Category Archives: Monadnock Speedway

Craig Lutz Pushes To Monadnock Win in Series Debut

Photo: Tom Morris/Myracenews

Two months delayed due to COVID-19, the Tri Track Open Modified Series finally opened the 2020 season on Sunday evening at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, New Hampshire. There were 37 of the top Modified drivers in the Northeast at the high-banked oval, with four heat races, two consolations, and a 100-lap feature keeping fans busy throughout the day. Monadnock’s NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series divisions were also on the track, along with the Pro Truck Series. 

The Tri Track Rundown is a quick look back at the most recent series event: 

LUTZ PUSHES HINCKLEY INTO THREE, WINS DRAG RACE TO THE LINE 

Not bad for a debut. Craig Lutz, a rising Modified star in New England, entered the final corner of Sunday’s Tri Track Open Modified Series opener in second, a car length back from race leader Les Hinckley. By the time they hit the middle of turn four, Lutz was under Hinckley and winning a drag race to the line, pocketing a $6,000 check as part of a more than $40,000 purse. But the way he made the move was what set off some major controversy post-race. 

Lutz slammed the back bumper of Hinckley at the bottom of turn three, sending Hinckley up the track, and Lutz by to the win. In the debut start on a competitive series, Lutz was holding the checkered flag at Monadnock. 

“It’s Modified racing,” said Lutz. “You have to understand that I’m going for the win, he’s going for the win. He’s hanging on for dear life. I gave him a little tap that he wasn’t expecting and I was able to open up the bottom. We both finished… he still finished second.” 

The day didn’t start off well for Lutz. After a blind draw, he started last in the second heat race, and finished sixth, missing a qualified spot by one. When he rolled out for the consi, he started at the front, and picked up the win – advancing him to the main event, with a 22nd place starting spot. 

It took him 99 laps to find the lead. 

“A little bit of both, you come in here and you think the setup is going to work and it just didn’t,” Lutz said of what happened in the heat, with a bad draw and the setup off. “We drew last for the heat race, and the whole field is stacked because there are so many good cars. We had to be patient with a small track and not a long of room to make passes. I just tried to pass everyone smart and keep the wheels on it so I could be at the front.” 

Lutz, who drove a family-owned car with help for Russell Goodale and Goodie Motorsports, plans to be back with Tri Track on July 25 at Star Speedway for the annual SBM showdown. 

HINCKLEY NEARLY BREAKS WINNING DROUGHT 

Les Hinckley was one corner away from his first career Tri Track Open Modified Series win. But it all went away in the final 500 feet. After the push from behind, Hinckley lost control, and nearly saved it enough to beat Lutz to the line. But it was the final drag race that hurt his chances, while he was still trying to collect the car. 

Hinckley started at the bottom of the top five, led laps, and was in contention in the final corner.  

“We found a home in the first two-thirds of the race to ride and keep our spot,” Hinckley said. “I just tried to take care of the car. After the competition caution, we made the right adjustments and to the front we went. They weren’t going to catch me without the cautions. He tried to drive through me on the restart but drove over the left-rear and bottomed out the car. I would have been a fool if I gave up the bottom, and he had no chance of going around me on the outside. He never tried. If you could pull up record books, I’ve never driven through anyone like that for a win. I never squared a guy up, punted him in the back, moved him up two grooves and felt good about myself. That was his only shot.” 

After the checkered, Hinckley showed his displeasure with Lutz, driving up beside him coming to the start/finish line for Victory Lane ceremonies. He was also visibly and verbally upset with Lutz. 

“Craig wasn’t faster than I was. He didn’t have a shot to pass me,” Hinckley said. “He didn’t have any turns left to get it done. That was his move. Not lift, drive in the corner, and use me for the brake.” 

Hinckley will have his next shot to earn his first career Tri Track win at Star Speedway on July 25, another track he is familiar with. Hinckley had plenty of background experience at Monadnock, both in Modifieds and Pro Stocks. 

Notebook: Monadnock Regulars Impress; Some Tri Track Stars Were Quiet 

  • -Ben Byrne, who won the NHSTRA Sportsman Modified race at Monadnock on Sunday, a drove a crate motor in the Tri Track Series race and pulled off a third-place finish, leading laps in the middle stages. Byrne also showed success at Monadnock last year, where he nearly won the Tri Track race. For his third-place effort, the team collected a $300 bonus courtesy of Barlow Construction for being the highest finishing crate motor in the field. 
  • -Matt Kimball, who was fastest in practice, struggled in his heat, missing a qualified spot. He rebounded in the consi and drove through the field late to finish fourth.  
  • -Ron Silk and Chase Dowling finished fourth and fifth — strong runs to open the season for the veterans. Dowling was looking for his third straight Tri Track win driving for Jimmy Paige, dating back to last year. He was on the bumper of Hinckley with 10 laps to go, but got shuffled on the outside lane on a restart and missed his opportunity. 
  • -Matt Hirschman, Woody Pitkat and Ronnie Williams all finished at the bottom of the top-10, but all three seemed off on the setup all day. Williams earned the final qualifying spot in heat one, while Hirschman did the same in heat four. Pitkat struggled in both the heat and the consi and didn’t qualify. He earned a provisional, and started deep in the field — driving through for an eighth-place finish. Courtesy of Green Construction, Pitkat earned the Hard Charger award worth $500. 

The Tri Track Open Modified Series, along with the $40,000 purse/6,000 winning prize, also paid out a long list of contingency awards through sponsorship from supporters of the series.  

Superior Refinishing was also providing a $200 award if the polesitter had won the race. However, since Tommy Barrett didn’t take the checkered flag first, the $200 rolls over to the next stop at Star Speedway and raises another $200. If the driver who starts on the pole wins at Star, they will collect $400 in bonus money on top of their winnings. 

CONTINGENCY AWARDS: MONADNOCK SPEEDWAY; JULY 5, 2020: 

  • -Green Construction Hard Charger: $500 – Woody Pitkat 
  • -Pepsi Challenge Heat Winners: $300 each – Brian Robie, Chase Dowling, Ben Bryne, Dave Sapienza 
  • -Pepsi Challenge Consi Winners: $300 each – Matt Swanson, Craig Lutz 
  • -Barlow Construction Top Crate Motors: $300 (Ben Byrne) & $200 (Brian Robie) 

Tri Track Open Modified Season To BEGIN Sunday at Monadnock

LARGE FIELD FULL OF VARIETY SET FOR HIGH BANKS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE 

BY KYLE SOUZA  PHOTO NOAH WATTS/MYRACENEWS

SEEKONK, Mass. — Two months delayed due to COVID-19, the Tri Track Open Modified Series season hits full speed Sunday at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, New Hampshire. Celebrating Independence Day weekend, Tri Track will headline a full day of racing at the high-banked oval with a 100-lap feature. More than 30 drivers have already placed their order for tires and are set to compete with a field full of the top stars in Modified racing. 

Due to COVID, and per guidance from the state of New Hampshire, Monadnock Speedway will run at 50% capacity for the event in the grandstands. Teams are restricted to just 10 crew members per team and all social distancing and safe health practices will be in place to keep teams, drivers, staff and fans safe. Race fans who can’t make it to the track can purchase the race live on Speed51.com for $24.95. Speed51 will air the entirety of Tri Track qualifying and feature racing, along with the Pro Truck Series. 

The purse for Monadnock rises over $40,000 in total prizes, with $6,000 up for grabs to the winner. Heat and consi races will each pay $300 to win courtesy of Pepsi, with the brand-new Pepsi challenge. A contingency program with select additional awards is also up for grabs. None of the purse has changed since prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Following Monadnock, the remainder of the schedule remains in place – with stops at Star Speedway (July 25), Monadnock (August 15) and Seekonk Speedway (August 26 & October 24) still in plans. 

“Getting the 2020 season off the ground is something we are excited about,” Wayne Darling, Managing Partner of the Tri Track Open Modified Series, said. “We have a stout field of cars set to compete on Sunday and we thank Monadnock for working with us to reschedule our event to Sunday and give everyone the best chance to see some great Modified racing.” 

Former Tri Track champions Ronnie Williams (defending champion) and Matt Hirschman top the list of favorites to compete for the checkered flag on Sunday. Modified stars Chase Dowling, Matt Swanson, Woody Pitkat, Blake Barney, Craig Lutz, Ron Silk and Anthony Nocella are also expected to run for the win. Tri Track veterans Les Hinckley, Richard Savary, Tommy Barrett and Kirk Alexander are also heading to New Hampshire. 

The field includes a mix of Tri Track stars, along with regulars from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Race of Champions Tour and Modified Racing Series, along with Monadnock Speedway Sportsman Modified division regulars. Brian Robie, current Monadnock weekly points leader, along with Matt Kimball and Ben Byrne have filed entries to compete with Tri Track. Rising Modified stars Joey Cipriano, Calvin Carroll, Derek Robbie, Jacob Perry, Ryan Doucette, Dana DiMatteo, and more, are also expected. 

The race will not be one fans want to miss.  

There will be no drivers meeting Sunday to avoid creating a large gathering, and race teams have been provided race notes and procedures to follow ahead of entry to the track. The Pro Trucks, Late Model Sportsman, Mini Stocks and Street Stocks will also be in action during the day. Practice begins at 12 p.m., with one session rolling until 12:45 p.m., followed by rotating sessions for the other divisions. Heat races will start at 2 p.m., with feature racing to follow. Tri Track’s feature is the final of the night and estimated to take the green flag at 7 p.m.  

For more information on Speed51, visit Speed51.com and follow them on social media. For more information on Monadnock Speedway, visit them at monadnockspeedway.com and follow them on social media. For more information on the Tri Track Open Modified Series, visit tritrackmodifieds.com and follow the series on Facebook, Twitter (@TriTrackNE) and Instagram. 

Pushing Forward: Les Hinckley Sets Eyes On Tri Track Season

VETERAN MODIFIED STAR LOOKS FOR TRI TRACK WIN SUNDAY AT MONADNOCK 

By Kyle Souza Photo Noah Watts/Myracenews

SEEKONK, Mass. — Les Hinckley’s ride to the top of the ladder in Modified racing has come with plenty of checkered flags and trophies. But, to this point, none of them have come with the Tri Track Open Modified Series. He hopes to change that on Sunday afternoon, July 5, when Tri Track hits the ground running for the first time in 2020 — two months delayed due to COVID-19 — at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, New Hampshire. 

“Tri Track is a financially responsible series to run, payouts versus the cost,” Hinckley said. “I like to race once a month, once every four or five weeks… it gives me time in between races to prepare my car the way it needs to be prepared for a race. When you factor in the schedule, with the way the purse is structured and the tracks we go to and race, it fits us as a team.” 

Hinckley is one of more than 30 drivers expected Sunday at the high-banks of Monadnock. Due to COVID-19, and guidance from the state of New Hampshire, fans will be allowed at 50% capacity through the grandstands. The Tri Track Open Modified Series has also put a list of strict guidelines in place to maintain social distancing and best health practices to keep all competitors, teams, staff and fans safe. The race will also be available via live stream on Speed51.com, where race fans can purchase the action for $24.95. 

Following Monadnock, Tri Track plans to keep the remainder of the 2020 season schedule in place – with races at Star Speedway (July 25), Monadnock (August 15) and Seekonk Speedway (August 26 & October 24) still in the plans. 

Hinckley is no stranger to running at Monadnock, as a former track champion and winner in the Pro Stock division. He’s also a former regular at Riverside Park Speedway, where he grew up racing. The last 20 years of racing have taken a few different surprise left turns for the veteran.  

Hinckley was competing for veteran car owner Chuck Montville in Modifieds, where he started winning races in 2004, and continued the partnership until the middle of 2013, when Chuck suddenly passed away. That left Hinckley looking for a new opportunity. He teamed with a few different rides, including current Tri Track Managing Partner Wayne Darling, who was a car owner at the time, and had success. Now, he’s working on and responsible for his own equipment as owner/driver and is enjoying spending time at home when possible. 

“Being a father of two kids that are actively in sports, I would enjoy going back to racing Saturday nights at Riverside where you didn’t have to show up until 3:30 in the afternoon, 10 minutes from my house,” Hinckley joked. “But the biggest transition from having Chuck, to not having Chuck, was racing full-time to not racing full-time. I was in the garage the second most amount of time, with Chuck there the most. I lost my car owner, who was primarily responsible for expenses, I lost the guy who spent the most amount of time on the car, and I lost a friend. I either had to step away and retire, hope that my phone rang, or step up and get back to an ownership role. I wasn’t interested in retiring.” 

“It’s been an adjustment,” he said of running things. “For financial and time reasons, I haven’t been able to race full-time since then, but there have been other things in my life that have filled the time. I got involved with my kids and their sports, and I don’t regret that for a minute.” 

Monadnock is a tight, banked track that Hinckley has so many laps around he could probably do it with his eyes closed. But, when the field rolls in Sunday afternoon, he’s going to have some stout competition to run against. Stars of the Tri Track Series will roll to green against some from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Race of Champions Tour, Monadnock Speedway Sportsman Modified Series and more. 

Hinckley knows he’s got his work cut out for him, with mistakes not an option. 

“It’s a tricky track for guys that don’t have a lot of experience because both ends are so different,” Hinckley said. “We’ve won our fair share of races there, and a championship in a Pro Stock, and we’ve had success. A ton of laps, but at this level, with this group of guys, I don’t think the competition is any better anywhere than what it is with Tri Track. When you deal with the talent and equipment level, the experience gets swallowed up. I’m not sure how much of an advantage I have, with a lot of them being well-seasoned veterans with a small learning curve.” 

With the offseason now in the rear-view mirror, Hinckley is looking forward to getting back to the track, but with a heavy heart. He lost his father in April, not due to COVID-19, but another illness. He knows his father will be in the seat with him when the competition hits full speed. 

“It will be hard… in recent years his health and mobility weren’t the greatest, so he wasn’t going to the track very often. But what will be extremely hard Sunday night is coming down the road on the way home and knowing that the phone won’t ring with him wanting a race report,” Hinckley said of his father. “Good, bad, or different, when I pulled out of the track, I would have a voicemail from him. I’ve never needed any motivation to do what I do, but I’ve lost a few people, with my dad being the most recent, that were icons to me in racing. I’ve always had a work ethic in me, that more than just me, I wanted to make them proud. Chuck, my Dad, my uncle… they were three people I looked up at and I’ve lost them… we’re going to keep doing what we are doing and I know they are watching over us.” 

Action begins on Sunday with practice at 12 p.m., followed by heat races at 2 p.m., and feature racing to follow. Only the Tri Track and Pro Truck Challenge qualifying, and feature racing will air live on Speed51.com, where fans can purchase for just $24.95. The Mini Stocks, Street Stocks, Sportsman Modifieds and Late Model Sportsman will also be in competition but will not be shown due to broadcast restrictions. 

For more information on Monadnock Speedway, visit monadnockspeedway.com. For more information on the Tri Track Open Modified Series, visit tritrackmodifieds.com and follow the series on social media.