Claremont Speedway, Claremont NH 7.7.2017
Sometimes they say it’s better to be lucky than good. In Russ Hersey’s case sometimes its good to be both. The Swanzey NH pilot started with an ill running race car early in the day and after the crew did their magic, Hersey turned it into a Valenti Modified Racing Series victory at the 1/3 mile speedway.
An electrical problem that plagued the team relegated Hersey to a last place starting position after missing his qualifying round. Even after repairs were made and Hersey was granted hot laps, more adjustments were needed and Hersey was on his way to his first VMRS win of 2017. Racing his way into third place by lap 36 Hersey trailed race leader young Dylan Rock of Enfield NH and younger Sammy Rameau of Westminster MA. Rock and Rameau waged war for the lead for thirty laps until Rameau dove hard into the third turn and tapped Rock’s rear bumper. That’s all it took for Rock to spin from the lead. Under yellow Rock had to restart in the rear and Rameau was put back for causing the altercation. Now Hersey became the new race leader and had nothing but clean air in front of him.
“I cant thank the guys enough, it’s been a hell of a week, they put in a lot of hours and we really weren’t that good early. We chased a wiring issue that kept us out of the heat race and didn’t get much practice. Just to get the twelve laps in to get the tires on equal footing with everyone else I could tell the car was not to my liking. When we came in and made a few adjustments it really started to rock and roll and I tried to be easy on the gas and made big circles. It seemed like the easier I went the bigger lead I got. The car was great.” Hersey added, “I have a ton of laps here and some wins so it was like the home track advantage, plus everybody gave me plenty of room. I couldn’t be any happier for the.first time out of the box, so now I hope we can carry some momentum forward.”
Hersey wasn’t the only one starting deep in the field. Dana Smith of Sunapee NH missed his schedule weigh in at the scales because of a steering issue and had to start dead last on the grid, which turned out to be to his liking. Smith did an impressive job working his way to the front finding himself in 4th place by the halfway mark, then with three laps to go he caught and passed a fading Anthony Nocella of Woburn MA. By that time Hersey had checked out on the field and was leading by a 1/4 lap. Smith was jubilant with runner up position.
“I had a lot of fun . I had to start from the back because we found something wrong with the steering and while working on it I missed my time to go across the scales and it was more important to get the car right. Actually it was fun starting from the back, we got to pass some cars. I was trying to follow Russ (Hersey) and (Anthony) Nocella up through, I figured they’re good people to follow, they know how to save their tires. I got hung up on the outside and loss sight of them so I had to make up a bunch of ground. By the time I got back to them I used up my right rear tire. Everybody ran me real clean, whenever I stuck my nose in they gave me plenty of room. It was great.”
It seemed to be a hard days work for all the top runners and Nocella was no different. In his heat race as he started to heat his tires he broke a pinion shaft in the rear of his racer and after a loaner rear end from Mike Willis and some quick work by the Nocella and Willis crews, Nocella joined the feature at the back of the pack and in Nocella fashion drove his way forward working his way to race leader Hersey’s rear bumper by lap 60. But with a handful of laps left Nocella lost a cylinder and faded back to third place where he finished the 100 lap grind.
Heat winners were #83 Mike Willis Jr.and #25 Brian Robie
Track–Claremont Speedway, Claremont,N.H. 1/3/ mile
Lap Leaders–(3)–#83–laps 1–7, #47–8–38, #88–39–100
4—83-Mike Willis Jr.
Next VMRS event- Lee USA Speedway, Lee,N.H. July 21,2017
by James Snape
photos by Crystal Snape