WATERFORD – Earlier this season Steve Masse put a message out through social media that had many wondering if the 26-year old was ready for retirement from the rigors of Modified racing.
Masse posted on Facebook that he didn’t feel like racing anymore.
“I just didn’t feel like going to the races,” Masse said. “I didn’t feel like competing. I just kind of took a break and did other things for a little bit. I’ve been playing a lot of golf and I suck at it, so it’s been fun trying to get better at it. … I pretty much had no drive. No reason to come [to the track.].”
The Bellingham, Mass. driver eventually made the decision to return to driving cars instead of golf balls and Thursday night at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl that decision led to the biggest payday of his racing career.
Masse won the NorthEast Race Cars & Parts Tri-Track Open Modified Series Ron Bouchard Memorial 100 Thursday at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. The event carried with it a $10,000 winner’s purse.
“This is my first open show race win ever,” Masse said. “My first big payday.”
Richard Savary of Canton, Mass. was second and Woody Pitkat of Stafford third.
Savary started on the pole and was the dominant force in the early going.
But on a lap 53 restart it was Pitkat moving to the front past Savary. The caution flew on lap 55 and on the ensuing restart it was Eric Berndt moving to second past Savary.
But two laps later Savary moved back by Berndt for second and quickly pulled back on Pitkat.
On lap 60 Savary went under Pitkat into turn one and came off turn two back at the front of the field.
Masse had pitted on lap 37 and worked his way back through the field. He moved past Pitkat for third on lap 71 and then got by Matt Hirschman for second on lap 83.
The caution flew on lap 89 and on the ensuing restart Masse was able to edge Savary at the line for the lead in a side-by-side battle and then clear Savary off of turn two on lap 90. From there he was never challenged again.
“I was giving it all I had to get to his back bumper before I got to line up on his outside,” Masse said. “His car was going pretty straight and I was getting nervous. His car was good. But after the restart it really started to give up.”
Said Savary: “We took a strategy of staying out because we started on the pole. So we didn’t pit for a tire, Steve did. That put him in a little better position. … It was good racing. We weren’t going to give up the track position. It was going to be too hard to come from the back. It just came down to too many yellows and he had a better right rear tire than I did. I’m really happy. Our car ran great. Nobody out here could have ran with us on the same tires.”