Tommy Barrett, Jr. of Millis, Massachusetts had a lot to race for when he pulled into Seekonk Speedway (MA) Wednesday afternoon. In addition to the $10,000 on the line for the winner of the 100-lap Open Wheel Wednesday Modified event, Barrett was also racing for his grandfather, who passed away last weekend.
The 19-year-old, who has earned the nickname “The Real Deal,” used a crossover move on early leader Todd Annarummo to take the lead for the final time on lap 86. Barrett then held off a strong charge from “Big Money” Matt Hirschman over the final 10 laps to claim a $10,000 pay day in front of a huge crowd at Seekonk on Wednesday.
“It’s huge,” Barrett said of the win. “I’m happy for my dad. My grandfather passed away this weekend and this makes things look a little bit better for him. I’m sure he doesn’t feel as bad for sure, so this win was for him and my grandfather. It’s the biggest pay day for us by far, it’s not even close.”
Barrett took the lead from Annarummo for the first time on lap 24, but Annarummo battled back to retake the lead shortly after. The two drivers would battle each other on a number of restarts throughout the event, but Annarummo was able to set the tone as the leader each time.
It wasn’t until the final restart on lap 81 that Barrett was able to get a good enough restart to hang with Annarummo and eventually use an exciting crossover move to take the lead on lap 86.
“That was crazy,” Barrett said of the last 19 laps of the event. “I think it was 19 to go on that final restart and I was trying to stay with Todd on the outside. I could stick with him, but I just couldn’t complete the pass. He was running me up the hill a little bit. We were side-by-side going into turn three and I crossed him up and I got into the back of him a little bit when he slowed up. I drove into (turn) one on the inside of him. It stuck and I was able to take the lead.”
Once he was able to squeeze by Annarummo to take the lead, Barrett established an eight car-length advantage over Hirschman, who was charging towards the front for the “big money." Hirschman closed the gap on Barrett throughout the final 10 laps and closed to his back bumper with five laps to go.
Hirschman would try a crossover move of his own on lap 96 as the top-two exited turn four. Barrett slammed the door as Hirschman tried to move to his inside and the two cars made contact. “Big Money Matt” would regroup and battle back to challenge Barrett once again on lap 98. This time, Hirschman tried the outside in turn three but got loose in the middle of the turn, allowing Barrett to drive away and claim the victory.
“My spotter, Shawn Waddell, just kept telling me, ‘protect the bottom, protect the bottom’ and that’s what I was trying to do,” Barrett said of the battle with Hirschman. “My car was a little bit better on the top I think. Matt (Hirschman) almost got me a couple times, but Waddell did a good job keeping me on the bottom to seal the victory.”
Jon McKennedy, who entered Wednesday’s event leading the Tri Track Open Modified Series points standings, snuck by Hirschman during the closing laps to finish second. His second-place finish on Wednesday, coupled with his win in the SBM 125 at Star Speedway (NH) and sixth-place finish in the Bullring Bash at Lee USA Speedway (NH), earned him the overall series championship.
In addition to his winnings for his performance in each of the events, McKennedy claimed an additional $1,500 for winning the championship.
“It’s great to be able to win another championship,” said the three-time Valenti Modified Racing Series champion. “We ran second tonight and had a good run coming from the 22nd starting spot. This is a brand new car and it’s a good deal to be able to perform this well.”
Hirschman would end up finishing third on Wednesday night after being in contention to win late in the event. Early leader Todd Annarummo and three-time Valenti Modified Racing Series winner in 2014, Richard Savary, completed the top-five.
In other feature action, PJ Stergios claimed the NEMA Lights portion of the Boston Louie Memorial 29-lap event. Multi-time NEMA Midgets champion Randy Cabral defended his 2013 Boston Louie Memorial win and returned to victory lane in the NEMA Midgets part of the prestigious event.
Open Wheel Wednesday 100-Lap Modified Feature Unofficial Results
|1||9||Tommy Barrett, Jr.|
|14||23||Michael Douglas, Jr.|
|23||0||Tom Rogers, Jr.|
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Northeast Editor - Twitter: Brandon_Paul51
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com