Stafford Springs CT –. Rowan Pennink, of Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, took the lead on lap-56 from Portland Connecticut’s Dave Etheridge, and went on to win his first race of the season in the Valenti Modified Racing Series 80-lap race at Stafford Motor Speedway, Stafford, CT, Friday night. September 1.
The 2013 series champion scored his second VMRS win at Stafford, and his 11th career win moving to fifth on the all-time series win list.
Etheridge started on the pole when first heat winner Ted Christopher, of Plainville, CT, was forced to withdraw because of a motor problem.
The veteran driver led the main event until Pennink passed for the lead. They were the only race leaders in the 80-lap sprint.
“The guys gave me a really strong car under us tonight,” Pennink explained in victory lane. “ The last couple times we’ve been here (VMRS) we’ve had probably the same type of car we just haven’t had the luck to make it here to victory lane. Tonight we did. I’ve got to thank all the guys on the Gary Casella team and everybody that helps out. Awesome job.”
The race was slowed for the eighth time (caution flags) on lap-78 creating a green-white-checker finish. Keith Rocco, of Berlin, Connecticut, made a late race charge to finish (0.608) by Pennink.
Anthony Nocella, of Woburn, Massachusetts, fought a recurring steering pump problem throughout the afternoon practice session, started the race 17th then worked his way to the lead pack to finish third. Etheridge settled for fourth with veteran driver Jeff Malave, of Manchester, Connecticut, returning to racing after a 2-year absence because of health issues, made his first start count with a respectable fifth place finish after starting 15th in the 26-car field.
Jackson, New Jersey’s, 17-year old Blake Barney made an impressive showing in his Stafford debut mixing it up early on with the lead pack, and checkered sixth in his first VMRS start.
Donnie Lashua, Dan Meservey Jr, Matt Galko, and Mike Willis Jr, rounded out the top-ten.
Heat race winners: (1) Ted Christopher, (2) David Schneider, (3) Rowan Pennink.
The race was slowed eight times by caution flags for minor spins or incidents.
Stafford Motor Speedway
Stafford Springs Connecticut
Margin of Victory: 0.608
Average Speed: 40.920
Best Lap Time: 19.014 Pennink
Best Speed: 94.667 Pennink
Race Time: 59:28.469
Caution Laps: 25-30-34-55-55-55-56-78
Lap Leaders: Etheridge (1-56) Pennink (57-80)
Unofficial Order of Finish: (1) Pennink (2) K. Rocco (3) Nocella (4) Etheridge (5) Malave (6) Barney (7) Lashua (8) Meservey Jr (9) Galko (10) Willis (11) Trayner (12) Ricci (13) Savary (14) Gernhard (15) Fournier (16) Gallup (17) Mead (18) Molleur (19) Flannery (20) Rameau (21) Masse (22) Talman, (23) Richardi (24) Schneider (25) Medeiros (26) J. Rocco