Local drivers take it to the big track in Loudon

HLLR tests a very different pair of 17s for showdown

By Mike Twist

The basic idea behind the creation of the New England Short Track Showdown at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was for grassroots racing teams in the Northeast to be able to perform on a large stage and have fun.

When teams planning to enter the June 30t-July 1 race got to test in preparation for the event on Monday, one team from way up in the North Country might have monopolized the fun — for one day at least.  The Herriott Lord LeBlanc Racing (HLLR) brought two very different race cars to the test and both of their drivers spent time learning how to lap a car very different from what they were used to.

Just getting to the track from Gorham started the fun for the team.  Despite it being May, the team encountered snow showers on its way after leaving tits home base in the wee hours of the morning.  Their two trailers were among the first in line though when the pits opened for the test session at 7:30 a.m.

TachneedleLocal Gorham racers Cody LeBlanc and Haywood Herriott brought their HLLR race team to Loudon for a test session on the big one-mile track Monday. Herriott will be piloting a Pro Stock in the GSPSS race, while LeBlanc will be behind the wheel of an Acura Integra in the NEMST event on July 1. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Next, the team settled into the garage area in the same stalls used by NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series teams when they are in town.  They focused their attention on a pair of No. 17 cars.  There was an all-white No. 17 Pro Stock driven by 2016 North East Mini Stock Tour champion Haywood Herriott along with the car that Herriott drove to the championship — a blue Acura Intergra.  Behind the wheel of the Integra was NEMST regular Cody LeBlanc, who will drive the car after parking his own No. 7NH Acura RSX.  A third member of the HLLR team, Kodi Sabins, was at the test to help out but not to drive.

Herriott provided one of the more exciting moments of the team when the first test session for the Granite State Pro Stock Series began.  On his first lap, a problem with the valve cover gasket led to oil being sprayed all over the engine compartment and down onto the front tires.  Herriott found this out as he accelerated up to speed for the first time in his new car.  He half spun exiting turn four, but did not hit anything.

"I looked like a fool doing that on the first lap," joked Herriott.

Once the problem was solved and the rest of the day was uneventful for Herriott.

"The more that I drove, the more that I got used to it," said Herriott.  "We were on pace with many of the cars that were here.  The front end was bouncing quite a bit, so we need to figure that out and also boost the driver's confidence and we will be good."

LeBlanc didn't waste much time getting used to his new quarters.  He found out that the Acura Integra handled much better than his familiar RSX, but it lacked power.  As for his first laps at NHMS, LeBlanc adapted fine.

"I actually find it harder to get around at Thompson," said LeBlanc.  "You have a lot more space here."

Being down on power did not worry him much either.

"We will work on it," LeBlanc said.  "We'll be good when we come back here to race."

The New England Short Track Shootout will feature races for the four cornerstone types of race cars in New England asphalt oval track racing with the Valenti Modified Series, Granite State Pro Stock Series, North East Mini Stock Tour and Street Stock Showdown Series all competing.  For more information on the event, visit NorthEastMiniStockTour.com.