PHOTO: Rowan Pennink and his Gary Casella-led team celebrate their Valenti Modified Racing Series win at Twin State Speedway. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)

–by T.J. Ingerson

CLAREMONT, N.H. — It’s becoming a rare sight to attend an asphalt Modified touring event and not see Rowan Pennink as a contender.

Pennink, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., has five top-ten finishes across the Valenti Modified Racing Series and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour including three straight second-place finishes in the latter. Pennink claimed his first win of the 2011 season in the Osgood Construction Memorial Day Weekend 100 at Twin State Speedway on Saturday.

Starting from the fourth position, Pennink worked his way into second by lap 30, then battled Chris Pasteryak for three consecutive restarts until taking claim of the lead after a lap 38 restart.

Pasteryak, of Jewett City, Conn., started on the pole but surrendered the lead to defending series champion Jon McKennedy. McKennedy, of East Chelmsford, Mass., led the first three laps before losing his lead spot to Pasteryak on a lap 4 restart. Pasteryak would lead until losing the lead to Pennink.

Pennink and Pasteryak would then battle again for the lead on two separate restarts on lap 78. Pennink’s restarts were aggressive, trying to get a jump on the second place car while forcing them up out of the groove.

“The restarts were [crucial],” said Pennink. “It was tough on the outside and tough on the inside. This place is good on the outside getting into turn 1. It was a tossup whether you wanted to be on the outside or the inside. We had a great car though.”

Pasteryak would hold onto the second position until the second lap 78 restart, when Todd Patnode was able to work inside of Pasteryak for the position. Patnode, of Richmond, N.H., was able to get to Pennink’s bumper, and inside once, but was too loose to make a challenge at Pennink.

The final restart on lap 87 allowed Patnode to make one final challenge, but Pennink, once again, was aggressive on the restart.

“He had us up too high,” said Patnode. “He had us in the third-and-a-half groove. I knew we weren’t going by there. He was the leader in the race and it was late, so I don’t blame him there.”
Pasteryak felt the same as Patnode regarding Pennink’s restarts.

“Oh yeah, he used me up,” said Pasteryak. “But if I had been in the lead I’d have used him up too.”

Patnode was able to hold onto the second position while Pasteryak finished third. Dwight Jarvis, of Ascutney, Vt., finished fourth and Ken Barry, of Preston, Conn., finished fifth.

Rounding out the unofficial top ten were Rob Goodenough, Les Hinckley, Aaron Fellows, Joe Doucette, and Kirk Alexander.

In some ways, it was the perfect gift Rowan Pennink could give to his car owner, Gary Casella.

“I’m happy for Gary and Kim, they just got married a couple days ago and this is a good present for them,” Pennink said.

The race was slowed by nine cautions, including two red flag periods. The first red flag was for a wreck involving Tim Jordan, Todd Annarummo, and Josh Sylvester on lap 28. Jordan’s car ended up stuck on the bank in turn 3 and needed to be removed via bucket loader.

Jack Bateman brought out the second red flag after making contact with Louie Mechalides and hitting the turn 3 wall head-on at lap 38. Bateman was uninjured in the incident and walked away from the car on his own. Mechalides was penalized for the incident, surrendering his position and forced to restart at the rear of the field.

Sean Bodreau was also involved in a big crash in qualifying action. Bodreau, of Claremont, N.H., made contact with Carl Pasteryak on a restart in heat one, with Bodreau’s car jumping over the right rear of Pasteryak’s. Bodreau’s car ended up on its right door, slamming the wall with the roof before becoming airborne and flipping over on its nose, landing on the left door, and finally coming to rest on all four wheels.

The impact of the incident caused the halo bar inside the car’s roll cage to be pushed down, but Bodreau was uninjured.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series returns to action on June 11th at Seekonk Speedway in Seekonk, Massachusetts.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Osgood Construction Memorial Day Weekend 100
Valenti Modified Racing Series — Twin State Speedway, Claremont, N.H.
Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pos.-(Start)-Driver-Hometown

1. (4) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.
2. (3) Todd Patnode, Richmond, N.H.
3. (1) Chris Pasteryak, Jewett City, Conn.
4. (8) Dwight Jarvis, Ascutney, Vt.
5. (6) Ken Barry, Preston, Conn.
6. (25) Rob Goodenough, Swanzey, N.H.
7. (18) Les Hinckley, Windsor Locks, Conn.
8. (23) Aaron Fellows, Croydon, N.H.
9. (21) Joe Doucette, Framingham, Mass.
10. (14) Kirk Alexander, Swanzey, N.H.
11. (24) Eddy Spiers, Beacon Falls, Conn.
12. (17) Jacob Dore, Sanford, Me.
13. (22) Carl Pasteryak, Lisbon, Conn.
14. (19) Josh Sylvester, Lebanon, Conn.
15. (5) Mike Holdgridge, Madison, Conn.
16. (16) Todd Annarummo, Swansea, Mass.
17. (13) Norm Wrenn, Nashua, N.H.
18. (2) Jon McKennedy, Chelmsford, Mass.
19. (7) Louie Mechalides, Tyngsboro, Mass.
20. (10) Mark McClay, Charlestown, N.H.
21. (11) Jim Boniface, West Swanzey, N.H.
22. (9) Jack Bateman, Canaan, N.H.
23. (15) Tim Jordan, Plainfield, Conn.
24. (12) Stephen Masse, Bellingham, Mass.
25. (20) Max Zachem, Preston, Conn.