(Stafford Springs, CT)—The Valenti Modified Racing Series made its first of three visits during the 2015 season to Stafford Motor Speedway for the Inaugural VMRS 80. Taking the checkered flag was former Stafford SK Modified® regular and 2003 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Todd Szegedy.
At the drop of the green flag, Keith Rocco took the lead from the pole, but he was overtaken by Ryan Preece on lap-2. Dylan Kopec was third in the early running with Woody Pitkat and Rowan Pennink lined up behind him.
Rocco retook the lead from Preece on lap-5 but Preece came right back the next lap and moved back to the point. The lead changed hands for the third consecutive lap as Rocco went back to the front on lap-8. Pitkat got by Kopec to move into third on lap-9 with Pennink in fifth and Steve Masse sixth.
Preece rode behind Rocco until lap-13 when he took the lead with a pass in turns 3+4. Pitkat was still third, with Kopec, Pennink, Masse, Ted Christopher, Richard Savary, and Donnie Lashua lined up behind him in a single file train of cars.
Rocco took to the outside groove on lap-20 to move around Preece and move back into the race lead. Preece then tried the high groove on lap-21 and he had enough of a run to beat Rocco back to the line and lead the lap. Preece then cleared Rocco on lap-22 while Pitkat, Kopec, Pennink, Masse, and Christopher continued to run in line behind them.
Things began to settle in as Preece was at the front of a 9-car train made up of himself, Rocco, Pitkat, Kopec, Pennink, Masse, Christopher, Savary, and Todd Szegedy. The order shuffled on lap-31 as Savary and Szegedy both got around Christopher while at the front of the pack, the lead changed hands again as Rocco went back to the lead.
Preece retook the lead on lap-36 but Rocco came right back on lap-37 to go back out front. Pitkat was now right on the back bumper of Preece, with Steve Masse was quietly making a charge towards the front as he was now up to fourth place behind the lead trio. Preece went back by Rocco for the lead on lap-40 and Rocco would surrender second to Pitkat on lap-47. The caution came out with 50 laps complete for Pennink, who spun at the exit of turn 2.
Masse and Savary touched on the restart with Savary sliding through the infield grass and Masse then spinning in turn 1 to bring the caution right back out.
Pitkat took the lead back under green with Preece in second. Rocco was side by side with Szegedy for third with Kirk Alexander right behind them. A multicar incident in turn 2 brought the caution out with 51 laps complete.
Rocco went back to the lead on the restart with Pitkat second, Pitkat third, Preece fourth, and Todd Patnode fifth. Pitkat was applying pressure to Rocco’s back bumper but was unable to make a pass. Rocco and Pitkat were beginning to pull away from Szegedy in third in a 2-car fight for the lead. Pitkat was able to make a pass for the lead on lap-68 and with 10 laps to go, Rocco was looking high and low to get back around Pitkat. The caution came back out with 74 laps complete as Norm Wrenn took a hard hit into the wall coming out of turn 4.
The order for the restart was Pitkat and Rocco on the front row, Szegedy and Christopher in the second row, and Preece and Patnode in the third row. Pitkat took the lead on the restart with Rocco slotting into second behind him. Szegedy got by Christopher for third and Patnode was fifth. Pitkat was able to hold Rocco off to the checkered flag to pick up his first Valenti Modified Racing Series feature victory. Szegedy finished third, with Christopher and Patnode rounding out the top-5.