After a tension-filled night of racing last week at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, it was time to have some fun with the season’s first Autograph Night.
After being the feature event last week, the Pro Series were first in the night’s lineup on Saturday. Dalton Gagnon pulled away with the early lead in the first 12-lap heat while drivers battled it out for position behind him.
Wayne Helliwell, Jr., Scarborough Texas Roadhouse driver, Donnie Colpritt, and Dan Winter made it a 3-wide battle for third on lap 3, with Helliwell eventually taking the spot on lap 5. Dave Oliver had an early end to his night, bringing his #21 car down into the pits on lap 6.
After starting the heat from the rear, Curt Gerry powered his way through the field, fighting his way into the fourth spot on lap 10. Gagnon was able to hold off the competition, taking home yet another heat victory.
Brandon Barker and Bill Rodgers started on the front row for the second 12-lap qualifying heat. Reid Lanpher made his return to the track on Saturday, starting the second heat from the rear of the field.
Brandon Barker pulled away from the pack on lap 2, taking off with the lead. Reid Lanpher was on the move early, breaking the top 5 on lap 3. Corey Bubar was also making moves, sliding into the runner-up spot on lap 5.
It was a tight battle for second on lap 8 between Bubar, Rodgers, Smith and Lanpher. Reid Lanpher, Gary Smith and Corey Bubar made contact on lap 10 in turn 1, sending Gary Smith into the tires and resulting in the first caution of the night.
Trevor Sanborn took a spin on the restart, resulting in another quick caution. After the field went back to green, Corey Bubar was able to power into the lead and run away with the second Pro Series heat victory.
Just like last week, Brian Caswell and Travis Lovejoy started on the front row for the first Wildcats heat. Brian Caswell pulled away with the early lead, but, Dylan Varnet came to a stop on the frontstretch on lap 1. This led to the first caution of the heat.
Caswell pulled away again on the restart, but Lovejoy was right on his heels. He managed to distance himself from Lovejoy by lap 7, taking home the heat victory.
Joe Morse and Cody Webster started on the front row for the second Wildacts heat. There was some great, hard-fought racing in the second heat, but Webster was able to steal the victory.
The Sport Series was the feature division of the night, with Parker Varney and Devin Curit starting on the front row for the first heat. After last week’s on-track altercation, Adam Lovejoy received a $500 fine and Charlie Sanborn received a $300 fine and had to start at the tail end of the field for both the heat race and the feature. Both drivers paid their dues, talked it out during the week and returned to competition on Saturday night.
There was contact made between Devin Curit and Clyde Hennessey on the initial start, with Curit taking a spin and Hennessey suffering heavy body damage to the right side of his car.
After the first caution, Alex Lacognata flew away with the lead. Adam Lovejoy’s #2 car was fast throughout the heat race, resulting in Adam picking up the runner-up spot on lap 4. Chasing the Checkered’s Charlie Sanborn wasn’t too far behind, challenging Lovejoy for the spot on lap 5. The two drivers led a clean side-by-side battle for a handful of laps, with Sanborn finally stealing away the position on lap 10.
After battling a fire in his #14 car during practice, Alex Lacognata was able to overcome his obstacles and take home the heat victory.
Frank Wear and Mike St. Pierre started on the front row for the final heat of the night. Wear pulled away with the early lead as Terry Merrill quickly made his way into the runner-up spot. Frank Wear made it look easy, sailing into the victory after 12 laps of competition.
Dalton Gagnon and Wayne Helliwell, Jr. started on the front row for the 40-lap Pro Series feature, with Curt Gerry and Dan Winter starting behind them on the second row. Trevor Sanborn took a spin on the initial start, leading to the first caution of the night.
As Helliwell led the pack coming off of the restart, Nick Cusack fell to the back of the pack on lap 3. Curt Gerry powered into the runner-up spot on lap 4, stealing the position away from Dalton Gagnon. He then set his eyes on Helliwell on lap 6, capturing the top spot just one lap later.
By lap 25, the two leaders had checked out and began pulling away from the rest of the field. Nick Cusack had a tough night, bringing his #2 machine into the pits on lap 26. Donnie Colpritt was on the move in the late stages of the race, making his way into the runner-up spot on lap 30.
Reid Lanpher, Dan McKeage and Gary Smith were fighting hard for position in the closing laps. Some contact was made between the drivers on lap 31, resulting in a heavy head-on hit for Dan McKeage on the front stretch. He collided with Gary Smith, sending Smith hard into the wall in turn 1. It was a vicious wreck that left both cars with very heavy damage, but both drivers were uninjured and were able to walk away under their own power.
Reid Lanpher continued his pursuit to the front after the extended caution, powering into the top 5. Nobody was able to keep up with the #7G, though. Curt Gerry sailed into the victory, making his first trip to Victory Lane for the 2018 NASCAR Nite season. Dave Farrington, Jr., Brandon Barker, Reid Lanpher and Wayne Helliwell, Jr. followed, rounding out the top five.
After suffering from a DNF last weekend, Curt Gerry and the #7G team were able to get it done and rise back to the top on Saturday night. After his profound Pro All Star Series success in recent months, it was a breath of fresh air for the entire team to feel victorious at their home track once again.
Brian Caswell and Travis Lovejoy started on the front row for the 30-lap Wildcats feature. There were some heavy-hitters starting in the back of the pack, including Wade Kennedy, Josh Childs, Dave Cameron, Nate Leavitt and Lewis “Dirty Lew” Anderson. As Brian Caswell pulled away early, Dave Cameron and Travis Burrows both went into the dirt in the early laps.
After battling 3-wide for position in the beginning stages of the feature, Dylan Varney fell to the rear of the pack and made his way into the pits on lap 2. Dave Turner took a spin on lap 3 in turn 4, leading to a caution. After the first restart got rejected by race control, the field went back to green on their second attempt.
Lewis Anderson got shuffled to the outside line on the restart, falling to the rear of the field. After starting deep into the field, Josh Childs sneaked his way into the top 5 on lap 11. He was on the move and coming quickly, clearing Webster for the fourth spot on lap 15. Tucker Cole was his next victim, who he passed quickly just one lap later. By lap 20, he had made his way around Travis Sanborn and into the runner-up spot. By lap 25, he had reeled in Brian Caswell and was just 4 car lengths away from him.
After inching his way closer and closer to the #47 in the closing laps, Childs was at his back bumper on the final lap. The two came around turn 4 ready for battle, with Caswell taking a hard spin right before the finish line. Childs barely made it to the line before the spinning #47 machine, picking up his second consecutive victory at Beech Ridge. Brian Caswell, Cody Webster, Travis Lovejoy and Tucker Cole followed, rounding out the top five.
Caswell wasn’t too happy with the photo finish, stopping to say a few words and share a finger with the #03 of Childs in turn 4 during his victory lap. Childs was spirited in victory lane, thanking his friends, family and crew for all of their hard work over the course of the season.
Alex Lacognata and Parker Varney started on the front row for the final feature of the night; the Sport Series 35-lapper. Alex Lacognata pulled away with the early lead, but Clyde Hennessey was right on his heels. Parker Varney took a hard right into the pits on lap 8, ending the night early. After a strong comeback in the #2 car, Adam Lovejoy followed suit in the early laps, retiring for the night after breaking a component in the rear end of his car.
Frank Wear was on the move mid-race, challenging Clyde Hennessey for the runner-up spot on lap 13. He stole it away on lap 14, setting his sights on the #14 of Alex Lacognata. By lap 17, the two drivers were side-by-side, battling for the top spot. After battling it out for a handful of laps, Frank Wear finally pulled away on lap 24 in turn 2. By lap 30, he had extended his lead to 5+ car lengths over Lacognata.
Wear rode his way to the checkered, capturing his first victory of the 2018 season. Alex Lacognata, Clyde Hennessey, Joe Pastore and Richard “Bubba” Pelton followed, rounding out the top five.
After the competition was said and done, drivers from all divisions pulled out onto the frontstretch for the season’s first Autograph Night, meeting and greeting with fans while they passed out hero cards and sweet treats to all of the little (and big!) kids.
NASCAR Nite drivers will have the weekend off next week as the track hosts its second Day of Destruction of the 2018 season. You can catch me (and many others) at Wiscasset Speedway next Saturday for the Super Street 75. Competition starts at 6:00 pm and admission for all is just $5.
As always, get out there and support your local track. We hope to see you soon!