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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series


Capturing first ever VMRS Victory at Stafford - Pennink has a “Two Fer” Night
by Denise DuPont

After two weeks of rain, Stafford Motor Speedway opened up its race season on Friday, May 20th. With picture perfect weather, the Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) made the trip to CT. for their second race of the 2016 season. After pulling off the best racing that we have seen so far this season at Monadnock, the competitors continued to provide a great race show for Stafford fans with only one caution in 80 laps.

Rowan Pennink of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., started the race on the pole and held onto that lead for a few laps. Then with four circuits in the books, Pennink slowly dropped back to fourth as Woody Pitkat took over the top position. In fourth, Pennink maintained a steady pace and conserved. ”We had to bite our time at the beginning a little bit and wait for when the time was right to go. Gary and Brian did a great job letting me know when it was time to go and we were able to make the move,” Pennink confessed post-race.

The laps quickly clicking off and when the half way flags flew, Pennink started his move charging forward. A late race caution provided the opportunity and he took his chances to dive under the leader, Woody Pitkat. Once he snatched the lead, Pennink continued to propel forward and clinch his first ever VMRS win at Stafford Motor Speedway. So after a VMRS championships and ten VMRS wins, Pennink finally conquered the half mile oval.

“I have to thank these guys on the #25 team. They gave me a great car tonight”, stated Pennink in Victory Lane. “There are a lot of new guys on our team and they are stepping right up to the plate and getting it done. To give me a car like that, they did an awesome job!”

The only caution of the night occurred on lap 60 when Anthony Nocella and Dave Schneider were racing hard for the same position. They made contact, spun and were both able to pull away from the incident. On the restart Pitkat’s car was just not as tuned in as it was before. Coming off of turn four, Pennink was able to run high and then complete a slow slingshot under him to pass for the lead. Once by, the race was Pennink’s as he advanced his lead to go forward and win. “I knew when I was able to hang on the outside of Woody and I would probably have something for him.” Pennink expressed about his plan. “So I figured I would try that crossover which I did not think was going to work that good. I just checked up and crossed him right over. I had an amazing bite right off the corner and I was able to drive right off and away from him. I was able to get about five car lengths lead and I was then able to stay there and finish out the race. In the end I guess the cross over worked out real good!”
“That was the first win in a long time for that #25 car. It is awesome to get back into victory lane with the #25 car especially here at Stafford. We have had a lot of good runs here at Stafford, but we could not just close the deal off. Tonight we had the car to do it and we got it done. Not only is it my first win at Stafford in the VMRS but it is also my first win in a tour type modified here as well. I am finally happy to get that one under my belt.” So the #25 Roscoe Racing Casella owned modified team broke their loosing streak and have shown they will be a contender to reckon with in 2016 race season.

Woody Pitkat from Stafford Springs, won his heat race and started on the outside pole. He hung back in second position until lap 4 when he made his pass under Pennink for the lead. There was a lot of action in the top five with the swapping of positions behind Pitkat especially after the half-way mark. Pitkat just kept his eyes on the rear view mirror and continued to maintain his position until the caution on lap 60 broke his momentum. After the yellow, Pitkat’s car was not as good and Pennink passed under him for the lead coming out of turn four. “It was tough out there leading trying to set my own pace”, admitted Pitkat. ”Knowing when to go hard and when not to. I tried to save something until the end in case there was a late caution like that.”

Running at his home track, Pitkat was ready to seal the deal with an 80 green laps of racing. But the late race caution was not part of his strategy and with it he quickly saw his winning plan crumble. “After the caution when we went back green, we had a left front wheel hop pretty bad and it did not clear out until about 15 laps into that last run. And by then Rowan was checked out.”

“So I just have to say congratulations to them. I have to thank my guys. We were a lot better tonight then when we started the race season at Monadnock so to come out of here with a podium finish I just have to thank my crew and sponsors. The car is in one piece and we can work on it for next weekend. It was a good rebound from the SK race.” Earlier in the evening Pitkat participated in a 40 lap SK Modified feature race. He was involved in wreck that prematurely ended his night only 10 laps into the race. A podium second place finish in the VMRS race definitely was a great rebound for the driver.

Keith Rocco of Berlin, CT., began the feature in fifth and quickly was up in the second position. He ran competitively there holding off advances from the rear while trying to pass for the lead. But his equipment was a little spent and he was a little too short in the end to maintain his second position or pass Pitkat for the lead. “This is a different type of racing you have to save a little bit to the end. And I did not save enough.” Rocco stated from his third place slot in victory lane.

This was Rocco’s first run with the VMRS series this year and his goal was to take the win at one of his Ct. based home tracks. But in the end, his pulled off a third place and brought his car home in one piece. “We would have liked to win but it is what it is. I have to thank everybody on the team and our sponsors. The car started off really and just got a little tight at the end. We did not have quite enough for Pennink but it was a great night.” So in the end it was really not a bad night at all for Rocco.

Dave Etheridge had a strong run finishing fourth and Mike Willis, Jr. took home fifth.

Pennink left the track after having a sweeping night taking home two modified wins “It was good to win the SK Modified race and then follow it up with a win in the MRS. I could not have done though without two awesome cars and teams. They out two great cars underneath me.”

With the second VMRS race checked off the schedule, the VMRS teams will head back to the shop and prepare their strategies and equipment for their first visit to Speedway 51 (formerly Riverside Speedway), Groveton, NH on Saturday May 28th.

Notes from Stafford Motor Speedway:

Earlier in the evening, Rowan Pennink and Ryan Preece were in a battle for the SK Modified feature win. Then swapped the lead a few times until Pennink was the victor. This was the second SK Modified win in a row for Pennink after his Spring Sizzler victory.

Rowan Pennink
“I knew we had a good car and he caught me coming from the back. But it always seems like there is a little bit of a draft coming down the back with those SKs here and I think that is the reason that he caught me and I think that is the reason that I got right back by him too. We both had good cars and luckily I was able to hold him off.”

Chris Pasteryak
After winning the first 2016 Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) race at Monadnock Speedway, Chris Pasteryak selected to sit the race out and support his father Charlie Pasteryak. Charlie finished Stafford with a solid seventh.
Chris plans to run the inaugural Modified Touring Series (MTS) 200 lap race at Monadnock Speedway on Saturday, May21st.
Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
: May 21, 2016

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