OXFORD, Me. -- It seems that each racing season one driver has everything figured out. For the True Value Modified Racing Series in 2009, that driver is Jon McKennedy.
The 22 year-old from Chelmsford, Mass. earned his third TVMRS win of the season on Saturday night at Maine's Oxford Plains Speedway after a long battle with fellow young gun Andy Seuss, building on his point lead in the series. McKennedy started from the pole position and led the first 15 laps of the Maine-ly Action Sports 100 before giving way to Rob Goodenough, then raced hard with Seuss during an 82-lap green-flag stretch, first for the second position, then later for the lead again. Seuss ran in the high lane with McKennedy on the bottom. Seuss' car was a tad better off the corners in the beginning, but McKennedy said one final, daring move between Seuss and the lapped car of Ken Barry was what made the difference.
"It was wild and fun, I'll tell you," he said. "The first 40 laps I felt like I was putting too much pressure on the tires. A few times I got a run underneath [Seuss], but he was able to burst back by me. I just kept telling myself to slow down and wait another 20 laps or so. We caught up to some traffic and I decided to go and it worked out, at the end of the race we still had some tire left. My car was a little tight at the beginning and I needed the whole race track to run off the corner. To clear him on the bottom was tough at the beginning, the car was tight and I really didn't want to push the tires too much, but I found a good opening there and I really sailed it in and it stuck and we cleared him."
Unofficially, the pair each led twice from laps 43 to 76 before McKennedy made what proved to be the winning pass.
"We knew he was going to be the car to beat, and he has been lately on the True Value tour," Seuss said of McKennedy. "To win, you've got to stay ahead of him. That's all I was doing, and I was trying not to burn it up at the same time. He obviously had a far superior car and got by us and just took off. It was a ball, we had a good side-by-side battle, but by the end he must have just been sick of running with me because he kind of pushed me up and around that lapped car. But you know, he was going forward and he needed to do that to get some clear air, so congratulations to him."
From that point on, McKennedy was long gone; the only thing that slowed him down was a caution flag for a spinning Kevin Iannarelli on lap 97, erasing the quarter-track lead McKennedy built over Ascutney racer Dwight Jarvis, who passed Seuss, of Hampstead, N.H., for second place on lap 87. David Pinkham of Buxton, Me. slipped under Seuss five laps after Jarvis for third place. Eddie Dachenhausen of Danbury, Conn. finished fifth.
"This is our third win, we're leading the points. I feel like we should have won a few more races, but we just had some mechanical failures that took us out," said McKennedy, who also has victories at Twin State and Seekonk this season, and was in contention late at Monadnock and Thunder Road before trouble. "I can't say enough [about the team], the car's been running great. I think the biggest thing is we have a notebook this year, you know, we raced all these tracks last year and some the year before, so we know what we need as far as suspension and stuff like that when we get to the track and it's showing this year. We unload and nine out of ten times it's fast."
OFFICIAL RESULTS -- Maine-ly Action Sports 100
True Value Modified Racing Series -- Oxford Plains Speedway, Oxford, Me.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
1. Jon McKennedy, Chelmsford, Mass.
2. Dwight Jarvis, Ascutney
3. David Pinkham, Buxton, Me.
4. Andy Seuss, Hampstead, N.H.
5. Eddie Dachenhausen, Danbury, Conn.
6. Peter Jarvis, Ascutney
7. Rowan Pennink, Huntington Valley, Penn.
8. Rob Goodenough, West Swanzey, N.H.
9. Jack Bateman, Canaan, N.H.
10. Steve Masse, Bellingham, Mass.
11. Sean Bodreau, Claremont, N.H.
12. Eddy Spiers, Beacon Falls, Conn.
13. Chris Pasteryak, Lisbon, Conn.
14. Les Hinckley, Windsor Locks, Conn.
15. Ken Barry, Preston, Conn.
16. Jacob Dore, Sanford, Me.
17. Mike Douglas, Jr., Auburn, N.H.
18. Jimmy Dolan, Bethel, Conn.
19. Joe Doucette, Framingham, Mass.
20. Kevin Iannarelli, Maynard, Mass.
21. Tony Ricci, Westbrook, Me.
22. Mike Holdridge, Madison, Conn.
(PHOTO: Jon McKennedy in victory lane at Oxford Plains Speedway. It was his third True Value Modified win of 2009; photo by Justin St. Louis/VMM)