Oktoberfest 2014 saw one of the wildest, most confusing and most controversial finishes of the Valenti Modified Racing Series season on Sunday afternoon at Lee USA Speedway (NH), but it was Richard Savary who rose above it all to claim his fourth win of the year.
Tommy Barrett, Jr. came charging through the field in a late-race mad-dash to the front and took the lead from Savary with about 10 laps to go. Barrett then slowed off of turn two with four laps to go, lost the lead to Savary, gathered it back up and took the lead back just one lap later.
Barrett beat Savary to the checkered flag by almost six car lengths, but series officials quickly relayed a message that Barrett had been disqualified for “excessive use of the bumper,” and the win was then awarded to Savary.
The decision clearly did not sit well with the fans who packed the Lee USA Speedway grandstands. Boos rained down on Savary when he got out of the car in victory lane.
Savary said that he was made aware of Barrett’s penalty and decided that he didn’t want to race with the young hotshoe since he would still hold the lead anyway.
“There’s no sense trying to race with him when all that could happen is possibly wrecking my car,” Savary told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
Savary said he wished he actually could have raced with Barrett for the win.
“We would have been 1-2 at the end whichever way it went.”
Interim VMRS race director John Spence, Jr., said that Barrett had been warned numerous times for contact and that the whole field had been warned in the pre-race drivers meeting as well.
“We addressed it in the driver’s meeting that we weren’t going to tolerate any use of the bumper or driving through anybody,” said Spence. “(Barrett) used the bumper at least three or four times and he almost spun (Russ Wood, Jr.) on the backstretch I guess trying to get a caution.”
Barrett said he didn’t understand the reasoning behind the call, but it was evident how angry he was after the race.
“I didn’t dump anybody,” said Barrett. “They beg us to race. We put on a show coming from last with 20 laps to go and that’s the way they treat you. We won’t be back.”
In addition to all of the madness that took place for the win, the penultimate race of the season proved to have big implications on the championship picture.
Justin Bonsignore and Rowan Pennink entered Sunday’s race tied atop the leader board. Pennink started fourth and Bonsignore started dead-last after having to take a provisional from the consolation race.
Pennink ran near the front of the field most of the race as Bonsignore was left to slowly work his way to the front. Pennink took his car to pit road under caution with about 20 laps to go just as Bonsignore cracked the top five for the first time all day. And pit road is where Pennink stayed for the rest of the race after an ignition issue kept his car from refiring.
Bonsignore crossed the line in third but was scored second after Barrett’s penalty dropped him down the order. Pennink finished 23rd.
“It seemed like the ignition just broke,” said Pennink. “It’s a shame. It was a tight points battle and I think we had the car to beat today but we just came up 20 laps short.”
Bonsignore said he saw Pennink on pit road under caution and knew the implications.
“I’d be a liar if I told you I wasn’t watching what he was doing in the pits every time we drove by under yellow,” said Bonsignore. “The race went green and I saw that he was still down there so I wanted to get as many spots as possible because it’s only going to help us in the points.
“It’s not over yet by any means but it would have been nice to go battle it out heads-up,” said Bonsignore.
The 2014 campaign for the Valenti Modified Racing Series will conclude on Saturday, October 18th at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT). Speed51.com will have more on the points battle during the week.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, CT and NJ) -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Feature Photo Credit: Speed51.com.
1) Richard Savary
2) Justin Bonsignore
3) Woody Pitkat
4) Dennis Perry
5) Mike Willis jr.
6) Keith Rocco
7) Russ Hersey
8) Chris Pasteryak
9) Dwight Jarvis
10) Joey Jarvis
11) Mike Holdridge
12) Donnie Lashua
13) Dana Smith
14) Norm Wrenn
15) Todd Patnode
16) Jimmy Dolan
17) Russ Wood Jr.
18) Rob Richardi Jr.
19) George Sherman
20) Kevin Ianarelli
21) Dave Schneider
22) Tommy Barrett Jr.
23) Rowan Pennink
24) Matthew Mead