On Saturday, April 23rd, Wiscasset Speedway kicked off the 2022 season with their Group 1 season opener. The event was special because not only did it mark the tenth year of track ownership for Richard and Vanessa Jordan, but it also meant the start of something new for many drivers making the move to Wiscasset from the now-defunct Beech Ridge Motor Speedway.
The Market 27 Super Streets saw the biggest influx of new drivers with 6 Beech Ridge regulars in the field. 4-time Sport Series champion, Chris Smith, was among that lineup which also included Chasing the Checkered driver Charlie Sanborn, Mike St. Pierre, Bubba Pelton, Alex Smith and Colby Meserve. The addition of these drivers made for a healthy 22 car field which also included Wiscasset veterans, like Josh St. Clair, Michael Harrison and Matt Beers.
Over the off-season, some Wiscasset regulars experienced some change as well. Nicole Benincasa made the decision to move up from the 4-Cylinder Pro division into the Super Streets and she debuted her new #41 machine on Saturday. James Osmond also decided to step out of the seat in 2022, allowing his son, Strictly Street competitor Brett Osmond, to jump behind the wheel in the #05.
The Super Streets were the spotlight division of the day, kicking off the competition with three 10 lap qualifying heat races. PJ Merrill got an early jump over Bubba Pelton in the first heat. Pelton was all over his back bumper in the early laps, but the battle cooled off by the mid-point of the heat as Merrill held strong and continued to lead the pack. He sailed into the heat victory with Bubba Pelton and Chris Smith rounding out the top 3.
Shawn Austin and Josh St. Clair, who was piloting Mike Hodgkins’ #23x, went head-to-head for the early lead in the second qualifying heat, with St. Clair pulling away with the advantage on lap 2. Matt Beers was also on the move early, using the outside line to his advantage as he challenged Shawn Austin for the runner-up spot. Beers held strong, pulling away with the spot on lap 5.
Ryan Robinson’s struggles began on lap 5 of the qualifying heat as he took a spin in turn 1, drawing out the first caution of the day. Once the field got rolling, St. Clair pulled away once again, leaving Matt Beers and Shawn Austin dueling it out for second once again. Beers capitalized on the high side once more, securing the position with 2 laps to go. Josh St. Clair ultimately picked up the heat victory, followed by Matt Beers and Shawn Austin.
Tiger Colby took off with the early lead in the third and final qualifying heat as Charlie Sanborn quickly maneuvered his way into the runner-up spot behind him. Brandon Bailey was all over Sanborn for the spot at the mid-point of the heat. The two drivers nearly got into each other on the backstretch on lap 6 but managed to save it as Sanborn held onto the spot. Tiger Colby held off Charlie Sanborn to the finish line, scoring the heat victory. Brandon Bailey rounded out the top 3.
After participating in out of car driver introductions, the field got rolling for their 40-lap spotlight feature. Darick Barker took a spin on the initial lap of the feature, resulting in an early caution. Josh St. Clair continued to pace the field on the restart, pulling away in the top spot.
Charlie Sanborn tried to make the outside groove work in the opening laps of the feature, but ultimately dropped back to eighth in doing so. Alex Smith and David Greenleaf tangled on lap 6, drawing out another caution. The field briefly got rolling before Zach Bowie, Alex Smith and Ryan Robinson got together on lap 8, halting the racing action once more.
Josh St. Clair held strong on the restart, but trouble was brewing behind the leader as Ryan Robinson and Charlie Sanborn made hard contact on lap 11 as they were battling for position, resulting in Sanborn dropping to the rear of the field. Robinson’s struggles continued as he took another spin in turn 4, leading to another caution. Sanborn headed to the pits under yellow, ultimately falling multiple laps down as the team had to complete mechanical repairs before the #1 machine returned to the track.
After a brief caution on lap 15, Josh St. Clair pulled away from his competitors once again. Matt Beers was fighting loose conditions, falling back to fifth on the restart. PJ Merrill posed a threat to Tiger Colby on lap 18, challenging for the runner-up spot. The two drivers battled it out for a couple of laps before Merrill pulled ahead with the advantage on lap 20.
Tiger Colby, also fighting a loose racecar, subsequently fell back to fifth on lap 26. Matt Beers found his stride in the closing laps of the feature, diving to Brandon Bailey’s outside on lap 30 as he challenged for third. Beers and Bailey maintained neck and neck for a handful of laps until Matt Beers fully secured the position on lap 35.
PJ Merrill was slowly reeling in Josh St. Clair in the closing laps, finally making it to his door with just four laps to go. A spin by Mike Wallace stopped his momentum as it drew out a late race caution. Brett Osmond was also involved, cutting down a left front tire.
Josh St. Clair pedaled down on the restart, pulling away for a final time as Matt Beers powered into the runner-up spot behind him. St. Clair maintained his advantage through the finish, picking up his first feature victory of the 2022 race season. Matt Beers, PJ Merrill, Tiger Colby and Dominic Curit rounded out the top five.
Josh St. Clair, who became the first driver in track history to win 3 championships in 3 separate divisions in the same season last year, surely continued his winning ways on Saturday in the Super Streets. Other drivers like Matt Beers and PJ Merrill showed a lot of strength and promise in their early season debut, building more excitement for a highly competitive season in the division.
You can catch the next Super Streets race on Saturday, May 7th, but don’t forget about next Saturday’s Group 2 season opener featuring the Modifieds, Late Models, Strictly Streets, Outlaw Minis and the Roadrunners! Pit gate opens at 9 am and grandstands at 1 pm. Green flag flies at 2 pm and grandstand admission is STILL just $5 and FREE for kids 6 and under.
Come join the fun and as always, support your local short tracks! See you next time!
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