Beech Ridge Motor Speedway recently announced that their long-awaited 2020 race season would finally begin with an open-competition race format, allowing drivers and teams from other local tracks to compete in Scarborough for a 7-week untraditional, no-points season. Unlike past seasons, the track will host both “Thursday Night Thunder” and “NASCAR Nite” divisions on one day, Saturday, with an early start time.
Although the track has tried relentlessly and worked with the state of Maine to allow fans into the grand stands, the state will still not allow fans into the main grandstands due to Covid-19 restrictions that are still in place. With all of this being said, the track is allowing pit admittance only at a $30 flat rate for all (excluding the GSPSS race date) until further notice for fans 14 years of age or older.
The track is putting their best foot forward to make the best season possible with the limited options that they have due to state restrictions. The season kicked off this past Saturday and there was a great turnout of fans in the pits and some great racing action to boot.
Following the standard “Thursday Night Thunder” divisions were the “NASCAR Nite” divisions, starting with the Wildcats. Different from past seasons, drivers will draw for starting positions in their heat races every week, opposed to lining up by points in the heat races.
Returning competitor, Kyle Hewins, took off with the early lead in the first Wildcats heat after a 3-wide battle for the lead. Travis Lovejoy was also on the move early, going head-to-head with Brian Caswell for the runner-up spot on lap 4, taking over the position. Hewins took home the heat victory, followed by Travis Lovejoy and Brian Caswell.
Another returning veteran competitor, Shawn Gilpatrick, went head-to-head with Mark Grantham for the early lead in the second heat. Grantham managed to take off with the lead, pulling away from his competitors. Dan Bernier took a spin on lap 5 in turn 3, leading to a caution.
Dave Cameron powered into the lead on the restart and never looked back, securing the heat victory. Kurt Hewins and Mark Grantham rounded out the top 3.
Next up was the Sport Series, where Devin Curit sailed off with the early lead in the first heart race. Ryan Phillips and Todd Libby went nose-to-nose for the runner-up spot at the mid-point of the heat, with Todd Libby pulling ahead on lap 9. Devin Curit took home the heat victory, followed by Todd Libby and Ryan Phillips.
Joey Pastore took off with the early lead in the second Sport Series heat.
Chasing the Checkered’s Charlie Sanborn, who is making a one-year run in the #23ss Sport Series machine, gained two positions in the first lap, going from fifth to third. He continued his pursuit to the front the following lap, passing Chris Smith, who is returning to competition in the #1 machine, for the runner-up spot.
Charlie’s number #23ss is a tribute to his father, Chuck Sanborn, Jr. and his racing endeavors. The color and design scheme on the car also mimics Chuck’s car from his racing days to a T. Charlie decided to go all out this season, ordering a fire suit and a custom helmet that replicate his father’s old suit and helmet as well.
Pastore took home the heat victory, followed by Charlie Sanborn and Bubba Pelton.
Joey Pastore, pulling double-duty in Mike Rowe’s #24 machine, took home yet another heat victory in the first of two Pro Series heats. In the second heat race, 2019 State of Maine NASCAR champion, Dave Oliver, pulled away from Nick Cusack and never looked back, securing the heat victory.
Once the heat races were completed, the Wildcats kicked off the feature racing action. Kyle Hewins took off with the early lead in the 50-lap Wildcats feature. He managed to hold off the competition until lap 13, where Travis Lovejoy was right on his heels. By lap 20, the two drivers had a full straightaway lead over the rest of the field.
Shawn Gilpatrick’s night ended early as he came to a slow on lap 25, pulling into the pits. An incident happened between Dave Cameron and Brian Caswell on lap 27, resulting in Dave Cameron taking a spin in turn 2. The incident led to a caution, with both drivers heading to the pits under yellow. Dave Cameron returned to the track before the green flag, but Caswell returned to the track one lap down.
Travis Lovejoy got the jump on the restart and never looked back, securing the victory in the classic “?” car. Kyle Hewins, Kurt Hewins, Garrett Lamb and Dave Cameron rounded out the top five.
Joey Pastore took off with the early lead in the 50-lap Sport Series feature. Charlie Sanborn was on the move early, climbing to third over Todd Libby on lap 3. He then battled door-to-door with Devin Curit for a handful of laps before taking over the runner-up spot on lap 7. He then set his sights on Pastore, battling it out with the #20p before overtaking the lead on lap 11.
Todd Libby and Devin Curit went head-to-head for third on lap 15 with Bubba Pelton joining the battle a few laps later. As those three drivers duked it out, Mike St. Pierre faced troubles on lap 19, bringing the #15 down to the pits.
Devin Curit finally pulled away on lap 23 as Bubba Pelton navigated his way to fourth over Todd Libby. Joey Pastore began reeling Charlie Sanborn in during the closing laps and he was right on his heels by lap 30. After a strong performance all day, Todd Libby fell off-pace on lap 33, retiring to the pits.
The leaders began approaching lap traffic with just ten laps to go. The lap cars allowed the leaders to pass freely and swiftly, leaving Pastore and Sanborn with an open track to battle it out. Joey Pastore was door-to-door with Charlie Sanborn with 3 laps to go, making contact with the #23ss as the two drivers rounded turn 3. It was a side-to-side battle until the very end with a drag race to the finish. In a stellar photo finish, the #20p of Joey Pastore clinched the feature victory. As for the margin of victory? .001 seconds. Devin Curit, Bubba Pelton and Danny Wear, taking the reigns from his dad Frank, rounded out the top five.
The Pro Series capped off the night with their 75-lap feature. Dave Oliver took the early edge over Joey Pastore, who was looking to achieve the feat of winning both the Sport and Pro Series features in one night. This is a feat that has not been achieved in 40+ years at the track. The last driver to accomplish the task was the late, great Dick Wolstenhulme.
Rusty Poland, making his return to Beech Ridge, battled it out with Travis Buzzell for fourth on lap 4, gaining the edge the following lap. Poland continued to show strength in the early laps, making his way into the runner-up spot over Nick Cusack and Joey Pastore on lap 9.
Nick Cusack, in another tribute/throwback car, began challenging Joey Pastore for third on lap 27, gaining the edge on lap 29. Trevor Sanborn was also on the move, advancing to fourth over Joey Pastore on lap 31 as Travis Buzzell followed suit.
Corey Bubar, who had faced troubles all day, came to a slow on lap 35, stalling at the pit entrance. This led to the first caution of the day and brought the field back together. Joey Pastore headed to the pits under yellow and returned to the track for the green flag, only to retire the #24 for the night shortly after.
Dave Oliver took off with the lead on the restart, but Rusty Poland and Trevor Sanborn were right on his heels. Sanborn advanced into the runner-up spot over Poland on lap 40, then setting his sights on Oliver at the front of the field. Rusty Poland lost some steam as Nick Cusack powered his way around the #44 on lap 40.
Poland was back for more as he and Cusack battled it out once again on lap 62. The two drivers made contact on lap 69 in turn 3, resulting in Cusack taking a spin. The incident drew another caution, leaving just six laps remaining in the race.
Trevor Sanborn and Dave Oliver were head-to-head yet again on the restart, with Sanborn pulling ahead with just five laps to go. Dave Oliver was back on his tail with 3 to go and the drivers went door-to-door on the final lap.
Sanborn inched out Oliver, capturing the feature victory. Rusty Poland came in third, securing his career-best Pro Series finish. Evan Beaulieu, a dark horse and returning competitor (also a BIG shoutout to Evan’s own Nitro Websites for this website!), came home in fourth. Travis Buzzell rounded out the top five.
Given the circumstances, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway and the NASCAR Nite competitors put on one Hell of a show on Saturday night. With six weeks still remaining in the 2020 “Covid-19” season, there are still many racing memories to be made over the course of the season.
Beech Ridge does hope to go racing with fans in the stands before the end of the 2020 racing season and are making strides toward doing so. If you can, get out there and support your local short track. Race tracks like Beech Ridge need your support more than ever right now.
The 2020 race season continues at Beech Ridge next Saturday, July 25th. Racing action starts at 4:00 pm and pit admittance is $30 for those 14 years of age and older.
We hope to see you there!