It was a dog days of summer kind of night at Monadnock Speedway (NH) when the Modified Touring Series visited town Saturday for the third time in 2017. After a race with lots of bumping, grinding, slipping, and sliding over the 125 laps, Rowan Pennink rose above the chaos to win for the first time on the MTS and the first time this season for car owner Gary Casella.
It is not the first win in competition for the No. 25 on the season, as Chase Dowling took home the win in the July MTS race at Monadnock while Pennink was in Sunoco Modified competition at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Pennink was glad to do the same one month later.
“It’s great to be back in victory lane with the 25, we’ve had a lot of strong cars this year, some second and third-place finishes,” Pennink told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “They had a strong car when they came to Monadnock here with Chase and they brought back another strong car for me. Good to get a win under our belt.”
Pennink seemed to be at the center of a storm most of the night, spinning on both the fifth lap and at halfway along with Woody Pitkat while they battled for position, and nearly spinning a third time after contact sent Chris Pasteryak sliding in front of traffic.
“Everyone was driving aggressive tonight and we got turned around a couple of times. But battled back hard, ended up pitting at the right time and was able to charge through,” Pennink explained. “I was being pretty aggressive myself, I had to keep up with the aggression everyone else had out there. I’m sure there’s a bunch of people mad with a lot of other people, but that’s racing and that’s how it goes.”
The incident with Pitkat was caused from a tap to Pennink’s rear bumper from Pitkat, who also spun from contact with Eric Goodale. The incident had Pitkat cutting Pennink some slack in the race’s second half.
“I got into Rowan, tried to lift for him; he ended up spinning out, I spun out. Later when he was coming back through the field, I almost chopped him going into three,” Pitkat began. “So I felt like I should give him the lane, so I moved up and gave him the lane, just because I felt like I owed him that and try to get him later. Maybe that cost me the win, but I felt like I want him to race me the way I race him, so I gave him the room.”
The spin and accommodation were the least of Pitkat’s troubles, who despite finishing runner-up to Pennink, battled a tight car most of the race.
“I’m a little frustrated with myself because I’ve been trying to give them the best feedback I can and kind of help them with adjustments. I should probably just tell them what it’s doing and let them do it,” Pitkat said. “Eventually they’ll overrule me and not do what I tell them to do, maybe we’ll start winning. But if we keep finishing like we are, we’ve been up front, consistent, knocking on the door, we’ll keep riding the momentum.”
For Pennink, the win is a big boost to make the bid to race for a championship in October. He, along with Pitkat and 10 other drivers, are in the Quest for the Cup, a playoff-style format being used by the MTS. Saturday was the second of four races in which 12 teams will earn points with the highest five earning a spot to race outright for the championship in the season finale at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on October 22.
“It feels good, glad we could get a win here and hopefully we can get up in the points and be able to battle for a championship.”
The MTS still has two races before the five-team cutoff; they visit Waterford September 9 and return to Monadnock September 16.
For on-demand coverage of Saturday’s race at Monadnock, visit Speed51.com Speed Central coverage.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA, RI & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com