Friday night was a night to remember for Rowan Pennink at Stafford Motor Speedway. Following a nail-biting duel with Ryan Preece in the 40-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature, Pennink made a sensational move to get the lead from Woody Pitkat to win the 80-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series event.
“It feels really good to get the win in the SK and follow it up with the MRS,” Pennink said at the end of the night. “Couldn’t do it without two awesome cars and two awesome teams that put them underneath me.”
Pennink came into the night with the one and only SK Modified race of 2016 on his trophy shelf. It looked as though he was assured his second victory halfway through the 40-lap SK feature until Ryan Preece came from 26th starting spot to dive past Pennink for the lead on lap 32. Pennink got right back into the fight taking the lead back with the same move two laps later and held Preece off for the final six laps.
“I knew he had a good car because he caught me from a little bit back there,” stated Pennink. “There’s always a bit of a draft with the SKs here and I think that’s the reason he caught me and I think that’s the reason I got back by him too. We both had good cars and luckily I was able to hold him off.”
The momentum seemed to wear away a bit in the VMRS 80-lap feature as Pennink led from the pole, but lost the lead to Woody Pitkat on lap 5. Pennink would save his car over the next 55 laps and on a late restart he hung to the outside of Pitkat and executed a perfect crossover move off turn four to reclaim the lead on lap 61.
“I knew when I was able to hang on the outside of Woody, I probably would have something for him. I figured I’d try that crossover. I didn’t think it was going to work that great,” Pennink chuckled. “But, I guess it worked real good and I was able to get a five car length lead and stay right there to finish out the race.”
The win was the 12th career MRS victory for Pennink, but the first since 2014 for he and car owner Gary Casella. It is a victory that Pennink has been eager to get.
“It’s awesome to get back in victory lane with the 25 car, especially here at Stafford. We’ve had a lot of good runs here, just could never close the deal off. Tonight we had the car to do it, we got it done. It’s my first win in a Tour-type Modified here finally happy to get that one under my belt.”
The Valenti Modified Racing Series heads north to Speedway 51 in Groveton, New Hampshire for stop number three of 2016 on May 28.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, MA, LI) – Twtter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com/Rick Ibsen