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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series


Woody Pitkat Captures First Career VMRS Title by Polly Reid

Keith Rocco of Wallingford, CT took the lead on the first circuit, survived six cautions including a brush with the wall to score a convincing victory in the ‘VMRS World Series 50’ at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.

Woody Pitkat of Stafford, CT crossed for second, the runner up finish was enough for Pitkat to clench the VMRS Championship title in the Pete Kulessa owned modified. While Dave Etheridge of Portland, CT followed in third for an impressive podium finish. Jon McKennedy crossed the stripe fourth and Chris Pasteryak fifth.

“We had a great car all year, all the races we ran,” said Rocco in victory lane. “We should have contended for a lot more wins and had a lot more than we did but, I’ve got to thank everyone on my team, they worked real hard.”

“Congratulations to Pitkat, I knew he was going to force the issue, but this thing, it was just fast tonight.”
“It’s pretty amazing,” said Pitkat in victory lane. “We didn’t even think we were going to run for a championship, we were just going to run some races- have some fun and race. Then at last year’s banquet, Pete (Kulessa) was looking at the schedule and said maybe we can run them all. All in all, it worked. We came out of the box, we were really consistent all year. I can’t thank Pete Kulessa enough for giving me the opportunity, crew chief Greg Felton, Bob- everybody who works so hard – Spafco- Kenny Barry, thank him for sending me the text message letting me know they were looking for somebody.”

Pitkat led the twenty-nine car field to green with Rocco, Todd Szegedy, Dan Meservey Jr. and Dave Etheridge the top five. Rocco got the edge on the first lap and Szegedy, Pitkat, Meservey and McKennedy fell quickly into single file.

The first yellow of the night waved on lap 7 when Tony Anello spun on the front stretch. The field gathered up for the restart and while Rocco held strong on the restart, Pitkat made a move for second with Szegedy, Meservey and now Ted Christopher the top five.

The next yellow, on lap 11, kept the field close for the start. Then as the field rounded the track into the backstretch, the yellow waved again. Meservey and Christopher, running fourth and fifth respectively, connected on the backstretch sending the duo spinning towards the grassy infield. Both were able to continue but from the back of the pack. Meanwhile, that incident set off a chain reaction that rippled back in the field unfortunately collecting up Roy Seidell, Jr., Todd Patnode and Chris Jensen- the red flag was needed for track cleanup.

Rocco nailed the next restart only to be reigned back in immediately for a spin on the front stretch involving Mike Keeler and a second spin on the backstretch for Anello. Rocco set to task and while McKennedy owned second place briefly, at the halfway mark it was Rocco, Pitkat, McKennedy, Szegedy and Etheridge the top five. Chris Pasteryak meanwhile who was in contention for the VMRS title, started eleventh and was now up to eighth with twenty to go.

Lap 35 was a game changer for the finish. As the green flag run continued, just as the leaders made their way around turn two, a pair of lap cars made contact in front of the field. Reacting quickly, Rocco went high and hit the marbles getting out of shape brushing the turn two outside wall. Rocco continued, Pitkat and McKennedy made it through but Szegedy, running fourth was collected up. Szegedy was able to drive away but had to restart from the rear of the field.

The final caution occurred on lap 37 for the Kevin Iannarelli car. He spun the #27 modified around in turn four to set up a sprint to the finish. Rocco was again strong on the restart, Pitkat tucked in for second, Etheridge third, McKennedy fourth and Pasteryak fifth. Ten to go, the top five separated from the field and as the laps ticked off, Rocco managed up to a three car length lead over Pitkat in second.

At the checkers, Rocco sailed across the line for a convincing victory, his second VMRS win at Thompson, Pitkat in second secured the VMRS Championship title, Etheridge a solid third and McKennedy fourth. Pasteryak in fifth was there if Pitkat had issues but ran out of time to challenge for the top spot.

Rowan Pennink who had taken the green 27th crossed for sixth, Dylan Kopec in the hunt for a top five finish settled for seventh, Mike Keeler, Anthony Nocella and Eric Berndt completed the top ten.
Dennis Perry completed the race twenty-first which was enough to capture the 2015 VMRS Rookie of the Year title.

John Spence announced during the VMRS feature that this would be the last race for Norm Wrenn- the Nashua, NH driver is retiring from racing. A quiet twelfth place finish in the final VMRS feature, Wrenn carries years and years of accumulated experience and wisdom with him as he moves onto the next chapter in his life. Best of luck Norm – where ever you chose to go, whatever you chose to do.

That’s a wrap for the 2015 VMRS racing season. Next up will be the VMRS Championship banquet on November 7th in Manchester, NH.

Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
: October 18, 2015

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