do. They backed up a little bit and it was just enough for me to get the advantage on them.”

“With ten laps to go things finally started clicking. I thought we were done.” Barrett stated after post-race inspection secured the team’s win. “We were a half a lap behind in fifth place. The car was a little loose when the caution came out with nine laps to go. Running in fifth place, I was not too excited. On the green flag, I got by Savary (Richard) and Teddy (Christopher) and I was in third. Then I got by Keith (Rocco) after the caution with five to go. On the restart, I was talking to myself – “This is my race, I am not letting this one go”. My guys just gave me a great car and I got the win for them.” And Barrett delivered a win for the team on lap 75.

“Winning this race means a lot. I have not had a lot of luck here. I also had a lot of bad luck to the start the season this year including here. To finally get a win here means I know have a win at all three Connecticut tracks. It was just an awesome night.” Capturing this win Barrett became the fourth driver to notch a win on the series 2014 records.

Qualifying for the 75 lap main event through the consi, Rowan Pennink of Huntingdon Valley, PA in the Gary Casella owned, Monk Hand Cleaner sponsored modified took the green flag seventeenth, finishing his night on the podium in second place.

With the field settled into the long green run, Pennink ran his race and settled mid-pack. At the half, Pennink was firmly into tenth. With nine to go, the second caution of the event appeared to be the break for Pennink who was moving forward, restarting sixth. As the top three were dicing for position, Pennink quietly picked up a spot, cracking the top five. At the third and final caution, Pennink came down the front stretch fourth and with five to go and passed Christopher for another position. In the right place at the right time, Pennink took over second after Barrett and Szegedy settled the top spot on the last lap.

“We started a little further back than we like to,” confessed Pennink. “The race going green for a long time like that the field spread way out. We tried to take it easy and save our stuff but then at some point you have to go when the laps are counting down like that. We had a good car, we had a vibration in the front end- we’re not sure what it was but it definitely hurt us. If we didn’t have that, I think we would have had a pretty good shot at the win especially the way the cautions played out. The 9 was fast, the 85 was fast- we ended up second. I’ve got to thank Brad Lafontaine from Northeast Race Cars, Petit Engines and Waddell Communications for all of their support.”

Close but not close enough for Ted Christopher who crossed third after spending the first sixty-six circuits shadowing Szegedy, the duo a commanding one/two, breaking from the rest of the field.

At the initial green, Christopher in fourth, wasted no time moving into second and followed Szegedy’s every move. Even as the green laps clicked off and Szegedy worked at times, serious lap traffic, Christopher was on his bumper. But in the end, the two restarts in the closing laps cost the Plainville, CT driver, his night ending with a solid third. “The car was a little loose at the end like everyone else after that long green run,” said Christopher. “But it wasn’t bad- it was good on the restarts, good enough to run side by side like that.”

Dominating the race right to the last lap, Todd Szegedy was on his way to capture his first VMRS victory with the Stuart race team. But Barrett’s decision to race for the win stole the trophy on the last lap. Szegedy was not pleased with race outcome but that’s racing. “That’s the way everyone drives at this track, to me, that’s not how you race, but that’s the way it is,” said Szegedy. “The best car didn’t win tonight.” A bent front end following the incident, the dominating performance was bar none, proof the Stuart Automotive modified continues to be one to watch.

The series returns to racing at Seekonk Speedway, Seekonk, MA, on Saturday June 7th.
If you cannot join us at the track, please join us follow the action on http://www.thechromehorn.com.

Notes from Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park:

Race laps were ticking off quickly and it came time to make a move or stay secure. Barrett made the decision to go for it all. What were his thoughts on the end of the race?

Tommy Barrett

“A couple of laps prior to the white flag, maybe with three or four laps to go, I tried to run around him (leader Todd Szegedy ) on the outside and he pinched me a little bit. I was brought up a little too high, almost into the wall, so I had to back out. So I put a little distance between Todd and I. Then I tried reel him back in. I was just focused on catching him not knowing how many laps there were to go. Then when the white flag came out, I was on his rear bumper. I had a good run on the front stretch going down into one and I just threw it down in there. I did what I had to do to win the race. I definitely gave him a little bit of nerf bar but going for the win I would expect him to do exactly the same thing.”

Source: Denise DuPont/Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: June 1, 2014

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