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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series


McKennedy Leads in 2016 VMRS Points and Series Wins
by Denise DuPont

On Saturday, July 2nd, the Valenti Modified Racing Series returned back to Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH, for the second time in 2016 to compete at the high banked ¼ mile track. Fourth of July weekend has become a tradition for the track as they celebrate the country’s independence with fireworks and modified racing. And as usual, the modifieds made the last ten laps as spectacular and exciting as it was to watch as the fireworks.

Jon McKennedy from Chelmsford, MA., started the feature race seventh. He did not stay there long though as McKennedy was positioned in the top five before there were five circuits in the books. He continued to run with the lead pack for about 60 laps and then it was time for his move and forward he went.

With 15 laps to go, he pulled into second and put into motion a plan to challenge for the lead. After a few cautions and only two laps to go, McKennedy tried his first attempt at a slingshot under Hersey for the lead. “I had a decent run but I do not feel that I had enough up on him. I did not want to send it (#29 modified) in and end up wrecking both of us. I wanted to make sure if I was going to pass that I had enough speed and my angle was good getting into the corner.”

So McKennedy backed off, regrouped and on lap 100 showed what champions are made of. “On the last lap, I was able to do all of the above,” stated McKennedy. “I had the car on the right angle on the corner and had a good run of steam so I was able to keep the car low down on the apron there and make a good hard clean pass. It is great to win again at Monadnock.”” Crossing the finish line a slight margin ahead of Hersey, he secured the victory while fans jumped to their feet so they did not miss any of the racing action.

Russ Hersey of Swanzey, NH, had a great run at Monadnock. He took the lead on lap 22 and restart after restart, the top spot was his. It appeared he had the victory sown up until two late race cautions occurred. When you have only nine laps to go at Monadnock and you are running for a victory, it seems like an eternity even to the winner. The last thing you want to see is a late race caution flag to fly to stop your forward momentum.

Hersey must have felt it was history repeating itself when McKennedy moved into second hungry for another win. During the race, Hersey held off several driver’s attempts to pass him for the top position and he took a toll on his equipment as he defended his territory. “It is easy to second guess,” divulged Hersey after the race. “We had a good run up in Groveton which was similar to this – high bank quarter mile stuff. We got out in front early which I am finding is the safest place to judge things. You are not at somebody else’s mercy most of the time. So I got out there and I was not trying to use my stuff up.”

“We finally got some long green flag runs which was pretty good.” The race ran green starting on lap 38 for 58 green laps of racing before the yellow flag flew. “I had a straightway on the field with ten to go. I was feeling really good. I said we can do this but we do not need any cautions and what typically happens in these races happened – then ten cautions in the last ten laps.” It may have feel like ten cautions and forever to get to the checkered flags for Hersey. But in reality there were only two late race cautions which were enough for McKennedy to get under him for the win.

With his right rear going fast Hersey went into defense mode to protect his lead. “We used some stuff up trying to hold people off. Then Jon is an awesome talent and great racer. We have worked together a lot. I knew he was going to cross me over and I tried to defend against it. I knew he was going to cross me over but there was nothing I could do there. Maybe I slowed up too much trying to defend my position. We had a good run down the back stretch and we went down in turn three and then turn four. We dragged race to the line and he just beat me. I know that I got sideways at the end but it was a great night and we are making progress with the car. I am really happy.” Hersey stated about his solid second place finish.

Richmond, NH’s, Todd Patnode won his heat race and started on the outside pole. He has a new car and his crew is still working on the race setups to get Patnode where he wants to be. But the team has to be close since he was able to use cautions to his advantage and jump from fifth to third in the last nine laps. “It was a good overall race. We are gaining on things. We are trying new things on the track. Dennis is helping us out and he is working real hard. I think that we have a clutch that is slipping,” revealed Patnode while in inspection. “It started slipping about half-way in the race and I had to really ease into the throttle or it would just wind up and not go anywhere. That did not help us but we are happy with third and our car.”

Sitting in third position Patnode had a bird’s eye view of the action in front of him. He watched and was ready to make a move at any opportunity.” I was battling with Steve and I was up on the outside making my run so I did not see before the last lap what was happening in front of us. Then on the last lap, I was watching it but I just could not get there to fill the hole with him. Overall it was a good race and I hope that the fans enjoyed it. ”A podium finish was a good reward for #24 modified and their day’s work.”

Steve Masse of Bellingham, MA., came to Monadnock after sitting on the sidelines for several races. He charged forward from mid-pack and by lap 30 broke into the top five. “I am very happy,” exclaimed one very happy racer. “The car is in one piece. I would have like to have completed third. I had third locked up and the cautions kept coming out and I pretty much ran out of tire. I need to be a little smoother on the gas, but I will take it. The place finish is definitely good for this place so I will not complain.”

It has been quite a while since Masse has competed in the VMRS ranks and coming to the track he was a little nervous on his ability to jump right back in and compete in the VMRS series. “You definitely have the jitters when you have not done something in a little while. I was not totally comfortable. I burnt up the right rear too soon and that probably came from inexperience and I was being a little hard on the throttle coming off the corners. I would have liked to take that back a little bit but it will come.” So getting back in the driver’s seat Masse was enjoying it and satisfied with his run and he also knows he has some to tweak. “It was pretty much like riding a bicycle, once you get back on you do not forget. I have been driving these cars for a long time so it was pretty comfortable out there. I still have just a little bit of rust to knock off.”

Chris Pasteryak rounded off the top five finishers. Dave Schneider took home sixth followed by Geoff Gernhard, Matt Mead, Scott MacMichael and Jeff Pearl for the top ten.

VMRS teams will now head back to the shop and prepare their strategies and equipment for next Friday night racing under the lights Claremont Speedway, Friday, July 8th.

Notes from Monadnock Speedway:

On lap 98 you went forward setting into motion what appeared to be the pass for the lead. Why did you wait so long?

Jon McKennedy

“I was too tight on the center of the corner,” confessed McKennedy. “It took my car about four or five laps to get going and then it would start to get better. I could see that Russ was loose. I knew that it was just a matter of time in the corner that I could complete the pass.”
“Russ (Hersey) and I are pretty good friends. When it came down to him and I on the restarts it was a little tough. He had me going down in there high. I knew the last few laps I had to size him up. I went into turn one real high and I got a good arc across the corner. And then a good head of steam on the back straightway and I was able to complete the pass in turn three. It was not easy to do. There was a great effort by the whole team.”
“We had a real good car. Most of the race we road between third and fifth. We had a late caution with about ten to go. Russ had a good car but I could see that he was getting loose off. So I positioned myself for the crossover in turn one and two and I had a good run of steam on the straightway to complete the pass so it all worked out. “

2016 has been a good year, McKennedy has experienced a lot of success.

Jon McKennedy

“It has been a great year. Five wins out of ten races. With a few seconds and fourths it has been an outstanding year. It has been a total group effort with the car. We made a lot of changes over the winter. It has been great and hopefully we can keep running the wave while it lasts. In the future hopefully I get some opportunities down the road and maybe venture out on some other rides.”

Did you see Jon McKennedy positioning himself high for the crossover coming off of turn two on the last lap?

Russ Hersey

“No I did not see anything and my crew did not make me aware. All they said was Jon is right with you. Which I knew what he was going to do. Consistently he was running about a half a groove higher so I knew what he was going to do. I was defending the bottom so he could not root me out of the way. I said so if he is going high he is going to drive in lift early and cross over and that is what he did. There is not much more than what I am going to do other than drive on the white line and force him to go high. And he was going to go around me at that point because I could not get into the corner with any authority. He just had a better race car for the hundredth lap. And that is just the way that it falls once in a while.”

Masse took some time off from racing for family and life commitments and he is certainly going to be back racing when he can.

Steve Masse

“I have gotten the itch because I am back at the track. I am not racing for points so I want to take it one race at a time. I will not be going to Claremont. But I am planning on going to next Tri-Track race.”

Rumor had it that Steve Masse had sold all his race equipment and that he was not going to race any more. Obviously he had not or he would not be here on the track with the #13 modified.

Steve Masse

“I heard the same thing before. I did sell one of my cars two weeks ago – just the chassis. And I did hear the rumor before I sold the car. This car was up at Northeast for about six months so people may have thought Brad was going to keep it.” So a rumor it was and Masse will be back racing when he can.
Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
: July 3, 2016

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