This past weekend, Wiscasset Speedway hosted their 8th annual Amsoil Strictly Shootout. The event is a $500 to win 50-lap Street Stock race that awards race winnings to the top 5 finishers in the heat races as well as a “Back in the Saddle” award. Any driver that finished in the top 5 of the race from 2017-on has a chance to double their race winnings if they finish in the top 5 again.
The race is also unique in the fact that the top 18 qualifiers due a complete re-draw for starting positions in the feature. The driver that draws pole position can chose to take the “Back of the Pack” challenge. If they elect to take the challenge and they end up winning the race, the driver will receive an additional $300 in race winnings. In addition to a winning trophy, the winner of the shootout also takes home a custom cowboy hat and belt buckle, among other contingency prizes.
28 drivers and teams from various short tracks across the state of Maine showed up to compete in Saturday’s festivities. The event kicked off with three 10-lap qualifying heat races.
Wade Kennedy took off with the early lead in the first heat race, but Jason Gammon was on his heels. Gammon took over the lead on lap 2, separating himself from the competition. Lewis Anderson faced troubles early, falling to the back of the pack in the opening laps of the heat. Jason Gammon held onto his lead throughout the course of the race, capturing the heat victory. Wade Kennedy and Nate Leavitt rounded out the top 3.
Brett Osmond and Mark Grantham went head-to-head for the lead in the early laps go the second heat as last year’s winner, Jordan Russell, quickly pulled into the third spot. Scott Eck came to a slow on lap 5 of the heat, retiring to the pits early. Brett Osmond bobbled while battling for the lead on lap 9, leaving Mark Grantham in sole possession of the lead. Grantham went on to capture the heat victory, followed by Jordan Russell and Chaz Briggs. Grantham failed inspection following the heat race, sending him to the tail of the field for the feature.
Ashton Reynolds took off with the early lead in the final heat race as Brad Erskine quickly made his way into the runner-up spot. Jon Emerson was also on the move early, advancing to third on lap 3. Troubles began early for Brian Caswell as he took a spin on lap 5 in turn 3, resulting in Dean Rice also going around. The incident led to the first caution of the day.
Ashton Reynolds took off with the lead once again on the restart as Jon Emerson and Brad Erskine battled it out for the runner-up spot behind him. Brady Romano took a spin on lap 8 in turn 2, resulting in a late-race caution.
Ashton Reynolds held onto his lead in the closing laps, capturing the heat victory. Jon Emerson and Dan McKeage, Jr. rounded out the top 3.
After the heat races were completed, the drivers took to the track for the re-draw of the top 18 qualifiers. Kyle Hewins drew the pole position for the feature race, but elected to take the “back of the pack” challenge, giving up his spot. This left Chaz Briggs and Kurt Hewins on the front row for the 50-lap feature race.
Kurt Hewins took off with the early lead in the feature. Jason Gammon was also on the move early, at Garrett Lamb’s door for fifth place on lap 7. He advanced just a handful of laps later, setting his sight on the leaders. Chaz Briggs was back at Kurt Hewin’s door, battling for the top spot on lap 11. The two drivers were door-to-door as Briggs took a spin on lap 12 in turn 1, resulting in a caution. Hewins pulled off the track under yellow, Dragging Chaz Briggs’ rear bumper behind him. Scott Eck began smoking under the yellow and retired to the pits.
Brad Erskine took off with the lead on the restart, but trouble was brewing behind the leaders. Calab Emerson-Mains took a spin on lap 19 in turn 2, resulting in another caution. The caution was followed by a red flag on lap 21 due to Brian Caswell’s #47 machine blowing up and leaving a mess to clean up in turns 1 & 2. Following the red flag, there was another quick caution for an incident involving Bernie Dinsmore.
Jason Gammon took off with the lead on the restart. Jon Emerson was on the move behind him, at Brad Erskine’s door for the runner-up spot on lap 29. He took over the spot the following lap with Lewis Anderson in tow. Emerson was at Gammon’s door, challenging for the lead on lap 34. Lewis Anderson joined them for a brief moment, going 3-wide for the lead. Emerson won the battle, taking off with the lead on lap 37. Chaz Briggs faced more trouble on lap 37 as he spun on the front stretch, collecting Mark Grantham. The incident led to another caution.
Jason Gammon stole the lead back on the restart, but Jon Emerson was back at his door on lap 38 as Lewis Anderson lingered closely behind the two leaders. After starting the race in dead-last, Kyle Hewins finally broke the top 5 on lap 39. Lewis Anderson overtook Jon Emerson for the runner-up spot on lap 39, but began to lose ground on lap 41 after cutting down a tire.
Chaos erupted on the front stretch on lap 43 as Lewis Anderson took a spin. Jordan Russell came out of the smoke with parts dragging underneath his car and Dan McKeage, Jr. also cut down a LF tire in the madness. The incident resulted in a late-race caution with just 7 laps to go.
Jason Gammon took off with the lead once again on the restart. Drivers were 3-wide behind him for the runner-up spot on lap 45. Jon Emerson took over the spot and was back at Gammon’s door, challenging for the lead with just 3 laps to go as Kyle Hewins rode their coattails. Gammon held off Emerson, scoring the (unofficial) feature victory. Jon Emerson, Kyle Hewins, Garrett Lamb and Brad Erskine rounded out the top five.
Jason Gammon failed post-race inspection following the race for an unapproved wooden carburetor spacer. He was not disqualified, but was issued a 5 position penalty. This resulted in the win being awarded to Jonathan Emerson. Not only was it Emerson’s first Shootout win, he also doubled his winnings with the “Back in the Saddle” honor, collecting $1,000. Kyle Hewins, Garrett Lamb, Nate Leavitt and Zach Emerson rounded out the top five.
Following the Strictly Shootout, Wiscasset hosted the Modified, Outlaw Mini and Late Model Sportsman divisions. Nick Reno captured the victory in the Modified race, which was his first win of the 2020 season in the division. Jimmy Childs, the defending Outlaw Mini champion, captured his 3rd consecutive win in the division. Ryan St. Clair also returned to Victory Lane in the Late Model Sportsman division after a 2-year winless streak.
The 2020 Strictly Shootout brought a lot of excitement to Wiscasset Speedway. There was hard racing throughout the entire day and as always, the re-draw and the finish brought some unexpected twists and turns to make the day that much more exciting and memorable.
The Wiscasset season rolls on this coming Saturday, October 3rd, with a 75-lap open competition Super Street race. The #23 Chasing the Checkered machine of Charlie Sanborn will be there and Joe Pastore, Ryan Phillips, Devin Curit, Chris Smith, Mike St. Pierre and other drivers from Beech Ridge are rumored to be competing as well. The racing action begins at 4:00 pm and pit admission is only $20 for all ages. It’s going to be a very exciting event!
Support your local short track and keep on chasing the checkered! I hope to see you at a short track soon!