Valenti Modified Racing Series Heats Up the High Banks with the Firecracker 100
By Ryan Lawliss
Winchester, NH – Firecracker night brought the annual July 4th celebration at Monadnock Speedway. It saw the 2nd visit of the season for the Valenti Modified Racing Series with local fan favorite Todd Patnode of Swanzey, NH winning the Firecracker 100. Solomon Brow (#33vt) made it two in a row in the Super Stocks. While Matt Kimball (50x) made it two in a row too and 3rd on the season with his win in the Mini Stocks. Ben Byrne (#6) captured his 2nd Sportsman Modified win of the season. First time winners were Gordon Farnum (Lightning Stocks), Taylor Striebel (Young Guns), and Doug McLean (Thunder Stocks).
The first feature of the night was the Young Guns 15 lap feature. Taylor Striebel led the field to the green in her white and pink #57. Striebel took off in the lead at the drop of the green. Sammy Silva in the 28 made the pass for 2nd on lap 6. At the halfway point on lap 7 Striebel had a straightway lead on Silva and by lap 9 Silva made that lead disappear. Silva tried everything he could to get around Striebel but ran out of time. Striebel took the win followed by Silva in 2nd. Nate Wenzel used a lap 12 pass to take the 3rd spot. Striebel who had previously found success in kart racing was excited to finally get to victory lane!
Mini Stocks zipped out onto the track for their 25 lap feature event. Shelby Avery in the 8 and Cory Plummer in the 1 made up the front row that led the field to the green. Avery and Plummer headed into turn 1 side by side at the drop of the green. Avery took the top spot coming out of turn 2. Plummer held onto the 2nd spot until lap 4 when Matt Kimball made the pass on the low side. Lap 5 the caution flew for debris on the track. Avery and Kimball brought the field to the green on the restart. Kimball wasted no time as he used the restart to rocket out to the lead. On lap 7 Louis Maher in the 69z passed Avery for 2nd and Jaret Curtis in the 33 followed for 3rd. The 2nd caution off the race flew on lap 8 as Avery spun. Kimball and Maher now made up the front row. Kimball and Maher went into turn 1 side by side with Maher having a slight advantage but Kimball drove out of turn 2 with the lead. Caution on lap 14 as Avery spun for the 2nd time. On the restart Kimball used everything he had to make sure he shot off the restart line with the lead. Maher followed Kimball closely trying everything he could to get around Kimball and even at one point had pulled alongside him. Meanwhile Kevin McKnight in the 76 had control of the 3rd spot until he slowed on lap 17 coming out of turn 2 and Curtis was there to take full advantage of this situation. McKnight was able to get going and later we would learn that he was having steering issues. Lap 19 saw the last caution of the race fly for the 14 of Kevin Cormier spinning in turns 3 and 4. For the restart the field went single file with Kimball leading Maher and Curtis. Kimball held onto the lead for the win, Maher finished 2nd and Curtis finished 3rd. Kimball noted that he was hoping to have more green flag runs as he felt his car was better on the long runs; Kimball who as of July 1st is the current point leader in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Youth Achievement Award standings by 1 point.
Next of the track were the super exciting Super Stocks for their 25 lap feature. Nancy Muni-Ruot in the 96 and Justin Littlewood in the 37 brought the field to the green. Muni-Root took command of the lead early followed closely by the 44 of Dennis Stange and 33vt of Solomon Brow. Then on lap 6 the fireworks would start early as Tyler Leary in the 11x came out of nowhere to pass Stange, Brow and the 43 of Geoff Rollins to take the 2nd spot in one move. Things would settle down a lap later with the top 2 of Muni-Root, Leary and Brow. On Lap 9 Leary slipped by Muni-Root to take the lead and a lap later Brow used the same move to take 2nd. At the halfway point Leary held the top spot followed by Brow and Rollins. Leary had set his car on cruise control and set sail but Brow turned the afterburners on his 33vt and with 3 laps to go was knocking on Leary’s bumper and with 2 laps to go Brow opened the door on the inside and pulled alongside Leary. Brow took the lead coming out of turn 4 coming to the white flag. Brow took his 2nd win in a row, Leary settled for 2nd and Rollins finished 3rd. Brow noted how much fun that race was but was excited he was able to take from last week’s notebook as the car was to tight at the end of the race to apply it to this week because otherwise he wasn’t sure if he could have pulled off that move for the lead.
Lightning stocks rolled out next to electrify the crowd in their 20 lap feature. Gordon Farnum in the 46nh and Randal Phillips in the 19 would lead the field to the green. Farnum wasted no time taking the lead. Lap 3 say the caution flag fly for the 69 of Josh Carey and 16 of Chris Davis spinning. Farnum and Phillips made up the front row for the restart. Farnum resumed his control of the top spot but CJ Johnson in the 95 got around Phillips for the 2nd spot. On Lap 5 the caution flew again as Phillips and the 33 of Zach Lyn got together. Farnum had a new dancing partner for the restart in Johnson but Farnum had the same result as Farnum pulled away from the field at the drop of the green. Fred Rogers in the 129 used the restart to take the 2nd spot from Johnson. By halfway Farnum was a straightway from the rest of the field. The race was slowed by one more caution on lap 17 as Carey made contact with the wall. Farnum led the single file restart followed by Rogers and Johnson. Farnum held off the field for the win with Rogers finishing 2nd and Johnson finishing 3rd. Farnum was glad to get the win and thanked his girlfriend for allowing him to have long nights the past few weeks.
The Sportsman Modifieds roared onto the track next for 35 laps of ground pounding excitement. Eric LeClair in the 52 and Ben Byrne in the 6 led the field to the green. LeClair took the lead at the drop of the green. On Lap 2 Brian Chapin in the 44 made the pass of Byrne for 2nd. Lap 3 the caution came out for the 13 of JT Cloutier and the 27 of Mike Smith. LeClair resumed the lead on the restart and Byrne took back control of the 2nd spot. Byrne and Chapin would put on a show for the fans as from lap 9 till lap 14 they would trade the 2nd spot back and forth with Chapin briefly taking control of 2nd on lap 11 only to lose it completely on lap 14. Cloutier would spin again on lap 15 as the car appeared to just be a little on the loose side. Byrne tried to get past LeClair on the restart but LeClair wouldn’t give in and started to pull away with the lead. LeClair would lead until lap 21 when Byrne was able to get underneath LeClair going into turn 3 and drive out of turn 4 with the lead. On Lap 22 Chapin would take the 2nd spot from LeClair. On Lap 28 the caution came out for Geoff Rollins 02 machine as it appeared the motor expired. Byrne resumed the lead on the restart and LeClair used the restart to take back 2nd from Chapin. On lap 31 Brian Robie in the 25 took the 3rd spot from Chapin. Lap 32 saw the final caution of the race as the 98 spun coming out of turn 4. The final restart would be single file. Byrne lead the field the rest of the way to take the win. LeClair had his best finish of the season with a 2nd place finish and Robie finished 3rd. Byrne commented about how he had to really work for this one but was just a lot of fun!
Thunder stocks took to the track next for 25 laps of side by side action. Doug Mclean in the 21 and the 09 of Dan Comeau brought the field to the green but before a lap could be completed Randy Rameau in the 1x spun in turns 1 and 2. On the 2nd attempt the caution flew again before a lap could be completed for the 15 of Nathaniel Nunez spinning with contact from Rameau. The 3rd attempt at getting the feature under way would be a charm. Mclean took off in the lead with Comeau following closely. Chris Buffone in the 2 and the 88x of Chase Curtis battled for the 3rd spot. But by halfway the 9 of James Nowakowski had moved into the 3rd spot. Just after halfway Buffone used the outside groove to take the 3rd spot from Nowakowski but before Buffone could take anymore spots the caution flew on lap 14 for the 7x of Greg Williams. Under caution Buffone was shown the black flag for dumping water on the track. Buffone would get that fixed and return to the track in time for the restart. Mclean resumed the lead and Nowakowski and Comeau raced side by side for the 2nd spot. Nowakowski took control of the 2nd spot and Curtis raced his way around Comeau a lap later to take over 3rd. On lap 20 Curtis took control of the 2nd spot and a lap later looked to the outside of Mclean in an attempt to take the lead. Richard Vincent in the 4 took over 3rd on Lap 22 and on lap 23 got past Curtis for 2nd. Mclean captured his first Thunder Stock career win, Vincent finished 2nd and Curtis finished 3rd. Mclean was excited to get the win and noted only a few weeks ago he thought about selling the car as he couldn’t figure out the setup but was able to get a lot of great help to figure it out and he was happy he did!
The Valenti Modified Racing Series rolled out for their 100 lap feature to wrap up the racing action before the Fireworks. Russ Hersey in the 88 and Joel Monahan in the 03 lead the field to the green. Hersey lead early followed by Matt Mead in the 77 in 2nd and Woody Pikat in the 52 ran in 3rd. Hersey set a blistering pace early. Lap 38 would see the first caution of the race for debris on the track. Hersey resumed the lead on the restart but would be slowed on lap 40 when the 14 of Dana Smith slowed on the track. Hersey held off Mead on the restart. Pitkat used the restart to take 2nd from Mead. On lap 42 the field would be slowed by another caution as the 21 of Les Hinckley came to rest on the track with a flat tire. Another caution flew on lap 46 for the 12ma of Rob Richardi spinning on the front stretch. Hersey would feel the first challenge of the evening for the lead on the restart as Pitkat tried everything he could to wrestle the lead away but would be unsuccessful as Hersey held onto the top spot. Then on lap 51 Pitkat dove to the inside of Hersey to take the lead. At the same time the 24 of Todd Patnode made the pass for 3rd. Patnode had worked his way thru the field after starting 21st. On lap 56 Hersey took the lead back from Pitkat and 6 laps later Patnode took the 2nd spot from Pitkat. Lap 63 saw Patnode dive under Hersey to take the lead. Richard Savery in the 99 brought out a caution on lap 78 after making contact with the wall in Turn 2. Patnode motored back out into the lead on the restart but on lap 79 the caution was back out as numerous cars came to rest at the top of Turn 1 but the Pit Road access road. Patnode jumped back out to the lead on the restart and used the side by side racing action behind him to pull away to a sizeable lead. By lap 84 the top 3 was Patnode, Hersey, and the 92 of Anthony Nocella. Nocella worked his way thru the field after starting last in the field. On lap 85 Nocella used a crossover move to take 2nd from Hersey. Hersey received pressure from the 25 of Brian Robie on lap 87 but Hersey held on to 3rd. Patnode held on to take the win, Nocella finished 2nd and Hersey finished 3rd. After the race Patnode was asked if he was saving tires in the heat race to which responded that he got stuck behind a few cars and didn’t want to make it 3 wide. He also commented that he wasn’t worried about his starting spot at Monadnock (as he felt comfortable starting anywhere). Nocella passed the most cars after a really rough day. Nocella experienced transmission and clutch issues that cost him to miss all of practice and then when he went out he experienced motor issues. Nocella was extremely thankful for the hard work of all of his guys. Hersey was left a little disappointed with a 3rd place finish but noted after the struggle at the Spring Dash with setup he felt that it was a great building day and is looking forward to August. The Valenti Modified Racing Series returns to the High Banks of Monadnock Speedway on August 25th!
This weekend Monadnock Speedway will be hold racing on Saturday and Mudbogs on Sunday before the summer break. Saturday (July 14th), the track will hold the annual open track party where the fans can go trackside from 5:00PM to 5:45PM to meet the drivers and see their cars. Racing will follow featuring the Iron Mike Memorial Event for the NEMA and NEMA Lites along with all the speedway’s weekly divisions. On Sunday (July 15th), the track is back in action for the Summit Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Mudbog Mudslinger Event featuring Opens, Outlaws, Pros, Modifieds, 8-Cyliner and 4/6 Cylinder. Mud Starts flying at Noon.
For more information, log onto the speedway’s website at www.mondanockspeedway.com.
Sportsman Modifieds: Ben Byrne,Eric Leclair,Brian Robie,Brian Chapin,Keith Carzello,Joel Monahan,Matt Kimball,JT Cloutier,Kim Rivet,Alyssa Rivera,Mike Smith,Tyler Jarvenpaa,Geoff Rollins,Dana Smith,Mark Hayward
Super Stocks: Solomon Brow,Tyler Leary, Geoff Rollins, Dennis Stange, Justin Littlewood, Nancy Muni-Ruot, James Thompson, Cole Littlewood, Scott Beck
Mini Stocks: Matt Kimball, Louis Maher, Jaret Curtis, Kevin Mcknight, Tim Wenzel, Tim Paquette, Kevin Pittsinger, Pat Houle, Cory Plummer, Shelby Avery, Mike Radzuik, Kyle Robinson Newell, Ethan Marsh, Kevin Cormier, Darren Jacobs, David Elliott
Thunder Stocks: Doug Mclean, Richard Vincent, Chase Curtis, James Nowakowski, Bruce ClarkChris Buffone,Craig Chaffee, Ed Lofland, Nathaniel Nunez, Dan Comeau, Ben Williams, Michelle Leh, Randy Rameau, Greg Williams, Hillary Renaud
Lightning Stocks: Gordon Farnum, Fred Rogers, CJ Johnson,Matt Gauffin, Chris Davis,Randall Phillips,Josh Carey,Zach Lynn
Young Guns: Taylor Striebel, Sammy Silva, Nathan Wenzel, Chris Phelps, Matt Lambert, Chloe Wright, Jake Puchalski
Photos courtesy of Emily Miller – Valenti Modified Racing Series Winner: #24 Todd Patnode (Swanzey, NH) and Sportsman Modified Winner: #6 Ben Byrne (Greenfield, Ma)