Rowan Pennink Sets Sight On VMRS 80 At Stafford Speedway

(Press Release from Stafford Motor Speedway)

Rowan Pennink celebrates victory in the 2016 NAPA SK 5K at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Stafford Speedway/Driscoll MotorSports Photography)

When the Valenti Modified Racing Series descends upon Stafford Motor Speedway next Friday, May 18 for the VMRS 80, Rowan Pennink will be looking to continue his red hot start to the season. Pennink, the 2013 VMRS Champion, opened the season with a win at Thompson and most recently a VMRS win at Waterford, making him 2 for 3 thus far in 2018 behind the wheel of Gary Casella’s #25 machine.

“You never expect to run like we have but you hope you can,” said Pennink. “We’ve had a really good car at all 3 races so far. Unfortunately at Monadnock we broke a heim joint and we weren’t able to finish the race. All of the guys on the 25 team have been doing a great job bringing a fast car to every race and that makes my job a whole lot easier to drive a fast car. We won last September at Stafford and we won the last race of the season at Waterford in the MTS with the 25 car. If they can bring a car like that to Stafford for me, I think we can have a pretty good Friday night.”

If Pennink is to continue his winning ways, he will have to do so from the back of the pack at Stafford. VMRS rules state that the most recent feature winner will start in the last qualified position for the feature if the driver finishes in a qualified position following his or her heat race, no further back than 18th. But that fact doesn’t seem to faze Pennink at all as he is confident he can race his way to the front no matter where he starts.

“I actually don’t mind starting at the back, that gives me a chance to run my own race and do my own thing,” said Pennink. “We’ll run at our own pace during the race and try to save as much tire as we can in the heat race. Knowing that we’re starting in the back, we might try a little different strategy throughout the race and it should be fun. There’s really no point to finishing any higher in the heat than we have to since we’re starting in the back. Every time Gary’s team brings the 25 to Stafford, we seem to have a chance to win the race. It hasn’t always worked out that way, we’ve had some rear end failures that have taken us out of race, but if not for that it seems like we’ve always had a chance at winning and hopefully we can do that again.”

In addition to the VMRS 80 next Friday night and the Lincoln Tech 80, scheduled for August 31 at Stafford, Pennink and the #25 team will be coming to Stafford for the June 8 and July 13 Open Modified 80 shows.

“We’re planning on running the 25 car at those 2 open shows,” said Pennink. “Any chance we get to run a Tour style modified at Stafford we will. I’m sure they’re going to be 2 great shows.”

Along with his duties behind the wheel of the #25, Pennink will be looking to add his first SK Modified® feature win of the 2018 season. Pennink opened the 2018 season with a 6th place finish in the NAPA Spring Sizzler® feature and he finished 5th in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature last Friday night to currently occupy a 3-way tie with Matt Galko and Michael Gervais, Jr. for third place in the SK Modified® standings.

“We had an issue with the engine at the Sizzler and we got that figured out for last Friday night, we just didn’t have the handling quite where we needed it to be,” said Pennink. “We got the engine squared away and if we can get the handing worked out, hopefully we’ll be up front and contending for the win. Keith [Rocco] has been tough to keep up with so far, but things can change awful quickly at Stafford in the SK’s so we’ll see what happens.”

The Valenti Modified Racing Series will take to the track next Friday, May 18 with qualifying beginning at 6:15pm. Stafford’s five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions will also be in action. Tickets for this event are priced at $30.00 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seat tickets are $32.00 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Stafford Motor Speedway offers plenty of free parking along with overnight parking available for self contained Recreational Vehicles.

For the 28th consecutive season, the month of May is Youth Organization Month at Stafford. All children 14 & under are admitted FREE when wearing a youth organization team shirt or uniform. Children must be accompanied by a paying adult.

For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at


  1. Does anyone know why Brett Gonyaw was dq’d on Sunday?

  2. So the bowl is paying $3500 to win and they only draw 12 cars.. Stafford pays $1200 and they draw 23 cars. I don’t get it… this is why the sk payouts suck

  3. Joe Lajoie says

    Steve, Stafford SK’s are $1500 to win regular show plus $475 in contingencies.

  4. The payout is for the 80 lap race, that is not the regular 35 lap feature pay out.

  5. I understand that it’s 80 laps – the purse is getting bigger by the day – something special is going on at the bowl and everyone should embrace it…$300 bucks just added to the last three positions

  6. humphry says

    Something special going on at the bowl? Yea, nobody wants to race there because of what happened with the owner never mind being promised a point fund last year that never materialized. So what is there to embrace? Lets face it, the place is circling the 🚽 and I really don’t think throwing money at the problem is going to change anything.

  7. WeeklyRacer says

    Steve, something special going on at Stafford. The weekly total purse is almost 10k. The extra distance show has a purse over 30k. We all know you hate Stafford but hard to deny the $$$$$

  8. Stafford is my favorite track to race at and to watch as a fan. I don’t want Waterford to disappear and the people running the track now are working very hard to make sure it stays open. Competitors and local businesses are donating their hard earned money to make it work. If the car owners don’t support it then it fails. Look at the sk race at Seekonk a few years ago, 5k to win, 12 sk’s showed up- no more 5k shows at Seekonk… seems like the less money paid, less cars. Look at the open modified shows at stafford – great purse (should be the weekly purse for sk’s) I bet they don’t get more than 24 cars. There is a reason why stafford will be down to 20 sk’s soon- purse is not enough down the line

  9. humphry says

    Well Steve, look at the purse breakdown for the 80 lap Waterford race. Other than the top two spots look at it close and tell me how good it really is.

  10. 17k purse is good- no?

  11. Steve, you complained that the Stafford purse is not good enough down the line. How does the Waterford purse differ down the line? Are you telling me it is better? Please explain.

    Food for thought; I owned an SK at Stafford in 1995 and the feature paid $1,200 to win. In 23 years the winners purse has increased by $300. Is that an acceptable increase? Yes, no?

  12. Clearly no since the purse isn’t keeping up with inflation. But maybe yes since ticket prices aren’t either. Or yes looking at the crowd last week and in other less then ideal times that is meager at best.
    My question to humphry is this. In 1995 was it possible for a person that worked a decent job to mount a credible SK effort and race every Friday or Saturday with modest but typical sponsorship help. Is it possible now?

  13. WeeklyRacer says

    humphry, winners purse is 1950 with bonuses

  14. Are the contingencies guaranteed to each and every winner no matter what?

  15. WeeklyRacer says

    Yes, if you run a sticker, $450 contingency bonus guaranteed to the winner

  16. Ok thanks for the clarification. As you said “must” run the sticker. The guarantee is $1,500 and the rest is a bonus “if” you comply. So really the base guaranteed payoff has only technally increased by $300 since ‘95.

  17. WeeklyRacer says

    The track acquired the money from sponsors to pay the drivers. Its part of the purse, your logic makes no sense. Keith Rocco won $2250 week 1 and $1950 week 2. Thats the bottomline. Contingency program didnt exist in 1995.

  18. Below is the posted weekly purse directly from the SMS web site;

    SK Modified®
    1st $1,500.00
    2nd $900.00
    3rd $700.00
    4th $600.00
    5th $475.00
    6th $375.00
    7th $350.00
    8th $325.00
    9th $300.00
    10th $290.00
    11th $275.00
    12th $260.00
    13th $245.00
    14th $230.00
    15th $210.00
    16th $200.00
    17th $185.00
    18th $180.00
    19th $175.00
    20th $170.00
    21st $160.00
    24th $150.00

    Total $8,560.00

    The bonus/contingency is not listed in the purse because it is not a guarantee. If it was it would be listed. My logic makes perfect sense my friend. A bonus/contingency is just that only however, if you comply with the rules. It is not a guarantee, what you see above is guaranteed. Bottom line $300 increase in the weekly guaranteed purse in 23 years and I don’t believe I need to further clarify my position on bonuses/contingencies regardless if they were not there in 1995.

  19. Joe Lajoie says

    humphry, also per the Stafford website, under General Rules:
    Contingency Sponsors are a valuable part of the SMS and NASCAR programs. Contingency stickers must be displayed for either product or monetary consideration. Each division will be notified as to what stickers are required to be eligible for contingency rewards. In particular, the decals must be mounted on the driver’s side of the car in such a manner that they are clearly visible in a photograph.

    Go to the Stafford results page and it shows the contingency winners every week underneath the regular results.

    When your car passes inspection at the start of the year, you get a decal pack. You find out what contingencies are in your division and you put on those decals. It’s pretty simple. It’s guaranteed money if you run the decal. You want to run a clean car with no decals, then you get no money. It’s all on you, the racer if you want the $$$ or not. It’s free money.

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