Steve Masse Wins Valenti Mod Series Event At Beech Ridge; Rowan Pennink Grabs Series Points Lead

SCARBOROUGH, Me. – When Steve Masse won the Valenti Modified Racing Series season opening event at the Waterford Speedbowl on April 7 he said it gave him optimism about running for a championship in 2013.

Steve Masse

Steve Masse

Troubles since that triumphant day put the championship hopes on hold and left Masse just searching for a way back to positives on the track.

That positive came in a big way Saturday at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Me. when Masse won the 100-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series feature.

It was the second victory of the season for Masse, of Bellingham, Mass. and his sixth career Valenti Modified Racing Series win.

“This is huge,” Masse said. “We just thrashed to put this car back together. We’ve been having a lot of bad luck. It’s nice to get a win once in a while.”

Anthony Nocella of Woburn, Mass. was second and Chris Pasteryak of Lisbon third. The event had one caution period and was completed in 31 minutes.

The race went caution-free for the first 63 laps with Masse leading every circuit of the green flag stretch. But it was Nocella who went past Masse for the lead on the lap 64 restart. Masse briefly fell to third before fighting back to the runner-up spot behind Nocella.

On lap 95 Masse made a diving move under Nocella for the lead, coming out of turn two back in front, a position he wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way.

“I was tight in the middle [of the corners] so if I got underneath him and got back in the gas the car wanted to push up the track,” Masse said. “I ran out of room when I was racing side-by-side with him so I knew I had to pretty much just drive it in past him to get by him.”

Said Nocella: “We tried to save as much as we could most of the race. That restart there, I was trying to drop in and ride. I knew Steve was going to be there and he was going to be tough. I couldn’t roll through center as good as I wanted and I knew he was coming and he had a good car down on the bottom. He just sailed it right it in there and I was just too snug to run him back down.”

Masse joins Tommy Barrett Jr . and Rowan Pennink as the only multi-time winners this year with the series. Each has two victories.

Pennink, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., used a fifth place finish to go past Barrett at the top of the standings. Barrett, of Millis, Mass., came into the event with a two point advantage over Pennink.

Saturday’s event mark the first in series history to award points for the top five finishers in the qualifying heats. Both Pennink and Barrett finished second in their respective heats to earn four points each.

But Barrett’s eighth place finish dropped him to four points behind Pennink in the standings.

Usual frontrunners Pennink, Barrett and Lou Mechalides ran near the rear of the 24-car field for the first 64 laps, waiting on a caution.

“We usually go, we choose a certain lap and if there’s no caution by that lap I just go,” Barrett said. “We reached that lap tonight at lap 50 and I started going a little bit. We finally got the caution we wanted but the car just wasn’t there tonight.”

Said Pennink: “We had a good car, it’s just playing that strategy game. I got caught behind a couple people racing side-by-side and it’s tough. It’s either pass them three wide or ride behind them. I didn’t really get the opportunity to go three wide and get by them so I had to wait until they straightened out, which cost me a bunch of laps. That’s the way these things work sometimes when you play the strategy like that.

“I guess this new heat race points deal, I wasn’t so fond of it, but it is what it is now I guess. We came out second in the heat, which got us some points, and a solid top-five in the race. Good day all in all.”

The Valenti Modified Racing Series returns to action Thursday at Thompson International Speedway and then Aug. 10 at the Waterford Speedbowl.

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