Tom Herzig's Trackside: Valenti Modified back at Monadnock
It's back to where it all began 10 years ago for the Valenti Modified Series this Saturday - Monadnock Speedway in Winchester. If the Bond Auto Parts Spring Dash 100 can come anywhere close to last year's white knuckler, which saw Les Hinckley overtake Louie Mechalides and Jon McKennedy for the win, it will be well worth the price of admission.
To that end, ticket prices are $25 for adults, $15 for seniors, $5 for students and kids 12 and under are free. If you go to Monadnock's facebook page and "like" the old bull ring, you can save up to $5 on an adult ticket via a coupon that will be emailed to you.
Track manager Michelle Cloutier maintains that "judging from registration, our numbers will be up in every division."
The Modifieds had solid numbers at Waterford a couple of weeks back when Steve Masse won the opener of the 19-race series. Five teams that were at the first Modified Series at Monadnock a decade back are expected to compete - Dwight Jarvis of Ascutney, Vt., Rob Goodenough of Swanzey, hometown favorite Jim Boniface, car owner and series founder Jack Bateman (for driver Todd Owen) and Gary Casella for driver Rowan Pennink.
Pennink, a perennial threat to win the Valenti title finished second in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Icebreaker at Thompson last weekend after getting reeled in by Mike Stefanik.
Cloutier says at least three track champions will be back to defend their title - John Lavoie of Hancock/Super Stocks, Kimmy Rivet of Chicopee, Mass./Mini Stocks and Lightning Stock (stock 4-cylinders on Falken Tires) champion Craig Chaffee of Keene.
Russ Hersey, the 2012 Sportsman Modified champion is reportedly racing a partial schedule, which could open the door for last year's runner-up Bill Kimball of Bennington.
Lavoie drives the Edmunds Hardware/Chuck's Auto of Antrim No.33. "This will be my eighth year in the same car," Lavoie said. "There's going to be a pretty good field with some cars that used to race at Twin State or Canaan headed down. There's a mix of metric chassis, tube chassis and Camaro snout cars with weight allowances used to try and even things up. This year we're going to be on 8-inch rib Hoosier tires." Lavoie won 10 races in 2012.
Chaffee beat out Dick Houle of Brattleboro, Vt., for the Lightning Stock championship last year. Here's how bad Houle would like to turn that around - a confessed short track junkie, Houle is going to "try it out and see what happens" this weekend despite having undergone shoulder surgery a few weeks ago.
Jimmy Hebert of Williamstown, Vt., won the ACT Governor's Cup 150 at Lee last Sunday, besting fellow youngblood Travis Faddden of North Haverhill and Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, Mass., amidst multiple cautions late in the race.
It was a thorough dismissal of the sophomore jinx for Hebert, who recorded his best ever ACT finish - just as Fadden did - while wheeling a new Dale Shaw chassis sponsored by Hebert Excavation, Lowery's Auto Sales of Barre, Vt., and RG Paving.
Hebert's dad, Larry, was his spotter although he was counseled at times by Shaw - and when Dale got too excited - by Dale's son DJ, who's racing on the PASS tour this season. "DJ's the calmer one," Hebert said.
"What a way to get your first ACT top-5 - win the race," Shaw Sr. said. "We have some teams on this new chassis in other series, but Jimmy's the first one on the American Canadian Tour."
"The car was bad fast," Hebert said. "Basically the new chassis allowed us to take stuff that had worked for us before and expand on it - move things around more. We kept a baseline to go back to if we needed to. They kept telling me to save it - save it. I could put the car anywhere I wanted to and crack the whip once in a while to pass cars one by one."
Tom Herzig's Trackside column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.