One of the hottest drivers in SK Modified racing at Stafford Motor Speedway since last July has been Rowan Pennink. He struggled at the start of 2014, but was able to rattle off five wins before the season ended, including a huge win in the inaugural SK 5K. It appears that in 2015 he’s picked up right where he left off by scoring the win in the SK Modified portion of the Spring Sizzler on Sunday afternoon.
“It felt really good,” Pennink told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “For one, we won a Spring Sizzler in a SK, and two, we started off the SK season a hell of a lot better than last year.”
Pennink’s 2014 season started off poorly with bad results and even a big crash a few weeks into the season that saw him barrel-roll off turn two.
But this is a great way to start the 2015 season in one of the toughest weekly divisions in the country. For Pennink of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, this is a season in which he thinks he can contend for a championship given the way he finished the 2014 season.
“I think that’s our goal for this year,” Pennink said. “We’re just going to try and do every week what we just did in the Spring Sizzler. Obviously it’s going to be tough to win every race but that’s what we want to do. We’ll see where we are in points near the end of the year and hopefully we’ll be in line for a championship.”
Pennink won his heat race on Saturday afternoon and started Sunday’s race from the sixth position after the handicap. He slowly and methodically made his way forward and started to challenge Ryan Preece and Keith Rocco up front during the middle portion of the 40-lap feature.
The restart at the halfway mark proved to be a pivotal moment in the race when Rocco and Pennink restarted side-by-side. Rocco got into Pennink and hopped over Pennink’s left-front tire, according to Pennink. That caused a stack-up behind the leaders with about five cars crashing before taking the green flag.
Stafford officials deemed the incident to be aggressive driving on Rocco’s part so he was sent to the rear. As a result, Pennink inherited the lead.
“I really didn’t expect them to put him to the back for that,” Pennink said. “It seemed like an accidental deal so I was a little bit surprised. I think they were trying to show how they want to run their show the rest of the year by making that point in the first race.”
For the second half, Pennink had to deal with Preece, as well as Glen Reen who posed a big challenge. With about 12 laps to go, Reen managed to get by Pennink on a restart. Pennink fought hard and got back under Reen in turn three to take the lead back.
From that point on, it was all Pennink as he beat Reen to the checkered flag by roughly four car-lengths to claim the Spring Sizzler SK Modified victory.
For Pennink, the win is a great way to rebound from the weekend he had at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park’s Icebreaker two weeks prior. Pennink crashed a brand-new race car early in practice for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season-opener. His throttle stuck as he entered turn three and he pounded the outside wall. His white with gold No. 93 erupted in flames as Pennink escaped the cockpit.
“That was a rough weekend up there at Thompson. It definitely feels good to have that over with and get a win in at least one of the cars the following week. It definitely makes you feel like you’re back on the good side of racing again.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Rick Ibsen/Speed51.com
Spring Sizzler SK Modified Unofficial Results
Stafford Motor Speedway, Stafford Springs, Connecticut
|5||13||Ted Christopher Jr.|
|16||82||Mike Christopher Jr.|