The 2021 points season at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway continued on this past Saturday with an action-packed night of racing featuring all NASCAR Nite and Thunder divisions. The wildly (no pun intended) competitive Wildcats division was among those divisions, with 20 drivers competing for a spot at the top of the podium.
The Wildcats racing action kicked off with two 10-lap qualifying heats. Travis Lovejoy took off with the early lead in the first qualifying heat. Chaz Briggs took a spin on the backstretch on lap 2, nailing a dirt pile in turn 3. The incident resulted in an early-race caution.
Travis Lovejoy took off with the lead once again on the restart. Trouble was brewing behind the leaders once again as Kaleb Bean and Ryan Lund made hard contact on lap 3 in turn 3, collecting Jacob Vaughn in the aftermath. This led to another yellow flag.
Travis Lovejoy maintained his edge on the restart as Chaz Briggs and Cole Watson duked it out for the runner-up spot behind him. While battling for position, Watson took a spin in turn 1 and Briggs cut a right front tire down, leading to him taking a trip to the pits. The incident resulted in yet another caution.
Only 5 drivers were remaining on the restart, but Travis Lovejoy puled away from his competitors and never looked back, capturing the heat victory as Jacob Vaughn and Wade Kennedy rounded out the top 3.
Rob Herrick powered to the early lead in the second and final qualifying heat. Matt Dow was also on the move early, advancing into the runner-up spot on lap 4 over Shawn McKeage. Joe Morse and Dan Bernier went head to head for fourth on the final lap, with Bernier beating Morse to the line by a nose as Herrick captured the heat victory. Matt Dow and Shawn McKeage, picking up his first career top 3 finish, rounded out the top 3.
While battling for position, Jason Gammon and Jacob Vaughn tangled on the initial start of the 30-lap feature, also collecting the #63 of David Savoie. The incident led to an early-race caution.
Rob Herrick and Travis Lovejoy went head to head for the lead on the restart, but trouble was brewing behind the leaders once again. Adam Lovejoy, Jacob Vaughn and Jason Gammon all tangled on the front stretch on lap 2.
Gammon made hard contact with the wall, resulting in an immediate red flag. Gammon lost his right side body panel in the incident and although he was thankfully able to walk away, his #5 machine was left heavily battered.
Rob Herrick powered to the lead on the restart. Joe Morse and Dan Bernier tangled on lap 5 in turn 4, resulting in Bernier taking a spin and Morse having his driver’s side body panel ripped off. The incident led to yet another caution.
Rob Herrick pulled away with the advantage once again on the restart. Lewis Anderson took a spin on lap 7 in turn 2. Ryan Lund had to slow to avoid him, resulting in Lund losing a handful of positions as the field remained green.
Wade Kennedy made way to Rob Herrick’s door on lap 9, challenging for the top spot. Kennedy pulled ahead with the advantage the following lap and began to slowly pull away from the competition. Matt Dow and Chaz Briggs took Cole Watson 3-wide for third on lap 18. Briggs came out on top as Shawn McKeage sneaked through the gap, advancing to fourth.
Dave Cameron’s early-season struggles continued as he pulled off-track on lap 21, coming to a stop at the pit entrance. This drew out a late-race caution.
Wade Kennedy pulled ahead with the advantage on the restart as Shawn McKeage powered to third over Chaz Briggs. Briggs and Matt Dow reignited their battle for position in the closing laps, going door to door for fourth.
Wade Kennedy held strong through the finish, capturing his first feature victory of the 2021 season. Rob Herrick and Shawn McKeage, scoring his first career podium finish in a feature race, followed. Chaz Briggs beat Matt Dow to the line, coming home in fourth.
In the past 3 weeks, we have seen 3 different winners in Wildcats Victory Lane at Beech Ridge. The division remains super competitive and young drivers like Shawn McKeage continue to grow with every passing week and produce top finishes against seasoned veterans.
Will a young gun like Shawn McKeage, Dan McKeage, Jr. or Jacob Vaughn top the podium next? Will luck return for veterans like Dave Cameron? Stay tuned to find out!
You can catch the next night of Super Saturday racing action this coming Saturday, June 3rd. The racing action kicks off at 4:00 pm!
Continue chasing the checkered and support your local short tracks! I hope to see you soon!
Cover photo credit goes to the awesome Jamie Williams at Finish Line Photography!