Prepare, Race, Win, Repair, Repeat
The Monaco Modified Tri-Tracks Series (MMTTS) traveled to Star Speedway in Epping, NH on Saturday, July 22 for 100 laps of racing on the 1/4 mile. The small, tight oval proved once again to be fast and challenging.
25 drivers practiced, qualified and started the feature event. By virtue of the redraw, Chris Pasteryak had the pole with Matt Hirschman starting second. All told, there were five green flag lead changes, amongst four race leaders: Chris Pasteryak, Stephen Kopcik, Matt Swanson, and Jake Johnson.
Pasteryak looked to be the early favorite as he stretched out a convincing lead until the first caution flew on lap 45. During the caution, the field pitted except for: Stephen Kopcik, Joey Jarvis Jake Johnson, Derek Robbie and Richard Savary.
The second caution occurred on lap 49 when cars piled up on the backstretch. The next caution came on lap 69 for the stopped car of Derek Robbie in turn three. As the saying goes – cautions breed cautions – and a turn three pile-up next brought the yellow out on lap 71. A caution flew again on lap 74 when Kyle Bonsignore spun on the front stretch. Then again, when Chris Pasteryak spun in turn four on lap 76.
The incident that may have changed the race outcome occurred on lap 81 after contact between front runners Matt Swanson and Matt Hirschman. Swanson’s spin on the front stretch brought out a yellow, with Hirschman being sent to the rear of the field, and Jake Johnson inheriting the lead.
Jake Johnson cruised to the win, capturing his second career MMTTS win at Star Speedway and a $7,500 winner’s purse for his efforts.
Woody Pitkat made his way back in the top five by lap 46 and at the end crossed the finish line second. Todd Patnode’s car was off during practice and qualifying, but after adjustments, he took home a podium finish. Stephen Kopcik started the feature in sixth and finished fourth. Brian Robie raced from the back of the pack to gain the most positions – from thirty-fourth to fifth. Robie’s forward run earned him the Van Horst Construction Hard Charger Award.
MMTTS teams will regroup, update their notes, and be back on track Saturday, August 12 for the first of two 2023 MMTTS appearances at Connecticut’s New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Join us then for some more hot summer racing.
Drivers News & Notes:
Jake Johnson – WINNER
“Monaco Modifieds (Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series) and Star (Speedway) together always project a great race and it is always fun to be here. I am just delighted. I thought as we were running third that we would hang on for a top five.”
On lap 81, contact between the two front runners moved Johnson into the top position. “The leaders seemed to get together and I thought let’s go get us a first. Let’s see if we can win this thing. Once we restarted on the pole, I thought we have to be perfect now and we were right on.”
“I have to thank my awesome crew. We have so many people involved and it is great to have a great car and a great team with a great attitude”
At the end of the race, Johnson pulled away from the field putting several car lengthens between him and second place runner Woody Pitkat. “It seemed like the slower we went, the faster we went. They told me to slow down and take it easy. And I did that. Then they would say you are clear by one. And then I drove a little slower and they would say: ’You are clear by two’. I thought okay let’s get this thing to the front. So we cleared ten cars and the rest was history.”
This is my second time at Star Speedway with the Monaco Modifieds. I love the facility and track here. It is a cool short-track environment that puts on great racing with great fans.”
“I have to thank the Webber Family and Monaco for putting on this show. And all the fans. Without all that, you cannot put on a show.”
Woody Pitkat – 2nd place
At the end of the 100-lap feature, the race leader was able to pull away from the field and maintain a good distance between himself and second-place runner, Woody Pitkat.
“It seemed like everyone was lacking forward drive towards the end. I think I had more than others, but Jake has something figured out obviously. He did the same thing last season and it is ironic that we both finished one-two, two years in a row.”
“It’s cool. We have chased this car since the Ice Breaker. We got wrecked at the Thompson and the car just has not reacted the same ever since. We came here and tested yesterday and changed a bunch of stuff, which was nice. That put us so much further ahead when we unloaded today.”
“Hats off to Cam and everybody who worked so hard all weekend. He gave me a car and he knew I was not very happy after the heat race and throughout practice. I thought that we were going to be good during the race. Then we just killed it in the pits. He (Cam) was the one that changed the right rear which got us out and we re-started fifth or sixth. We were stuck there on lap 75 and I wanted to get a long run in.”
“I don’t know if I am a big fan of the cone deal. There are times when you should be able to start third and in a good spot and somebody that should start second takes the spot. At the end, I thought I had enough to just put it out on the outside and dig as hard as I could.”
Todd Patnode – 3rd place
“A third was good because when we got here we just chased problem after problem. Somehow we missed the setup from where we were at three weeks ago. We were just terrible. In the heat race we were just terribly slow. The guys did not give up and we made some adjustments just before the feature that were the right way. We were not where we were a couple of weeks ago, but we are happy that we turned it around. I honestly do not know how we missed it so bad when we got here.”
“We were just behind the eight-ball plan and simple. So we are more than happy with a third after starting a day like that.”
Stephen Kopcik – 4th place
“It’s cool to be racing with this series and for such great people. Pete from Sign Pro and Monaco Ford. Ed, Renee, everyone in the Series, and all the work they put in. They sure do make you feel appreciated and it makes racing fun. They have a great group of people and I can’t wait to see what the future of this series will bring.”
Kopcik ran all 100 laps on the same tires. Driving a smooth, even race saving rubber for the end.
“I was trying save as much as I could in the beginning. At the end, the car was not that great and I don’t think that many other cars were either. It was pretty cool to drive with guys that race and win here.”
Brian Robie – 5th place
“Really for us it was a great race. We knew that we were a little underpowered but we have been running this crate car everywhere since our primary tour (type) car is not done yet. For us, it was just one of those days where we were not sure what we were going to end up with since we started so far back. Then the beginning of the race did not seem so great for us. But after pit stops where we adjustments that brought the car right to us. From there it was just keeping the nose clean, picking off spots where we could – getting a few on the cone and on the track. We were fortunate enough to bring it home in fifth place without any real damage, so it was a great day for us.”
Van Horst Hard Charger Award Recipient
Robie started twenty-fourth and finished fifth earning him the Van Horst Hard Charger Award. Prior to be notified, Robie said: “I am hoping for the Hard Charger Award. I can’t imagine that anybody got more than nineteen spots, but I’m not sure.”
“I like getting awards like the Hard Charger, We actually got more of those when we first started racing it seemed like we started at the back of the field and we were able to move our way forward. I haven’t gotten one of them in a while and they are really cool to get. I really appreciated it when there is money put up for them. I am one of those that would rather start last and move way forward rather than to start in the front and try to stay there.”