It took a daring move by a confident Tommy Barrett Jr. to score the win in the 80-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series event at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) Friday evening. Barrett wasn’t near the front much of the race, but he got it done when it counted when he made his move with 33 laps to go on a restart.
Barrett restarted in third, just behind leader Keith Rocco who had led much of the race along with Justin Bonsignore. Rocco appeared to get a little loose in turn two and Barrett was able to drive right underneath him. Barrett made it three wide with Rocco in the middle and Bonsignore on the outside.
“I tried doing it on the restart before that and just got loose,” said Barrett. “I got a really good restart and Keith washed up a little and that gave me the little extra room I needed.”
Bonsignore lost traction on the outside lane coming out of turn two so Barrett and Rocco battled side-by-side down the backstretch into turn three. Barrett drove deep into turn three and cleared Rocco for the lead.
“I honestly thought that was our only chance at winning,” said Barrett.
From there it was all Barrett until the end. Barrett slowly started to stretch his lead over Rocco until he eventually led by almost half the length of a straightaway. Rocco was left to settle for second and Bonsignore finished third.
“Once he got us I was driving for everything I had,” said Rocco. “Second is still a good finish. We led a lot of the race. Just one spot short.”
Rocco and Bonsignore ran one-two for most of the race before Barrett entered the picture. Early in the event the two of them swapped the lead back and forth multiple times before Rocco finally took over.
The race started clean and green before a caution came out just after halfway. Then there was about three cautions in rapid succession.
One of those cautions was a multi-car crash in turn four involving Rowan Pennink, Woody Pitkat and Max Zachem.
Pennink was battling underneath Bonsignore for second place in turn four when he got a bit loose. The wiggle caused Pennink to back up to Barrett who got into the back of Pennink. The contact turned Pennink sideways and he went right up in front of Zachem forcing both of them up to the outer guardrail, collecting Pitkat along the way. Pennink rode up and on top of Zachem’s white No. 20 car before they both came to a stop. Pennink and Pitkat were able to drive away and continue on. Zachem drove off but took his car behind the wall for repairs.
Pennink and Pitkat both were able to rally back to finish fourth and fifth respectively.
Barrett actually credited the contact with Pennink as a deciding factor for him in this race.
“The car was really loose in the beginning,” said Barrett. “I ended up getting into Pennink a bit and it actually screwed our toe up a bit. After that it was really good. So thanks to them.”
This is two wins in a row coming in different series for the 19-year-old driver from Millis, MA. Barrett just scored his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) a week ago.
“We are on a roll kinda,” said Barrett. “(Our) next one is at Riverhead (WMT) and we didn’t run too good there the last time. But hopefully we can go there and get another victory.”
Click here to replay the Speed51.com live Trackside Now coverage of the VMRS event at Stafford.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, NJ, CT) – Twitter: @RobBlount. Photo credit: Speed51.com
1. Tommy Barrett Jr.
2. Keith Rocco
3. Justin Bonsignore
4. Rowan Pennink
5. Woody Pitkat
6. Chris Pasteryak
7. Richard Savary
8. Norm Wrenn
9. Mike Holdridge
10. Eric Goodale
11. Carl Medieros Jr.
12. Donnie Lashua
13. Dan Meservey Jr.
14. Matt Galko
15. Chris Bakaj
16. Roy Seidell Jr.
17. Max Zachem
18. Ted Christopher
19. Dylan Kopec
20. Charlie Pasteryak
21. Mike Willis Jr.
22. Jeff Malave
23. Ryan Preece
24. Steve Masse