Two names familiar to many in New England Modified racing will begin a new partnership at Lee USA Speedway (NH) when the first race of the Tri-Track Open Modified Series takes the green flag on May 17. Accomplished Modified driver Les Hinckley will pilot former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion car owner Wayne Darling's white No. 52 Tour-Type Modified at Lee, Monadnock Speedway (NH) and Seekonk Speedway (MA) in the Tri-Track Series.
"I'm giddy about it to be honest with you," Hinckley told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. "I don't see any reason why at all three races we can't run up front and be in contention to win any one of them."
Hinckley explained that he and Darling have known each other for a while, but never really talked much until this past year when Hinckley's young son Allen contracted a serious illness that resulted in a lot of hospital time.
"Wayne ended up putting on a benefit for him at the Seekonk Grand Prix, the go-kart track that he owns," said Hinckley. "We talked, not so much about racing, but more about family and that type of stuff this past year.
"This past week Wayne called me and told me he was looking to cut back from what he was doing. He didn't have any intentions of running the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour stuff any longer. He told me he was short on help and was interested in running the Tri-Track Series but was in need of some crew help. He wanted to know if that was something I could help with and if I'd be interested in running the car for him. I ended up talking to the guys that help me and everyone seemed excited about it so we put a deal together."
Darling explained that this is a deal that has now become more than what it was initially planned.
"I was going to only race one race this year (the Seekonk race)," said Darling. "I gave him a call and I told him I was thinking of one race but I could probably do three. So I talked with Les and he said let's make it three races. So we are running the Tri-Track Series. That's all we're running this year."
While the first race is still quite a long way away, this pairing should already be considered as the ones to beat. Darling's team won the 2012 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship with Doug Coby and finished second in points the year after. Hinckley himself has won quite a few races, with 17 victories coming in Valenti Modified Racing Series competition.
"With Wayne's equipment, and the help I'm bringing along I don't see any reason why we can't be the car to beat at those races," said Hinckley. "I've won at all three tracks in my own equipment. Wayne's car has won everywhere it's gone forever. I don't see any reason why we can't be the car to beat."
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com