Beech Ridge Motor Speedway kicked off their 2021 points season this past Saturday, hosting all Thunder and NASCAR Nite divisions. The NASCAR Nite program included extended lap races for all 3 divisions, including the 75-lap Sport Series feature.
Sixteen drivers showed up to compete in the Sport Series on Saturday and the day’s competition kicked off with two 12-lap qualifying heats. Zach Bowie pulled ahead with the early lead in the first heat as Chris Smith powered into the runner-up spot behind him.
Joe Pastore, returning to Sport Series competition, was also coming through the field, advancing to third over Curt Gleason on lap 3. Chris Smith was all over Zach Bowie for the lead by lap 5. Smith was at this door the following lap and the two drivers battled it out until the finish, where Bowie beat Smith to the line as Joe Pastore rounded out the top 3.
Frank Wear and Todd Libby went head to head for the early lead in the second and final Sport Series qualifying heat. Todd Libby pulled ahead with the advantage as the father-son duo, Frank and Danny, battled it out for the runner-up spot behind him.
Frank Wear won the battle against Danny, immediately moving onto Todd Libby for the lead. Frank Wear stole away the top spot on lap 9, but Danny was on his heels, taking over the top spot just one lap later. Robbie Harrison was also on the move in the closing laps of the heat, advancing into the runner-up spot over Frank Wear as Danny captured another heat win.
Once the field was set, Zach Bowie took off with the early lead in the 75-lap feature as Chris Smith quickly made his way into the runner-up spot. Joe Pastore was also on the move early, advancing to third over Danny Wear on lap 4. Chris Smith was hungry for the top spot, at Zach Bowie’s door challenging him for the top spot on lap 6 before overtaking the lead the following lap.
Danny Wear’s uncharacteristic troubles began on lap 9 as he took a trip through the dirt in turns 1 and 2, heading to the pit area shortly thereafter.
Joe Pastore was still on the prowl on lap 11, going head to head with Zach Bowie for the runner-up spot. Robbie Harrison was making moves further on back, advancing to fourth over Ryan Phillips on lap 13. Bobby Nadeau came to a slow on lap 15, making the dreaded righthand turn down to the pits.
After battling it out for a handful of laps, Zach Bowie finally pulled ahead of Joe Pastore on lap 20. Robbie Harrison followed in his footsteps and eventually overtook Bowie for the runner-up spot.
Ryan Phillips was on the move on lap 24, advancing to third over Joe Pastore. Bubba Pelton was movin’ on up further on back, breaking the top 5 on lap 30. By lap 31, Robbie Harrison had reeled in Chris Smith, successfully completing the pass for the lead. Mike St. Pierre came to a slow on lap 36, heading down to the pits.
Bubba Pelton made his way to Joe Pastore’s inside door on lap 38, challenging Pastore for fourth before taking over the position the following lap. Zach Bowie followed in his footsteps, advancing to fourth over Pastore on lap 57. Pastore pulled to the pits just a few laps later, sacrificing his spot in the top five.
After battling it out for a handful of laps, Bubba Pelton finally advanced to third over Ryan Phillips on lap 59. Robbie Harrison continued to pull away from the competition at the front of the pack, extended his lead to a full straightaway by lap 70.
Harrison sailed across the finish line, capturing his first feature victory in 20 YEARS. Harrison was so full of excitement in Victory Lane that he climbed out and stood on his drivers side door, waving to the fans before jumping down onto the track surface. Harrison came down hard following his celebration, ultimately breaking his heel in the process. The injury will require surgery, so the drivers’ near future seems uncertain as of right now. But, one thing is for sure, he sure had a memorable celebration.
Chris Smith, Bubba Pelton, Clyde Hennessey and Ryan Phillips rounded out the top five.
The Sport Series division remains SUPER competitive and there has only been one repeat winner so far in the division in 2021. Who will make it to Victory Lane next in the Sport Series? Only time will tell.
Catch the next week of Super Saturday points competition this coming Saturday, June 12th. The racing action kicks off at 4:00 pm and kids of ALL AGES are now allowed in the pits. As always, grandstand admission is just $12 for adults and FREE for kids 12 & under!
Continue chasing the checkered and support your local short tracks. I hope to see you soon!
Featured image photo credit: Chris Allen