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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series


Drafting with Teddy is Where You Want to Be
by Denise DuPont

It was a historic occasion as the Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) teams made their way to the 1.058-mile oval New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The series was part of the New England Short Track Showdown. The VMRS feature was 50 laps with four cautions, two of which turned red to remove damaged equipment and clean the track. The last caution occurred on lap 46, with Ted Christopher of Plainville, CT. leading. He had after just passed Woody Pitkat of Sturbridge, MA. and was on his way to chalk up another NHMS victory. The yellow was brought out after Jimmy Dolan from Danbury, CT. made contact with turn three’s outside wall and his modified dumped fluid down the track. Modified drivers sat with engines off as track crew cleaned up the surface. drivers made their last strategies and plan in their minds all hoping to be the one to secure the victory.

Christopher had the top position when he brought the field around for the last restart and only four laps to maintain his lead, he had to settle for a second place finish. Pitkat on the other hand used the final circuits to pull off his first 2017 VMRS win and all the bragging rights that go with it.

“It was definitely awesome.” Exclaimed one happy Pitkat during victory ceremonies. “There is always a lot going on in your head for what you can and cannot do when you are racing at this track. It is always in your mind when are you going to make a move and it ends up being the wrong move.” Those were the thoughts Pitkat had when the last green flag flew.

When the modified come to the “Magic Mile” the drivers are able to draft and drive what they all call a fun race. The leaders of the field always capture the awe of the spectators as they are able to draft and pass swapping the lead position several times in a lap. “Here it is good to be up there in front and clear especially with racers that you know. It was an awesome race up front with someone like Teddy, you feel comfortable running with him. It took me a long time to learn this track and it is now fun to come here.”

Pitkat piloted the #52 Dan Stebbins owned Mayhew Tools sponsored modified to the checkers after starting the race third. “I cannot thank these guys enough,” Pitkat said with a big smile on his face. “I love pulling into victory lane and seeing the look on people’s faces. This place is like no other place so a win here is special.”

Christopher had one of the fastest modifieds during Friday’s practice sessions in his famous numbered #13 modified. Series owner, Jack Bateman, made the decision that the modifieds which contained steel head motors to issue a smaller restrictor plate for Saturday’s race. Bateman felt that the change leveled the competition. Christopher still had the track experience and a fast car though when it was race time. The only problem was that the restriction on his engine held him back on race restarts. And yes the last restart with only four laps to go may have been the factor that lost the number one position at race end for Christopher. He was on the bottom spot when the green flag flew. He was right there when they crossed the line but Pitkat with an extra push from Steve Masse of Bellingham, MA forced Christopher to fall back to third. With one to go he was able to gain back one spot but on the last lap he was a half a car behind Pitkat so he had to settle for second.

“The race and day were good,” stated Christopher. “It started off this morning with Jack wanting us to change the restrictor plate and that did not make me too happy. Unfortunately that part probable hurt the motor on restarts. But ‘it is what it is’, as they say. It was a good race.” Christopher did have the time of his life swapping the lead back and forth lap after lap with Pitkat and Masse. “It was good but at the end it got a little crazy. That always happens when people that think that they should be there which make it interesting.” Reflecting on the race Christopher knew he had the car to beat. “If we did not have that last restart, Woody and I were pulling away and at the end it would have just been the two of us. But would have, could have, should of – right.”

It was Masse’s first trip to NHMS and his first race after blowing a motor earlier in the year at Monadnock Speedway. He was on the pole when the race began and had his turn at leading the field. The late race cautions definitely played into the race outcome. But in the end a pole at race start and third place finish is not bad for a driver’s first time at the track.

“It was a fun race.” Masses stated sweaty and smiling. “It is a little uneasy when you are in the lead with a lap and a half to go and you end up losing. Overall, the car is in one piece and a third place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway so I guess it is a good day.”

Running within the top five all day with cautions and restarts was really a day to be proud of. NHMS is the modified’s Daytona and a podium finish there your first time at the mile is an accomplishment. “In the lead pack there definitely was some good company to be with,” confessed Masse. “But I do not just want to be third, I did want to beat those guys because I know that I can. I do not know if I made the right move. I may have went a little early. I was in the right spot. I just did not make it happen. It was my first time here and it is really tough to try to compete those guys who have been here and have a lot of laps on the track.”

It was a lot of firsts for the VMRS teams and driver’s at NHMS. The teams had some fun but drove hard enjoying the mile while it was theirs. They now will enjoy the Fourth of July and then prepare for the series next race at Claremont Speedway on Friday, July 7th.
Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
: July 2, 2017

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