Fastballs: Rookie Bobby Grigas had a breakout night, and early in the going was the only driver to keep pace with Hinckley, but Grigas had a panhard bar mount break on lap 33. After Grigas made his exit, Ed Dachenhausen tried to give Hinckley a run for his money. Dachenhausen was tough, but also unsuccessful.
And then the changeups: Canaan Fair Speedway has a town-mandated curfew, one that disallows stock car races to begin after 11:00pm. Because of two rain delays and some lengthy cautions during heat races, the program stretched out dramatically. After some tense moments, the start of the Chappy's Concessions 100 beat the curfew - by a scant four minutes. Once the race got going, TVMRS officials decided late in the program to shorten the feature to just 92 laps. No matter, as Hinckley led all 92 of them. Had the remaining eight laps been run, chances are good that he would have led those, too.
HINKLEY HITS HOME RUN WITH CANAAN TVMRS VICTORY by Justin St. Louis
Red Sox Fan Proves Worthy of All Pitches Thrown at Him
True Value Modified Racing Series star Les Hinckley is widely known as a supporter - nay, a rabid fanatic - of baseball's Boston Red Sox. Hinckley's helmet is painted white with red stitching to resemble a baseball. Red Sox logos adorn his racecar. And at Canaan Fair Speedway on Saturday night, the Windsor Locks, CT racer proved he could handle any pitch tossed his way. Curveballs, sliders, fastballs, and even a changeup or two were no match, and Hinckley knocked 'em all out of the park.
First came the curveballs: Thirty-eight cars attempting to qualify for a 26-car show, and Hinckley's first race after suffering through major clutch problems at Monadnock. Neither was a problem, as Hinckley won his qualifying heat going away.
Then the sliders: Due to cold temperatures and periodic rain showers, the track surface was cold, green, and mostly one-groove. The outside lane was a slippery place to be, but Hinckley passed polesitter Les Mardanes on the high side to grab the lead on the first lap.
Rookie Bobby Grigas, III wowed them early on in his #09, had a panhard bar mount break.
(Jim DuPont Photo)
"It was pretty good right off the truck today," Hinckley said after the win. "We made a few little changes to the car, and it responded well."
Hinckley felt that a good draw in his heat race helped the night go his way.
"It was a good day all in all. We drew up front for the heat, which is important here, especially with the track being only one groove like it was tonight. Everything just fell into place after that, and I knew that if we had a decent handling racecar, it'd be tough for anybody to get
Les Hinkley (#06) leads Ed Dachenhausen's #48 at Canaan. (Jim DuPont Photo)
around. You have to be real good to go around the outside
here. It all worked out, it was a good night."
The fact that he dominated the race was somewhat gratifying for Hinckley, but he was happier just to be able to give his team a reason to celebrate.
"It's always satisfying when you come from the back to the front, but this team over the past 13 months has gone through a lot of soul searching. We've had a lot of tough times, we've had a lot of stuff happen with the car that shouldn't happen. We made a big commitment over the winter to straighten it all out - we put a new car and a new motor together and all that stuff - and hopefully it's turning around. Nobody deserves it more than these guys. Chuck and Debbie (Montville, Hinckley's car owners) spend a lot of money on this, and the guys all work really hard. I've got a lot of people to thank. Their hard work paid off real well tonight, and we're satisfied."
Dachenhausen, Dwight Jarvis, Chris Wenzel, and Gary Casella caught Hinckley in lapped traffic near the end of the race, and the five raced in tight formation nose-to-tail for several laps, but after clearing traffic, Hinckley pulled away to cruise to the checkers. Dachenhausen, Jarvis, Wenzel, and Casella finished second through fifth in that order. Jimmy Kuhn repeated his sixth-place run at Monadnock, ahead of David Berube. Jack Bateman and his crew rebuilt the front end of their car after a hard crash in qualifying to finish eighth. Defending TVMRS Champion Kirk Alexander had a rough night, finishing ninth with plenty of battle scars. Dale Evonsion completed the Top 10.
Only 12 of the 26 starters were running at the finish. Several drivers lost engines includingRob Goodenough on lap 54. He were running among the leaders when they had their problem. Rookie Marc-Andre Cliche
spun out of 4th place early, collecting top runners Andy Seuss and Bucky Demers. A pileup on lap 82 sent four more cars to the pits.
Mardanes, Hinckley, Jarvis, and Cliche were heat winners. Dave Roys and rookie Josh Currier won the consi rounds. Stay tuned to Speed51.com for Leftovers later this week.
Les Hinkley grasps the checkered flag at Canaan. Check out his helmet. (Bob Ogrodnik Photo)