This past Saturday, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway hosted their 2021 season finale. Chris Smith was among the drivers in the championship hunt. Smith, a 3-time Sport Series champion, came out of retirement last year and shook things up in his classic #1 machine. Leading into championship night, he held a strong 35 point lead over Ryan Phillips in the point standings.
The Sport Series competition kicked off with two qualifying heat races. Jim Colpritt and Nick Calvert went toe to toe for the early lead in the first heat until Calvert pulled ahead with the advantage on lap 5.
Dylan Thyng was on the move in the second half of the heat, advancing into the runner-up spot on lap 7. He continued his pursuit in the closing laps, pulling to Nick Calvert’s door on the final lap of the heat.
The two drivers were door to door coming to the finish line, with Thyng picking up the heat victory. Jim Colpritt rounded out the top 3.
Frank Wear took off with the early lead over Ryan Phillips in the second and final qualifying heat.
Bubba Pelton and Danny Wear ignited a battle for third on lap 5. While battling for position, Wear got bent out of shape, falling to the back of the pack as Pelton overtook the spot.
Pelton continued his pursuit to the front in the closing laps of the heat, stealing the runner-up spot away from Ryan Phillips before pulling up to Frank Wear’s door on the final lap, challenging for the top spot.
Bubba Pelton beat Frank Wear to the line by a nose, picking up the heat victory. Ryan Phillips rounded out the top 3.
13 drivers took to the track for the 35 lap feature. Dylan Thyng powered into the early lead as Bubba Pelton quickly advanced into the runner-up spot. While battling for position, Tim Maloney and Danny Wear made hard contact on lap 3 in turn 4, resulting in an early race caution.
Bubba Pelton took off with the lead on the restart as Joe Pastore followed in succession. Pastore made his way to Pelton’s inside door on lap 5, challenging for the top spot before taking over the following lap.
Chris Smith was also on the move mid-race, challenging Ryan Phillips for fourth on lap 13. The two drivers battled it out for a couple of laps until Smith pulled ahead with the advantage on lap 16. 3 laps later, a caution came out for debris in turn 1.
Joe Pastore pulled ahead with the advantage on the restart as Chris Smith powered up to third over Bubba Pelton. He continued his pursuit in the closing laps of the race, overtaking Dylan Thyng for the runner-up spot on lap 27.
Robbie Harrison went hard off-track in turns 3 & 4 on lap 32, resulting in a late race caution. Ryan Phillips took a spin on the restart, resulting in another quick yellow.
Joe Pastore was able to fend off Chris Smith to the finish, collecting yet another Sport Series victory. Bubba Pelton, Dylan Thyng and Frank Wear rounded out the top five.
With the impressive runner-up finish, Chris Smith was able to lock up the championship in the division. Smith picked up eleven podium finishes in 2021, including 4 wins. It also marked his fourth championship in THREE decades, which is an amazing accomplishment in itself. It also put him in the record books at Beech Ridge, placing him on the list of the top 15 champions at the track.
Danny Wear also took home “Rookie of the Year” honors in the division.
Prior to the championship celebration that took place on the front stretch following the conclusion of events, track owner, Andy Cusack, announced that the speedway is currently under contract by an out of state real estate developer.
The sudden and unexpected announcement sent shockwaves throughout the crowd and absolutely stunned the track staff, drivers and fans in a way that stung…hard.
While we don’t know 100% for sure whether or not Beech Ridge has seen its final days, PLEASE be sure to support what could be the track’s final events. This includes the Wildcat & Open Series Showdown on Thursday, September 23rd and the Wiscasset/Beech Ridge Sport Series Duel on Saturday, September 25th.
Never give up and please make it a priority to support the track staff and drivers at Beech Ridge while you still have the opportunity to.
If you would like to create positive change in the racing community and share your thoughts and ideas about how we can potentially save the track, please join the Save Beech Ridge Speedway group on Facebook.
Continue chasing the checkered & support your local short tracks. That’s more important now than ever before.
If you need to talk to someone, please reach out. We are a racing family and will get through this together.
Cover photo credit: Jamie Williams – Finish Line Photography