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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series


Being at the Front at the End is All that Matters
by Denise DuPont

Saturday June 4th the Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) headed to Seekonk Speedway for the “VMRS Seekonk 100”. The return of the modifieds to the “Cement Palace” brought with them some fast and exciting racing. Modified racing at Seekonk usually clicks off the laps fast, but this time a damp track made for a longer race, more caution laps and pitting.

Anthony Nocella of Woburn, MA won his heat race, started the race third, passed for the lead on lap 39 and went forward to win the VMRS Seekonk 100. This was Nocella’s first 2016VMRS win, third career victory in the series and doing it at his home track made for a special night.
“We had a decent car in practice. It was not perfect so we tried a few things for our heat and then we had a real good car. So we were able to start up towards the front,” explained Nocella. “We just tried to keep it straight the first couple of laps and let the leader lead a little and the race settle out some. Then I took a shot and ended up second on the restart.”

Nocella pulled into the second slot by lap 20 and settled in there as the race ran thirty-eight green laps on the tight oval. The first caution of the night occurred on lap 38 when Kyle James from Ashaway, RI spun the #8 modified around coming out of turn one. The stage was now set for a restart with Nocella on the outside of the then leader Dan Meservey from Brewster, MA. Nocella was strong on the outside and pulled by Meservey on the next circuit to be the new leader. “Usually I do not like to lead the race,” confessed Nocella. ”I just like to ride and save my tires but I figured if I could get him and set my car straight I could just race from there. And that was what we did the rest of the race – just keeping the car straight.

There were a lot more spins and cautions for the VMRS race teams than is normally seen at Seekonk Speedway. Whether the track was slick as it got cooler, the fog rolling in or the tire compound, nine cautions has to be close to, if not a record for the series at the “Cement Palace”. One yellow was thrown for a false restart where it appeared that Nocella jumped the start. “I messed up on one restart. I thought that the box started earlier and obviously it did not.” Stated Nocella. “So I figured that one out and after that it worried me some because you do not want to miss a shift or do something stupid. I have done that before here when I was leading. So I just kept the car straight and kept as much a distance from everyone as I could. Doing that I just hoped I had enough for everyone at the end.”

With sixty more circuits of racing to go, Nocella created a plan and stuck to his strategy to the end. “My crew gave me an almost perfect car. I thought if I could save some tire to the end I could make it work I would make it. The car was real good so I thought that I would ride and set my own pace. The car stayed pretty much perfect until they end. I was starting to worry about getting a few heat cycle on the tires after I saw a couple of guys pit and then saw McKennedy coming through the field. So I just worked to keep heat in them while keeping the car as straight as I could.” And his plan worked as he took the checked flags on lap 100 and captured the win.

All smiles in victory lane Nocella was rewarded for his effort. “I want to thank the folks that run the track. It is an awesome track and series.”
Jon McKennedy from Marshfield, MA ran a consistent race crossing the finish line second after passing Savary for the position with just 6 laps to go. But the night was not a smooth one for McKennedy. He started mid-pack and just after half-way started his charge to the front. The quest was interrupted when he was tapped from behind while racing hard for position. McKennedy would have to start at the back of the pack with the challenge of 39 laps and a field of cars to pass. McKennedy addressed the situation at hand. He pitted and came back though the field to do what he needed to do to get back up front and compete for the win. “It was just unfortunate. We had a really good car and we were running for the win. Half-way through the race I was up in the top five biting my time when I was run into and spun out. From there I had to pass the whole field again where I got up to second. I had a really good car but just not enough.”

With a second place notched in the books, McKennedy knew the race was done but he just had to reflect on the what-ifs. “I am just a little disappointed. I thought that we had a good enough car to win.” McKennedy expressed at race end. “We started mid-pack and drove all the way up to fourth or fifth and I was spun out on the front straightaway. I had to restart in the back and pass everyone all over again. I guess it was a good night. We passed about thirty race cars and ended up second so it was a decent night. It is just racing I guess.“

Richard Savary of canton, MA. also started the race mid-field and made his way into the top five just after half-way. He hung out with the lead pack lap after lap waiting for his turn to move. But his car was a tick off and a podium finish was his in the end.

“I am happy to be out here on the track with the front three cars.” Savary stated with a little bit of disappointment. “I thought that it was a pretty good race. We had the car a little bit too tight at the end so I just moved down and let the leaders do their thing on my outside. The car was real good at the end and still turning and I thought I could get the #92. I paced myself real well and when it was time to give it a little something, the car just would not turn as much as it needed to. I decided then I was not going to get into anybody. I was just going to try to run clean and keep it in one piece.”

Woody Pitkat finished fourth and Dave Schneider was fifth with one of his best finishes. Chase Dowling, Todd Patnode, Kyle James, Russ Hersey and Todd Ananrummo rounded off the top ten finishers for the VMRS Seekonk 100.

VMRS teams will return to racing on Saturday, June 18th for 100 laps of green racing at Oxford Plains Speedway, Oxford, ME.

Notes from Seekonk Speedway

Did you know that McKennedy was making his way through the field with his target set on you and the win?

Anthony Nocella

“My team was keeping track of McKennedy on the radio for me. I figured that he would be coming back up through the field once he pitted. But I just did what I could and tried to stay up front of him a little bit and make him at least work for it if he was going to get by us.”

This was Anthony Nocella’s third VMRS career win. Here is a summary of his thought s on that.

Anthony Nocella

“This was my second win at Seekonk Speedway with the series and my third win total. I got my first ever win with the series here. Tonight’s win felt really awesome. I use to run midgets here just to get us to the track. We ran here a lot and received a bunch of wins in them which makes me feel real comfortable coming here. And it seems like the car is always good here. And you have a lot more confidence when you come here and you run good, which definitely helps out. “

As the night went on fog started to roll in across the track. What are your thoughts driving a race in the fog?

Anthony Nocella

“The fog was OK to run in. I had to start cracking my shield though because it started to fog up as the air got a little heavy at the end. It was definitely interesting driving in the fog but not too bad to do”.

What are your next modified race plans?

Anthony Nocella

“We plan to go to the Tri-Tack race at Monadnock next weekend and hopefully if we are in one piece after that we are going to try to go to Oxford Plains Speedway with the MRS again. We are going to try to run at least five or six more races with the MRS series and then all the Tri-Track races. But you never know we could get going and do more if we keep going good.”

Jon McKennedy
“I am just picking a choosing races this year and running a little bit of everything in all series. We will see what happens as we go along.”
Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
: June 5, 2016

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