GIRARD SCORES CONVINCING WIN IN NATIONAL QUALIFIER AT WISCASSET
by Ken Minott
If Kevin Girard Jr had left any doubt over the past two seasons who the top dog in the Nelcar Legend ranks at Maine’s fastest track happens to be, he put an exclamation point on it with a statement win Saturday night in the INEX sanctioned National Qualifier at Wiscasset Speedway. The 30 lap race, sponsored by Four Season Synthetic “Your Amsoil Factory Connection”, showcased the top Nelcar regulars intermixed with several of the best from southern New England and beyond for a tripled purse and big trophies, not to mention valuable provisionals in the INEX Asphalt Nationals in Las Vegas. Girard took the lead shortly after a lap 8 restart and then held off a fierce challenge from Noah Korner, then cruised to a comfortable victory. The win highlighted a chilly but action packed night of racing at Wiscasset Speedway, with Group 2 in action. Other winners included Brent Roy, Nick Hinkley, Ben Tinker, and Kurt Hewins.
Young gun Austin Teras #29 of Windham brought the field of 23 Legends to the green flag with defending Nelcar Legend champ #19 Kevin Girard of Old Orchard Beach alongside. Teras set the early pace with #31 Noah Korner jumping in line behind him and Girard settling into 3rd. The first caution of the race came out on lap 5 when Matt Grant tagged the turn 3 wall as he tried to avoid the spinning car of Thomas Everson. Back in the pack, out of town favorites, #3T TJ Thompson and #12 Brandon Martinez had begun their aggressive charge up from the back of the pack; relegated there by failing post heat inspection. it took just 5 laps for them to pick their way halfway through the field. Lap 8 would produce the next caution, a red flag, when #52nh of Jake Matheson tangled with #33 of Alan Smith in turn two, collecting Thompson and sending all three cars into the turn two wall. All drivers walked away unharmed. Just one more minor caution on lap 18 would bunch up the cars, and that’s the last time anyone had a shot at Girard. First he shook off Teras and then withstood a brief challenge from Korner, but as the laps wound down the challengers faded and Girard remained strong. He crossed the line for the win by nearly a full straightaway. In victory lane, he called it the biggest win of his career so far. Korner followed him across the line 2.1 second behind for the runner-up trophy. Teras completed a solid day of racing with his 3rd place finish. In the four different classes of drivers within the race, Girard was the top driver in the Pro Division; #77 Ryan Doucette of Framington, MA finished 7th to lead the Semi-Pro Division; Austin Teras topped the Young Lions Division, and #399 Bob took top honors in the Masters Division with his 5th place finish.
The 35 lap spotlight race for the Kennebec Equipment Rental Outlaw Minis was a battle of attrition, not only on the track but in the tech garage and in the pits as well. Things looked intense but in control through the early going, but then several mid-race cautions thinned the field of ten that were able to start the race. Jimmy Childs of Leeds led thru the midpoint of the race with challenges from #18 Tim Collins and #19 Zach Audet. Then a mechanical issue with Audet, a turn two crash between Shawn Kimball & Rob Greenleaf, and a restart penalty for Collins started to change the tone of the race. Brent Roy took advantage of the opportunity and came to life to drive around Childs to grab the lead just past halfway. Just two laps later a crash on lap 25 between Collins & #27 Jacob Hendsbee scrambled things yet again and left fans wondering who would be left to finish the race. Track officials, thinking the same, decided that the next flag would end the race. It didn’t take long for that to happen as on the ensuing restart #41m of Larry Melcher tangled with #41 of Shane Smith in turn one to end the race with 24 laps complete. Brent Roy would roll into victory lane to claim the winner’s trophy – his first in 10yrs at the track where he had already collected 33 career victories. Things continued to change up the picture after the race. Jimmy Childs and Shane Smith had to hand back their 2nd & 3rd place trophies after they both failed post race inspection for unapproved sized spoilers. Melcher would then be credited with 2nd place and Hendsbee, whose car went off on a wrecker just before the last restart would be awarded 3rd.
In support action, Kurt Hewins of Leeds returned to show who was still the boss of the Norms Used Cars Strictly Streets. He started at the back of the pack and charged up the outside lane to grab the lead on lap 14 of the 20 lap feature. Hewins the defending division champ grabbed his first victory of 2017. Joe Hutter, also of Leeds, ran his best career race at Wiscasset, holding point in his #2 until he was passed by Hewins, but finished strong to take second. Mike Haynes of Livermore Falls backed up his opening day podium appearance with another 3rd place run.
The Wood Pellet Warehouse Late Model Sportsman showed once again why they are the top draw in Group 2. Twenty drivers ran the 35 lap feature with just one caution slowing the intense action. Brandon Bailey and Nick Hinkley put on a clinic on how good hard side by side racing should be done. They battled through the middle of the race, trading the lead back & forth; Bailey on the inside and Hinkley on the outside, neither one with an advantage of more than two feet. Soon they were joined by Shane Clark, Ryan St Clair and Chris Thorne, who had charged up from 17th. The five cars stayed locked up in a tight battle that kept fans on the edge of their seats for the final 10 laps. Heading into turn 3 with the checkers in the air Bailey got sideways nearly collecting the group, but made a great save to charge to the line. Hinkley took home the hard-fought win, spending the entire race in the outside lane. Clark, who may have been the fastest out of the five settled for 2nd. Bailey turned in his best career finish with 3rd. Thorne and St Clair filled out the top 5, all separated by just a second on the track.
The Midcoast Region Napa Mods finished the show with a 30 lap tilt. Ben Tinker of New Glouster continued his early season hot streak, taking the lead from Allen Moeller and cruising to the victory. Moeller, who had been chasing after his first in 4 years, settled for 2nd, while Adam Chadbourne’s 3rd place finish was his 100th career podium appearance.
Wiscasset Speedway returns to action Saturday, May 20th with Ames True Value NEMA Night, marking the return of the ultra-fast NEMA Midgets and their quest for another track record, plus the NEMA Lites. Group 1 will hope the 3rd time is the charm in getting their 2017 season underway, having been rained out in their first two attempts. The ServPro of Biddeford-Saco Prostocks will showcase the regular racers, plus the Super Streets, Thunder 4 Minis, and 4-Cylinder Pros. Pit gates will open at 1:00 pm; grandstand gates at 3:00 pm and the green flag will fall on the racing action at 5:00 pm. The show will also feature an on-track NEMA driver meet & greet during intermission. As always, grandstand admission is just $5 with kids 6&under free. Pit admission in $20 for all.
OFFICIAL RESULTS 5/13/17
AMSOIL NELCAR LEGENDS / INEX NATIONAL QUALIFIER (30 laps)
|1||19||Kevin Girard, Jr.||Old Orchard Beach, ME||30||28:37.4|
|2||31||Noah Korner||Canton, CT||30||28:39.5||2.1||2.1|
|3||29||Austin Teras||Windham, ME||30||28:39.9||2.453||0.353|
|4||90||Casey Call||Pembroke, NH||30||28:40.1||2.636||0.183|
|5||399||Bobby Weymouth||Topsham, ME||30||28:41.9||4.453||1.817|
|6||18||Parker Varney||Windham, ME||30||28:42.6||5.18||0.727|
|7||77||Ryan Doucette||Framington, MA||30||28:43.0||5.551||0.371|
|8||47||Chris Burgess||Buckfield, ME||30||28:46.2||8.743||3.192|
|9||28||Kevin Oliver||Raymond, ME||30||28:46.8||9.365||0.622|
|10||92||Colby Meserve||Buxton, ME||30||28:46.9||9.497||0.132|
|11||67||Zachary Godbout||Mt Vernon, ME||30||28:47.1||9.698||0.201|
|12||50||Peter Bennett||Cromwell, CT||30||28:47.5||10.086||0.388|
|13||10||Ed Getty||Gray, ME||30||28:47.7||10.294||0.208|
|14||17||Terry Kirk||Durham, ME||30||28:52.4||14.921||4.627|
|15||8||Matt Chagnot||Derry, NH||30||28:52.9||15.459||0.538|
|16||12||Brandon Martinez||Kingstown, RI||29||28:41.7||1 Lap||1 Lap|
|17||4NH||Thomas Everson||Gilmanton, NH||17||20:53.5||13 Laps||12 Laps|
|18||6||David Kinney||Skowhegan, ME||14||20:43.2||16 Laps||3 Laps|
|19||33||Alan Smith||Nelcar Legends||6||11:58.3||24 Laps||8 Laps|
|20||52NH||Jake Matheson||Hilsoboro, MH||6||11:58.4||24 Laps||0.109|
|21||3T||Thomas Thompson||Lisbon, CT||6||11:58.7||24 Laps||0.316|
|22||84||Matt Grant||Windham, ME||3||01:01.3||27 Laps||3 Laps|
|23||52||Colby Benjamin||Belfast, ME||2||52.924||28 Laps||1 Lap|
KENNEBEC EQUIPMENT RENTAL OUTLAW MINIS (24 laps)
- race stopped at 24 laps complete due to excessive cautions
|DQ||2x||Rob Greenleaf||West Bath||21||conduct|
DNS – #36 Meghan Frost – Seal Harbor
DNS – #17 Matt Weil – Camden
DNS – #7 Steve Howard – Thomaston
NORMS USED CARS STRICTLY STREETS (25 laps)
|3||67||Michael Haynes||Livemore Falls||25|
DNS – #51x Bryan Robbins – Montville
WOOD PELLET WAREHOUSE LATE MODEL SPORTSMAN (35 laps)
|5||30||Ryan St. Clair||Liberty||35|
|16||9||Henry Mellows Jr||Anson||35|
DNS – #7 Tyler Bailey – Wiscasset
MIDCOAST REGION NAPA MODIFIEDS (30 laps)
|1||19||Ben Tinker||New Glouster||30|
|12||7||Nick Reno||West Bath||3|