Modified Racing Series coverage presented by GossCars.com
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. -- Rowan Pennink had it all but won 99 and ¾ laps into the inaugural Modified Racing Series event at Airborne Speedway.
But after lap 100, Les Hinckley walked away – literally – with the winner’s trophy.
Hinckley, of Windsor Locks, Conn., led the race from the outset until a lap 74 restart brought Pennink, who started 15th, to the front row and eventually the lead. Pennink led through two more quick restarts, but had a rear view mirror full of Hinckley and Dwight Jarvis over the final eight laps.
As the white flag flew signaling the final lap, Pennink appeared to have the race in hand. Geoff Gernhard, about to be put one lap down, pulled to the inside lane in turns three and four to stay out of the leaders’ way.
Pennink, of Huntington Valley, Pa., closed on Gernhard’s car quickly and appeared to get out of the throttle exiting the final corner. Hinckley’s car made contact with Pennink’s rear bumper, causing Pennink to get sideways. At that moment, Hinckley swept to the outside, beating Pennink by less than a foot in a drag race to the finish line. As they crossed the stripe, both cars came into contact again and both slammed into the wall in a shower of sparks, grinding to a halt in Turn 1.
With both cars heavily damaged, Hinckley and Pennink walked to victory lane where they exchanged a war of words through the media.
“The 06 (Hinckley) just flat-out wrecked us there coming to the checker,” Pennink said. “He wasn’t gonna beat me to the start/finish line so he had to try something, and I guess that’s how he wanted to do it. He just destroyed two cars when we’ve got a race tomorrow [at Thunder Road] as well. It’s a shame that people gotta drive like that. The 06 just drove like a complete retard tonight.”
Hinckley admitted getting into Pennink, but felt that the post-race wreck was intentional on Pennink’s part.
“I got into the back of him a little bit in the left-rear when he turned down on me [in turn four],” Hinckley said. “His momentum was broke, I drove up the outside of him, cleared him at the start/finish line, and then he turned right on me and drove us both down the frontstretch [wall]. He doesn’t like it, and I don’t like being torn up, but I didn’t turn left on anybody, and I didn’t turn right on anybody. He can point the finger at me all he wants but he knows what he did.”
Both drivers were critical of lapped traffic not yielding to the leaders.
Jarvis, of Ascutney, came from 14th to finish third. Carl Pasteryak of Lisbon, Conn., was fourth with Ken Barry of Preston, Conn., fifth. Todd Annarummo, Jimmy Kuhn, Eric Goodale, rookie Norm Wrenn, and Eddy Spiers completed the unofficial top ten finishers in order.
The Modified Racing Series will complete its weekend doubleheader at Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl in Barre, Vt., on Sunday at 1:30pm. Hinckley’s car owner, Chuck Montville, said that while the frame of their car was slightly damaged, they expected to be at Thunder Road to compete. Pennink’s car suffered heavy damage to the front and rear ends and his Gary Casella-led crew was preparing to work throughout the night to try to repair the car.
Patrick Dupree of Saranac Lake, N.Y., won his third Airborne Speedway Modified feature in four starts, beating out Leon Gonyo of Chazy, N.Y., and Maxime Viens of St-Cesaire, Que., who finished a career-best third. Brandon’s Don Scarborough was fourth, and Napierville, Que., driver Martin Roy recovered from a flat tire at mid-race to finish fifth.
Bucko Branham of Plattsburgh, N.Y., won the Sportsman feature over Morrisonville, N.Y.’s Shawn Duquette, with Jamy Begor, Robin Wood, and Nick Heywood completing the top-five.
Lonnie Rivers of Cadyville, N.Y., won the Renegade feature, followed by Keith O’Neill of Mooers, N.Y., and Swanton’s Kevin Boutin. Randy Martin inherited the Mini-Modified win in the technical inspection line when Rick Doner was disqualified, and Billy Joyal was the Bomber winner.