Redemption: Chase Dowling Rolls To Valenti Mod Racing Series Lincoln Tech 80 Win At Stafford

Chase Dowling celebrates victory in the Valenti Modified Racing Series Lincoln Tech 80 Friday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont)

STAFFORD – Chase Dowling and his Jimmy Paige owned Modified team originally didn’t have Friday’s Valenti Modified Racing Series Lincoln Tech 80 on their schedule of planned events for 2019. 

But after the team left disappointed with their efforts in the three Stafford Speedway Open Modified 80 events this year Friday’s event was added to the schedule to for Chase to chase redemption for the organization. 

“Obviously when you’ve got a crew and a car and a motor, you have the package to do it all, and you struggle, it’s just really hard to come back,” Dowling said. “It’s not that we ran horrible, but for our standards as a race team., we want to win. We weren’t supposed to race this race, but we struggled in the Open 80’s, we said we can’t leave Stafford alone, so we came back.” 

Dowling found the redemption the team was looking for, holding off all challengers over four late restarts to win the Lincoln Tech 80.

“That was a crazy race,” Dowling said. “Those restarts there, you don’t want to see that happen. I just had to nail the restarts there at the end and not give those guys a shot at the bottom groove. … Our tires are worn out. You can’t pit for tires. We run these same tires during the heat race and the feature obviously. We’re all riding out there. … At the end we’re just giving it all we’ve got.” 

Keith Rocco of Wallingford was second and Matt Galko of Meriden third. 

The race went caution-free for the first 75 laps before the spate of late cautions. 

“It’s just tough,” Rocco said. “The tires get so hot and then the yellow comes out and they don’t fire back up right away. Chase had a good car there at the end.” 

Dowling reveled in his team’s efforts on the day. 

“We did a lot of work today,” Dowling said. “We were fast in the first practice and we were fast in the Open 80’s in practice and I said ‘We don’t have it.’ [Crew chief] Steve LeMay was like ‘What do you want to do?’ I said ‘We’ve got to swing.’ So we changed all four springs. We did a kitchen sink job today. And it all paid off. That’s what why we all work together so well and have so much faith in each other and don’t give up.” 

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  1. Congrats to Chase and the 00 team for your VMRS win

  2. I thought it was fine. Could be viewed as boring saved only by the caution but it was nice seeing the Northern tier cars coming down and mixing it up with the home boys. I was watching Willis, Lashua and Nocella and points leader Willis won that battle if you exclude the 25 who are kind of doing their own thing.
    Is there a future for the VMRS at Stafford. My crystal ball says no based on a few superficial, completely speculative reasons.
    1) Stafford made a big deal of the Lincoln Tech relationship but not necessarily the VMRS’s role in it. 2) The crowd numbers did not match the open races and there was very little energy I could detect. even with the towel/rag promotion. 3) normally you have a tour come in expecting the tour teams to be front runners. They weren’t. 4) car count down from last year with notable no shows from the entry list. 5) It was more of an open race without the pay out. and without the excitement provided by a tire change. Stafford guys Rocco, Galko and Owen in the top 10. Pick your race regulars 00, Flannery, Hinckley,and yes the 25 who is more pick and choose then VMRS in spite of the fact they are in the top 10.
    Gold stars to Brad VanHouten who comes up from LI for the opens and got a heat win and Anthony Flannery a 4th in the feature. Tough luck award goes to Kreig Heroth towing all the way from ROC country and never up to speed and Cam McDermott who had speed and lead a bunch but not reliability.
    Prediction: next year 4 Stafford Opens.
    So what did you guys think? Good race or not? Is there a future for the VMRS at Stafford or was this their swan song?

  3. knuckles Mahoney says

    Hinckley made the move of the night. Came in at the caution on lap 75 and swapped right side tires. No one else did. He was in 14th up to that point. Was very strong I the beginning then the car fell apart. Made his way back to 5th in 5 laps. That was the key decision.

  4. Not could be viewed as boring. Was boring. Stafford can’t buy an exciting tour race these days. If Stafford adds more Open shows we can probably drop the Open category. It will become a regular tour type division that doesn’t run weekly. Star does that with their Supers and ACT Late Models. They only run once or twice a month.

    Any news on Stafford’s moving or losing a tour date due to Iowa? Is the Thompson Sunday thing a thing? No official word it seems.

    Spencer had a big $$$ show last night. Solid field but no non ROC tour guys ran it despite Spencer’s best efforts. Just the 60 and 07. Goes to show it isn’t always about the $$$. Guys run the series they want and few venture beyond that anymore. Even TTOMS has gotten all the same guys at most of their events.

  5. cg didnt make it says

    I was on my way to Stafford last night as I was encouraged by the entry list Stafford published online and I haven’t been much this year. It was a battle traffic wise, Usually a hour ride to get to Stafford took 1 hour and 10 minutes to get to Sturbridge. Probably another 15 or 20 minutes to Stafford. A few drops hit the windshield and a quick review of the sky looked quite ominous. I decided to grab some dinner take a look at the weather, practice on race monitor, and the schedule.. I knew they would get it in as there really wasn’t anything on the radar but it looked like they had 20 mods, less than the expected participants list. The schedule showed what I wanted to see the Sks 3rd to last and mods last. Thinking back to one of my last visits to Stafford in which they took 4+ hours to run opening day regular show and missing the Sk’s because of rain I decided to turn around. I just wasnt up for a long night if they did get a rain delay even though it seemed unlikely. Its official, I have given up on Stafford I will skip for any reason what so ever even after already traveling the majority of the way there. I may give the fall final a try but I am really getting into dirt racing more and more.

    Obviously, I have no comment on the racing. I will say that there were quite a few reasons why the crowd might be down last night. The traffic was horrible I thought about turning around once before I actually did. Currently there really isn’t many big names on the VMRS tour to attract fans and the bulk of the field was filled with regulars you can see race at Stafford on a regular night for less money. Some rain drops and clouds around 5-5.30pm when people are leaving for the track. The Whelen tour in Oswego people may travel up there. Its a holiday weekend people go places. School started this week in my area so kids may be busy with related activities. So I can see all these factors leading to a lighter crowd last night.

    VMRS may not be back to Stafford as they had one 1 VMRS show down from 2 in years past, Stafford doesn’t bring in many outside tours. My guess is they bring one less tour next year. VMRS has had a few shows cancelled by tracks this year, so they may not be as profitable for tracks as they used to be. I am wondering if VMRS will be around next year. There are just too many touring mod series. Hopefully VMRS rebounds and has a strong season next year. I have seen too many good Mod races put on by them in years past to see them go away.

  6. Todd Carey says

    Drivers meeting for the VMRS was interesting last night as they asked the drivers to let them know of their plans for next season because of scheduling. Very possible this may be the last season for the MRS. Once a positive division but the guys who started that division have retired. Not enough young drivers in the Northern States to keep running shows. They cant even draw a full field in their back yard of Monadnock and have cancelled races because of a lack of cars. I believe 6-8 open shows at Stafford next year. Lots of talk about that last night. As for the race, typical tour type race at Stafford. Follow the leader and hope for something to happen to make it interesting. Nothing beats the SKS at Stafford. Glad everyone told Jack Sr it would never work. If somehow money could get poured into that division instead of all the open shows you would have cars coming from everywhere. How many sks you have sitting at home? Everyone always talks about Waterford sks and how great it is but none of those guys will pack up a car on a Friday night and head north. Guess they are still waiting for opening night at the Bowl.

  7. It would kind of suck not to have the VMRS. Allot of those teams cannot afford to run the NWMT for the full schedule

  8. Getting rid of the VMRS would probably be the best case scenario. They have engine packages that would allow the teams to run Doug’s favorite Stafford opens and the TTOMS. One less touring series is not exactly a bad thing.

  9. I thought the MRS race was a tad boring until the last 15-20 laps, but was pretty good to the finish. The SK race was terrific as usual! A few missing regulars, but good fields in both SK and SKL. Brian Sullivan in the 11 SKL was a surprise, that car was really moving through the field. The Fearn family battle was fun to watch and it was nice to see Leary finally nail one down. Hydar made a nice run from last to the podium in Street Stock, but there were a few missing cars.

    I thought the crowd was a little down, but still comparable to what I remember at past MRS shows. I didn’t walk to both ends of the stands, I’m basing that on what I could see from my seat midway between 4 and the start/finish. I think the crowd noticeably thinned after the SK feature. I came from the other direction as the poster above who mentioned sprinkles, and there was nothing but beautiful weather.

  10. Sad fact is there are a lot of cars just choosing not to run MRS. Lots of frustration in lack of consistent leadership and some very strange decisions. Other series and tracks understand that when car counts are down adapting rules and including different motor and rule packages helps get cars to the track these guys keep narrowing things up. Many former regulars are choosing not to race over supporting the series any further that should be alarming. How many race directors, tech guys have come and gone, in fighting and undermining have driven people out. People are paying a lot of money to race and want to at least know what to expect on a race to race basis out of officials and series. The way the handled Lee rain shortened race last year changing the rules when drivers were in cars mid race, all of a sudden counting caution laps, something they had never done in series history might have been the beginning of the end. A lot of teams very discouraged and angry after that. It is to bad because for a few years the series provided some of the best modified racing around, just seems like a lot of teams are choosing not to just pick and choose races in MRS but to not run it at all.

  11. Went last night, and I was surprised by the huge difference between what Stafford published as the “expected” VMRS entry list of 33 cars and the actual count at the start of 23. I gotta say, the division that I see that is growing and puts on an exciting show are the SK lights! Now, while it is not an exact comparison, I will say I get a sense of deja vu back to when the SK division was created.

    We’ll see what happens over the next couple of years.

    As to the future of the VMRS? Not sure what really caused the fragmentation this year; not sure if it is dead after this year, but it doesn’t look good.

  12. Good comments.
    2019 started as the year with jam packed schedule of tour modified racing. Bull Ring bash, VMRS and expanded Stafford and TriTrack Opens. It was trial by fire with some winning and some losing.
    Making the release of the 2020 schedules all the more interesting.
    For the VMRS to survive they may have to think outside the box. Maybe go to an open model much like the TTOMS. If they don’t survive there’s a vacuum up north and who better to fill it then TriTrack . Monadnock, Claremont, Star and Oxford Plains now so why not additions. They have the successful model as Oxford Plains more then proved.
    Is anyone saying the number of cars is dwindling, no new blood coming in and modified racing dying. I’m not hearing that. Jeff Gallup and Andy Shaw show up for the July Stafford Open but are MIA at the VMRS race. Maybe they had reasons. But maybe what it’s screaming is SHOW ME THE MONEY!. No I don’t want to race 16 times for a points fund and wait for my money. I want it pretty soon after I race and I want it to be a real incentive to show up.
    My view that’s what is happening here. Change.

  13. 2019 wasn’t trial by fire. It was sure doom for some. It was always about simple math. Everyone (except one guy who doesn’t know racing and VRMS) saw this coming. Now the future of VRMS lays in the hands of Norm Wrenn. He bought up all the NH tracks and if he doesn’t want VRMS its over. VRMS ticked off Star so they aren’t welcome there. Stafford might not have them back. Seekonk doesn’t host them. Waterford is whatever. I think back to the standing room only WMT shows at Monadnock a few years ago and wonder if that wouldn’t be a better direction for the Wrenns.

    If Stafford is adding a tour type division that runs monthly is it really a loss? Claremont and Monadnock would also benefit from a weekly standpoint as Mr. Wrenn has probably already taken note of. TTOMS and WMT have a monopoly on New England now. I think we have seen the last of these new pop up touring modified series.

    If Waterford doesn’t open again I wouldn’t be surprised to see Seekonk add a SK division that runs 6-8 times a year.

    I’m putting a TTOMS race in NY/PA on my 2020 wish list.

  14. Hard to believe this was the series that I remember drawing 30+ cars to Waterford everytime they visited Waterford just 5+ years ago. I don’t see VMRS returning to Stafford. I went to the same show last year and it was also a dud. The ball is in Stafford’s court with both the fans and the cars supporting the Open 80’s.

  15. I think Unbiased is spot on with his VMRS assessment. A number of teams got frustrated with race rulings over the past couple of years and have opted to not “chase the championship” or not run the VMRS at all. I was psyched to see so many entries listed, but a little disappointed to see about only 2/3 of them at the track. Not a bad race, but the Stafford Opens were definitely better overall. Maybe 4-5 Opens next year? No points series, just each as an individual event. Maybe more TTOMS races next year? Definitely the best option for the bullring tracks in the area.I think the VMRS needs better payouts to possibly get teams interested again, and then consistent rules enforcement to keep them.

  16. Jeff Gallup was there with a broken arm in a sling

  17. Thanks Elect that makes more sense considering Jeff is so active.
    That said I’m thinking there is kind of a consensus regardless of Jeff’s setback. Freedom to pick your spots and getting more money quicker are important.
    Opens on the upswing, VMRS flirting with extinction and very few having too much of a problem with the trend from what I’m reading.

  18. Stafford would be genius to add a Tour Type Division once a Month. In 2 hr radius we have about 50-60 Sk modifieds, in the same area Tour Types are around 100 as most Stafford Sk Teams have or are building a Tour Type car. I think some of these teams are tired of the Travel and are looking for a home, Stafford can do it with 6-8 shows.

  19. 80 laps with no tire changes allowed just doesn’t work. As Junior Woods said on Twitter – “never again”.
    If the VMRS (or MRS, as I don’t hear anyone mention Valenti much anymore) wants to stay at Stafford, it needs to go to a 50 lap distance (like Thompson), or allow at least one tire change.

  20. Stafford has the data from their races including the Opens and VMRS race. They know what they are making on each and how the races are received. They talk to the teams and see what their mind set is about opens vs the VMRS touring model. Bet they even read the comments here to see if there is a common thread about fan reaction.
    I’d be shocked if things stayed the same for next year. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Lincoln Tech Open 80 or twin 40’s or something like that replacing the VMRS race around September 1.

  21. Crazy in NY says

    From Doug : “So what did you guys think? Good race or not? Is there a future for the VMRS at Stafford or was this their swan song?”

    from Chase : “… Our tires are worn out. You can’t pit for tires. We run these same tires during the heat race and the feature obviously. We’re all riding out there.”

    If you take Doug’s speculative observation/question(s) and Chase’s seat of the pants comments I think your at the heart of the problem. The tires today and the performance of the upper third of the cars in these type of shows lends itself to riding. 200 lappers ,150’s even 125’s yeah maybe you might stroke but these GD sticky tires make it necessary to in an 80 lapper and that sucks. A compound change to a 30/45 like the ROC and an optional 1 tire change would improve the product greatly in my view. As to the TTOM success hurting the MRS, yeah that might be the case but it happened with hard work. Like hustling the dollars from fans and other smaller sponsors with a little from many mentality. Who at or around SMS is up for that? Good pay DOWN TRU the field is what draws the cars not just a top end big dollar to win number. Tri Track though was designed for bullrings where handling is far more important that big steam under the hood. Big steam will always rule at Stafford so….. the whole concept MAY not work there.

  22. The VMRS runs twin 50’s at Lee due to the racing surface being so abrasive. It also gives teams time to change tires and/or make adjustments if they choose to (not sure what the rules are for that). The second race also has an invert. That format might work well at Stafford. They also used to run 100 laps at Beech Ridge, but now do 75 because of tire wear. Maybe a 60 lap Stafford VMRS race would work; still longer than an SK race, but less “riding”.

  23. Everyone is complaining about the open mod races…. just give the race to the SK or SKL – everyone says how good they are (i agree).

  24. I don’t think anyone is complaining about the open races, just the excessive tire conservation needed at the beginning of a Stafford VMRS race. A “Fall 5K SK” race would be pretty cool though.

  25. SK special events every month? I don’t think that would work. They have the big race with the SK5K and it does well. Also the TC13. Every Friday night seems to be a barn burner. Outsiders like Kyle James and a Gada or two have invaded and have struggled. Limited outsiders anyway since the SK’s are a house division. Why beat your show pony to death by over exposing them.
    I’m not reading complaints about the open’s like at all. VMRS yes, opens no.
    I’m not reading complaints about the TTOMS pushing out the VMRS either. Support yes, complaints no. Mostly I’m reading the VMRS is DOA next year unless something changes drastically.
    If Stafford does add another open maybe they should consider spicing it up. Twin races with an invert is one way they could consider.

  26. I’d like to see special SK events at the Sizzler (50 laps or twin 30s?) mid season (SK 5K) and the Fall Final (50 laps or twin 30s?). The TC Shootout is OK, too, but I’d run the regular SK 40 lap feature (winner gets his own Victory Lane celebration), then the Street Stock feature, and end the night with the Shootout (and separate Victory Lane celebration).

  27. Everyone has their own thoughts on what they’d like to see more of and there is no bad ideas.
    I’d just remind the SK fans of what we have at this moment. Three guys with only a few races left not just numerically in the hunt for the championship but locked in a death struggle with zero room for error. The season once again unrelenting with no rain outs since the very start thus no rest for the weary. Even a hurricane turning out to sea so as not to disturb the weekly clashes where perfection is required to stay in the hunt.
    The races we’re seeing right now are just about as good as it gets in my view. The usual 40 laps but very consequential and just the perfect distance to give cars time to do what they have to do without any worry about pacing themselves.

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