PHOTO: Les Hinckley was the beneficiary of multiple late race caution flags that saw three different leads get wrecked out of the lead to claim his first victory of the 2012 Valenti Modified Racing Series season. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)

–by T.J. Ingerson

LEE, N.H. — Les Hinckley may have been the last guy at Lee USA Speedway Friday night who though he would have a chance to win the Laticrete Port City 100 with 11 laps remaining.

The Windsor Locks, Conn., racer was spun out of third place on a lap 89 restart, subsequently pitted to swap the right-side tires on his No. 06 Spafco Modified and surrendered any hope of scoring his first win of 2012.

Then all hell broke loose.

Series point leader Jon McKennedy would restart next to the young Tommy Barrett, Jr., who drove from his 24th starting position into the second position. McKennedy would fight Barrett off on the restart, only to have Barrett make a desperate move into turn 3 as he drove his No. 9 car under McKennedy’s No. 2 late into the corner. Barrett washed up the race track and made contact with McKennedy, which caused both cars to spin.

The incident collected Rob Goodenough, Mike Holdridge, Dwight Jarvis, Chris Pasteryak, Norm Wrenn, and Jim Dolan. Goodenough, Jarvis, and Wrenn were within the top ten at the time of the incident, Dolan sat 12th, while Holdridge and Pasteryak had just pitted for adjustments.

Barrett was parked by series officials for his overaggressive move, which handed the lead to Rowan Pennink.

The Huntingdon Valley, Pa., hoteshoe Pennink had raced within the top five all race and would restart with Jeff Malave on his outside. Pennink got away cleanly, but it was Joe Doucette who was making a heroic late race charge. Doucette got to the back bumper of Pennink, and then attempted to get under race leader Pennink out of turn 4.

Pennink and Doucette both went up in a cloud of smoke as Doucette had made contact with Pennink’s left-rear corner and caused both contenders to spin on lap 93.

The lead was handed to Malave, but it was Larry Barnett making a late race charge to the front. Barnett would restart fourth, and moved into the second position quickly. Barnett would reel Malave in as the duo crossed under the white flag, when Barnett drove deep into turn one. Barnett would make contact with Malave’s left-rear corner and spun out Malave. Barnett would attempt to gain control of his car, and collected third place runner Timmy Jordan in the process.

The lead was handed to Les Hinckley, who went unscathed on the green-white-checker restart and took the Laticrete Port City 100 win.

“No, not at all,” Hinckley said when asked if he thought he would be the winner after his lap 89 spin. “I thought with 20 laps-to-go we might have won before all the hell broke loose. After we got spun out, no I didn’t think it was going to happen. But, I’ve lost races I didn’t think I was going to lose, either. We had a car capable of winning without circumstance, and circumstance took us out of a chance to win, then circumstance put us back in a chance to win. It all played out well for us tonight.”

Hinckley, who left the Thompson Speedway two races ago with a destroyed race car, finished fourth at Seekonk Speedway three weeks ago. The win was a nice rebound for Hinckley.

“This is huge,” Hinckley said. “That (car) was torn up, and people think that’s a new car. It’s the same car with about everything new on it. We went to Seekonk, and it was like it never got wrecked. It didn’t have a problem, we didn’t have a mechanical failure, nothing. These crew guys deserve it. There was a lot of hard work that went into it.”

Todd Owen, of Somers, Conn., pitted out of the top five on a lap 59 caution and dodged all the melees to score the runner-up position. Seekonk winner Louie Mechalides, of Tyngsboro, Mass., also avoided the carnage the finished third. Defending series champion Chris Pasteryak, of Lisbon, Conn., pitted on a lap 82 caution flag and was involved in the lap 89 incident with Barrett and McKennedy. Pasteryak, however, rebounded to finish fourth and claimed his first top five of the season. Max Zachem of Preston, Conn., also was able to avoid all the late race incidents and picked up his first top five of the season.

Dolan, Doucette, Wrenn, Pennink, and Mark Bakaj completed the unofficial top ten finishers.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series continues a stretch of races, as they head to Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H., for the Firecracker 100 on Saturday, July 7.

Vermont Motorsports Magazine will have more on the Laticrete Port City 100, including comments from the three drivers who were wrecked out of the lead, soon.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Laticrete Port City 100
Valenti Modified Racing Series — Lee USA Speedway, Lee, N.H.
Friday, June 29, 2012

(# – denotes rookie)

1. (4) Les Hinckley, Windsor Locks, Conn.
2. (5) Todd Owen, Somers, Conn.
3. (18) Louie Mechalides, Tyngsboro, Mass.
4. (2) Chris Pasteryak, Lisbon, Conn.
5. (12) Max Zachem, Preston, Conn.
6. (20) Jim Dolan, Bethel, Conn.
7. (17) Joe Doucette, Framingham, Mass.
8. (9) Norm Wrenn, Nashua, N.H.
9. (3) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.
10. (21) # Mark Bakaj, Lebanon, Conn.
11. (23) # Anthony Nocella, Woburn, Mass.
12. (15) Matt Mead, Richmond, N.H.
13. (11) Jeff Malave, Manchester, Conn.
14. (14) David Schneider, Northport, N.Y.
15. (6) Tim Jordan, Plainfield, Conn.
16. (7) Larry Barnett, Moosup, Conn.
17. (1) Jon McKennedy, Chelmsford, Mass.
18. (22) # Melissa Fifield, Wakefield, N.H.
19. (24) # Tommy Barrett, Jr., Millis, Mass.
20. (10) Rob Goodenough, Swanzey, N.H.
21. (13) Mike Holdridge, Madison, Conn.
22. (8) Dwight Jarvis, Ascutney, Vt.
23. (16) Joey Jarvis, Ascutney, Vt.
24. (19) # Matt Murray, Claremont, N.H.