Defender: Rowan Pennink Ready For New Faces In Chase For Consecutive Modified Racing Titles

Rowan Pennink has gone from the chaser to the one being chased for 2014 on the Valenti Modified Racing Series.

Rowan Pennink celebrates his 2013 Valenti Modified Racing Series championship

Rowan Pennink celebrates his 2013 Valenti Modified Racing Series championship

Last year Pennink, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., brought team owner Gary Casella a long awaited first Valenti Modified Racing Series title.

Sunday at the Waterford Speedbowl, Pennink begins the chase for two in titles in a row in the Valenti Modifed Racing Series season opening Blastoff 100.

“I’m excited about the season,” Pennink said. “Gary’s got some new stuff going with the [team]. I know they’re building a new car, so we’ll have two cars for this year. I’m excited about that. I’m excited about the new competition entering the series with [Justin] Bonsginore and [Todd] Szegedy coming in. I’m looking forward to it. It should be a fun year.”

Pennink had two wins, 13 top-five’s and 15 top-10’s in 17 races last year on the way to his first series title. Tommy Barrett Jr. was a distant second in the standings, 79 points behind.

It marked a continued progression for Pennink, He started 17 of 19 events in 2010 and was sixth in the standings. In 2011 he ran 14 of the series’ 15 events and was third in the standings. In 2012 he ran all 15 events and finished second in the standings, 31 points behind series champion Jon McKennedy.

Last season Pennink has the series title clinched a race before the division’s season finale.

“Last year we kind of realized what it takes to really nail down a championship is finishing races and finishing with top-10’s and top-five’s every week,” Pennink said. “In 2012 it was the DNF’s that killed us. We had some motor issues that really hurt us in races that we went from just about winning to finishing almost last. That’s what really cost us. We got together with the engine builder and made some changes with the way the motors were and between that and staying out of trouble and winning a couple races, that’s what did it for us. It’s what we’re going to shoot for this season too.”

Pennink will see some new faces gunning to knock him off his thrown this year, with Justin Bonsignore and former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Todd Szegedy both making full-time runs with the division this year. Pennink and Bonsignore will both run both the Modified Racing Series and the Whelen Modified Tour full-time.

“It will be interesting to see what those new guys think about the series,” Pennink said. “A lot of people used to say ‘The MRS is not nearly as tough as the [Whelen Modified Tour].’ But, to me, it’s becoming almost as competitive as the Modified Tour and it will be fun to see how much more it brings with those guys there.”

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