Anthony Nocella’s start to the 2017 Valenti Modified Racing Series season has been nothing short of impressive as he earned his third win in the first four races of the season Saturday night at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Nocella had a tough start to the day with a bad draw in his heat race as he was unable to work his way forward. Starting 18th in the 100-lap feature, Nocella steadily moved forward, eventually reaching second. On a Lap 71 restart, Nocella powered past Gallup on the outside, survived one final restart, and held off a charging Les Hinckley for the checkers.
“We just kind of tried to kind of pace ourselves most of the race. I knew a few of those guys kind of worked pretty hard for a while, crossing each other over, so I knew they were hurting their tire’s a little bit, so I tried to save what I could there so we could make a nice run at them at the end,” Nocella told the media after the race.
“I started to close in on Gallup. That restart there I got on the outside of him and I knew our car was pretty good on the bottom. If I could keep him down I think I could’ve cleared him. He got a good restart there, he spun the tires a little bit and I got a little advantage on him getting into one and just squeezed him a little bit and cleared him up off. Once I got by him I knew we could gap him a little bit there if I just hit all my marks and that’s what we were able to do.”
“We struggled a little when we first started, got a win here and there, nothing incredible. Then last year I got a couple more guys because it was kind of just me there in the shop working on it. It gets tough sometimes to make sure everything’s perfect every week. It definitely paid off, we got four wins last year, we improved over the years before. This morning we unloaded pretty good off the bat which you stop panicking when stop thrashing too much when you get here. It gives you a little of confidence.”
It is Nocella’s fifth career win at the Speedbowl, but first in a Modified, with the first four being Midget wins in the NEMA Lites class. It also comes on the track’s 2017 season opener after months of uncertainty following an off-track situation surrounding the Speedbowl ownership.
“I got to thank these guys for opening the place up. It’s always a very racy track, two grooves, plenty of good racing here. We appreciate coming back here. I’ve won some races here in a Midget and I’ve always had fun here, always wanted to win one in a Modified. It’s awesome to do that.”
The win is also in advance of a busy week for Nocella and many others in the Modified fraternity in the Northeast, with $10,000 to win Open Wheel Wednesday at Seekonk Speedway just four days away, and the inaugural New England Short Track Showdown at New Hampshire Motor Speedway under the Modified Racing Series banner, scheduled for Saturday, July 1.
“We got a few wins in MRS at Seekonk, one of them being last year. It’s going to be tough racing there for the 10 grand. Almost 50 cars or so. It isn’t easy especially through the heat races and making it in the show, but we always have a pretty good car there. It would be awesome to win the 10 grand, go to Loudon a couple of days later and run up there. Hopefully we’re going to have a good car there too. It would be awesome to win there. Everyone dreams of winning up there, especially in a Modified.”
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com