Tom Herzig's Trackside: McKennedy wins at Star Speedway
JON McKENNEDY carved out another piece of New England Modified racing history at Star Speedway Saturday by winning the SBM 125 — may there be many more — the second of three Modified Open events that comprise the Tri-Track Open Series.
The race, which was the highest paying race in Star history at $46M plus, is getting rave reviews all over the Internet from competitors, fans, officials and open-wheel devotees of all ages.
McKennedy caught a caution with six laps to go that put him on the front row with Les Hinckley and he made the most of it to the tune of $6,175. The Chelmsford, Mass., driver won the inaugural SBM 125 in 2011.
Now he’s off to Oxford Plains and Autodrome Chaudiere near Quebec City for a weekend of ISMA Supermodified racing. The Oxford Plains event is billed as the Bentley Warren Classic and Warren plans to double as the Grand Marshall and a competitor.
Circle this date: Round three of the Tri-Track Open Series goes Wednesday, July 23 at Seekonk Speedway.
“I want to thank all the fans for coming out,” McKennedy said. “It’s a great night. I love racing here. To win this race is pretty special. To say I beat 30 of the best modifieds in the Northeast is pretty cool. It wasn’t easy — those last 30 laps was probably some of the hardest I’ve driven in a long time. I want to thank Jim Schaefer, Kevin Rice and the Racing Guys. This wouldn’t be possible without them. It’s a great series. I’m looking forward to Seekonk.”
Hinckley was valiant as the runner-up in the Four Seasons Refrigeration/Cliff Nelson Motorsports No. 06. The Hinckley family has had to be valiant for some time as 8-year-old Allen Hinckley has endured multiple brain surgeries. The Hinckleys were headed to Boston Monday for another follow-up exam.
“Allen’s getting better,” Hinckley said. “He’s looking forward to maybe going to Seekonk.”
Hinckley showed little rust on the way to a $3,700 payday with his father, two cousins and an uncle looking on.
“It comes back pretty quickly,” he said. “It was a good night. We pitted early, got back into the top-five and got to third when two cars ahead of me pitted. I led for a while, got passed by (Rowan) Pennink and then was able to track him back down. I had no grip anymore on the last restart.”
Joey Polewarczyk Jr. knows how it went for Hinckley. He had the ACT Spring Green 114 covered at Devil’s Bowl, but two late cautions brought Brian Hoar and Wayne Helliwell Jr. into the hunt. Joey Pole had four lapped cars between himself and Hoar on the first late restart, but three of them chose to take up at the rear to let the frontrunners duke it out.
Hoar passed the lone backmarker, had the preferable outside lane on the final restart with eight laps to go, and then sped off to his 40th ACT career win.
“It kind of took the wind out of my sails when the lapped cars went to the rear,” Joey Pole said, “but I’d probably have dropped back, too, if it had been me.”
Helliwell Jr., who started out back in his heat, consi and the feature, settled for third ahead of Canadian Stephane Descoste and Nick Sweet.
Granite State driver Aaron Fellows had a tough end to a solid run in the New England Outdoor Furnace No. 29. Fellows led the first 60 laps and was running in the top three when he got rubbed up into the wall at the flagstand trying to lap a car on the outside.
The contact crumpled the hood and fender and hung up the throttle wide open. Fellows shot off the first turn and pounded the concrete retainer, but managed to walk away from the wreckage.
After the race Hoar spoke of plans to do some racing on the ARCA/CRA Super Late Model Series in a new template car prepared by Rick Paya — likely beginning with an event at Columbus (Ohio) Speedway later this month.
Kevin Hockman of Danville, Vt., didn’t fare as well as Fellows after a hard crash in the first turn late in the Twisted Tea Dwarf Car feature at White Mountain Motorsports Park. Hockman is at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center recuperating from non-life-threatening injuries, including a punctured lung.
White Mountain hosts an ACT 150 Saturday — post time 5 p.m.Larry Gelinas won the Granite State Pro Stock Series Gate City Classic at Hudson, besting Brad Babb and Hudson’s Derek Griffith. Chad Wendell of Derry won the Rookie Stock feature.
North East Mini Stock Tour point leader Toby Wells of Dublin was a winner Saturday at Riverside. The Mini Stocks are at Legion Speedway Sunday.
The Valenti Modified Series resumes Friday night at Stafford Motor Speedway.Tyler Jarvenpaa of Orange, Mass., won the Sportsman Modified feature at Monadnock.
Tom Herzig’s column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email him at email@example.com.