PHOTO: Jon McKennedy had a dominating performance in his first race with Art Barry, leading all 100-laps and winning the Valenti Modified Racing Series Budweiser Blastoff 100. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)

–by T.J. Ingerson

WATERFORD, Conn. — Jon McKennedy is no stranger to Valenti Modified Series victory lane. The two-time series champion sits third all-time in series victories. However, his familiar No. 73 was missing from the Waterford Speedbowl for the opening race.

McKennedy was called to run the famous Art Barry machine after Art’s son, Ken, stepped aside due to a health issue. McKennedy showed he was not only an adequate driver, but a dominate driver, as the Carlisle, Mass., racer led wire-to-wire in the Budweiser Blastoff 100 to claim his 13th series victory.

“It wasn’t easy,” McKenndy said. “Sometimes winning from the front row is difficult. You don’t know how hard of a pace to set or how hard the guys are going behind you. There were points in the race where I was going harder than I wanted, but I wanted to keep the car out front.”

McKennedy’s dominating effort was not without challenges. McKennedy faced pressure on the race’s ten restarts, and from Rowan Pennink in the late stages of the race. Pennink was able to get to the bumper of McKennedy’s car, but was unable to make his move and eventually settled for second.

“I was a little faster than Jon, but he did a good job of holding his line and not slipping up,” Pennink, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., said. “He didn’t open any doors for me, and that’s the place where I was trying to get him.”

Norm Wrenn was able to avoid the early race wrecks, and then charged through the field to finish third. Wrenn, of Nashua, N.H., started last on the field after being required to take a provisional. Madison, Conn.’s Mike Holdridge stayed near the front the entire race and was rewarded with a fourth place finish. Dave Ethridge of Portland, Conn., completed the unofficial top five.

Charlie Pasteryak, Tommy Barrett, Jr., Doug Coby, and Les Hinckley finished sixth through ninth. Chris Pasteryak pitted out of the second position with 24-laps to go due to a spoiler issue. Pasteryak was able to rebound to finish tenth.

Legendary car owner Art Barry was thrilled with the result.

“I definitely enjoy working with Jon,” Barry said. “He’s incredibly good. It’s awesome. I’ve been doing this for quite awile, but he is one of my favorites”

McKennedy was just as thrilled with the result driving for legend Barry.

“It’s great. The big thing today was just having a solid run and build chemistry,” McKennedy said. “But to start the opening race with a win, I couldn’t ask for anything better. I’m really happy to drive this car. Art’s been in modified racing all his life and he has had some really great drivers. So when he called me, I was all for it. They put a lot of effort and dedication into racing. Let’s face it, he could have chosen a hundred other drivers out there. But for him to choose me, it feels pretty good.”

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Budweiser Blastoff 100
Valenti Modified Racing Series — Waterford Speedbowl, Waterford, Conn.
Sunday, April 1, 2012


1. (2) Jon McKennedy, Carlisle, Mass.
2. (19) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.
3. (26) Norm Wrenn, Nashua, N.H.
4. (9) Mike Holdridge, Madison, Conn.
5. (12) Dave Etheridge, Portland, Conn.
6. (14) Charlie Pasteryak, Lisbon, Conn.
7. (10) Tommy Barrett, Jr., Millis, Mass.
8. (16) Doug Coby, Middletown, Conn.
9. (25) Les Hinckley, Windsor Locks, Conn.
10. (5) Chris Pasteryak, Jewett City, Conn.
11. (23) Jeff Malave, Manchester, Conn.
12. (4) Louie Mechalides, Tyngsboro, Mass.
13. (6) Joe Doucette, Framingham, Mass.
14. (15) Dennis Charette, Southington, Conn.
15. (21) Mark Bakaj, Lebanon, Conn.
16. (7) Jim Boniface, Winchester, N.H.
17. (22) Mark McClay, Charlestown, N.H.
18. (13) Timmy Jordan, Plainfield, Conn.
19. (20) Max Zachem, Preston, Conn.
20. (8) Jack Bateman, Canaan, N.H.
21. (11) Todd Annarummo, Swansea, Mass.
22. (3) Anthony Nocella, Woburn, Mass.
23. (18) Steve Masse, Bellingham, Mass.
24. (1) Rob Goodenough, Swanzey, N.H.
25. (17) Dave Schneider, Northport, N.Y.
26. (24) Matt Mead, Richmond, N.H.