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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series


Having Fun and Winning is Szegedy’s
New Race Plan
by Denise DuPont

The Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) returned to Monadnock Speedway for the 2015 season opening event, “Spring Dash100” presented by Bond Auto Parts. Todd Szegedy finished his heat race fourth, and through the luck of the redraw started on the pole. He took the field across the line at the green flag then went forward with a plan to conserve the equipment and win the race. Successfully completing his plan, he crossed the finish line first to capture a victory for car owner Kevin Stuart. The driver from Ridgefield, CT made winning look like fun as he captured the 2015 “Spring Dash “win. “I love winning and we come here to race to win and to have a good time.” Stated Szegedy in Victory Lane. “I am coming into racing this year with a whole new attitude of coming to have fun. And having fun is going to get me wins.”

After sitting in second position for ten circuits, Kirk Alexander made the decision to pass for the lead on lap 11. He wheeled the #43 around Szegedy and sat in the front position until just after mid-race., ‘When he passed me I knew immediately that he was driving his car too hard. So I just kept my pace” Szegedy noted about the pass. “At first I thought that maybe he knew something that I did not know because he is one of the best drivers at this track. My plan was just to keep him in sight and just wait. Even if I had to wait until the end, I was going to make my move on restarts and do whatever I had to do to get the job done.”

Szegedy drove at a consistent pace back in third or fourth waiting to make his move on lap 57. Alexander had started to get loose about half-way and Szegedy knew it was time to move. “I tried not to spin the wheels whether it was on the restarts or just racing. I also knew here that if you make a pass, you have to make the pass quickly. You do not want to procrastinate or stay alongside of somebody because then you just use up your tires. So you have to make it work or get back in line and just ride “ The opportunity came just after a mid-race restart and Szegedy took the chance to go for the top spot. “I had to try a little harder when I had to pass him (Kirk Alexander) back to regain the lead. But for the most part I drove nice and easy and that is what it takes. These tires are soft and you have to save your equipment. “

After retaking the lead, Szegedy continued at his own pace and took home the win for the #85 VMRS team. “I definitely want to thank Kevin Stuart and the whole team. The whole team worked hard. We put this deal together late during the winter to we decided to make it happen.” And make it happen the Stuart Race Team did celebrating their victory in the pits.

“I think that it is my third win here. And I want to win every time I drive, so with the # 85 so were off to a good start.” Expressed Szegedy. “We had a great setup and we made some great changes during practice. We worked as a team and this is the end result. We will be back here with the tour car and hopefully I can do a repeat.”

Woody Pitkat of Stafford Springs, CT, started the feature fifth and ran with the lead pack all 100 laps. “It was a good run. And it was a good finish to start off the season with. Todd had a real good car and he paced himself early on. I got by him and they he got back by us on the restart when I was behind Kirk (Alexander). Our car got real tight towards the end and then it got tight in the center and loose out. I just tried to battle and do the best that I could. I want to thank these guys for giving me the opportunity to ride this car. Hat’s off to Todd (Szegedy) for the win. We will just work on this to get it better for the next series race at Stafford.”

A second place finish the first race in the VMRS series season was a good start for the #42 VMRS team “It was a good night for the team.” Stated Pitkat after the race.” We started fifth on the bottom and rolled up to third and then we were just cruising and clicking the laps off. We were riding behind Kirk (Alexander) and I thought that my car was a lot better than him up to a point. I was kind of second guessing thinking that I probably should have passed him sooner but all in all the decisions we made were good. Kirk got loose on a restart when he started getting free while running second and I was in fourth. We got shuffled back a little but came back and started picking cars off. On a couple pf those restarts I was fighting him hard on the outside and I am sure that I beat him to the line a couple of times when the caution came out."

Now with a second place finish in the books, the team is looking forward to next series race at Stafford Motor Speedway -- Pitkat’s home track. “Tonight was a good way to start the season. We learnt a lot and we can bring that to go to Stafford which is even better. We are trying to do the best that we can this year with this series so that going to tracks week in and week out will definitely help us. I am learning a lot. We also got some more seat time here which will help us when we come with the tour car here. “

Todd Patnode of Richmond, NH. Started the race fourteenth, set his pace, drove clean and managed to break into the lead pack with 20 laps to go. He captured a podium finish after surviving his charge to the front avoiding several spins and cautions. “We started further back than we wanted to today but the car was pretty good,” said Patnode from post-race inspection. “We were maybe one adjustment away but we are real happy with the car. I have to congratulate Todd and Woody for their great runs. I also want to thank all my sponsors and this entire team. They do not know when to quit. We wanted a top five in one piece in the end. We ended up in third and in one piece so we are all happy.”

VMRS teams will return to racing on Friday, May 22nd for 80 laps of green racing at Stafford Motor Speedway.

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

Notes from Monadnock Speedway:

What was your plan going into the first 2015 VMRS race?

Todd Szegedy
“Basically from the start we tried to save our equipment. We run a soft tire with this series and you definitely have to save your equipment – try not to spin your wheels, while at the same time you cannot let too many guys go by you.”

“I had a plan. I knew how hard I wanted to drive the car along with how hard I needed to drive the car. So when I reached a certain point I knew if I had to let guys go by, I had to let them go. So I needed what I had to do and I stuck with my plan. It does not always work because you have restarts, you have other competitors around you that could foil your plan, and tonight I made all the right decisions in the pits and on the track.”

Todd Patnode
“We had planned or holding back for a while and then making our move. But we should have tightened up the car just a whisker more.”
“We plan to run all of the VMRS races and also the Tri-Track series this year.”

Your thoughts on several cautions (nine) during the 100 lap race on the short fast banks of Monadnock?

Todd Szegedy
“That is just normal. You have cautions, it is a slippery track and when you combine that with guys that are loose, free or not handling well and cannot get to the throttle and you are going to get cautions. Drivers in those conditions are going to get into each other. But you know it happens, that is just the way that it is no matter what series that you are in. You are going to have cautions and you hope that everyone can settle down so you run green but that is difficult to do because you have guys that want to go up through the pack that think that they can get to the front and some make contact. That is just racing. And the way that it always will be at a track.”

Todd Patnode
“Cautions did not affect us because I had already planned out the pace that I was going to run for the entire race and that was what we did.”

Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
: May 3, 2015

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