With just two weeks remaining in the 2021 season, point battles were heating up in every division at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway on Saturday. This included the coveted “Track Champion” point standings for the Pro Series.
Coming into the night, Rusty Poland held a mere 6 point lead over Gary Smith in the standings.
The Pro Series competition kicked off with one 12-lap qualifying heat. Parker Varney took a spin on the initial lap of the heat, causing the field to scatter. This resulted in an early-race caution.
Wyatt Alexander stole the lead away from Nick Cusack on the restart as Alan Tardiff followed in succession. Gary Smith was on the move further on back, eager to cut down Rusty Poland’s point lead. Smith cleared Bill Rodgers for fifth on lap 10 and immediately moved onto Corey Bubar for fourth.
Bubar and Smith battled it out until the bitter end, where Smith cleared Bubar for the position with just one lap to go.
Wyatt Alexander held off his competitors in the closing lap, scoring the heat victory as Alan Tardiff and Nick Cusack rounded out the top three.
With Gary Smith finishing the heat in fourth and Rusty Poland finishing in sixth, Smith was able to cut Poland’s point lead down to 4 points going into the feature.
Wyatt Alexander and Alan Tardiff went head to head for the early lead in the 40 lap feature race. Gary Smith quickly maneuvered into third, creating a 3 car separation between himself and Rusty Poland.
As the leaders continued to battle it out at the front of the field, Rusty Poland was trying to gain some ground, riding Nick Cusack’s coattails for fifth on lap 19. Poland pulled to Cusack’s inside door two laps later, challenging for the position as Joe Pastore lingered closely behind.
After battling it out for three quarters of the race, Alan Tardiff pulled ahead with sole possession of the top spot on lap 28. Wyatt Alexander wasn’t giving up without a fight, pulling back up to Tardiff’s inside door to challenge for the lead on lap 32.
Rusty Poland finally cleared Nick Cusack for fifth on lap 36, tying up the point battle between himself and Gary Smith.
It was a drag race to the finish for Alan Tardiff and Wyatt Alexander. Tardiff ultimately beat Alexander to the line, picking up his third feature victory of the 2021 season. Margin of victory? .178 seconds.
Gary Smith, Corey Bubar and Rusty Poland rounded out the top five.
With a deadlocked tie for the track championship coming into the final week of competition, next week’s Pro Series race is sure to be a must-see event!
Who will come out on top, will it be Gary Smith or Rusty Poland? Join us next week at Beech Ridge to find out!
The Super Saturday season finale kicks off at 4:00 pm this coming Saturday, September 11th. The season’s final Autograph Night and championship presentation will follow the racing action.
Continue chasing the checkered and support your local short tracks. I hope to see you soon!
Cover photo credit goes to Jamie Williams at Finish Line Photography.