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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series



Keith Rocco
Sets Right Pace To Capture Win
Denise DuPont / Polly Reid

Keith Rocco of Berlin, CT outdueled, outlasted the best of the best Friday night at Stafford Motor Speedway taking the lead from Tommy Barrett, Jr. with twenty to go and never looked back claiming the checkers in the Valenti Modified Racing Series Lincoln Tech 80 at Stafford Motor Speedway. Barrett finished second with Justin Bonsignore third, Woody Pitkat and Todd Szegedy completing the top five.

“I think I started off the race a little too hot, set a little bit of a too fast pace,” confessed Rocco in victory lane. “But this Northeast Race Car, Petit horsepower under the hood really carried us all the way.”

Starting on the pole, Jeff Rocco led the field to green with Rowan Pennink on the outside. Pennink wasted no time powering to the lead with Keith Rocco, who started fourth already in the mix taking over second place in the opening circuit.

Five circuits in, Keith Rocco led Rowan Pennink, Todd Szegedy, Ted Christopher and Jeff Rocco who was holding strong in fifth. The field was reigned in on lap 13 for a single car spin bringing out the first yellow. On the restart, Keith Rocco led but Ted Christopher made his move into second while Szegedy took an unplanned ride into the infield through the grass. Szegedy was able to collect up and continue but had to do it from the back of the pack. With 25 laps showing on the board, it was Rocco leading Christopher, Barrett, Pennink and Woody Pitkat.

The green flag run continued and at the half, the top runners remained the same with Keith Rocco over Christopher, Barrett, Pennink and Pitkat. The next caution waved just a tick over ten circuits later. Barrett in third, made use of the lap 50 restart and low through turns one and two was the new leader on lap 51 only to have that change up again when Christopher passed for the top spot one lap later. Meanwhile, Keith Rocco in third had Pitkat behind him and Chris Pasteryak who started sixteenth, was running in the top five.

Three more cautions kept the field close, Christopher leading, had his hands full with Barrett who continued to challenge. The duo raced side by side on the restart, Barrett becoming the new leader on lap 54.

Another yellow waving, Barrett edged out Christopher on the restart when coming out of turn two, Christopher got out of the groove and into the turn two outside wall. Christopher was done for the night. Suddenly, it was Pitkat challenging Barrett for the top spot. In spirited side by side battle, Pitkat did lead a lap only to have Barrett take it back. Meanwhile, Keith Rocco was close behind in third.

It was the next restart that was key for Rocco. When the green flag flew on lap 58, Barrett leading had Rocco on the outside, Pitkat behind with Bonsignore and Chris Pasteryak filling in the top five. Rocco made his move down the backstretch getting an edge low into turns three and four emerging with the lead over Barrett on lap 60.

“It took a few laps after the restart before it really fired up,” said Rocco. “I had the opportunity to cross him over, I went for it and once we were out front, I don’t think there was any looking back.”

From there, it was all “Kid Roc”. Remaining solid in the final twenty green flag laps, Rocco worked lap traffic when needed while Barrett, Bonsignore, Pitkat and Szegedy sorted out the remaining top five spots. “The longer we ran the better our car got,” said Rocco. “The car faded a little bit in the middle on that super long run but other than that, it came right back to life after the restarts.” The victory was Rocco’s second VMRS win of 2014, the first coming at Waterford Speedbowl in April.

“It was a typical Stafford race. We were single file for the first half and kind of just road around.” Confessed Tommy Barrett of Millis, MA. “Then there was a few more wrecks than I wanted to see in the second half. I do not know what happened but there were a few cautions right in a row that I really did not want to see after getting the lead from Teddy and Keith.” The race in had seven cautions in total, six of which happened after lap 50.

Barrett started the race sixth and when he made his way to the lead pack where he was perfectly matched with Christopher. Christopher had the lead but on restarts he could not shake off Barrett running his outside lap after lap. “We had several laps where we ran side by side going for the lead and I had finally got him right before that caution that took him out. It was sad to see Teddy out of the race that early we had a lot of good racing going there.”

After an accident took Christopher out, Barrett did not have enough left in the family owned #9 modified to hold off the challenges of Rocco. “Keith got behind me after that and I did not have enough forward bite. We got loose getting out of the corner and that was where Keith was really killing and hurt us. The thing was just bogging out getting into the corners and it could not pick up until half way through the straight away. It is what it is. We have had a rough year so far in this series.” Barrett crossed the finish line with a solid second place finish.

Running the Art Barry owned #21 VMRS modified, Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville, NY. finished on the podium. Bonsignore started ninth and drove at a consistent pace. “It was a good race for us. It has been an obvious struggle at the bigger tracks with the new motor program and I commend the series. They are doing a real good job trying to work on it and tonight showed it. We were a lot better, we were competitive. And you want to come to the race track and have a shot to win. Others have steel head motors and we are trying to catch up motor wise”.

“It was another good night for us, with another podium, we are just knocking on the door.” Bonsignore stated after the race. “It was a good run and probably better than I expected I would have come out of here with. This is not one of my best tracks. It is pretty much a win for us because we beat everyone in the run for the points. It looks like we are going to rack up the third place finishes, but that is what it is going to take to be in contention at the end of the year for the title. We are getting into the summer months now and we are going to start looking at that slowly.”

Chris Pasteryak crossed for sixth with Pennink following for seventh. Max Zachem completed a solid eighth position finish after struggling in practice and qualifying with car issues. Eric Goodale had ninth and Norm Wrenn overcame cautions and setbacks to round off the top ten.

The next VMRS event is at Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday August 9th, for the annual Wings & Wheels show. 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 are your next race plans?
This Saturday the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour heads to Monadnock Speedway for The O’Reilly Auto Parts 200. Wednesday night is the final in the Tri-Track modified series races at Seekonk Speedway with $10,000 to win on the line.

Justin Bonsignore

“We will go to Monadnock tomorrow with some momentum and then we take this car back to Seekonk next week for the big show.”

Tommy Barrett
“We had a second place here and we head to Monadnock tomorrow and then Wednesday to Seekonk and we will see what we can do.”

With the new rules a lot of drivers felt that it was like driving an SK modified at Stafford Motor Speedway.

Tommy Barrett

“I have not had a lot of experience in driving an SK but it definitely felt like I was driving an SK light modified out there. I felt like there was more corner speed because you have to keep the momentum up after all that straightway speed and stopping more or less when you get to the corner and then get back on it. It was more like you had to roll the corner and keep up the momentum.”

On lap 55 Ted Christopher was racing for the lead and suddenly the Joe Brady owned #00 modified took a sharp turn into the turn two. What happened?

Tommy Barrett

“After I got the lead I do not know what happened to Teddy. If I ran him up a little too much and he got a little loose and he hit my right rear but I did, I did not mean to run him up.” .Barrett was racing for the lead with Christopher. The two cars were evenly matched for several laps. Barrett finally got the lead. Then Woody Pitkat and Keith Rocco joined in on the chase for the win. On lap 55, as Pitkat raced hard for the lead spot his right front clipped Ted Christopher’s left rear. The contact used Christopher’s momentum to send him hard into the second turn outside wall. It was just hard racing in very close quarters.

Source: Denise DuPont/Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: July 20, 2014

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