The 50-lap Pro Series (Super Late Model) feature race at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) on Saturday night was so close, that most of the fans in attendance didn’t know what they saw at the finish.
Bill Rodgers and Mike Fowler crossed the finish line side-by-side with Tyler King and Dave Farrington, Jr. right on their bumpers in the third and fourth positions. The formation between the four cars was so tight, it looked like a planned stunt from the Joie Chitwood thrill show, and not a typical Saturday night NASCAR Whelen All-American Series event.
The finish was too close to call, so track announcer Andy Austin enlisted the help of the fans as the scoring was double-checked. He had them cheer, hoot and holler at first if they thought Mike Fowler won the race. Fowler got a healthy amount of noise to his credit. Then, the crowd was asked if they thought Rodgers won the race. The crowd was a little bit more muted. Fowler pulled his car to the front stretch, ever so close to victory lane and then the official word was handed down….
“If you guessed car number fifty-three, you were correct!” stated Austin over the PA system.
Bill Rodgers was the winner.
“We earned it tonight,” said a worn out Rodgers in victory lane.
They sure did. Rodgers was in command of the feature for most of its length. He led early. Meanwhile, Fowler started at the tail end of the field in the 21st position after breaking through for his first victory of the season one race before. By lap 40, Fowler was up to second place. From there, the race was on. The leaders went three-wide with lapped traffic and two-wide amongst themselves. They ran close and they ran hard, but they never ran rough.
“Mikey was coming, he had one hell of a run,” said Rodgers. “I squeezed him low a few times and he didn’t hit me. What a class act. He let me have it. He could have roughed me up and he didn’t.”
The victory was the first of the season for the 2011 Beech Ridge track champion.
King, Farrington and Ryan Green rounded out the top-five finishers.
LAST MINUTE ENGINE DEAL GETS KING TO THE TRACK
Tyler King was not planning to race at Beech Ridge on Saturday night. His No. 11 team had engine issues which looked to cut their season short. The team had nothing to put in the engine bay of their car for Saturday’s race.
Enter Matt Sanborn, who had been racing in the Pro Late Model division at Oxford Plains Speedway this season. Sanborn was looking for something different to race and sold his engine to the King team. As it turns out, Sanborn traded the car itself for a PASS Modified early this week and looks to run that division in 2015. The King team pulled an all-nighter to fit their new engine into the No. 11 car and were rewarded with a solid third-place finish.
RODGERS LOOKS CLOSE TO HOME FOR SPOTTER
Race winner Bill Rodgers had his wife Kim as his spotter on Saturday night. It was her first appearance in that role.
RACING IN ONE PLACE WORKS OUT FOR FARRINGTON
Pro Series point leader Dave Farrington did not really plan on competing for a championship in 2014. His family owned team figured that they would run a limited scheduled of ACT Late Model and PASS North Super Late Model races, as well as a number of weekly shows here and there. They started out the season at Beech Ridge and ran the first few races. Very consistent finishes followed and Farrington kept showing up. At this point, they hold a healthy point lead over Reid Lanpher and Kelly Moore.
Racing in one place is a new concept for Farrington. It hasn’t been since he was seven years old and ran a kart at St. Albens Speedway (ME), that he has run weekly. Farrington won numerous races and championships in WKA competition and has competed on the ACT and PASS North tours.
BEAULIEU COMES BACK, HAS ROUGH NIGHT
Evan Beaulieu had to sit out a few weeks of his sophomore season in the Pro Series at Beech Ridge after a hard wreck sidelined his small family team. Beaulieu was back on Saturday night and running in the top-five when he got caught up in an incident that tore up the right front corner of his racecar. The damage was too great to allow Beaulieu to finish the race, but not great enough to put the personable young driver on the sidelines again as he reports that the damage will be repaired this week and the No. 56 team will be back on track this coming Saturday night.
-By Mike Twist, Speed51.com Correspondent – Photo Credit: Speed51.com