Les Hinckley’s favorite baseball team didn’t get to play much this fall, but not all was lost. As True Value Modified announcer John Spence said, “The Red Sox didn’t get to the World Series but Les Hinckley won the Oktoberfest here at Lee.”
Hinckley had come close many times to winning at the Lee tri-oval, but like the Sox, he had seen plenty of disappointments, like parts failures and bad luck, keep him from that goal.
TRUE VALUE MODIFIED LEFTOVERS: LEE by Denise DuPont
Tales From the 2006 True Value Finale
Hinckley waves a well-earned checkered flag. (Jim DuPont Photos)
“I always wanted to win here,” said Hinckley. “We never really ran well here or had a lot of luck the past three times that we have been here. We really ran well, we came from the back to the front and we gave one away earlier in the year.”
This time though the #06 team would not be denied.
“What a good effort. It took a lot of hard work by [car owners] Chuck & Debbie, the crew and my Dad. Everyone just kind of chips and does everything they can. We have been changing a lot stuff right down to the truck and trailer to turn this deal around. It is good. We made a decision if we came home from here in one piece we were going to go to North Carolina for the North-South Shootout. So we are going to head down there with smile on our faces.”
One of the improvements made at the Lee Speedway this year was a treatment in the corners to help with multi-groove racing. Hinckley noticed the treatment and welcomed the move.
“I definitely did notice,” said Hinckley. “I applauded [track owner] Red MacDonald and everyone here for what they did. The outside groove was hands down better than it has ever been here. We were tight in the center with the car. On the bottom it bound me up a little bit but it really worked well up top. Better than it ever, it is just unbelievable. I can’t believe that we got this done.”
Hinckley took the lead within 10 laps of the finish when Andy Seuss encountered heavy lapped traffic.
“It was a real good race. We tightened the car up for the race based on what we had to deal with here in the past. It was a little too tight in the center but it was still pretty good. We got to Andy and I thought that we were going to be able to go around him and then he was setting a pretty good pace. So I was happy to ride behind him and I figured that we would go after it later. We went for a real long green flag lap run there and then when we got the restart that I was hoping for. But the tires cooled down too much and I buzzed the rears. Then it looked like Andy had an equal or a tick better car and I was not going to be able to drive around him under normal circumstances.
“Lap traffic played into it. That is part of racing. When we were running that good and others were not and we had to deal with it. We gave a few away this year. Andy and I wrecked going for the lead, I have had some mechanical failures. One here while we were leading. So we will take a win that way. We held him off for ten last ten laps so we had a good race car too. We have been coming here for a long time without any success. So it is very gratifying to get out of here with a win.
“It never really crossed my mind about wrecking with lapped traffic. They all seemed to be holding their line well. When you got to them there were cars that were too wide and that part concerned you but my crew was telling me that there was not a lot of pressure coming from behind me that we were racing with. So I was not too concerned about loosing spots in traffic I was looking for an opportunity to get Andy in the traffic and so I just would be ready to pounce on him. I got that one opportunity and made the most of it. Sometimes it bites you and some times it does not. It was pretty hot in the car when we had that first restart and the lapped car started on the outside. I wanted a shot to get restart to start outside of the leader. My crew tried to keep me calm. So I was not too happy there. It all came full circle and it all worked out.”
“On the last restart, I buzzed the rear tires. We went so long run and then we had a long caution and the tires cooled off.. My only shot at Andy might have been a restart. If we had not gotten into lapped traffic he might have a tick better of a car. I do not think that I would have He did have a better car and I do not think gotten by him. That’s part of racing. Like I said we gave a few away, so we will take one back.”
KUHN COMES UP A LITTLE SHORT IN CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE
The #72 team and driver Jimmy Kuhn, Jr. came up a little bit short in their battle for the 2006 True Value Modified Racing Series championship to Dwight Jarvis. Kuhn ended up finishing third at Lee, but it wasn’t enough to catch up to Jarvis.
“Congratulations to Dwight and his crew they deserve it,” said Kuhn. “They ran good all year too. We cannot complain. We came here with a different car. We never ran this car and the setup here before. We came here with nothing to loose. We wanted to try something different to try to go for the win. We got a little short on the practice and we got banged up on the heats, but we threw something at it and it was pretty good. The car was exceptionally well today. We had an awesome year and we will come back next year. We will be back in 2007.”
“It was an excellent race all in all. I am looking forward to next year. The race came down to the wire. We both ran hard all year. We’ll come back next year and try again. We are going to get started early going through the cars
for next year. We have two cars, so we’ll freshen them up and start to get them ready for next year.”
JARVIS WINS TVMRS TITLE
The leader in points going in, Dwight Jarvis won the TVMRS championship with his 11th-place finish at Lee Speedway. He didn’t think that his race was pretty, but it was good enough to secure the title.
Pitkat (R) talks with Bobby Grigas, III (L).
“It was alright,” Pitkat said of his race. “We were here obviously after yesterday probably with our confidence in that we were going to finish probably in a top 10 or 15. I have no idea where we finished but we were not last. The first 50 laps we were all right. We were like riding in fourth and then the caution came out. And after that the car was just a handful. The car got way too loose It was loose in and loose off. We had that long green and we came in after that I was just trying to hold on to the car. I just figured if we finished and got some seat time. That is the biggest thing.
Pitkat had planned to make his TVMRS debut at Seekonk, but had trouble in the qualifying races and did not make the show.
“At Seekonk I got six laps of practice and yesterday I had about 12 laps of practice. So I am not getting
enough seat time. To get comfortable but you go t to do the best you can and not worry about it. We did good in the heat race yesterday but that is what I am use to. I am use to running the thirty lap races. So once I get more seat time and I know what I have to do to run a one hundred and fifty lap race. I have won one-hundred and fifty laps Late Model race before so I know what to do. We just need to gel with everybody and get use to the setups and what we have to do and just start running some more races.”
Now, it’s time for Pitkat to put together his plans for 2007.
“I have to see what happens over the winter. We have some stuff for this year that we have to finish out with so we will just do that and then over the winter see what happens. My main thing that I would like to do is to try to get a Whelen Modified Tour ride or maybe a Busch ride. If that does not happen, then these guys are willing to let me run their cars .We will just see what happens over the winter. “
LATE RACE CONFUSION COSTS EVONSION
Dale Evonsion started out the Lee race with plenty of potential. But things went downhill for him during the 100-lap event.
Jarvis celebrates his championship.
“The car was terrible today,” said Jarvis. “No matter what I did I could not keep it underneath me. I was hanging out there all day today.
"I want to thank my pit crew and my sponsors. With the pit crew and all the sponsors I sure would not be here. I want to thank my wife and my daughter. I just want to thank everybody.
“This feels real super because it was with a great bunch of guys that are real competitive It was real good to win on a series like this. I have never done that. I have been racing a little while, since 1973 and this will make number 18 on the championships. It just feels real good.“
While many Modified teams are getting ready for late-season open shows like the North-South Shootout or Mason-Dixon Meltdown, Jarvis is parking his car for the winter.
“We are done racing for the 2006 season. Now it is time to get to work and see if we can make some money. We will be back next year. I do not know if we will be on a full time deal. We will race all we can. We are trying to build a house for my son-in-law and daughter. I think that we will race all we can that is all that I can tell you.”
OWEN WINS CONSI, STRUGGLES IN FEATURE
Todd Owen won the fifteen lap consi race on Saturday, October 21st at Lee Speedway in the #07 car, but did not fair as well in the race. Owen brought home a 12th-place finish.
“The car was good until the first caution,” said Owen. “After that I just struggled. After the caution when we went back to green there was just no grip on the tires. “
PITKAT MAKES TVMRS DEBUT
Woody Pitkat made his True Value Modified Racing Series debut at Lee’s Oktoberfest behind the wheel of the #29 machine. He finished 18th.
“My car was good for most of the race and then with the red flag. I don’t know if something happened with just sitting there. I do not know if one of the tires went down. We had a lot more stagger then we started with. The car just got a little too free at the end.”
Then with a few laps to go, Evonsion lost third place to Jimmy Kuhn due to a little bit of confusion.
“I actually thought that the #72 car (Kuhn) was a lapped car so I did not run him that hard and then it cost me for points.”
LAPPED TRAFFIC COSTS SEUSS
The fall portion of the racing season means some long
trips for Andy Seuss and the #70 Modified team. The 19-year-old New Hampshire driver recently qualified second for two NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified races at Caraway Speedway (NC) and Motor Mile Speedway (VA). Overheating problems took him out of the race at Caraway. At Motor Mile, he finished fourth.
Before heading down to the North-South Shootout, Seuss had something a little bit closer to home marked on his calendar. Instead of traveling 12, 14 or 16 hours to a track, Seuss rode 30 minutes up to Lee USA Speedway for Oktoberfest and the 100-lap season finale for the True Value Modified Racing Series this past weekend.
In front of the home crowd, Seuss led the most laps of the race and finished a strong second in the feature race.
“This was the best car that I have had here,” said Seuss, who raced weekly at the track previously in his career. “It was a lot of fun driving out there, especially in front of a hometown crowd. It was a lot of fun leading laps. When you have a car this good it, was a lot of fun to drive.”
With eight laps to go, Seuss lost the lead to Les Hinckley in heavy traffic. A lapped car held Seuss up and Hinckley was quick to make a move for the top spot. Despite Seuss’ best efforts, he could not repass Hinckley to take the lead back.
“It was a lot of fun racing Les Hinckley,” said Seuss. “When you have two cars that closely matched it is fun. But it was not racing that bit us today. There were two cars racing in lapped traffic that got me, so it is a little disappointing to finish second.
“I think that we had the better car. It’s a bummer but that is part of it. I am sure someday that I will gain because
of traffic and someone else will lose ground. All in all, it was a good day, a good weekend. We have a car in one piece and we will go to the North-South Shootout to carry this momentum.”
GRIGAS ENDS UP IN TOP 10 IN SPITE OF HIS CAR
It takes a lot of fine-tuning to make a racecar perform ideally. Unfortunately, one can also adjust a little bit too much and that is what happened to Bobby Grigas, III this past weekend for Oktoberfest; the True Value Modified Racing Series season finale, at Lee USA Speedway (NH).
Grigas finished ninth with a less than cooperative racecar.
“We just tightened up the car too much,” said Grigas. “We just missed the setup. I think that I was the first car that was a lap down at the finish. I think that there were only five or six cars on the lead lap. So all in all, I got a top ten and I had about a 24th place car.”
Grigas had pitted under caution during lap 15 of the race.
“The car was handling way too tight. We tried to free it a little more. It got better but it was still tight and then it started to get loose and I was totally upset. It was not the finish that I wanted but I got a top 10, with an absolutely horrible handling car. That was a top 20 car.
“It was a long weekend,” added Grigas. “I expected a little bit better finish than what we had, but I can say that this is the urn around point. Since I broke my wrist I have not been finishing the races. I did not finish at Seekonk or Thompson, so hopefully this is the turnaround.