Beech Ridge Motor Speedway opened their doors for the first time in 2019 on Saturday night, welcoming the track’s 3 premier NASCAR Nite divisions. In celebration of the 71st Season Opener, the night would feature 50-lap feature races for each division, giving both the fans and the teams something exciting to look forward to.
The racing action began with three 12-lap heats for the Wildcats division, where starting positions were chosen by the luck of the draw.
Ed Connolly took off with the early lead in the first heat, which Joe Morse eventually took over on lap 4. Adam Lovejoy was on the move during the second half of the heat, powering into third over Nate Leavitt on lap 7.
Ed Connolly tried another shot at the top spot in the closing laps of the heat, challenging to Joe Morse’s inside on lap 10. He got him loose going into turn 1 on the final lap, but Morse was able to fend him off. After making his way to the front, Adam Lovejoy took a wild ride on the final turn, taking a spin as the pack made their way around him. Morse took home the heat victory, followed by Ed Connolly and Nate Leavitt.
Mike Roe powered away with the early lead in the second Wildcats heat. Cole Watson began challenging Roe for the top spot early, but had backed off by lap 3 as Roe distanced himself from the pack. Brian Caswell faced troubles mid-heat, retiring from the heat early on lap 6. Dave Cameron was on the move during the closing laps, advancing into the runner-up spot over Cole Watson on lap 7. But, Mike Roe was too far gone for anyone to catch him. Roe took home the heat victory, followed by Dave Cameron and Wade Kennedy.
The Sport Series division sported the largest field of the night, with 18 different competitors taking to the track. Bubba Pelton took off with the early lead in the first Sport Series heat. Chasing the Checkered driver, Charlie Sanborn, was on the move early, breaking the top 5 on lap 3 after starting at the rear of the field. He quickly advanced to the fourth spot over Ryan Phillips the following lap, continuing his pursuit to the front of the field.
Devin Curit was also on the move late into the feature, advancing into the top 5 over Ryan Phillips on the final lap. Pelton took home the heat victory, followed by Frank Wear and Clyde Hennessey.
The second Sport Series heat got off to a wild start as Jim Colpritt took a spin on the initial lap, drawing out the caution.
Matt Dow took off with the lead once the field went back to green, but Terry Merrill was challenging to his inside by lap 3. Merrill took over around the halfway mark of the heat while Joey Pastore, last year’s Sport Series champion, advanced into the runner-up spot. Jim Colpritt faced more troubles on lap 10, retiring to the pits. Merrill took home the heat victory, followed by Joey Pastore and Matt Dow.
2014 track champion, Dave Farrington, took the early lead over Charlie Colby in the first of two Pro Series heats. Colby faced troubles early, dropping to the rear of the field on lap 3. Travis Buzzell was on the move mid-heat, stealing the fifth spot away from Donnie Colpritt on lap 6. Gary Smith was also on the move in the closing laps, advancing to third over Bill Rodgers on the final lap. Farrington won the heat, followed by Dave Oliver and Gary Smith.
Brandon Barker powered into the early lead over Corey Bubar during the last heat of the night. Trevor Sanborn was also in hot pursuit early, breaking the top 4 on lap 3. Mike Rowe was hungry for the lead in the closing laps of the heat, inching in on Brandon Barker before making a bold crossover move to Barker’s inside on lap 7 in attempt to take over the lead.
The two leaders remained neck-and-neck for the lead for a couple of laps until lap 10, where Mike Rowe finally took over the top spot. Rowe went on to capture the heat victory, followed by Brandon Barker and Corey Bubar.
After the fields were set, the Wildcats division returned to the track for their 50-lap feature. Mike Roe took off with the early lead with Dave Cameron and Joe Morse in tow. After the two drivers battled it out for a handful of laps, Ed Connolly finally advanced into the third spot over Joe Morse on lap 8.
After a strong performance all day, Joe Morse faced mechanical problems as the #23 machine blew up on lap 21, sending Tiger Colby and Wade Kennedy spinning in his wake. This incident led to the first caution of the feature.
Dave Cameron powered into the lead on the restart as Mark Grantham took a spin. Grantham was able to get rolling again and the field remained green. The #37 of Phil Chapman blew a left rear tire on lap 24, leading to him taking a spin in turn 2. This brought out yet another caution.
Dave Cameron pulled away again on the restart, distancing himself from the competition. Tiger Colby faced mechanical issues on lap 29 and eventually retired to the pits. The caution was brought out shortly after to clean up fluid that was on the track.
Mike Roe was all over Dave Cameron for the top spot on the restart, but Cameron was able to hold him off. Brian Caswell faced more troubles during the feature, retiring to the pits on lap 39. Cameron and Roe were still going at it at the front of the field, making brief contact on lap 40 in turn 4. This allowed Ed Connolly to close in on them, making it a 3-way battle for the top spot.
Joe Morse, who had returned to the track after his previous incident, blew up yet again on lap 48. This left Cole Watson and Phil Chapman spinning, leading to a late-race caution.
There was a 3-way battle for third place on the final lap. Mike Roe fell out of the groove, falling to the back of the pack in heartbreaking fashion after such a strong performance all day. Dave Cameron wound up taking home his first victory of the 2019 season. Ed Connolly, Nate Leavitt, Wade Kennedy and Adam Lovejoy rounded out the top five.
The 50-lap Sport Series feature got off to a wild start as Steve Minott and Jason Curtis tangled in turn 2 on lap 1, leading to an early-race caution. Terry Merrill took off with the lead once the dust settled and returning competitor, Gary Modugno, faced troubles early as he pulled to the infield on lap 5, parking his car for the night.
Joey Pastore was making moves early, advancing to the runner-up spot over Bubba Pelton on lap 12. Charlie Sanborn was also in hot pursuit, breaking the top 5 on lap 14 after starting the feature back in ninth. Terry Merrill was bad fast in the first half of the feature, extending his lead to half a straightaway by lap 17.
Mike St. Pierre went off-track in turns 3 & 4 on lap 21, leading to a mid-race caution. Pastore and Merrill battled it out tooth & nail for the top spot on the restart, with Merrill being able to maintain the slightest edge over Pastore. Taylor Lampron-Pierce faced troubles on lap 29, bringing her #21 machine down to the pits.
Terry Merrill finally pulled away from Joey Pastore on lap 30, leaving Pastore and Matt Dow to duke it out for the runner-up spot behind him. Clyde Hennessey and Devin Curit made hard contact on lap 46 in turn 1, leading to an extended late-race caution.
Joey Pastore powered to the front on the restart, stealing the top spot away from Terry Merrill in the blink of an eye. Hennessey also took a spin on the restart, but the field remained green. Pastore took home the emotional victory, dedicating his win to his Grandfather, who recently passed away. Terry Merrill, Matt Dow, Bubba Pelton and Charlie Sanborn rounded out the top five.
Dave Farrington powered into the early lead in the final feature of the night, the 50-lap Pro Series feature. Brandon Barker was in pursuit early, sliding into the top 3 on lap 10.
Mike Rowe was all over Farrington for the top spot by lap 16. He eventually made his way to Farrington’s door, later clearing him for the lead on lap 20. There was a 2-car breakaway at the front of the pack by the halfway mark, with Rowe and Farrington paving the way.
Charlie Colby faced more troubles late into the race, bringing the #72 down to the pits on lap 37. After a strong performance all day, Dave Oliver faced clutch problems on lap 38, forcing him to retire to the pits.
Mike Rowe took home the feature victory, proving that he’s still as competitive as ever, even at the age of 68. Dave Farrington followed up in the runner-up spot as Brandon Barker edged out Corey Bubar for third. Gary Smith rounded out the top five.
The first night of NASCAR Nite competition at Beech Ridge brought many unexpected twists and turns, with hard racing from all 3 divisions until the very last lap. This set the tone for the 2019 season and I cannot wait to see how it all pans out!
Join us again this upcoming Saturday, May 11th, for NASCAR Nite. The racing action begins at 7:00 pm. As always, children 12 and under get in free and adult admission is $12. We hope to see you there!
Special thanks to the drivers supporting Chasing the Checkered at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway this season, especially our Chasing the Checkered drivers in the Sport Series, Charlie Sanborn and Dave Charest. Thank you Joe Morse, Jason Curtis, Taylor Lampron-Pierce, Josh Childs, Dave Cameron and Mark Grantham for your support.