WISCASSET, MAINE – Over a long weekend dedicated to remembering the courageous acts of others, Chris Thorne of Sidney embodied the American spirit by letting hard work and perseverance guide him to victory lane. In a momentous showdown between several heavy favorites, Thorne added first place at the 2016 Coastal 200 to his impressive driving record at Wiscasset Speedway.
Sponsored by Norms Used Cars of Wiscasset, Jordan Lumber and Jordan Excavation, this annual event featured twenty-four powerful cars from the star-studded Late Model Sportsman Division. With over $18,000 in purse money on the line, competitors from across the state had their eye on the prize, ready to prove themselves. Among those competing was Dave Farrington of Jay, who had returned to defend his championship from 2015. This year’s event proved the countless variables that determine victory in auto racing. In a division jam-packed with skill, on and off the track, every small detail can mean the difference between first and third, which is where Farrington stood when the dust finally settled.
Taking second back to his home in Fairfield, Jeff Burgess kicked off the race by holding a healthy lead through the first dozen laps. Despite being trailed by powerhouses like Nick Hinkley of Wiscasset and Joey Doyon of Winterport, Burgess’ grasp on the lead seemed firm until a caution involving Bryan Robbins of Montville shifted him to the back of the field. Not willing to stare a gift horse in the mouth, Hinkley and Thorne wasted no time in battling to be the next king of the mountain.
As engines roared into the second half, fans reached for hoodies and blankets to guard against the chilled air, while down on the track, drivers cranked up the heat. In a Lifetime-inspired comeback story, Burgess had battled his way back into the top five against the odds. After achieving the lead, Thorne gained some much needed breathing room at the front when he left Hinkley trapped in second position behind competitive lap traffic.
When a caution was thrown after Richard Jordon of Kingfield hit complications, the field cleared faster than a school yard in June, as drivers grabbed their chance to change tires for the final 75 laps. Among the few not pitted was Thorne, who shocked confused spectators as he cruised through the caution and back into the action. Despite a brief stint at the head of the pack, Farrington settled for a view of Burgess’ rear bumper, who had yet again become the leading car by a generous margin.
Cars clustered throughout the field in side-by-side battles, impacting any leader who attempted to rank up. That traffic came to an epic head when Burgess, attempting an outer lane pass, became gridlocked as John Kalel of Orrington slowed to exit down pit road. With fifteen laps to go and a window of opportunity, Thorne moved like a ninja to pass Burgess and the rest was history. As a 3-time Late Model Sportsman Champion and 2-time Wiscasset Speedway Driver of the Year, Thorne graciously thanked his family and sponsors for helping him take home the championship. “We finally did it! We’ve been chasing this race for quite awhile.” Burgess’ tenacity finally paid off, as he took home second place, followed by Farrington in third.
Cheered on by grandstands packed with fans, other divisions turned out winners all afternoon. Among them was Shawn Kimball of Augusta, taking first in the Kennebec Equipment Rental Outlaw Minis, followed by Zach Audet of Oakland and Bryan Lancaster of Skowhegan. Mark Lucas of Harpswell took home his third straight win in the NAPA Modifieds division, with Thomas Young of Freeport in second and Allan Moeller of Dresden in third. And after a caution-filled forty-five minute race, Bryan Robbins achieved victory in the Strictly Streets feature race, followed by two-tenths of a second by Kurt Hewins of Leeds and Maurice Young of Chelsea.
Join all of the action at Wiscasset Speedway next Saturday, June 4th when grandstand gates open to fans at 2:00pm and the green flag kicking off the day at 6:00pm. Individual admission is $5 – less than the cost of a movie ticket! Bring the whole family – grandstand fees waived for kids under 6. For the 2016 Race Schedule and much more, visit www.wiscassetspeedway.com. Be part of the action by following Wiscasset Speedway on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
-Wiscasset Speedway Press Release. Photo credit: Mary & Peter Taylor