The race, which was originally slated to happen 2 weeks ago, was originally postponed due to rain. Ward & Sons Construction stepped up to become the title sponsor for the special two race event and a special “helmet” trophy was designed by Greg Emerson at Night Owl Creations.
Both tracks worked together to sell out all 100 laps by accumulating lap sponsors for the event. Many people also chipped in by adding special contingency prizes as well. With a total of $2,500 going to the race winner, the event was definitely the most sought out race for the division at the two tracks in 2021.
Coming into the second event, Nate Leavitt, the first race winner, held the lead in the championship series. But, Richard Pelton, Frank Wear, Joe Pastore and Matt Beers were all in close contention as well.
26 drivers showed up to compete in the series on Saturday. The race lineup would be determined by 3 heat races and a unique invert, which will be explained a little later on.
Darren Ripley took off with the early lead over Bubba Pelton in the first qualifying heat. Trouble was brewing early as Matt Beers and Adam Chadbourne tangled on lap 1 in turn 2, resulting in an early caution.
Mark Lucas got the one up on his competitors and powered into the lead on the restart. He never looked back, picking up the first heat victory. Darren Ripley and Bubba Pelton rounded out the top 3.
Shawn Austin jumped to the early lead in the second qualifying heat. David Greenleaf and PJ Merrill tangled on lap 2 in turn 3, making heavy contact with each other. The incident led to an immediate red flag. Both drivers were okay, but both machines were left heavily battered.
Shawn Austin pulled ahead once again on the restart. While battling it out for position at the rear of the pack, Josh St. Clair and Clyde Hennessey made contact on lap 6 in turn 3, resulting in Hennessey going for a spin. The incident led to another caution and both drivers were forced to restart at the tail end of the field.
Shawn Austin held the slight advantage on the restart. Devin Curit was on the move behind him, overtaking Josh Bailey for the runner-up spot before quickly taking over the lead. Bailey later took a spin on lap 8 in turn 1, but the field remained green.
Devin Curit scored the heat victory as Mike St. Pierre and Poncho Darveau rounded out the top 3.
Dominic Curit pulled ahead with the early lead in the third and final qualifying heat. Joe Pastore, a series championship contender, made a surprise move as he pulled to the pits on lap 4.
Glen Reynolds also fell off-pace on lap 7, ultimately heading down to the pits.
Dominic Curit held strong through the finish, capturing the heat victory. Frank Wear and Robbie Harrison rounded out the top 3.
All drivers were introduced on the front stretch before the start of the 100 lap feature. The pole sitter, Mark Lucas, was asked to randomly select a number (1-6) out of a hat. This would decide the number of rows that would be inverted for the feature.
Lucas drew the number 4, meaning that Bubba Pelton would start in the top spot for the feature. He took off with the early lead, but trouble was on the horizon for a fellow competitor as Devin Curit’s #44 machine broke a rear end on lap 4. This resulted in an early race caution.
Pelton pulled ahead once again on the restart. Clyde Hennessey and Joe Pastore tangled on lap 5 in turn 1, resulting in Pastore going for a spin. This led to another caution and a surprise as Nate Leavitt headed to the pits under yellow.
Bubba Pelton held the advantage over Mike St. Pierre on the restart, but St. Pierre took a spin a handful of laps later in turn 1. He made contact with Matt Beers following the spin, leading to another yellow.
Mark Lucas went head to head with Bubba Pelton on the restart. Pelton won the battle, but Josh St. Clair was on the move as well, pulling to Lucas’ inside door to challenge for position. St. Clair completed the pass on lap 15 as Dominic Curit followed in succession.
Dominic Curit made his way to Josh St. Clair’s inside on lap 16, igniting a battle for the runner-up spot. Curit won the battle, immediately setting his eyes on Bubba Pelton for the top spot. The two drivers battled it out for a couple of laps before Curit pulled ahead with the advantage on lap 21. Mark Lucas began to find his groove again, advancing to the runner-up spot over Bubba Pelton on lap 22.
Robbie Harrison was also coming through the field, overtaking Pelton for fourth on lap 27. He made his way to the inside of Josh St. Clair just three laps later, taking over third.
Frank Wear took a spin on lap 32 in turn 2, resulting in another caution. After a strong showing prior to the caution, Josh St. Clair made a trip down pit road under the yellow. Joe Pastore’s woes continued as his tire flew off on the restart, with ultimately resulted in another yellow. It was a close call, but no fans or staff were injured by the airborne tire.
The incident was followed by a slew of cautions that involved some heavy hitters like Clyde Hennessey, Mike Wallace, Michael Harrison, Shawn Austin, Josh Bailey and others.
Once the field calmed down, Dominic Curit pulled ahead with the advantage as Bubba Pelton and Jason Oakes battled it out for the runner-up spot behind him. Pelton held onto the position, leaving Oakes under fire by a hard-charging Josh St. Clair.
Adam Chadbourne took a spin on lap 52 in turn 4, bringing the field together once again.
Dominic Curit got the jump on the restart as Jason Oakes powered into the runner-up spot over Bubba Pelton. This didn’t last long, as Josh St. Clair was quick to steal the spot away.
Chasing the Checkered driver, James Osmond, was on the move in the second half of the race. Osmond broke the top five on lap 58. He continued his pursuit to the front a handful of laps later, challenging Jason Oakes for fourth. He succeeded on lap 65, then setting his sights on a spot on the podium.
Adam Chadbourne took another spin on the backstretch on lap 65, resulting in another caution.
Dominic Curit held strong on the restart as James Osmond quickly powered into the runner-up spot.
After a strong showing all day, Jason Oakes began to descend through the field on lap 72, falling victim to Frank Wear for fifth. His troubles continued as he took a spin on the backstretch on lap 91. Oakes was able to get rolling as the field remained green.
The leaders began to approach heavy lap traffic with just two laps to go. Dominic Curit was able to hold off James Osmond to the finish line, picking up the big win. Josh St. Clair, Bubba Pelton and Frank Wear rounded out the top five.
Dominic Curit celebrated the momentous win in Victory Lane with many members of his excited family and crew.
Bubba Pelton was crowned the challenge champion following the conclusion of the race and was awarded with the customized helmet trophy and a special Challenge Series banner.
Following the conclusion of post-race technical inspection, it was announced that race winner, Dominic Curit, was penalized 3 spots due to an unapproved carburetor base plate. Due to this, James Osmond was deemed the official race winner at the conclusion of tech.
Big congrats go to both race winners and all contingency prize winners!
Both Wiscasset Speedway and Beech Ridge Motor Speedway track staff and drivers did a GREAT job putting together the challenge series. Although Beech Ridge’s fate is still undetermined as of right now, I really hope to see more tracks working together (and executing it flawlessly) as these two tracks did in the future. Both tracks truly deserve a round of applause.
We are all one racing family and working together instead of against each other will help this sport survive and thrive for years to come.
You can support Beech Ridge’s Track N’ Treat event on Saturday, October 30th from 1:00 – 3:00 pm. Wiscasset Speedway will also be hosting their own Trunk or Treat Halloween event on Sunday, October 31st from 4:00 – 6:00 pm. Bring the kids and the family. Both are sure to be a great time!
Continue chasing the checkered & support your local short tracks. This is more imperative than it ever has been before.
Cover photo credit: Jamie Williams – Finish Line Photography