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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series


Patnode Captures Win for Home Town Fans in of Honor Fellow Competitor
by Denise DuPont

The Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) returned to Monadnock Speedway on Saturday August 20th for the ‘Victor Johnson Memorial 100’ sponsored by Swanzey Oil Company. The annual race was established to honor a local racer who lost his life five years ago in a house fire. Teams also came together to pay tribute to legendary modified car owner Mario Fiore.

When the green flag flew, Russ Hersey of Swanzey, NH took the lead and it really looked like it was going to be smooth sailing for the local racer at his home track. The circuits clicked off quickly with Hersey dominating the field. He had a commanding lead when the first caution occurred on lap 67. The yellow was brought out when mid-pack competitors made contact. When the group  exited turn two, they spun to ignite what would be the first of many cautions for the night.

Cautions continued to generate on the same lap after each attempt of a restart. Then when it looked like we were out of the yellow flag mode, Hersey himself brought out a caution on lap 73. He had stopped on the high groove in turn four. Pulling to an abrupt stop, it appeared he may have broken something but he was able to pull away and pit. Hersey rejoined the race at the rear of the field and the race was underway. Todd Patnode from Richmond, NH, had who just made his way past Hersey for the top position so he led the field around for the green.

Then as the saying goes: “Cautions breed cautions”. The field went back to green and was soon under yellow. Steve Masse of Bellingham, Ma, had tried a move for the lead on the restart. As cars rounded turn two they were three wide, collected and spun.

The modified field went back to racing with the next caution ending point leader, Jon McKennedy’s night. Something broke and the #29 came to a stop just after the starter stand. McKennedy pulled into the infield under his own power and drivers went back racing without him in their ranks.
Hersey brought out two more cautions over the next fifteen laps. The second of the two on lap 81 finally ended his night. Hersey was towed into the infield with a broken rear end on the #88 modified.

Two laps later, the final caution of the night occurred on lap 83 when two hard chargers, Woody Pitkat and Scott MacMichaels, made contact and spun on the back stretch. A victim of the melee, David Schneider, sustained severe damage and was towed off the track. Pitkat and MacMichaels pitted on their own.

With only eleven of the original starters on the track the field went to green and completed the 100 lap feature event without incident. Patnode scored the win while Richard Savary from Canton, MA. crossed the finish line second followed by Donny Lashua of Canaan, NH who captured his best ever finish with a podium spot.

At the beginning it was a long green race and then it was as though the wheels came off. Patnode started the race in the top five and was settled in there as the green flagged laps continued. “At the beginning I was riding. I knew Russ was stretching it out because I could not see him anymore” Patnode said about the lead that Hersey commended in the first 60+ laps of racing. “I knew that we would end up with some type of caution eventually and then it would get real chaotic after that.” And yes turbulent it was. “I was even hit by one car that was trying to retaliate against another car while we were under caution.” Patnode stated. “This actually towed us in quite a bit and completely junked the right front wheel. The last 20 laps it just vibrated up and down. I was not pleased with the hit. I knew that guy he was trying to hit. But regardless, he hit us.”

Todd Patnode does know his way to victory at Monadnock Speedway. He has spent a lot of time there over the years. This though was only his second VMRS win and securing it finally ended his winless streak. “Trust me I want to win any race that we can. It has been a long time since I have won a tour race and this is only our second one. So winning feels good.”

This was a very special race running in honor of Victor Johnson. “Victor was a just a great all around guy and nobody will ever forget him so the race means quite a bit to us.” acknowledged Patnode. “The car was really good tonight. The guys did a lot of work on it and we have been getting more familiar with the Troyer car. I cannot say enough about my crew and sponsors.”

Richard Savary made his way from the rear of the field twice to secure a second place finish. At the end there were just enough green laps left to hold Savary where he would complete the race. “When I made my way to him for the second time,” confessed Savary,” I did not have enough to catch him. I felt like when I got to second the last time coming from nineteenth that I still had enough car to race him.”

Savary had a solid run and finish. He qualified off pace, won the consi event and started the race eighteenth and completed his run with a firm runner up position. “We had to come from the back, nineteenth, so we tried to be patient and take what the race gave us. The long run was a lot longer than I thought.” The initial green sustained for 67 laps of racing. “So I started going. The leader had gone all the way around and was on the same straight away. So we just started picking off cars one at a time while I bit my time. We got to the front and I was turned around. I had to go to the back and start over. I did not think that we would make it but we pitted, made some adjustments and the car came in. The crew did their job tonight. They gave me a great car to drive back to the front. I could not be happier for them. This being a special race -if I could not have won tonight’s race-- he (Todd Patnode) would be my first choice tonight. I am glad that he won the race because I know it means a lot to him and his family”.

Donny Lashua had his best finish with the VMRS series with a third. “It is the best finish that I have currently. I drove for Jack Bateman a long time ago and we had one better finish, but this tops it right here with all the guys we are racing against.”

Lashua had been collected up in a late race caution and fell back in the field. He made his way back to the front passing on the outside to get back in a podium position. “At that point I was getting real loose. The right rear was going away so I added some right brake into it. I felt bad when Chris (Pasteryak) and I got together there. He caught my tire and turned me. I tried to stay off of him to allow me to get by me but I could not. So I apologize to him. We both had pretty good cars right then and it would have been good to have stayed right up there and see what we had at the end rather than having to come back from the back. “

Mike Willis Jr, and Chris Pasteryak rounded off the top five followed by Matt Mead, Branden Dion, George Sherman, Joe Doucette and Colbey Fournier to culminate the top ten finishers.

The VMRS will head to Oxford Plains Speedway for another 100 laps of short track racing next Saturday, August 28th.

Notes from Monadnock Speedway:

What went through your mind when you rounded turn two to come face to face with Hersey, a sitting target on the backstretch?

Todd Patnode
“It is really dark back there, darker than what I thought now that I have seen a car stopped there. I really did not see him (Hersey) until I was half-way down the straight away because there were no lights on. I am just glad nobody hit him because that would have been horrific. I was really surprised on how hard it is to see on that particular part of the track.”

What are your thoughts on tonight’s race?

Richard Savary
I am happy for our guys to come through the adversity of coming through the field and get taken out. And coming through the field again was pretty cool. The car was that strong, plus we also had to run the consi which meant I had fifteen more laps on my tires than any of the cars that were running up front at the end of the race. That says a lot about our guys and the car that they gave me. We pitted they made some adjustments and I came out again. And to be honest I was surprised on the last five laps when I went to the outside and the car stuck. I thought being in fourth at race end would be great after coming from the rear. So I said we have nothing to lose, let’s seal it in. So I went (on the outside) and it stuck again and the next I know we were in second.”

Did you see that Patnode may have sustained a bent wheel on the last caution?

Richard Savary
“I saw that incident where somebody was upset with him and saw them make a swerve at them. I did not know if he (Patnode) sustained damage. He obviously had a good car because he was able to pull away from everyone else”.
Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
: August 21, 2016

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