After rain postponed last weekend’s feature races, the Sport Series drivers and teams returned to Beech Ridge Motor Speedway on Saturday night for double features.
After Ryan Phillips and Frank Wear won the heat races the previous Saturday, the field was set for the first 35-lap feature race. Ryan Phillips took off with the early lead in the first feature race. Curt Gleason took a spin in turn 3 on the initial lap, but the field remained green.
Chasing the Checkered driver, Charlie Sanborn, was forced into a backup car after breaking the rear end in practice the previous Saturday. He qualified using teammate Dave Charest’s #07 car, so he was backed into using that car for at least the first feature race on Saturday. Instead of bringing two cars to the track on Saturday, the team elected to have Charlie pilot the #07 car for both feature events on finale night. He made progress early in the first feature race, clearing Mike St. Pierre for the runner-up spot on lap 2.
Jason Curtis took a spin at the tail-end of the field on lap 11, causing his competitor, Adam Lovejoy, to also take a spin. The incident led to the first caution of the feature.
Ryan Phillips and Charlie Sanborn were head-to-head for the lead on the restart, neck and neck for the top spot with each and every passing lap. Drivers were 3-wide for fourth on lap 15, with Bubba Pelton taking over the spot. Pelton was on the move, challenging Todd Libby for third on lap 20. The top 4 drivers were neck & neck by lap 22. Ryan Phillips finally cleared Charlie Sanborn on lap 24, distancing himself from the competition.
Rookie, Todd Libby, advanced into the runner-up spot over Charlie Sanborn on lap 26 and Bubba Pelton quickly followed suit. On lap 29, Todd Libby and Ryan Phillips began battling it out for the top spot. Jim Colpritt and Curt Gleason made hard contact on lap 33 in turn 3, but the field remained green. Ryan Phillips managed to hold off Todd Libby, scoring his first feature victory of the 2019 season. Bubba Pelton, Devin Curit and Charlie Sanborn rounded out the top five.
After a brief break, the Sport Series drivers were back on track for their 12-lap heat races for the second feature race. Jason Curtis took off with the early lead in the first heat, but both Matt Dow and Mike St. Pierre were right on his heels. Mike St. Pierre pulled ahead with the lead and never looked back, scoring the heat victory. Matt Dow and Jason Curtis rounded out the top 3.
Frank Wear powered into the early lead in the second qualifying heat. Terry Merrill was on the move early, advancing into the runner-up spot on lap 2. Jim Colpritt blew up on lap 9, leading to an extended caution. Terry Merrill and Frank Wear were head-to-head for the lead on the restart, but Frank Wear took home the heat victory. Bubba Pelton rounded out the top 3.
After the heat races set the field, it was time for the 50-lap feature race. Matt Dow powered away with the early lead, pulling away from the competition. Jason Curtis made contact with Charlie Sanborn as the two drivers battled it out for position on lap 5, causing Sanborn to take a spin in turn 1. Miraculously, Sanborn avoided making contact with any of his competitors, but the incident led to an early-race caution.
Matt Dow took off with the lead once again on the restart. Frank Wear was on the move, challenging Dow for the lead on lap 11. Charlie Sanborn cut down a tire on lap 17 after battling it out for position with Terry Merrill, forcing him to take a trip down to the pits. Frank Wear continued his pursuit to the front, clearing Matt Dow for the lead on lap 22.
Charlie Sanborn returned to the field on lap 24, but the #1 Chasing the Checkered driver still had the incident from earlier in the feature in the back of his mind. He caught up to Jason Curtis’ back bumper on lap 28 and gave the #02 more than a love tap, shoving him into the turn 3 wall. Nick Calvert, making his debut in the #33 machine, spun to avoid making contact with the two drivers. Sanborn and Curtis continued to beat and bang under yellow before heading to the pits, with neither driver returning to the track following the incident.
Matt Dow and Frank Wear were head-to-head for the lead once again on the restart, with Joey Pastore joining the battle on lap 35. Curt Gleason had a hard spin on lap 39 in turn 4, but the field remained green. Joey Pastore and Frank Wear made hard contact with four laps to go, resulting in Wear taking a spin. The incident led to a late-race caution.
Wear wanted his spot back, but race control had put the #20 car to the rear after deciding that he was the cause of the caution, which is standard practice. Wear felt that this wasn’t fair and kept in line at the front of the field. He had words with the #20p in turn 3 before peeling out and continuing on the track under yellow. A red flag was called in attempts to send Wear to the back of the pack, but Wear elected to head to the pits instead, doing donuts on the front stretch before making his official exit.
Once everything was calm on the track again, the field went back green and Matt Dow and Joey Pastore began battling it out for the top spot. The two drivers battled it out until the very end, with Dow edging out Pastore by a nose at the line, collecting his fourth feature victory of the 2019 season. Todd Libby, Mike St. Pierre and Clyde Hennessey rounded out the top five.
By starting the second feature race, Joey Pastore solidified his second consecutive Sport Series championship. Todd Libby also scored “Rookie of the Year” honors in the division after scoring 2 feature victories.
The final point standings for 2019 in the Sport Series are as follows:
1. Joe Pastore 931
2. Richard Pelton 909
3. Clyde Hennessey 896
4. Matt Dow 890
5. Terry Merrill 888
6. Frank Wear 874
7. Ryan Phillips 867
8. Charlie Sanborn 852
9. Devin Curit 824
10. Mike St. Pierre 803
2019 was an exciting and highly competitive season in the Sport Series and it will be interesting seeing if Joey Pastore can continue his reign of champion in 2020 or if someone will knock him off of the top of the podium. Only time will tell!