First Draft: Les Hinckley III Proves Fast Learner With Valenti Mod Series At NHMS

Les Hinckely (right) celebrates on the podium with Valenti Modified Racing Series winner Ron Silk (center) and second place finisher Richard Savary (left) Sunday at the New England Short Track Showdown at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont)

LOUDON, N.H. – Despite having many years of Modified competition under his belt, Les Hinckley III arrived at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday having never turned a lap on the 1.058-mile oval.

“I wasn’t necessarily intimidated by the speed here,” Hinckley said. “But there’s a good group of guys here that know how to draft. I had no clue. That’s a pretty big disadvantage to start with.”

Sunday in Loudon Hinckley used lessons at speed to eventually close his weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on the podium following his first event at the track.

Hinckley, of Windsor Locks, finished third in the 50-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series feature at the New England Short Track Showdown Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“Honestly, we got like four or five laps [Saturday] and that was good enough just to get the jitters out of being here for the first time,” Hinckley said. “So at least we were able to go to dinner last night and that was out of the way. Then what I was nervous about was the draft because there’s guys who have that experience and I don’t. I just was basically nervous about it.”

Hinckley said he attempted to get some draft practice in during practice Sunday morning, but could never connect with a group to do it. So when the green flag fell for the feature, Hinckley – driving for legendary team owner Art Barry – used the opening stages of the race for education.

“What made the learning curve a little quicker was when I was able to get with guys that I trusted, the guys that had experience,” Hinckley said. “And I could kind of sit there and watch what they were doing. I’d watch them for a few laps and go ‘Ok, I see this, I see that.’ And then I tried to put it into play for myself. [Crew chief Ken Barry] helped a lot because he has some experience here. … I had some guys helping me along, guys that I trust.”

When Ron Silk and Anthony Nocella made contact late in the event battling for second Hinckley found himself suddenly running fourth, then third soon after when Pitkat slowed with mechanical issues.

With eventual race winner Ron Silk checking out, Hinckley made a move to second by Richard Savary on lap 49. But Savary was able to draft back by Hinckley for second on the final lap.

“I made the run and I got him and he probably wasn’t heartbroken that I did knowing that we had another lap to go,” Hinckley said. “I think he just got of kind of me and drafted right back by me. Like a typical short track guy with no experience here, I never even looked in my mirror to see where he was or what he was doing. … He beat me to the line, it is what it is. It’s third, I’m happy it’s in one piece. It’s a great day for [car owner Art Barry].

“We had a good race car. Ultimately when you have a good race car you make your way forward and then you can have an opportunity to learn and I think that’s what we did.”

Said Savary: “You saw the whole race, the guys that ran up front the whole race are the guys that run on [the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour] and have run a lot of laps [at NHMS]. So what [Hinckley] did was great. He learned and watched and got where he got.”


  1. knucklesmahoney says

    Finally, one of the best drivers out there gets some recognition. It looked like it took him a few laps to figure out the draft thing. Was 13th on lap 25, and from there made a charge. With 10 to go, was in sixth and had caught the lead pack. Made his way to 4th, and on the last lap made a move on Savary in 1 and 2, and was in 2nd going down the back stretch, but Savary got back under him in 3 and 4, and they drag raced to the checkers, with Savary beating him by a half a car. Very under rated driver, and still boggles my mind that he hasn’t been offered a full time ride. Aboslutely dominant Pro stock racer back in the day. Consistant back luck draws at the Tri-track series, having to start back in the field in heats and mains. Was leading and checking out at Claremont until a caution, and got ran in to on the restart. Clean, will never dirtily push people out of the way to gain a spot.

  2. Surprised Hinkley had a car left at the end with as many cars he chopped off in the heat and feature. People wonder why he can’t get a regular ride, simply watch him from a neutral position.

  3. You don’t sound neutral to me, pretty one sided from my perspective.

    For a guy with absolutely 0 experience on a 1 mike track and 0 experience with drafting I would take a 3rd place finish all day long.

    Congrats Les, great job!

  4. knucklesmahoney says

    Don’t know what race you were at, but take your own advice, watch neutrally holmes.

  5. holmes?


  6. Elementary my dear dareal elementary

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