WHILE IN a Modified state of mind after Star’s SBM 125 open event, which jazzed up a lot of open-wheel fans, note that the Valenti Modified Series is back at it Friday night at Stafford. Rowan Pennink and Louie Mechalides are perched atop the Modified Series standings in a first-place tie.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is at Waterford Speedbowl Saturday for the Rooter 161. Granite State motorheads may consider more local options. Waterford Whelen Tour adult tickets are $38 per.
Pennsylvanian Matt Hirschman took the money (nearly $10,000) and ran at Star Saturday. Hirschman started on the outside pole and was never passed. Les Hinckley made a triumphant return to Modified racing, catching Ryan Preece late to finish second. Valenti Modified Series regular Steve Masse was fourth. Star regular Richard Savary was fifth. Positions six through 10 went to Todd Patnode, Andy Seuss, reigning Star champion Jacob Dore, Zane Zeiner and Pennsylvania teenager and former National Quarter Midget champion Austin Kochenash.
Hinckley’s 4-Seasons Refrigeration/Cliff Nelson Racing No. 06 was the fastest car on the track at the end. He might have had something for Hirschman, but ran out of laps. He ran out of luck too, during a wild pit stop around lap 80. The race had 13 cautions, including several late, but it also had a long green flag run. When the yellow did come out, there was a mad scramble into the pits, everybody wanted in. Getting back out was like having I-95 narrow quickly to one lane at the Hampton toll plaza.
“We started eighth after the redraw,” Hinckley said. “I went forward at first and then I got hung out for a while and backed up to 14th. I drove back up to eighth before the yellow and then got boxed in on pit road and couldn’t get to the stall next to the fence. We tried to get at the wheel with a cordless impact wrench. We were in the hornets’ nest It was a real mess. I was about 20th when I got back out. It was fun to be there though. Kevin (Rice), Jim (Schaefer) and the Webbers did a good job.”Richard Savary, the Canton, Mass. veteran, agreed with Hinckley that the Star event went well. “At the end there were too many cautions,” he said, “but everybody came out of the pits with fresh tires and was thinking — this is the time to win it. My car was bent. I was behind Les. He was the show.”
Savary sounded a common theme — all the competitors were pumped by the quality of the field. When Ted Christopher, Doug Coby, Mike Stefanik and Ronnie Silk don’t crack the top 10, even if they’re in a car they don’t drive a lot, that speaks volumes.Joey Polewarczyk Jr. of Hudson came up through the field in the American Canadian Tour 150 at Canaan and left runner-up Wayne Helliwell Jr. behind on a late restart to post his first 2013 tour win. Glenn Luce, Claremont’s Luke Hinkley and Brent Dragon were 3-4-5. Helliwell Jr. is the new point leader.
ACT does double duty this weekend — first comes a Saturday night race at White Mountain followed by a resumption of the earlier rain-shortened Riverside Speedway 150. Rowland Robinson Jr. will continue leading the Riverside 150 on Sunday, which picks up on lap 30. Jimmy Hebert, Randy Potter, Helliwell Jr. and Chip Grenier comprise the top five on the starting grid. Travis Fadden may give the Tour regulars all they want at White Mountain. The North Haverhill driver has won three in a row.
Lee overcame its go-round with town officials and raced as scheduled Friday. Jon Booth of Rochester wired the Small Block Supermodified field and became the fifth different winner in five races. Tommy Tombarello of Haverhill, Mass., and Leslie Keyser of Northfield were second and third. Grant Aither won the Late Model Sportsman main.
Lee, the racing community and Supermodified driver Dave Sanborn in particular, recently lost a longtime supporter, Harold “Howdy” Clapp of Groton, Mass. Clapp was Sanborn’s car owner and an accomplished racer back in the “cutdown” days at Lee, Star and Hudson. “He was 68 — I loved him like a dad,” Sanborn said. “He used to downplay his racing — ‘won a few etc’, but I’ve been told he was quite the man in his day.”Matt Frahm of Salem carried the Granite State Pro Stock Series checkers at Devil’s Bowl (Vt.). George Bessette of Danbury, Conn., was second. Zig Geno of Canterbury finished third. The next event on the GSPSS schedule is the Gate City Classic at Hudson Speedway Sunday, July 7.
Tom Herzig’s column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email him at email@example.com.