(Stafford Springs, CT)—For Rowan Pennink and the #99 Van Wickle NAPA Auto Supply team, the foundation to winning the 2015 SK Modified® track championship at Stafford Motor Speedway was forged through an incredible second half of 2014. After a slow start, Pennink and the #99 team rattled off 5 wins in the final 10 races and they carried that high level of performance over to the 2015 season.
Pennink and the #99 team served notice right out of the gates that they would be championship contenders by winning the season opening feature during the NAPA Spring Sizzler weekend. A 15th place finish on May 15th dropped Pennink out of the point lead, but a white hot 5-race streak from June 5th through July 3rd saw Pennink record 3 wins and 2 second place finishes and moved him back to the top of the standings, a position he would hold for the remainder of the 2015 season.
“Everyone asked me what happened at the beginning of last season because we won 5 of the last 10 races last year  but we had a lot of bad luck and it was a new car,” said Pennink. “We had our ups and downs this year but we kept those to a minimum, we just needed to start this season off like we ended last season and that’s what we did. It feels awesome, everyone knows these SK’s at Stafford are some of the hardest racing in the entire country and to be champion here, I can’t thank everyone enough. Thanks to the Arute family for giving us an awesome facility to race at, Bob [Hitchcock] and Kelly [Iverson], awesome car owners, Jimmy [Fuller] did an awesome job all year to put this thing in victory lane 6 times for us, Pettit Racing Engines, Mike Paquette and CD Race Chassis, Waddell Communications, Van Wickle Auto Supply, Integra Shocks, Bob Cuneo helps us out, Hitchcock Pool Water, and Charlton Performance, I can’t thank everyone enough for this championship. The level of competition here and the hype that this place brings, I couldn’t be happier to have won the championship. I can’t thank the team enough, they gave me an awesome car to drive around here every Friday night and I wouldn’t be here without them.”
For the season, Pennink tied with Ronnie Williams for the division lead in wins with 6, he led the division in top-5 finishes with 17, and he was one top-10 finish short of tying with Ryan Preece for the division lead in that category. Pennink’s consistency of finishing up front allowed him to build up a 48 point lead with 3 races to go. But a 7th and 17th place effort in the two races leading up to the season ending NAPA Fall Final Weekend combined with Preece scoring a win and a fifth place finish shrunk that gap down to 12 points. Pennink had slight scare during the final race getting his car shifted into high gear, but he was able to overcome that issue and come home with a 4th place finish to make him the 2015 SK Modified® champion.
“I was having a little trouble shifting the car into high gear and that one restart I didn’t expect to fall back like we did but we were able to battle back and finish fourth,” said Pennink. “The only reason it was nerve-wracking for me, I know I can go out there and get the job done myself, but if someone else makes a mistake and ends your day when you really did nothing, you just hope nothing like that happens. We were able to stay away from those kinds of things and get it done.”
For the season, Pennink posted 6 wins, 17 top-5, and 19 top-10 finishes in 22 starts. Pennink will officially be recognized as the 2015 SK Modified® champion at the 46th Annual Stafford Speedway Champions Awards Ceremony to be held on Friday, November 20 at Maneeley’s in South Windsor.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.