PHOTO: Rowan Pennink claimed his second victory of the 2011 Valenti Modified Racing Series season by winning the Oktoberfest 100 at Lee USA Speedway. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM Photo)

— by T.J. Ingerson

LEE, N.H. — The second half of the 2011 racing season had been a disappointing one for Rowan Pennink. The Huntingdon Valley, Penn., driver slid out of contention in the Valenti Modified Racing Series after a disappointing finish at the Canaan Fair Speedway at the midway point of the season. Pennink struggled for consistency. Pennink posted two top five finishes over the next seven race, but three finishes outside the top ten.

Pennink, however, ended his season the way he wanted, winning the Valenti Modified Racing Series Oktoberfest 100 at Lee USA Speedway on Sunday.

“It feels great,” said Pennink. “Everyone on this No. 25 team did an awesome job. We normally don’t run well here at Lee, but this thing was unstoppable today. I have to give them all the credit. Hopefully next year, we can get rid of those bad races and come here with a shot at the championship.”

Pennink started in the ninth position and used patience over the first half of the race, creeping his way into the top five by lap 25, and then worked his way into the third position by lap 30. Pennink used a great restart by early race leader Les Hinckley to move into the second position, where he rode for the next 30 laps on the bumper of Hinckley, when Hinckley started to fade and lose the handling of the race car.

Pennink worked inside Hinckley on lap 61 and took the position with relative ease as Hinckley let him by, giving Pennink the lead on lap 62. Pennink held on during a lap 82 restart, cruising to his second victory of the season.

“Keeping the tires under it is definitely the name of the game here,” Pennink explained. “I went about the same pace the whole race, going pretty easy. I just was able to have a car that was consistent to run that pace. It kept up the whole pace and never slowed down. I knew it would be tough to pass Les [Hinckley] on the outside, and I knew if we had a restart I wouldn’t have been able to pass him.”

Hinckley, who entered the event 28-points behind Chris Pasteryak for the championship, settled for a disappointing second place finish. Pasteryak’s ninth place finish was enough to crown him 2011 Valenti Modified Racing Series Champion.

“It sucks,” said a disappointed Hinckley. “We were second in the race and second in the points. It may not be the nicest thing to say, but it sucks. It’s hard to be happy. The guys did a good job and we had a good year, but one race killed us. But that’s why it’s racing, there’s not much you can do about it.”

Norm Wrenn, of Nashua, N.H., tied his career best finish with a third place finish after starting 14th. Swanzey, N.H.’s Rob Goodenough was fourth after using a provisional to qualify and started in the 22nd position. Matt Hirschman, of North Hampton, Penn., also worked his way from a deep starting position, finishing fifth from 19th.

Jimmy Kuhn, Jr., former series champion Dwight Jarvis, and Max Zachem finished sixth, seventh, and eighth respectively. Pasteryak was ninth and claimed the 2011 series championship. Ken Barry completed the unofficial top ten.

Pasteryak, of Jewitt City, Conn., capped off an impressive season where he never finished outside the top ten. Pasteryak was able to win three times and had nine top five finishes over the 15-race season.

“It’s great. I don’t think I really appreciated how much work it was when we won the first championship in 2008,” said Pasteryak. “It really hasn’t sunken in yet. It’s really, really cool. It’s a lot of work, and to end up here, it’s great. Love it.”

Pasteryak noted that his 2011 season was filled with a lot of luck, and pointed to that when commenting on that he hadn’t finished outside the top ten.

“A lot of luck. That’s all it is,” Pasteryak said. “Les [Hinckley] had a great year. He would have been a champion any other year, or if I had one bad race. But we didn’t, and we’ll enjoy it.”

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Oktoberfest 100
Valenti Modified Racing Series — Lee USA Speedway, Lee, N.H.
Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pos.-Driver-Hometown

1. (9) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, Penn.
2. (3) Les Hinckley, Windsor Locks, Conn.
3. (14) Norm Wrenn, Nashua, N.H.
4. (22) Rob Goodenough, Swanzey, N.H.
5. (19) Matt Hirschman, North Hampton, Penn.
6. (11) Jimmy Kuhn, Jr., Bridgewater, Mass.
7. (10) Dwight Jarvis, Ascutney, Vt.
8. (15) Max Zachem, Preston, Conn.
9. (13) Chris Pasteryak, Jewett City, Conn.
10. (5) Ken Barry, Preston, Conn.
11. (18) Mike Holdridge, Madison, Conn.
12. (24) Andy Seuss, Hampstead, N.H.
13. (6) Richard Savary, Canton, Mass.
14. (7) Louie Mechalides, Tyngsboro, Mass.
15. (2) Joe Doucette, Framingham, Mass.
16. (12) Joey Jarvis, Ascutney, Vt.
17. (23) Jacob Dore, Sanford, Maine
18. (8) Jimmy Dolan, Bethel, Conn.
19. (16) Donnie Lashua, Canaan, N.H.
20. (21) Aaron Fellows, Croydon, N.H.
21. (20) Steve Masse, Bellingham, Mass.
22. (4) Tim Jordan, Plainfield, Conn.
23. (17) Patrick Emerling, Orchard Park, N.Y.
24. (1) Jon McKennedy, Chemsford, Mass.