This past Saturday, Wiscasset Speedway hosted their second opening day of the 2022 season. Yes, you heard that right, Wiscasset is one of the few tracks out there that have not one, but two, opening days. The Portland Glass Strictly Streets kicked off the program as the Spotlight feature with a healthy class of 22 cars.
The competition began with three 10-lap qualifying heat races. Shawn Austin took off with the early lead in the first heat. Bernie Dinsmore was also on the move early, knocking on Mike Haynes’ door for the runner-up spot on lap 2.
Chaz Briggs, a newcomer to the track making the move over from the now-defunct Beech Ridge, ignited a battle for third with another BRMS driver, Paul Lund, on lap 4. Briggs succeeded in his attempt, clearing Lund for the position the following lap.
After a strong performance throughout the heat, Bernie Dinsmore retired to the pits on lap 8. Shawn Austin held strong through the closing laps of the heat, picking up the victory as Mike Haynes and Chaz Briggs rounded out the top 3.
Jeremy Glazier powered to the early lead in the second qualifying heat race. Wade Kennedy, the 2021 Wildcat champion at Beech Ridge, quickly made his way through the field, going from last to second in just two laps.
Kennedy was hungry for the lead, all over Jeremy Glazier’s back bumper on lap 5. Kurt Hewins joined the front pack the following lap, making it a 3-way battle for the top spot. Wade Kennedy broke free with two to go, making his way to Jeremy Glazier’s outside door and clearing him the following lap.
Wade Kennedy took home the heat victory, followed by Jeremy Glazier and Kurt Hewins.
Last year’s champion, Josh St. Clair, took off with the early lead in the third and final qualifying heat. Zach Emerson and Jason Gadboury were hard charging behind the leader, going 3-wide for the runner-up spot with a lap car on lap 8.
Ashton Burgess lost his right front wheel on lap 9, causing the driver to make hard contact with the turn 4 wall. The incident resulted in an immediate red flag. Thankfully, Burgess walked away from the wreckage under his own power.
Since the leader had taken the white flag prior to the caution, the race was deemed official by race control, declaring Josh St. Clair as the heat winner. Jason Gadboury and Zach Emerson rounded out the podium.
Following out of car driver introductions, 21 drivers took to the track for the drop of the green flag in the 35-lap feature race. Shawn Austin took off with the early lead over Wade Kennedy, but Josh St. Clair was right there as well, clearing Kennedy for the runner-up spot on lap 2 before promptly stealing away the lead the following lap.
While battling for position, Paul Lund and Bernie Dinsmore made contact on lap 9, causing Dinsmore to go for a spin in turn 4. Calab Emerson-Mains had nowhere to go through the corner, ultimately colliding with Dinsmore. This resulted in the first caution of the feature.
Josh St. Clair pulled ahead once again on the restart, but the restart also brought trouble for Kurt Hewins, who went sliding through the backstretch grass. Hewins was able to save it but lost a handful of positions in the process.
There was melee on lap 14 as Chad Wills cut his right front tire down, resulting in a mid-race caution. While limping it to the pits, Wills’ tire came completely off the rim, resulting in even more frustrations for the #00 team.
Wade Kennedy gave Josh St. Clair a run for his money on the restart, but St. Clair was able to maintain his edge. Mike Haynes was all over Kennedy’s back bumper with ten laps to go, igniting a battle for the runner-up spot.
After a strong showing for the better part of the day, Kurt Hewins fell off-pace on lap 26, retiring to the pits.
Josh St. Clair was able to fend off the competition throughout the closing laps of the race, picking up his second Opening Day victory in just two weeks. Wade Kennedy, Mike Haynes, Jeremy Glazier and Keith Drost rounded out the top five.
Following post-race technical inspection, Wade Kennedy was penalized 3 positions due to a parts infraction. This moved Jeremy Glazier onto the podium and Wade Kennedy back to fifth place in the official race results.
Josh St. Clair, who is competing in 3 different divisions again this year, continues to prove just how versatile he is behind the wheel with each and every passing week. He is a force to be reckoned with, but the Strictly Streets are a stacked division with a handful of drivers who will give him a run for his money in 2022.
You can catch Josh St. Clair again as the Group 1 racing action continues next Saturday, May 7th at Wiscasset Speedway. Grandstands open at 4:00 pm and racing will commence at 5:00 pm. As always, adult admission is just $5 and kids 6 and under are FREE.
Please continue to support your local short tracks. They need your support more than ever right now to keep this sport alive!
See you next time!
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