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   The Chrome Horn - Valenti Modified Racing Series


And So The Story Goes! by Denise DuPont

The ‘Victor Johnson Memorial 100’ race was one of the best story lines that anyone could have wished for. Les Hinckley missed most of the 2015 race season due to medical issues. He decided to return to racing at his home track, Monadnock Speedway, where he knows what has to be done to get to Victory Lane. . He fought off the challenges of point leader Woody Pitkat and then runner up in the points, Todd Patnode to go forward and take the victory at the “Dog”.

There were only two brief cautions around mid-race. So with little down time, drivers were driven by their passion to compete hard for the victory. With the modified’s thunder echoing off the mountains, tension on the track’s close quarters continued to build bringing up the night’s excitement up a notch. The final laps click off quickly and fans were brought to their feet as the chase to the front unfolded. It looked as though the race could have been anyone’s but Hinckley held on to be the victor.

With the luck of the draw Les Hinckley of Windsor Locks, Ct., started the ‘Victor John Memorial 100’ Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) feature race on the pole. “We normally do not draw good and tonight we ended up on the pole. It just worked out well for us. Woody got by me early on. Then it looked like he was getting loose so I put the pressure on him and as I did our car came back to us and never went away,” stated Hinckley.

“I knew that Todd (Patnode) had a good car and that he has as much if not more experience here than I do. We have done a lot of battles in the past here, so I knew that I was not going to be able to just drive away from him,” stated Hinckley.” I also knew that he had a good car and I had to move. I was not nervous about it and just drove the best that I could with him running right behind me in second, I would much rather have had a straight away lead on him and I didn’t. So now the story book is better!

“This has been a tough couple of years for us. We lost my car owner, Chuck (Montville) and this is his program and it will always be his program. There is nothing we have changed to his car. The numbers are the same, the color is the same…. So this one is for Chuckie and also for my family. I just cannot say enough for all the guys that help me, my family, my wife, my dad, and all the crew guys. It is just unreal”.

Todd Patnode from Richmond, NH, came on strong at the end of the race ready to challenge for the top position. He started the race fifth and maintained a position in the top five throughout the race just waiting for the right time to make his move for the lead. With ten to go, he passed Woody Pitkat for second and turned up the heat on the leader. In the end he completed his night in the runner up spot, second.

The car was good tonight,” Patnode stated. “We got a little free around lap 46 so we had to kind of conserve a little bit and hope that we had something in the end. This is the best that we have had the car all year. We are really happy with our finish, “confessed Patnode. “The guys did a great job preparing it. We tried to save it but we need just a whisker more.”

Finishing in the runner up spot, Patnode closed the gap a bit between himself and point leader Pitkat as their chase for the VMRS championship continues into the end of the race season.

Russ Hersey of Swanzey, NH, began the race in fifteenth and had to make his way through the field to catch the leaders. With a lot of laps on the track, he used his experience to pass cars one at a time until he broke into the top five with twenty-five circuits to go. Once there, he made his presence known and with less than eight to go was in the top three. He kept the heat on the front two driver’s to the end finishing in the podium spot.

‘We have been sneaking a little bit up on then each week and I have started to get a little better handle on the car,” said Russ Hersey. “We had back luck on the draw and had to start deep in the field and we had to use up a lot of the right rear tire getting up to the front. Lapped traffic was pretty heavy but it was a good race. “

“Todd (Patnode) and I always run well together and things were pretty reminiscent with Les, Todd and I down here. It brought back memories.” Hersey said at the end of the race.” I would like to say that the whole night is for the Johnson family and Victor Johnson. He is always in our minds when we strap into our cars here.”

With their final visit to the Monadnock Speedway now in the books, the VMRS teams will move to Maine and the bullring at Oxford Plains Speedway as the VMRS modifieds join the 42nd annual ‘Oxford 250’ race weekend schedule next weekend.

Notes from Monadnock Speedway:

Monadnock Speedway is one of the smallest tracks that the VMRS modified drivers’ race on. It has some of the closest, tightest, fastest racing that you are going to see anywhere. And before you know it the leaders are lapping traffic. One has to wonder how smooth the maneuvering in through the field will be. The leaders on Saturday night did not appear to have any issues getting the job done.

Les Hinckley
“Lapped traffic gets a lot of blame all the time for the stuff that happens on the race track but I have to give them credit. There was not a moment tonight where they did not show there respect to the leader. Every time that I got to them, even when they were racing side by side, they made a hole and let the guy on the outside get in. and you cannot ask for anything more than that. When it is not your night that is what you do. I have been in that situation before and you are not supposed to mess with the leaders.”

Hinckley has not been able to race this year due to medical issues and surgery that he needed to get done. With all that behind him now he was able to return racing this week at his home track in the familiar yellow #06.

Les Hinckley
“The doctors cleared me to race a month ago and there were a couple of races between then and now but I just did not want to come back until the race was here.” Les Hinckley stated about returning to racing at his home track. “I cannot race all the time because I am not in the best financial position to run all the time. So I did not want to jeopardize things and I waited to come back here to race. Chuckie (Chuck Montville) loved this place. This was his favorite race track. I have won a ton of races here and a championship in a pro Stock. So I just wanted to come back here.”
Victor Johnson drove the #5 modified in the VMRS series. In 2011, Victor Johnson lost his life in a house fire. In honor of Johnson’s heroic act, Lisa Patnode, wife of Todd Patnode, pulled together an effort to add additional race payoff monies to the race through lap sponsorship. Her work paid off with $7,000 collected. “This is a very special race to me,” explained Patnode. “Victor Johnson was a very special person. I wanted more for this race this year. Knowing I had to fill 100 spots was a cool challenge but I also wanted to incorporate something else. I came up with the idea of the ‘Johnson Laps’. So on every fifth lap, I chose a position in the field that will also receive $25.”
“The efforts that the Patnodes put in with the Victor Johnson Memorial lap money it just all made sense to come here. It just all worked out well. I am sure Chuckie was looking down after us. This is also the first time that my boys were both went to victory lane. I am happy that they both were part of it. And I am sure that it is something they will remember the rest of their life.”
Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
: August 22, 2015

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