East Chelmsford, MA driver Jon McKennedy snared the lead of the Modified Racing Series 100-lapper at Seekonk’s D. Anthony Venditti Memorial Race, Sunday, and was not headed, executing a green-flag-to-checkers win for his third series victory on the season. The win edges him closer to the division’s championship with just two events remaining.
McKennedy had two challengers through the long competition: Richard Savary of Canton, MA and Todd Annarummo of Swansea. Both drivers are eminently familiar with the 1/3-mile Southeastern Massachusetts asphalt and both are sons of drivers with long histories of numerous victories at the oval.
Savary pushed McKennedy for the first 70 laps with a very fast car and then Annarummo, who won the previous MRS event at the Cement Palace, took over to press a challenge. “Todd has a lot of laps here; he’s the last guy I wanted back there. Luckily, we were able to hold him off, “said McKennedy after the finish.
Stephen Masse, Bellingham, MA, Ken Barry, Preston, CT, Dave Berghman, Seekonk, MA, Les Hinckley III, Windsor Locks, CT, Ryan Preece, Berlin, CT, Max Zachem, Preston, CT, Jack Bateman, Canaan, NH, and Louie Mechalides, Tyngsboro, MA rounded out the top 10.
McKennedy started the pole and had Savary on his shoulder at the start. The eventual winner jumped to the lead and Savary locked himself in behind, and stayed there for 70 grinding laps. Entering the 71st lap, as the leaders came up to loop Pennsylvanian Rowan Pennink, he looped his car, coming out the fourth turn into the front stretch. McKennedy and Savary split to avoid and the rest of the lead pack, including Annarummo (third,) Vermonter Dwight Jarvis and Masse was able to avoid wrecking.
Series officials at this point called a red flag on the field as the sun was low over the stadium. Drivers, especially Bridgewater’s Jimmy Kuhn, had warned them that this time of the day created dangerous vision lapses on the course and they had planned in the event that drivers began to experience problems, to delay the race in progress until the situation abated. Approximately 10 minutes were required to wait until the sun dipped below the stadium wall.
The restart had McKennedy and Savary again on the front row with Annarummo low in the following pair. Jarvis was at his shoulder. Masse and Les Hinckley (a previous winner this year) made up row 3. McKennedy regained the lead, but Annarummo got under Savary, keeping him to the outside, and he began to fade back, finally able to settle into fourth behind Masse. Lap 76 saw Shelly Perry spin in turn one sending Rob Williams, Kuhn, Jim Dolan and Rob Goodenough into a stalled cluster up near the turn 2 wall. Dolan had to be towed from the track, ending his racing for the day.
McKennedy and Annarummo resumed their duel for another 2 laps, until another group got together in turn one. Kuhn, Jarvis, Ken Vogel, Jr. and Williams ground to a halt bringing out the caution. McKennedy was at the front in the restart once again, but Masse was trying to work his way under Annarummo. Todd held him off and went back to bother McKennedy’s rear bumper. Masse stayed on his quest and harried Annarummo for the rest of the race, working to get under again on lap 85.
The play between the pair gave McKennedy some small respite, but did not take away the challenge as he edged two cars on them. Annarummo briefly shook Masse and went back to finding a circuit around McKennedy.
With three laps remaining, McKennedy turned on a small reserve and moved a bit ahead of his challenger, but Annarummo pulled back in behind. The final two circuits were a catch-me-if-you-can proposition. But Annarummo was unable to generate a pass and they flashed under the checkers with McKennedy 2 tenths of a second ahead.