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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series



Barrett Makes It Three Wide
To Slide Under For The Lead
Denise DuPont / Polly Reid

Tommy Barrett, Jr. of Millis, MA drove a patient race but when opportunity unfolded, Barrett had what he needed to make a pass for the lead and never look back. A restart with just over 20 to go was the window that Barrett needed. Lining up third, Barrett shot low, found himself suddenly three wide coming out of two, and then there he was side by side down the backstretch with race leader Keith Rocco. Barrett came out of turn four the new and final leader of the night going on to capture a convincing ‘Valenti Modified Racing Series 80’ victory at Stafford Motor Speedway.

Keith Rocco crossed for second, Justin Bonsignore third, Rowan Pennink recovered from an earlier incident to take fourth with Woody Pitkat fifth.

“I thought that was our only chance of winning,” said Barrett about the three wide pass with 24 to go. “I tried doing it the restart before that and just got loose on the apron. But that last restart, I got a real good start and so did Keith. Keith kind of washed up a little and that just gave me that little extra room. I drove it in there and it stuck, I came out, my spotter said ‘clear’.”

At the initial green, Barrett lined up fourth and quickly fell into fifth falling as far back as seventh with ten circuits on the board. While Rocco and Bonsignore stole the show the first half of the VMRS 80, Barrett quietly held his own and at the half way mark, was fifth. A melee on lap 49 involving Rowan Pennink in third that collected up Max Zachem happened right in front of Barrett who was able to avoid the turn four incident gained an unexpected two positions. From there, Barrett let the race come to him. Running third when the next caution waved on lap 57, the action started heating up with Rocco leading, Bonsignore second, Barrett, Chris Pasteryak and Norm Wrenn for the top five. At the green, Rocco was immediately challenged on the low side by Barrett, while Bonsignore was on the high side going into turns one and two. Bonsignore backed out while Barrett and Rocco went wheel to wheel down the backstretch. Once through turn three, Barrett powered ahead of Rocco to become the new and final leader of the night.

“When an opportunity opens up you have to take it, especially here,” said Barrett about the pass. “It’s really tough to pass here. I don’t know how the car was so much better after we got out front but the car just started coming in and coming in as the race went on. We actually started out a little free but at the end it was just fast and I was just riding out there.”

It is the third VMRS win for Barrett at Stafford Motor Speedway. “I can’t thank my guys enough for all the hard work they do, my spotter Randy coming up for this race, we just won Bristol, won another one tonight so hopefully we can go get the next one.” Barrett also acknowledged the Pettit power under the hood, the help of Northeast Race Cars, Victory Lane Bar & Grill and Brad Lafontaine.

Berlin, CT’s Keith Rocco made the VMRS 80 start look like any other Friday night Modified feature race at Stafford. He started the race fifth and wasted no time making his way to the front. On lap 6 he passed Justin Bonsignore for the lead and pulled away from the field. “I was just waiting for the right time to go.” Rocco said about his race strategy. “His (Tommy Barrett’s) method of trying to save the car never really worked out for me. I would rather be out front and then see what we have left at the end.” Following his plan Rocco continued his forward momentum dominating the race for 50 green laps of racing.

Just after mid-race the first caution occurred when rookie Chris Bakaj spun on the front stretch. Teams that were planning for a caution free race now had to assess their strategy and decide whether to pit or go for it. Rocco has a lot of laps at Stafford, his car was dialed in and he was ready to score another Stafford win. But then caution after caution started to happen. “The cautions did not hurt us but it is just frustrating.” Rocco expressed. “You just want to get back racing.”

On the last restart, Rooco was in first, Bonsignore on his outside and Barrett in third. A setup we have seen so many times that has cost the leader his top spot. Rocco was working to hold off Bonsignore when Barrett leveraged his position to make it three wide and then jettison his way to the lead. “I figured that it was coming. He did the same thing the last race here when we were leading. He was third and he did the same thing luckily then I got him back. This time there was no getting him back. We were really not that much off at the end but he was just much better than us”.

Rocco knows better than anybody how to get ‘er done when it comes towards a Stafford victory. But Friday night was Barrett’s night as his winning momentum continues. “We are competitive with this car and we are always in contention to win. The car was awesome the whole race, even after Barrett got by me. The car was still pretty good and I still had a lot of tire under me but I do not know how much he saved but he was fast at the end.”

Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville, NY. started on the pole and led until Rocco turned up the heat and passed him on lap 6. Bonsignore then just settled into second and ran his race. When he was ready to re-take the top spot just 30 laps shy of the finish a caution came out. “We had a good car in the long run. We were making a move to go for the lead with Keith when the yellow came out,” stated Bonsignore. “On the restart the #9 just came on real strong. I saw in the mirror that he definitely had a good start. I was kind of spinning my tires a lot on the outside lane. It seemed like Keith was real tight on the first few laps and he kind of washed me up the hill a little bit. The next thing I know they said three wide – three wide. I could not do anything up top so I just got back in line. Their cars were just better than us on the last stretch. And we were able to come home third.”

““This is one place that I do struggle at,” confessed Bonsignore. “I just cannot get a good feel for the track most of the time. We worked really hard in practice today and we made a lot of different changes. And it showed. We were definitely close. But when Tommy was ready to turn it up he just went. He had an awesome car and he definitely had the class of the field at the end of the night so congratulations and hats off to them. “

Bonsignore has definitely made his presence known in the VMRS ranks this year. Teaming up with the Art Barry owned #21 SPAFCO modified has been a positive move for both. “We wanted to get our first win tonight but we are looking at the points to so it was a good point’s night. We will go into these last four races with a chance. I cannot thank all these Spearpoint Racing guys enough for everything that they have done this year. Especially this week. We tore the car up pretty good (at Monadnock) and I should up today and the car was just as good as usual. We will go to Airborne and try to get back into the title fight. We are not going to go down without a fight that is for sure”.

Summarizing his night Bonsignore was a little disappointed but he is also ready to continue the quest for his first VMRS championship. “We beat the two guys that we needed to beat. I think that it is going to be tough fight all the way to Thompson. This is definitely going to make me get gray hair sooner than I like. But it has been fun. It has been a great year!”

Series point leader, Rowan Pennink, crossed the finish line fourth followed by Stafford’s own Woody Pitkat for fifth.

VMRS teams will return to racing on Saturday September 6th for 100 laps of green racing at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburg, NY.

If you cannot join us at the track, please join us follow the action on http://www.thechromehorn.com

Notes from Stafford Motor Speedway:

Moving on to Airborne Speedway

Justin Bonsignore
“We go to Airborne next week and I do not know what to expect. I have never even seen the place. I will have to check it out this week. The guys on the team have been there so maybe they have a good baseline. So they may have a leg up on everybody else.”

“After we will go to Plattsburgh and then we have a few weeks off with this series. So we will take the time to regroup before the last stretch.”

When will we see Keith Rocco with the VMRS again?

Keith Rocco
“Finale at Waterford I believe will be our next MRS race.”

Source: Denise DuPont/Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: August 31, 2014

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