Plenty Of Motor: Ronnie Williams Uses Last Lap Pass To Win Valenti Mod Series Feature At NHMS

Ronnie Williams uncorks the champagne in celebration of his Valenti Modified Racing Series victory Sunday at the New England Short Track Showdown at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

LOUDON, N.H. – On Saturday Ronnie Williams and his Gary Casella owned Valenti Modified Racing Series endured a day of misery at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after blowing a motor in practice at the New England Short Track Showdown. 

Sunday with fresh motor under the hood it was Williams using horsepower off the final corner to grab the lead and score victory in the 50-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series feature at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. 

It was the second series victory of the season for Williams with the Casella team and the first for Williams at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. 

“It’s absolutely amazing,” said Williams, of Tolland. “To win on this premises. You see races here on TV, you see the guys who have won here, I mean it’s Loudon, there’s nothing better than that.” 

Anthony Nocella of Woburn, Mass. was second and Jeffrey Gallup of Agawam, Mass. third. 

Instead of throwing in the towel on Saturday, the Casella team headed back to the shop and put a new motor in for Sunday. 

“Because they had the car that we knew we were going to win with today, we went back to the shop to change the motor,” Williams said. “… We came back here today and got the job done.” 

Williams was in the mix with the leaders all day in an event that saw the type of mass lead swapping that Modified racing on the 1.058-mile oval has come to be known for. 

On a lap 41 restart it was Chase Dowling holding the lead with Gallup moving past Williams for second. 

With Gallup looking to overtake Dowling it was Williams using help from Nocella to go back and back for the lead again. On lap 42 Williams got back by Dowling for the lead off of turn four, but Dowling fought right back to the lead down the front straighaway. 

Caution flew again on lap 43. On the ensuing restart it was Dowling holding the lead and Nocella going from fifth to second. Two laps later Nocelle got under Dowling for the lead off of turn four. Dowling went back to the front on lap 46. On lap 47 it was Nocella going back to the lead with Williams following him to second. 

Williams got by Nocella for the lead on lap 48. On the final lap Nocella powered by Williams for the lead off of turn two. The pair came off of turn four with Williams riding the high line off the corner. In a side-by-side drag race to the checkered it was Williams edging Nocella for victory. 

“I got to [Nocella] and followed him through,” Williams said. “… I just went into the last turn, I knew he was going to dive it in there but I knew he was going to roll tight through the center. I though if I could just roll the top a little bit and he just gave me room, I knew the Pettit [Racing Engines] horsepower could get me the victory.” 

Said Nocella: “That was tough. I was getting a little tight. I was going to wait until the last straightaway to try to make a move. … I got a really great run on him there and [Dowling] was back a little bit so I figured I’d try to make the run then and try to make it stick and try to hold him off. Down the backstretch we were able to do that. I got just a little tight through the center [of turn three]. Drove it in a little deep. We had a shot to beat him up off the corner. 

“There was a little miscommunication with me and my spotter. He thought he had the run coming low. He started doing that but pulled back to the top. By the time I could get back to the top he was already too far in there to squeeze him and I would have wrecked both of us. I figured I’d give ourselves a shot and drag race him to the checkered and we just missed it by a couple feet. All in all a great run.” 

The race was marred by a long red flag period on lap 21 after a vicious wreck involving veterans Roy Seidell and Dave Etheridge. 

Seidell was running far behind the leaders and spun in turn two. Seidell was then hit flush to the driver’s side in the corner by Etheridge, who was running third at the time of the accident. 

Emergency crews had to cut Seidell out of the car and he was transported to a local hospital. A source close to the Valenti Modified Racing Series said late Sunday that was Seidell was “banged up” but recovering and did not suffer any life threatening injuries. 

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  1. Never want to see anyone get hurt. Speedy recovery to Roy.

    Anyone actually go to this event? Not a lot of modifieds (as usual) for this race. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Late Models in Sept for Full Throttle weekend.

  2. Bring back the ACT late models for sure!!!! They just need to clean up the officiating .

  3. Eddie MacDonald did a great interview on The Morning Bullring on Speed51 talking about the last lap along with many other things. Riveting racing in multiple series. Was it wasted? Is there anything sadder then pictures of two races with hair raising finishes and almost no humans to stands at the end to ooh and ahh.
    I’d ask what’s the point of the event? If it’s funded by a couple companies that sell products to race teams to give back to them an opportunity to race New England’s premier track that’s great. If the goal is to be watched and make money then what’s the point.
    People look for entertainment all the time but want to go to events that other people seem interested in.. When these images get put out that show zero support it hurts the sport in my view. It says loser…….no one cared……. next!
    The concept is solid. Why not have it at a track that has a natural fan base.
    While I’m at it another thing was mentioned on the Bullring that is unrelated but interesting. Series teams seem to have an interest in doing more multiple features. It’s done some but is more the exception. Wouldn’t we fans like seeing twin 40’s, 50’s……whatever on a regular basis? Run one, invert and go again. Would that be appealing as an Open format or is the drama of tire changes more interesting? At the very least the VMRS could consider doing it more since they don’t support tire changes.

  4. Bill Realist says

    There was ZERO promotion of this event. That’s why nobody was there. For some reason the promoters treat this race as more of a club race rather than a big draw for fans.

  5. Fast Eddie says

    I think they should have people passing out flyers at other track’s bigger events providing it’s o.k. with the tracks. Thompson’s 125, Stafford’s Open, Monadnock’s VMRS, and Claremont’s TriTrack events immediately come to mind. At the very least each series could give a small handout at their series events leading up to the NHMS race. I was unable to go to the first two, and was a debating going to this one. The previous small crowd turnouts had me wondering if it was worth going to. Am I glad I went! I saw some great racing for a reasonable ticket price.

  6. Part of the problem is the track itself treats it as a “track rental” and really had nothing about it on their website. Richmond had a track rental for the Commonwealth Classic and Bristol also had a track rental for the Short Track US Nationals a couple weeks ago. However, those track actually had real information about them on their website. But the track itself had no problem showing the close finishes on social media AFTER the races happened. When someone commented about the lack of fans, the person running the NHMS Twitter account basically said, “We had nothing do with promoting the event, it was a track rental.” So they can say “Hey look at the great racing at our track that someone else paid for, but don’t blame me because we did not tell anyone about beforehand themselves.”

  7. JMB,

    First off, it’s a 100 percent false statement to say NHMS didn’t have anything on their website. They have had it on their website since their 2019 schedule was posted. The event also had an individual event page on the NHMS website. And they have also done some promoting of the event through other channels.
    That said, you rent the track to put on your event. The track management has nothing to do with it and it’s not their place to promote it. When you rent a banquet hall for a wedding does the banquet hall pay for all your invitations and send them out for you?
    And with all that said, over the last couple days plenty of people have been on social media seemingly searching for people to blame for the lack of publicity for this event. People blaming the track itself, other short tracks for not promoting it, local media, the series’ that were involved and even participants for not spreading the word. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. The fact is, the lack of publicity starts and ends with the organizers of this event. For some reason this year the organizers seemed entirely uninterested in promotion. The organizers of the event distributed one promotional press release in the five months leading up to the event.
    If the promoter of the show doesn’t have the desire to promote the show themselves there’s a message sent by that. You can’t expect everybody else to do the work to promote a show if the people putting it on aren’t doing anything to promote it. There was no advertising of the event whatsoever. If you’re going to put on a show, advertising is part of it. And yes, I understand that maybe the organizers don’t have the budget to do traditional advertising, but here’s the deal, it’s 2019 and channels of free advertising exist by using social media to your advantage. And it’s not hard, it’s just about putting the time in and doing it consistently. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are all free social media platforms and in 2019 any person, company or group putting on any public event looking to attract people – whether it’s racing or otherwise – should be flooding social media channels. Eyeballs on your information, and it doesn’t cost a penny to do. But you can’t get eyeballs on your information if you’re not putting any information out to get eyeballs looking at it.
    The New England Short Track Showdown Facebook page was updated a total of seven times from January 1 to May 1. And of those seven posts, two were links to YouTube videos promoting another business that had nothing to do with the actual event, one was just a picture of the logo and three were announcing that representatives of the series would be at particular racing shows or had been at a show. Where’s the promotion of the event? Posting seven times on Facebook over four months and offering no real information or actual promotion that is really cultivating the spread of information about the event is beyond unimaginable. It’s free to post on Facebook and would take less than five minutes a day to just post one bit of information. Posting about YouTube video links that have nothing to do with the event is not promotion. If there’s an Instagram or Twitter account for the event, I couldn’t find it. All that said, as a media outlet, when you see the organizer isn’t interested in putting in the effort to promote their event – even through free channels of promotion – then what’s your inclination to do it? The organizers need to get a handle on promotion and begin promotion months before. You can’t start promoting an event scheduled the first weekend of summer 10 days before the event takes place, it just doesn’t work that way. And you can’t blame everyone else for a lack of promotion when the organizers dropped the ball on promotion themselves.

  8. Hillary 2020 says

    Who was the promoter?

  9. Hillary 2020,
    Bob Guptil, who operates the North East Mini Stock Tour.

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