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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series



by Denise DuPont

The Valenti Modified Series (VMRS) returned to New London -Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday as part of the tracks ‘Wings and Wheels’ yearly event. A stout field of twenty-nine modifieds started the 100 lap feature event all running for the win.

History has proven that Waterford is a track where races are usually won or lost on the outside. Jon McKennedy of East Chelmsford, MA choose that top groove to make the pass for the lead with 28 laps to go. Charging forward from there, McKennedy took the checkers and crossed the line first to claim his fifth VMRS win this year. “The car was just working good and I knew I had to go where they weren’t. The car seemed real good up top and it just worked out. I want to thank all my sponsors and all the fans for coming out. It was a long hot day.”

After the initial green flag, there were 32 laps of green laps of racing as the circuits quickly clicked off. The front of the field had just started to lap cars when Russ Hersey of Swanzey, NH spun the #88 in turn three to bring out the first caution of the night. Several teams selected to bring their cars in for adjustments and after a brief caution the green flag flew.

Ted Christopher from Plainville, CT., started fifth and was in third by the time he cornered turn two. His car suddenly got real loose and he spun in front of a hard charging field of modifieds. The melee that followed was one for the record books as seventeen cars jammed into one another on the backstretch. It look like a real bad Friday night accident on the expressway as cars piled into one another. A few cars were able to pull away on their own while others waited for the hook to get towed.

Three time VMRS champion, McKennedy, was among those involved in the incident. He made the trip to the pits and rejoined the field around the top ten. “Teddy just got real loose, then over corrected and I was right there.” He said about what he saw happen. “It looked like my nerf bar took a lot of the blow. We had a wheel that was pretty bad and we had something in the rear end that was bent,” confessed McKennedy. “After pitting, it drove down the straight away a little funky but obviously it was still good enough car.”

The modifieds returned to racing after the long red flag stop. Green flag racing continued for almost 40 laps until the yellow flag flew for Anthony Nocella. His car stopped in turn one after is appeared to lose power. A second caution lap 70occurred when two cars made and spun in turn four (David Schneider and Sam Rameau).

After two consecutive cautions, Richard Savary from Canton, MA. made his way past Berlin, CT’s Keith Rocco to take over the top spot. “He gave me plenty of room and raced me clean. It is fun racing him. To be able to pass him on a restart that is pretty good.” Savary disclosed. “Keith is good at this track. I watched him in practice and on the track racing. He has the most wins here and he knows the track. He is the best of the best here.”

made a strong run on Savary’s outside to pass and take over the top position. “I guess we were the best of the rest. Jon was able to put on a tire with about 30 laps in and that makes a big difference in these cars. Tires make everything. So you have to ride and ride, as we were. He was just better at the end and went by. “I want to thank my sponsors here tonight who are also my crew.”

Woody Pitkat of Sturbridge, MA. won his heat race, started the 100 lap feature event on the pole and then led the field until the major accident on lap 32 stopped his forward momentum. Pitkat selected not to pit which was the same choice Rocco and Savary made. Staying on the track, Pitkat was stopped and checked out for a fluid leak. It was rumored that his was leaking power steering fluid. After a courtesy inspection check, Pitkat’s car was clean so he was allowed to return to the front of the field to take the green.

“I just tried not to give up,” Stated Pitkat about his podium finish. “We lost power steering about lap 25. I did not know if we should come in or try to ride it out. We knew if I came in there was nothing that could be done so we were better off just trying to let it drain off than rather trying to deal with it. So that was what I did. I tried to race everybody cleanly and give them as much room as I could—not to hit any wheels or lose it. “
Pitkat has slid down to ninth in points without a 2016 victory in the books. “Tonight we needed a good finish and to get back on the rebound because the guys on the crew have been working so hard.” The #52 team has a new modified this year and they are still working out the setup. “Hopefully we can build some momentum on this. This is a new car this year and we are trying to figure out what it likes. These guys never give up so I did not give up on them tonight.”

VMRS teams will return to their shops and prepare for their next race at Monadnock Speedway on Saturday, August 20th.

Notes from New London-Waterford Speedbowl:

This year you have had a lot of success, what would you say contributes to the top finishes?

Jon McKennedy

“A lot of work at the shop and taking advantage of every opportunity I get. I have a good crew and Eddie (Flemke) at Raceworks built me a new car last year. We changed a bunch of stuff on it. We added the Mike Petit engine. It is just the whole combination of things. With racing you need the whole thing to go your way and you need the whole package. This year things are going well for me. It has been a great year.”
Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
: August 7, 2016

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