This past weekend, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway hosted their second week of open competition, welcoming both “Thursday Night Thunder” and “NASCAR Nite” competitors to the track.
Presently, the track has still not opened with fans in attendance in the main grandstand area. But, the State of Maine issued new COVID-19 regulations for “large group gatherings” this past week that may allow for limited fan attendance in the weeks to come.
The Wildcats kicked off the “NASCAR Nite” action with their 12-lap heat races. Travis Lovejoy took off with the early lead in the first heat race. 2019 Wildcats champion and Beech Ridge “Driver of the Year”, Dave Cameron, was black flagged early by race control and brought his #28 machine down to the pits. Dan McKeage, Jr. also made his Beech Ridge debut in the Wildcats division, showing strength among seasoned veterans. Travis Lovejoy captured the heat victory, followed by Mark Grantham and Dan McKeage, Jr.
Lewis Anderson and Chaz Briggs went head-to-head for the lead in the early laps of the second Wildcats heat. The two drivers made contact on lap 2 in turn 4, resulting in Anderson taking a spin and leading to an early-race caution.
Brian Caswell powered into the lead on the restart and never looked back, capturing the heat victory. Chaz Briggs and Garrett Lamb rounded out the top 3.
Next on the agenda was the Sport Series division, where Ryan Phillips rocketed into the early lead. Week 1 winner, Joe Pastore, pulled to the outside of Todd Libby on lap 5, battling for the runner-up spot. Pastore took over the position the following lap, then setting his sights on Phillips at the front of the field.
By lap 7, Pastore was at Phillips’ door, battling him for the top spot. After going door-to-door for a handful of laps, Pastore pulled away with the advantage on lap 11. He went on to capture the heat victory, followed by Ryan Phillips and Todd Libby.
Devin Curit jumped into the early lead over Chasing the Checkered driver, Charlie Sanborn, in the second Sport Series heat. Returning competitor, Jason Curtis, also showed strength in the early laps, climbing up to fourth place.
The top 4 drivers were neck & neck at the front of the field by lap 4, with Danny Wear finally pulling away from Jason Curtis on lap 7, right own the leaders’ heels. Curit and Sanborn nearly tangled on lap 9 in turn 3, but both drivers managed to hold onto their positions. Devin Curit captured the heat victory, followed by Charlie Sanborn and Danny Wear.
Another returning competitor, Garrett Hall, powered into the early lead in the first Pro Series heat. Travis Buzzell faced troubles early as he pulled off-track before the heat race even began. Evan Beaulieu had powered his way into the runner-up spot over JT Thurlow on lap 4, but Dave Oliver was on his tail. Oliver pulled to Beaulieu’s inside on lap 7, taking over the runner-up spot the following lap. Nobody was any match for Garrett Hall in the heat race as he secured the heat victory. Dave Oliver and Evan Beaulieu rounded out the top 3.
After facing mechanical problems in week 1, Corey Bubar made his return to the track this past weekend, showing strength as he pulled away with the early lead in the final Pro Series heat. Wyatt Alexander was making moves early, making a move under Nick Cusack on lap 2 for the runner-up spot. Cusack momentarily lost momentum, falling to the rear of the field. Rusty Poland, who scored his career-best finish in the Pro Series last week, took over the runner-up spot from Wyatt Alexander on lap 8. Corey Bubar sailed away with the heat victory, followed by Rusty Poland and Wyatt Alexander.
After the fields were set, it was time for the Wildcats 50-lap feature. Travis Lovejoy, who had won his heat race, was sent to the back of the pack for the start of the feature. Series rookie, Chris Case, took a spin on lap 1 in turn 1, followed by Dave Cameron and Travis Lovejoy tangling in turn 4 on the same lap. The incident(s) resulted in the first caution of the feature.
Brian Caswell took off with the lead on the restart. Mac Hannan, Jr., a competitor from Wiscasset Speedway, was also making strides early, breaking the top 5 on lap 10. Garrett Lamb was all over Mark Grantham for third on lap 16 and the two drivers went door-to-door on lap 18, with Lamb eventually advancing into the spot on lap 20. Mac Hannan, Jr. also set his sights on Mark Grantham on lap 21, advancing into the spot the following lap as Grantham got a bit sideways. Joe Morse took a spin on lap 24, leading to another yellow flag.
Brian Caswell elected to restart in the outside lane and it stuck as he pulled away with the lead once again. Mac Hannan, Jr. advanced into the runner-up spot on the restart as Travis Lovejoy managed to finally break the top 5 further on back after starting the feature at the tail-end of the field. Chaz Briggs pulled to Mac Hannan’s outside on lap 30, battling for the runner-up spot.
Briggs captured the runner-up spot on lap 33, then setting his sights on Brian Caswell at the front of the pack. He was on Caswell’s heels on lap 35 and made his way to his inside the following lap. Joe Morse was also digging, breaking the top five on lap 36 after his incident earlier in the race.
Travis Lovejoy began challenging Chaz Briggs for the runner-up spot with just ten laps to go. While the two drivers battled it out, Garrett Lamb snuck his way in, advancing into the runner-up spot on lap 42. Joe Morse and Chaz Briggs then went head-to-head for third with 3 to go, with Morse taking over the spot. Garrett Lamb and Brian Caswell battled it out in the closing laps and went nose-to-nose coming to the finish line.
The finish was too close to call from the pit grandstands, but race control announced that Caswell had nosed out Lamb for the victory by just .02 seconds. This was Caswell’s first feature victory in a handful of years at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. Joe Morse, Travis Lovejoy and Chaz Briggs rounded out the top five.
Joe Pastore jumped into the early lead in the 50-lap Sport Series feature. Todd Libby was on the move early, advancing to fourth over Charlie Sanborn in the early laps as Jason Curtis followed suit. Charlie battled mechanical issues early on as he slowed on lap 7, falling just outside of the top ten. Jason Curtis went head-to-head with Ryan Phillips for fourth on lap 9, but that simmered down as a returning veteran jumped into the mix a handful of laps later.
Chris Smith, returning to competition after a 10-year hiatus, was on Jason Curtis’ heels for fifth on lap 13. He was at his door on lap 15, advancing into the spot the following lap. His momentum continued on lap 19 as he made his way to Ryan Phillips inside, battling for fourth. After the two drivers went head-to-head for a couple of laps, Chris Smith advanced position on lap 24. Weekly Wiscasset competitor, Mike Harrison, came to a slow on the same lap, retiring to the pits.
Danny Wear and Ryan Phillips battled it out for fifth on lap 30, with Danny Wear coming out on top. Chris Smith continued his pursuit on lap 36 as he jumped on Todd Libby’s heels for third, securing the spot the following lap. Smith was in hot pursuit of the leaders in the closing laps, but simply did not have enough time (or laps) to catch up. Pastore held the competition off, going 2-for-2 in the first two weeks of Sport Series competition. Devin Curit, Chris Smith, Todd Libby and Danny Wear rounded out the top five.
The Pro Series division capped off the night with their 75-lap main feature. Corey Bubar powered into the early lead over Garrett Hall, but trouble was brewing behind the two leaders. Dave Oliver faced mechanical problems on lap 1 in turn 4, sending him into the back of Wyatt Alexander. The incident caused a chain reaction as Evan Beaulieu also sailed into the turn 4 wall, resulting in a lot of LF damage to the #56 machine. All drivers were able to return to competition except for Oliver.
Corey Bubar and Garrett Hall went head-to-head once again on the restart, with Bubar securing the advantage over the #94. Nick Cusack was also making strides, breaking the top five on lap 9 after starting the race at the tail-end of the field. Rusty Poland was making moves in the early laps of the race, peeking under Garrett Hall for the runner-up spot on lap 16. Poland finally cleared Hall on lap 19, pulling away with the spot.
The field remained widely spaced out until Corey Bubar approached lap traffic on lap 50, swiftly making his way around drivers at the tail-end of the field. Nick Cusack and Travis Buzzell began battling it out for fourth in the closing laps. The two drivers made slight contact on lap 70 in turn 2, with Cusack retreating back into fifth place shortly after. Corey Bubar secured the victory as Rusty Poland took home the runner-up trophy, solidifying his career-best Pro Series finish. Garrett Hall, Travis Buzzell and Nick Cusack rounded out the top five.
Week two of competition continued to bring the thrill and excitement to Beech Ridge Motor Speedway as fans and competitors saw some close finishes and dicey racing moments throughout the day.
As confusion and chaos still lingers in the outside world around us, many are finding the race track to be a place for normalcy and joy in trying times. Beech Ridge Motor Speedway has next week off, but our local short tracks need our support more than ever right now.
You can catch Beech Ridge’s week 3 of competition on Saturday, August 8th at 4:00 pm. Until then, you can support other local race tracks such as Wiscasset Speedway, who are finally hosting their 2020 season opener with limited (grandstand) fan capacity next Saturday, July 1st.
We hope to see you there!