This past Saturday, the Modified Racing Series returned to Beech Ridge Motor Speedway for the “Beech 75”. 18 different drivers showed up to compete, including Andy Shaw, Matt Swanson and the division’s local favorite, Tony Ricci.
Rusty Poland, who competes in the Pro Series weekly at Beech Ridge, also made his first career start in a Modified, piloting the #44 machine owned by Rick Kluth. Poland hadn’t even stepped behind the wheel of a Modified until 11:00 am on raceday.
The MRS competition kicked off with two qualifying heats to determine the starting lineup. Jacob Perry took off with the early lead in the first heat. Donnie Lashua was also on the move mid-race, going door to door with Bill Dixon for the runner-up spot on lap 6 before advancing position the following lap.
Andy Shaw followed in Donnie Lashua’s footsteps in the closing laps, advancing to third over Bill Dixon with just one lap remaining. Jacob Perry maintained his lead through the finish, capturing the heat victory as Donnie Lashua and Andy Shaw rounded out the top 3.
Ryan Doucette powered into the early lead in the second and final qualifying heat. Matt Swanson and Tony Ricci began battling it out for fifth on lap 3. Ricci won the battle two laps later and quickly picked off Curt Vigeant for fourth.
Toni Ricci continued his pursuit through the closing laps of the heat, advancing into the runner-up spot over Les Rose on lap 8 as Matt Swanson followed in succession. Ryan Doucette held off his competitors to the finish line, scoring the heat victory as Tony Ricci and Matt Swanson rounded out the top 3.
The Modified Racing Series rounded out Saturday’s racing program with their 75-lap main event. Ryan Doucette took off with the early lead over Andy Shaw in the feature while Matt Swanson powered to third over Tony Ricci. Donnie Lashua found himself at Matt Swanson’s door on lap 14, challenging for third with Tony Ricci on their heels. Lashua took over just two laps later as Andy Shaw lost a handful of positions, falling back to fifth.
Donnie Lashua had reeled in Ryan Doucette for the top spot by lap 20, making his way to his door before taking over the position just two laps later. Tony Ricci was still climbing through the field, advancing to third over Matt Swanson on lap 23. Bill Dixon took a spin on lap 23 in turn 4, resulting in the first caution of the feature.
Ryan Doucette pulled away with the lead once again on the restart. Tony Ricci was still digging further on back, overtaking Donnie Lashua for the runner-up spot on lap 42. He continued his pursuit to the front in the coming laps, powering to the lead as Donnie Lashua followed in succession. Jacob Perry cleared Chad Doucette for fifth on lap 53, breaking the top five after starting at the tail-end of the field.
Anthony Bello took a spin in front of the leaders on lap 55, resulting in a late-race caution.
Tony Ricci pulled ahead with the advantage on the restart, but trouble was brewing behind the leaders. After a strong showing all day, Donnie Lashua took a spin on lap 36 in turn 4 after battling for position with Matt Swanson, leading to yet another caution.
Tony Ricci powered to the lead on the restart, but Matt Swanson was hot on his heels for the top spot. Andy Shaw and Jacob Perry began battling it out for third on lap 58, going head to head for the position before Perry pulled away with the advantage just two laps later.
Rusty Poland came to life in the closing laps after conserving tires for the better half of the race, breaking the top five following the restart. Poland overtook Andy Shaw for fourth on lap 62 and immediately moved onto Jacob Perry, challenging for third. The two drivers battled it out for a couple of laps before Poland pulled ahead with the spot on lap 66.
Ryan Doucette took a spin on lap 70 in turn 4, resulting in another late-race caution.
Brian Robie powered into the runner-up spot over Matt Swanson on the restart. Rusty Poland was right there, fighting his way to Swanson’s inside door before taking over the position with just two laps to go.
Tony Ricci and Brian Robie went door to door for the lead through the finish, where Ricci captured the win by a .128 second margin of victory.
Brian Robie came home second in his first career start at Beech Ridge while Rusty Poland, in his first career start in a Modified, rounded out the podium. The hometown crowd erupted in cheers when Poland and Ricci both climbed out of their cars on the front stretch following the conclusion of the event. Matt Swanson and Kevin Iannarelli rounded out the top five.
As always, the Modified Racing Series brought the excitement to Beech Ridge Motor Speedway on Saturday. Not one, but two, hometown favorites made it to Victory Lane in a close finish at that. One thing is for sure, we can’t wait for the division to return to the track in 2022!
You can catch the next MRS event on Saturday, July 3rd at Riverside Speedway & Adventure Park.
Continue chasing the checkered and support your local short tracks! I hope to see you soon!
Cover photo credit goes to the official Modified Racing Series (MRS) Facebook page.