The Super Saturday competition rolled on this past Saturday at Beech Ridge with a full Thunder and NASCAR Nite program. The Sport Series/Super Street Showdown was the premier event of the evening, but the Pro Series division surely didn’t disappoint with an exciting (and heartfelt) 40-lap feature.
Former Beech Ridge Pro Series regular, John Peters, was originally slated to participate in the race in the #09 machine, which is a throwback to the car that his father, Greg Peters, used to race at the track when he was a competitor. Greg has been courageously battling cancer and John ultimately opted out of the race to spend precious and much-needed time with his family.
The legacy of the #09 still lived on at the speedway on Saturday as John’s best friend and competitor, Wyatt Alexander, changed his number to #09 for the night. Wyatt, among several other competitors, donned #racingforGNG stickers on their cars on Saturday, taking “Grand National Greg” along for the ride in various divisions.
With Wyatt and his competitors racing for something much bigger than a trophy, the first group of Pro Series competitors took to the track for the first 10-lap qualifying heat. Gary Smith and Rusty Poland went head to head for the early lead in the first heat. The two drivers battled it out until Smith pulled ahead with the advantage on lap 3.
Joe Pastore was also on the move early, challenging Rusty Poland for the runner-up spot on lap 4. Poland successfully held off Pastore to the finish as Gary Smith captured the heat victory.
Donnie Colpritt took off with the early lead in the second and final qualifying heat as Dave Oliver quickly powered into the runner-up spot. He made his way to Colpritt’s door on lap 2, challenging for the lead before taking over the spot the following lap.
As Dave Oliver pulled away, Brandon Barker made his way to Donnie Colpritt’s inside door on lap 5, hungry for the runner-up spot. Barker pulled away with the advantage on lap 6, but Dave Oliver was long gone in the closing laps of the heat, capturing the victory. Brandon Barker and Donnie Colpritt rounded out the top 3.
Once the field was set, Gary Smith and Dave Oliver went door to door for the early lead in the 40-lap feature. The two drivers duked it out for a handful of laps before Oliver pulled ahead with the advantage on lap 5.
Brandon Barker was also on the move early, challenging Gary Smith for the runner-up spot on lap 8 before taking sole possession of the spot just two laps later. Barker was hungry for more, all over Dave Oliver for the top spot on lap 13. Barker made his way to Oliver’s door the following lap, spearheading a battle for the lead.
Wyatt Alexander was powering his way through the field mid-race, making his way to Gary Smith’s inside door on lap 17, challenging for third before taking over the spot the following lap.
Trouble was brewing further back in the field as the leaders continued to battle it out. Barry Poulin took a hard spin on lap 27 in turn 3, resulting in a late-race caution.
Dave Oliver pulled ahead with the advantage on the restart, but a hard-charging Wyatt Alexander was on a mission. Alexander was all over Brandon Barker on lap 30, hungry for the runner-up spot. Alexander took over the spot and quickly moved on to Dave Oliver. He briefly took over the lead in the closing laps of the race, resulting in the entire Beech Ridge crowd erupting into cheers.
Alexander bobbled on lap 32, descending back to third. This gave Barker a chance to strike and the driver did just that, making his way to Oliver’s door on lap 35 as Wyatt Alexander rode their coattails, ready to strike once again.
Oliver maintained his edge through the finish, picking up yet another feature victory in the division. Brandon Barker, Wyatt Alexander, Rusty Poland and Gary Smith followed, rounding out the top five.
The Pro Series drivers brought the excitement to Beech Ridge on Saturday and raced cleanly with pure heart for a full 40 laps and surely made GNG proud. It was a special race to watch and everyone was an #09 fan on Saturday night.
There will be a break in the Super Saturday schedule this coming week, but the competition will return on Saturday, July 24th. 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: Jamie Williams – Finish Line Photography
My heart goes out to John Peters and his family. Stay strong, Greg. We all love you and will always be #racingforGNG.