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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series


It ended up being a gas Mileage Thing, But a Win is a Win
by Denise DuPont

The Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) started out the 2017 race season at Stafford Motor Speedway. Twenty-seven modified teams came to the track to compete for their chance in victory lane. When teams arrived at the track it was hot and sunny so their cars behaved differently than it did for heats and then yet different for the feature race. But the time the driver’s came out to race a cool front had moved in and the track appeared to be slicker.

Anthony Nocella from Woburn, MA. has been racing with the series for a few years and has never made his mark at Stafford. This year piloting a brand new Race Works chassis he was able to take the car from eighth forward and drive with the lead pack all night long.

This race ended up being a gas mileage thing. Drivers like Rowan Pennink of New Egypt, NJ. and Keith Rocco of Berlin, CT. compete weekly at Stafford in the SK Modified Division. They know the track and it points to be able to beat some of the best. In the last ten laps of the race these track favorites ran out of fuel and were pushed to pit road. Nocella who had a smaller carburetor was able to conserve gas to the end where he took the checkers for the win.

“We were strong at the end.” Stated Nocella from victory lane.” I cannot thank Eddie Flemke enough. He built a new car for us this winter and it is completely different than the other one. It was our first race out with it, so we did not have a clue what it was going to do. We were horrible in practice and the thing (car) was awesome the whole race. I think we have ran it a little hard there a little earlier but we lost the brakes on lap five and that kind of held us back. We just had to keep pumping them. You use a decent amount of brake here. The car was so good I did not matter. I could kind of float it in and it was awesome.”

Were you worried about gas mileage in the end? “I knew we had enough. I know that those guys have bigger carburetors so they used up a little more fuel. So that worked to our advantage a little bit.”

All smiles in victory lane, Nocella exclaimed: “It was a pretty awesome race and those guys gave me a pretty decent car. I have to thank my father and uncle and Nocella Paving for supporting us. And all ours guys that work real hard on the thing (car). Eddie from Race Works and Billy the Kid and Curtis for the motor. They said we could not run this thing with steel heads and it was awesome here.”

This was Anthony Nocella’s first win ever at Stafford Motor Speedway and he knew coming to the track that he would be in competition with the track’s best weekly modified drivers. Taking the #92 modified up a notch every time he was on the track brought Nocella from second to last in practice slowly to the top five by mid race. “It was a pretty awesome race. I always wanted to win here because it is a historic track. I have run some pretty good cars here and had some bad luck. Today we came her with a brand new car so we were trying to learn it. We struggled real bad in practice we were almost one of the slowest cars. We were able to get it better for the heat race and then they gave me an awesome car for the feature.”

Eighty laps on Stafford’s half-mile, semi-banked oval is surely not the place you want to be without brakes. During the feature race, leader’s brakes were glowing so a potential issue was there. Nocella had one of the best modified driver/builders coaching him, Ed Flemke, so he was spot on in his race. “The car was real good the whole race. We tried to pace ourselves after losing the brakes on lap 5. I had to keep pumping them all the way to the end. I kept the car under me and the thing was perfect pretty much the whole race. It was just an awesome car and an awesome race. It was really nice to finally get a race here because it is a great track. “

“Pennink was real fast and I thought we were running pretty good with them there especially during those restart.” Nocella confessed after the race. “We had as good as car as him I think. I thought we had a shot to pass him but having no brakes there I really could not get it in as deep as him. So I was holding back a little bit. It took me a few laps to get going and that spread us out a little bit. So I had to pace myself there but it worked out in the end. It stinks that he ran out of fuel because we did not get to race him at the end. But a win is a win and it is pretty awesome to get one.”

Running with top track competitors was an impressive feat for Nocella who past runs have eluded success at Stafford. “Just to be able to run those guys that run here weekly and knowing they have somewhat of an advantage being able to meet their marks knowing the track. We messed up a few times there but continued trying to gain and get up there by the leaders. Then we were able to drive by Keith (Rocco) and Woody (Pitkat) and then almost Rowan (Pennink) a few times. It was just awesome to be racing those guys and to know that we were almost as competitive as them at their home track. “

Pitkat held steady on the track picking his lane when he could. The team is still learning the car and it was not a strong front running car as they needed for a win. But being where you needed to be for any opportunity brought luck to the team as they captured a second. “The finish was not bad. We still have to work on it (the car) a little bit to try to figure what it likes. We need to start working on the adjustments from heat race to feature. All in all it was a good night. I cannot complain it was a good finish.” “I just cannot thank these guys enough for giving me the opportunity. Dan (Stebbins) and Craig and everyone.” Pitkat stated. “They work so hard. We have Mayhew Tools onboard with us this year. I cannot thank them enough. “Congratulations to Anthony and the team on the win. I know that they have a brand new car they had to work on so it is good to see them win.”

A second is a second and even though you do not think you deserve it, accepting the position and points is always the best thing to do. “We probably should not have been second because the car was a fourth or fifth place car. But we had luck on our side. The car was just lacking a little bit of forward drive. It was not a win but we will go on to the next one.” So the #52 team will go back to the shop and take what they learned at Stafford and prepare for the next race.

Mike Willis, Jr. from NH was the hard charger of the race. He started the feature event eighteen and had a good run. Being where he was before the red on lap 74 positioned him to benefit from what unfolded for race leads. When the leaders ran out of gas, Willis moved up to third for a podium finish. “I am really happy and the car did run good and I did not have any problems. Actually during that red flag there, the car had stalled on me and I said: “Awe man we are out of fuel.” Mentioned Willis post-race. “But it was hot and threw off vapor that had to burn off a little bit. Then it fired right back up.” “I hated all those cautions, but at the end we kept picking up spots. So I am not complaining too much.’’

So the old adage that cautions breed cautions once again proved true. It changed the race outcome and for your runner it was in his favor
Charlie Pasteryak of Lisbon, Ct had fourth and Les Hinckley from Windsor Locks, CT finished fifth. The VMRS series will be at Lee USA Speedway in Lee New Hampshire next Saturday, May 27th for a special format race. There will be three 25 lap heat races where each heat winner will take home $500. The top eight finishers in each heat will move forward to a feature race. Winner will take home $3,000.
Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
: May 20, 2017

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