FRESNO, Calif. –Kyle Vanderpool closed an impressive 2013 supermodified season October 20 with a strong eighth-place run in the World Series of Racing ISMA 50-lapper at Thompson Speedway in Connecticut. The finish garnered the Penix Racing driver the ISMA Hard Charger bonus for starting deep in the pack and advancing the most positions in the fast-paced supermodified main event.
Vanderpool’s Thompson run culminated a great season for the Californian that saw the Penix Racing team compete in supermodified racing coast to coast from March to October.
The team kicked off the season with wins at their home track, Madera Speedway in California. Vanderpool would go on to race his Penix-owned west-coast Hyder super to victories in five of six Madera shows in another dominating season on the west coast.
The big story coming into this season was Vanderpool’s first foray to the east coast in the new Penix Racing Belfab chassis to race in the most competitive supermodified traveling series in the country, the International Supermodified Association (ISMA) and Midwest Supermodified Association (MSA).
After running a handful of Must See Supermodified (MSR) events in the Midwest, Vanderpool’s first MSA event came on a June weekend when the MSR show was rained out at Auto City, Michigan. The Penix team made the quick decision to travel south to Ohio’s Sandusky Speedway for the MSA show, where Vanderpool impressed many with a fine fourth-place finish against the best supermodified racers in the Midwest.
Not only did Vanderpool finish fourth in his first time racing the Belfab chassis on Hoosier tires, but he ran strong against three of supermodified racing’s best. Dave Shullick Jr., 2013 MSA champion Trent Stephens and multi-time winner Charlie Schultz finished first through third with Vanderpool coming home fourth among some very talented company.
The June 22 MSA race also served as a good warm-up for July’s prestigious ISMA Hy-Miler Supermodified Nationals at Sandusky, which would serve as Vanderpool’s first-ever ISMA start.
At the Nationals Vanderpool wheeled his Belfab to a respectable 13th-place finish in Friday’s Fast 40.
Consistent rain showers postponed Saturday’s 100-lap ISMA headliner to Sunday. The team used Saturday’s day off to make a few changes to the car, which resulted in a very impressive fifth-place qualifying effort Sunday morning for the afternoon’s main event. Unfortunately for the Penix team, Kyle was involved in an early race accident that sidelined him for the rest of the race.
The wreck resulted in much damage to the No. 3 Belfab, marking one of the few disappointments of the year for the Penix Racing group.
“Wrecking so early at Sandusky, especially with so much promise going into the feature, was tough,” Vanderpool said this past week. “But after a lot of work by the team in the shop, we rebounded and had some good runs in the fall. Racing the ISMA group is tough. There are so many talented racers, so many good cars. Whether it’s Ohio or New England, you have to be on your game. It’s been a real privilege to run with them and run respectable.”
With the car housed in Indianapolis for the season, the team spent the latter part of the summer making repairs to the NH3 Plus-sponsored machine in time to run two of ISMA’s premier events, September’s Star Classic and October’s Thompson World Series.
At Star, Vanderpool consistently ran top-10 practice speeds of nearly 30 entrants, including posting the sixth-fastest lap in the first and last practice sessions of the day.
In his first trip to Star, Vanderpool started the Classic 26th and went on a tear to pass many cars on his way to the seventh place. But the car broke a torque arm on lap 52, which sidelined the No. 3 super for the remainder of the event.
The season concluded at Thompson, one of the fastest tracks supermodifieds visit on an annual basis. The team battled an array of mechanical problems during practice and qualifying races, which take place on Saturday before the Sunday main event.
Vanderpool would start deep in the 28-car field with uncertainty surrounding the car’s ability to go the 50-lap distance. But once the green flag waved Vanderpool soon realized he had a machine capable of running well.
The California racer began passing cars and continued to do so throughout the main event. Toward the latter stages of the race Vanderpool found himself inside the top 10 and continuing to challenge for more positions. When the checkers waved the Penix 3 crossed the stripe in the eighth position to earn the Hard Charger award and a solid top-10 finish in their first trip ever to Thompson.
“The Star and Thompson races were very important to us,” team owner Don Penix commented. “We hadn’t done a ton of racing yet with the east-coast car, and we really wanted to make Oswego’s Classic weekend, but we needed the extra week to prepare for Star. We wanted to do well to end the season on a high note, and Kyle did an outstanding job at both racetracks. My mind hasn’t stopped running since we left Thompson, thinking of ways to improve the car for next season. We’re all really excited to continue our progress when 2014 rolls around.”
Penix and Vanderpool are now pointing to next season and an opportunity to turn even more heads on the east coast. With the Belfab super now back in California, the team has begun preparations for the 2014 season, which will include more racing with ISMA and MSA.
Penix Racing and Kyle Vanderpool thank the crew and team sponsors that made a season of racing supermodifieds coast-to-coast possible, including NH3 Plus, Inc., Administrative Solutions, Caps Brite Hot Coatings, Belfab Racing Products, Schaeffer’s Racing Oil, McGaughy’s, Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co., Simpson Race Products, K&N Filters and SpeedMeetsArt.com. The team also sends out a special thanks to Jet Star Inc. in Indianapolis and Cooper Machine in Tewksbury, Mass., for housing the Penix supermodified during the season.
Penix Racing is a supermodified racing team based in Madera, California. Penix Racing is the only supermodified team that owns east-coast and west-coast-style supermodifieds, and in 2013 will become the first team to ever regularly compete in events west and east of the Mississippi River.
Penix Racing and Kyle Vanderpool’s marketing partners are NH3 Plus, Inc., Administrative Solutions, Caps Brite Hot Coatings, Belfab Racing Products, Schaeffer’s Racing Oil, McGaughy’s, Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co., Simpson Race Products, K&N Filters and SpeedMeetsArt.com.