Beech Ridge celebrated their 2021 season opener with an open competition event featuring all “Thunder” and “NASCAR Nite” divisions.
The open competition brought in some competitors from other tracks, including Matt Beers and Dominic Curit, two weekly drivers from Wiscasset that tried their hand at Beech Ridge on Saturday night. The two drivers may have been getting in practice for the two Super Street/Sport Series crossover events that will take place later on in the season between weekly Wiscasset and Beech Ridge drivers.
One big name missing from the Sport Series roster was Chasing the Checkered driver, Charlie Sanborn. Charlie Sanborn made the move into a Super Late Model during the off season, competing last month at Hickory Motor Speedway. Charlie looks to compete in the Pro Series open competition as early as next week, but tried his hand up in the booth with the great Andy Austin on Saturday. Returning competitors in the division included Chris Smith, Frank Wear and Bubba Pelton, among a handful of others.
The Sport Series competition kicked off with two 12-lap qualifying heats. Chris Smith took off with the early lead in the first heat as youngster, Dominic Curit, fell to the back of the pack. Bubba Pelton was in hot pursuit of the lead early, knocking on Chris Smith’s door on lap 5 and taking over the lead on the same lap.
Robbie Harrison was also on the move early, overtaking third from Todd Libby on lap 10 as Libby fell to the tail-end of the field. Dominic Curit began gaining momentum once again in the closing laps of the heat, advancing to third on the final lap. Bubba Pelton took home the eventual heat victory, followed by Chris Smith and Dominic Curit.
Jason Curtis sailed away with the early lead in the second and final Sport Series heat while Matt Beers and Danny Wear went head to head for the runner-up spot behind him. Matt Beers proved reigned victorious in the battle, pulling ahead from Wear on lap 5. Mike St. Pierre found himself at Danny Wear’s door in the closing laps challenging for third, but Wear was able to hold him off as Jason Curtis and Matt Beers took home the top two spots.
Once the field was set, 11 drivers took the green flag. Jason Curtis and Bubba Pelton made heavy contact while battling it out for the early lead, resulting in Curtis taking a spin in turn 4. The incident led to an early race caution.
This left Bubba Pelton and Chris Smith battling it out for the lead on the restart. Bubba Pelton held the early advantage as Chris Smith and Matt Beers began to duke it out for the runner-up spot behind him. Mike St. Pierre faced mechanical issues on lap 4, eventually coming to a stop on the backstretch. The incident resulted in yet another yellow flag.
Bubba Pelton pulled away with the lead once again on the restart as Robbie Harrison powered up to third behind the leaders. Danny Wear was also on the move, advancing to fourth over Matt Beers on lap 10. He continued his pursuit just a handful of laps later as he found himself at Robbie Harrison’s door, challenging him for the runner-up spot on lap 14. There was some carnage mid-pack on lap 16 as Robbie Harrison and Danny Wear tangled while battling for position, which also resulted in front end damage to Matt Beers’ machine as he was caught in the aftermath. The incident resulted in another caution.
Bubba Pelton took off with the lead once again on the restart as Dominic Curit began to find his stride, advancing to third. Matt Beers gave Curit a run for his money on lap 27, taking over the spot the following lap. Beers continued his momentum on lap 33, powering around Chris Smith for the runner-up spot. Dylan Thing took a hard spin on lap 35 in turn 3, resulting in a late-race caution.
Bubba Pelton sails off into the sunset as Chris Smith and Matt Beers battled it out for the runner-up spot behind him. Beers pulled away with the spot on lap 39 as Danny Wear followed in succession. Bubba Pelton was long gone at this point, ultimately scoring the feature victory. Matt Beers, Danny Wear, Chris Smith and Frank Wear rounded out the top five.
Bubba Pelton, a seasoned veteran in the Sport Series, continues to showcase his strength(s) when it comes time for feature racing. He is fiercely competitive and always one to look out for. Newcomers like Danny Wear continue to improve week after week and always put on a great show as well.
The Sport Series competition is tight this season and it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out come points season!
Catch the next open competition event on Saturday, May 8th, at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. Kids of ALL AGES are now allowed in the pits. Grandstand admittance is only $12 and as always, kids 12 & under get into the grandstands for FREE!
Continue chasing the checkered and support your local short tracks. I hope to see you soon!