More cautions followed on laps 14, 15, 17 and 19, and then a red flag came out after the lap 20 restart went awry. The field then began to line up single file on restarts, which helped somewhat, but the caution trend continued.
Alexander avoided wrecking and his car was good enough on the restarts to stay competitive without long green-flag runs. The 10th caution of the day came out on lap 55 and Alexander was in the lead by lap 57.
IT'S STOP...GO...ALEXANDER AT THOMPSON by April Barker
Yellow Fever Breaks Up TVMRS Event
This weekend was the True Value Modified Racing Series’ first visit to Thompson International Speedway and it showed. With a total of 13 cautions, an average of one every five or six laps, the 34-car field put the “mania” in Modified Mania.
Kirk Alexander had a strong car and avoided the carnage to bring home the win in a race that ended, appropriately enough, under caution.
“We had a 75-lap car, not a 30-lap car,” said Alexander. “She (the car) was good all the way through and we held on for the win there at the end. There were a lot of cautions; too many cautions. On the long runs the car was really good.”
It took a while for Alexander and his competitors to have a chance to see how their racecars would behave on long runs. The first caution flag came out on lap 12, and if being a race fan teaches one anything, it’s that cautions breed cautions.
Alexander also got a qualifying spot into the North-South Shootout by winning the race.
“It’s almost like for those other guys, the stagger must not have been coming up quick enough or something, but ours was right on,” added Alexander. “So I just turned under them and I’d go by them.”
In the closing laps, it was a three-car battle between Alexander, Jimmy Kuhn and Les Hinckley. Both Kuhn and Hinckley proved their strength by leading their share of laps throughout the race. Kuhn was even able to work his way back up through the field after spinning out on lap 48.
“I was trying to stay low and there was speedy-dry down there. I was getting loose at the same time, so I basically spun myself out,” said Kuhn. “Then we came in and made a bunch of adjustments on the car and that
Kirk Alexander crosses over the finish line with the checkers and yellow waving at the same time. (Jim DuPont photos)
was what we needed. It was a lot better. Once we made the adjustments, the car was where we needed it to be. And then basically we just worked our way back up to the front.”
Hinckley had a strong car early, but he fought a bad vibration late in the race
“The first two-thirds of the race we were the car to beat,” said Hinckley. “After I got to the lead, I started getting a real bad vibration. The left front started hopping bad. It wasn’t too bad at first, but it got so bad that I couldn’t even steady my vision down the backstretch. I’m a little disappointed; I wanted to win this one. I’m from Connecticut. I haven’t raced here a whole lot, but I wanted to win at Thompson.”
Kuhn was running second to Alexander, with Hinckley in third, when Richard Savary brought out the caution flag on lap 73. Kuhn knew that the following restart would be his last chance to pass Alexander.
“I knew I had one shot at him at the end there,” said Kuhn. “We were riding behind him on the last restart and there was a big groove of rubber basically in the middle of his left front tire that looked like he couldn’t get it off. I knew maybe he’d push up in the first corner. So I said, ‘If I’ve got one shot, this is it right now’”
Unfortunately, Kuhn’s desperate attempt to gain the lead in turns one and two resulted in a wreck in turns three and four.
“I first drove it in there and it stuck, but once we got in there, we were running for the same real estate,” said Kuhn. “I’m trying to go up a little bit, he’s trying to come down a little bit, and once we started touching each other, my car got loosened up and it just basically almost turned sideways. So when that happened, I had to pretty much check right up and almost stop it. Hinckley went by and the #40 (of Louie Mechalides) got beside me. Somehow, coming off whatever straightaway, me and the #40 somehow got together. All I know is that he (Mechalides) ended up down in the infield. So we ended up going down the straightaway and I could actually watch him down in the infield coming through, and I know he can’t stop in the grass. So I’m trying to check up, but you got 20 cars behind me that don’t know that, and they’re all trying to go forward. We all just basically piled in.”
Les Hinckley's #06
Kuhn’s attempt to avoid Mechalides resulted in a multi-car pileup. The #40 was just fine and ended up in third behind Alexander and Hinckley after the debacle. Kuhn ended up in tenth.
The caution came out and there was no restart. The checkered flag was dropped while the field was still circling the track under yellow flag conditions. Hinckley didn’t get the chance that Kuhn had to try to challenge Alexander for the lead.
“As a race car driver, I wanted a shot at the win,” said Hinckley. “But at that point, Kirk probably had the better racecar. I don’t know if I could have done much of
anything with him…It’s too bad, I would have liked to have won this one. It means a lot to me.
“I hope it wasn’t too disappointing of a show…but there were a lot of cautions. I think we could have done without a few of them, but it’s a new place for a lot of guys. Some guys have no experience here. I think all in all it was a pretty good show, and I look forward to coming back.”
Kirk Alexander was happy with his win but still disappointed with how the race ended and the high number of cautions throughout the race.
“There was a lot of wrecked equipment, and there’s no need for that,” said Alexander. “A lot of these guys, there’s no respect for nothing. They just kind of run you all over the place, and they get a wheel on you in the corner, and I guess they think they got the line and just drive right up on you. But that’s one reason maybe why we sit back a little bit because we give these guys a little respect.
“We had a good day. I don’t know if I expected to win. I was hoping to win, but things happen; anything can happen.”
Anything can happen and did happen in the TVMRS race on Sunday at Thompson. It just happened to everyone but Kirk Alexander.
There was plenty of action and accidents at Thompson.