It’s still only June, and you can be forgiven if you haven’t closely looked at the Wiscasset Speedway point standings.

The drivers and teams aren’t really paying much attention, either.

“It’s just one extra thing to worry about,” said Nick Hinkley, the current frontrunner in the Late Model division at Wiscasset. “As long as you go out and compete, run good, then you’re going to be in the points battle no matter what.”

Reigning Late Model champion Chris Thorne of Sidney has, by most accounts, had a strong start to his season at Wiscasset Speedway. Thorne ranks third in the division heading into this Saturday’s race, just eight points behind Hinkley.

But after only finishing outside the top three once all season en route to his fourth career championship at the track last summer, Thorne has already missed out on the podium twice in three starts in 2017. He won on opening day and finished a charging fourth the next time out — before finishing seventh in the division’s most recent race.

“We tried a couple different little things that we changed over the winter,” Thorne said. “I don’t think that’s what’s ailing it, but we’ve gone back the last couple of weeks and set it up the way we were last year.”

If anyone’s having a Thorne-esque season this time around, it’s Hinkley, who is from Wiscasset. He finished fourth on opening day but has won two consecutive 35-lap features heading into Saturday after a winless 2016 season.

“You shoot for a top-five every week,” said Hinkley, 27, who has been driving Late Models for his father’s team for 13 seasons and is a two-time champion. “If you don’t get up in the top five, it’s almost like it was a bad night — something was off, something must have happened. We probably average 20-22 cars every Saturday. Once you get a high point handicap, you’re coming from back every single night.”

Thorne, for one, is happy to see Hinkley enjoying some success this season, Hinkley, who won Late Model titles in 2009 and 2013 and is a race winner in the Pro Stock division, remembered his first half-dozen races as a 14-year-old — “I was scared to death every week” — and Thorne knows as well as anyone that there are ups and downs in short-track racing.

“That’s pretty cool, honestly,” Thorne said. “He’s been at it for quite a while now, even though it doesn’t seem like it. I think he was winless last year, and now he’s already knocked off two this year. You’ve got to get the right breaks, be in the right lanes in that class. Last year, every week worked out for me.”

• • •

Unity Raceway returns to its roughly once-a-month schedule on Sunday with the Wildcats, 6-Shooters, Flyin’ 4s and Enduro classes.

Jordan Pearson won the Wildcat feature on opening day back in May, ahead of reigning track champion Brad Norris, in a field featuring only six cars despite a strong turnout on the spectator side.

• • •

2015 Beech Ridge Motor Speedway champion Reid Lanpher of Manchester is already on track to win a second Pro Series title at the track this season.

Lanpher, who won a pair of Pro All-Stars Series races prior to the season opener in May at the Scarborough speedway, won on opening night at Beech Ridge.

In four starts this season, Lanpher has yet to finish outside the top five. He’s finished second in each of the last two events — by a combined total of 0.044 second.

The NASCAR-sanctioned Pro Series division competes in its longest race of the season on Saturday, the Pro Series 125.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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