Beech Ridge Motor Speedway hosted their final “NASCAR Nite” open competition race day of the 2020 race season this past Saturday. In a slight change to the “normal” weekly program, the Sport Series took to the track first for their 12-lap heat races.
Joe Pastore reigned dominant coming into Saturday, going 5 for 5 in the Sport Series with consecutive feature victories. Would he be able to complete a full season sweep at Beech Ridge? Only time would tell.
Danny Wear took off with the early lead in the first heat race. Bubba Pelton and Clyde Hennessey made contact on lap 2 in turn 4 while battling for position. Pelton nearly went around while Hennessey came to a slow, retiring from the heat early. Wear took off with the heat victory, followed by Bubba Pelton and Todd Libby.
Matt Dow held the early advantage over Mike St. Pierre in the second Sport Series heat. Chasing the Checkered driver, Charlie Sanborn, was on the move early, advancing to fourth over Ryan Phillips on lap 2.
Mike St. Pierre was at Matt Dow’s door, challenging for the lead on lap 4 as Chris Smith was on their heels. St. Pierre pulled away with the lead on lap 5 as Chris Smith filed in behind him. Charlie Sanborn was also on the move in the closing laps, advancing to third over Matt Dow on lap 8.
Chris Smith was all over Mike St. Pierre for the lead on the final lap of the heat, but St. Pierre was able to hold him off, capturing the heat victory. Charlie Sanborn rounded out the top 3.
Mike St. Pierre took off with the early lead in the 50-lap Sport Series feature. Drivers were 3-wide behind him for the runner-up spot on lap 3, with Chris Smith coming away with the spot. Danny Wear took a spin on lap 4 in turn 1, resulting in an early-race caution.
Chris Smith took over the lead on the restart. Charlie Sanborn and Joe Pastore battled it out for fifth on the restart. Sanborn moved Pastore out of the way on lap 10, capturing the spot before moving onto Devin Curit for fourth.
Clyde Hennessey took a spin on lap 13 in turn 4, but the field remained green. Bubba Pelton was on the move mid-race, advancing into the runner-up spot on lap 21. Joe Pastore’s woes continued on lap 23 as he made the dreaded turn down to the pit area.
Bubba Pelton took a spin on lap 24 in turn 3 in front of the field, collecting Devin Curit. Both Charlie Sanborn and Mike St. Pierre headed down to the pits under yellow. St. Pierre returned to the track with extensive damage to the right side of his car as Sanborn had his crew pull away the body panels on the #23 machine to avoid damaging the tires.
Chris Smith pulled away with the lead once again on the restart as Matt Dow and Ryan Phillips battled it out for third behind him. Devin Curit took a spin on lap 27, sending him into the turn 4 wall. The incident led to a caution, which was followed by another caution for Mike St. Pierre taking a spin in turn 3.
Chris Smith held full control of the lead on the restart as Ryan Phillips powered to third over Matt Dow. Matt Dow and Clyde Hennessey made contact while battling for position on lap 34, resulting in Hennessey taking a spin in turn 4. The incident led to a late-race caution.
As Chris Smith took off with the lead once again on the restart, Matt Dow powered into the runner-up spot over Danny Wear. Wear was back at his door on lap 38, overtaking the spot from Dow once again with ten laps to go.
Charlie Sanborn was also on the move in the closing laps of the race, advancing to fourth over Mike St. Pierre on lap 41. He was at Matt Dow’s door for third with just 4 laps to go, finally advancing position on lap 47.
Chris Smith pulled away in the closing laps, sailing away with the feature victory. The victory is Smith’s first of the season and is also his first feature victory in over 11 years. The former champion’s last victory was his win in the 2009 Sport Series 100. Smith took a long hiatus from racing, but he made strides over the course of the 2020 season which eventually led to his season-ending win.
Danny Wear, Charlie Sanborn, Matt Dow and Mike St. Pierre rounded out the top five.
Joe Pastore dominated the better part of the 2020 Sport Series season, but it was exciting to see a new (returning!) face in Victory Lane to cap off the race season.
The Sport Series season may be over at Beech Ridge, but a handful of BRMS drivers plan on competing in the “Super Streets” division at Wiscasset Speedway for the remainder of the season.
You can catch these drivers this coming Saturday, September 19th, at Wiscasset. Racing begins at 5:00 pm and pit admission is only $20 for all.
Keep chasing the checkered and I hope to see you soon!