This past Saturday, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway hosted their final week of the 2021 Open Competition NASCAR Nite season. The official points season may not start until next week, but the competition was still red hot in Scarborough.

With other local tracks like Star and Wiscasset Speedway having an off week, a handful of new drivers showed up to compete in various divisions on Saturday. Those drivers included two weekly competitors in the Super Streets division at Wiscasset Speedway, PJ Merrill and Dominic Curit. The two drivers are 18 and 14 years old, respectively.

The Sport Series competition kicked off with two 12 lap qualifying heats. Chris Smith took off with the early lead in the first heat while PJ Merrill and Robbie Harrison battled it out for the runner-up spot behind him. Merrill held strong, pulling ahead with the advantage on lap 2.

Drivers were 3-wide for fourth in the closing laps of the heat, with Ryan Phillips ultimately taking over the spot. Chris Smith sailed into the heat victory while PJ Merrill and Robbie Harrison rounded out the top 3.

Jason Curtis powered into the early lead in the second and final qualifying heat. Danny Wear, who has displayed dominance in the division in 2021, took a spin on lap 2 in turn 1, resulting in an early caution as the field scattered behind him.

Zach Bowie was on the move on the restart, powering into the runner-up spot over Frank Wear. Danny Wear was on the climb once again in the closing laps, overtaking Clyde Hennessey for fourth. Jason Curtis was off and away by that point, capturing the heat victory. Zach Bowie and Frank Wear rounded out the top 3.

15 drivers took to the track for the 50-lap feature event. Chris Smith held the early lead over Jason Curtis and slowly began to pull away from his competitors as Zach Bowie found his way to Curtis’ door, igniting a battle for the runner-up spot. Nick Calvert’s troubles began early as he took the dreaded right-hand turn to the pits on lap 5.

After battling it out for a handful of laps, Zach Bowie finally cleared Jason Curtis for the runner-up spot on lap 7. PJ Merrill was lingering closely behind, going head to head with Curtis for third the following lap. Merrill pulled ahead with the advantage on lap 12, then setting his sights on Chris Smith and Zach Bowie at the top of the leaderboard.

Zach Bowie reeled in Chris Smith by lap 22, all over his back bumper for the top spot. Bowie made his way to Smith’s inside the following lap, but nearly went around on lap 23 in turn 3. Bowie was able to correct himself, but lost some ground to the leader in the process. After dragging an underbody component under the #13 machine for nearly the entire race, Robbie Harrison finally retired to the pits on lap 29.

Ryan Phillips was on the move in the second half of the race, advancing to fourth over Jason Curtis on lap 33 as Danny Wear followed in succession. PJ Merrill finally found his way to Zach Bowie’s door on lap 35, challenging him for the runner-up spot. Clyde Hennessey took a spin on lap 40 in turn 2, resulting in a late-race caution.

Chris Smith elected the outside line on the restart. Zach Bowie quickly powered to the lead as PJ Merrill followed his lead. After Bowie overtook the lead, the yellow flag waved once again for debris on the race treack.

Zach Bowie followed in Chris Smith’s footsteps, taking the outside groove on the restart. PJ Merrill stayed tight to Bowie’s door, initiating a deadlock for the top spot. Clyde Hennessey’s woes continues as his machine blew up on lap 44, resulting in the driver retiring to the pits.

Zach Bowie pulled away slightly, maintaining a full car length lead over PJ Merrill with just 3 laps to go. PJ wasn’t giving up and he dug back in, making his way back to Bowie’s door with just 2 to go. The two drivers battled it out tooth & nail until the finish, where PJ Merrill beat Bowie to the line by just .186 seconds.

The young driver winning the feature in his first career start at Beech Ridge was a shocking, yet wildly exciting and triumphant, upset to the Sport Series regulars at the track. Following the victory, Merrill celebrated with his close friends and family in Victory Lane.

Zach Bowie, Ryan Phillips, Danny Wear and Chris Smith rounded out the top five.

Wiscasset drivers PJ Merrill, Dominic Curit and Matt Beers, continue to show their strength while competing alongside seasoned Sport Series veterans. The competition is truly heating up in preparation for the first Sport Series/Super Street Duel at Beech Ridge on Saturday, July 10th.

Catch the first night of the official 2021 points season at Beech Ridge next Saturday, June 5th. The racing action kicks off at 4:00 pm. Kids of ALL AGES are now allowed in the pits. Grandstand admission is just $12 for adults and FREE for kids 12 and under!

Continue chasing the checkered and support your local short tracks! I hope to see you soon!