STAFFORD – In 2015 Rowan Pennink began the run to his first NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified championship at Stafford Motor Speedway by winning the season opening event for the division at the NAPA Spring Sizzler.
Sunday the Huntingdon Valley, Pa. driver was hoping the results of the day prove a predictor of a carbon copy championship season for his team.
Pennink scored his second consecutive NAPA Spring Sizzler SK Modified feature win Sunday at Stafford, rolling dominantly to the checkered in the 45-lap event.
“Everyone that works on this thing, they left right off where they did last year with it,” Pennink said. “It feels great to come back and win the Sizzler again for two years in a row.”
Woody Pitkat of Stafford was second and Jeremy Sorel of Westfield, Mass. third.
The victory had some extra significance for Pennink and his Bob Hitchcock and Kelly Iverson owned team. Longtime crew chief Jimmy Fuller left the team in the offseason and the organization transitioned to new crew chief Kevin Crowley in preparation for 2016.
“It feels really good,” Pennink said. “… He did an awesome job preparing this car. I can’t thank him enough. I’m so glad we could get him his first win in his first race here.”
Pennink had six victories in 22 events in 2015 on the way to his first championship at the track. He bested Ryan Preece by 10 points in the final standings last year.
Pennink started 12th in the field Sunday and was up to third by lap 13. On lap 15 he went by Eric Berndt for second and then began stalking leader Todd Owen.
Owen held off Pennink’s first run low for the lead on lap 19, but a lap later Pennink made the dive into turn three stick and came out of turn four with the lead.
From there, despite a litany of restarts, Pennink went virtually unchallenged at the front.
“There was a lot of restarts at the end,” Pennink said. “Woody and Jeremy had really good cars. The restarts were a little bit stressful. I wasn’t looking for any restarts, but there were quite a bit there at the end. I’m just glad we’re here in victory lane.”
Said Pitkat: “I haven’t had that good of success on Sizzler weekend with the [SK Modified] in the past couple years so I just can’t thank everybody enough.”
Sorel’s podium finish was a career best for the driver in his second year in the division. His best finish before Sunday in the division was seventh.
“We started the season off fresh, Sorel said. “We have a new car. I’ve got to thank [NorthEast Race Cars & Parts] for building the car. They do a great job. The car was amazing. … It just all came together. This is what we came here for. I’m just extremely glad it could have ended up like this.”