When Dave Farrington, Jr. showed up to Maine’s Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in May, he wasn’t sure exactly what his plans were for the 2014 racing season. He had just traveled an hour and a half from his hometown of Jay, Maine and was just looking to have a good showing in his Super Late Model on opening day.
That day he finished second to Corey Bubar. After the strong showing he decided that he’d give it a shot again the following week. He made the trip back to the Scarborough, Maine oval and recorded another top-five finish after starting deep in the field.
As the season progressed, Farrington continued to make his way to the track and he also continued to rattle off top-five finishes despite having to start further back in the field due to the track’s handicapping system.
While Farrington was turning in impressive performances week in and week out, fans that were accustomed to watching track icons like Mike Rowe, Kelly Moore and Bill Rodgers were beginning to ask themselves, “Who is this Dave Farrington guy?”
On Saturday, August 30 that question was answered. Dave Farrington, Jr. is the 2014 Beech Ridge Pro Series champion and the 2014 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Maine State Champion.
“We never expected to be here at this time,” Farrington told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “There’s not many people at all that said back in May that the No. 23 Pro Series was going to be a champion. It feels incredible. Coming in we felt like the outsider coming in from Jay, Maine, one hour and half north. I’ve still be getting people asking who I am and what have you driven and all of that.”
For Farrington, chasing points was a relatively new idea for his family-owned team that has spent the last few seasons competing in select American-Canadian Tour (ACT) events, Pro All Star Series (PASS) North events and at local tracks like Oxford Plains Speedway (ME). Although he knew his team was capable of competing for a championship, he never really had full intentions to do so.
“We just took it week by week,” said Farrington. “We knew we could come in and run opening day and see how that played out. We finished second that night to Corey (Bubar). We said, ‘Okay, we’ll come back next week.’ We finished in the top-five again and stayed in second in the points. At that point, I guess we decided that this would be our best opportunity yet to chase a championship.”
Farrington entered the final event of the 2014 season only needing to take the green flag in order to clinch the championship, but his path to the title didn’t come without a little bit of drama. Instead of the drama unfolding on championship night, it unfolded near the halfway mark of the season when Farrington lost the motor in his orange No. 23 during practice.
Without a backup car on hand or a spare engine in their trailer, Farrington’s team was forced to scramble in the pit area to find an option that would allow them to stay in the title hunt.
Who came to the rescue? None other than Reid Lanpher, the driver that would end up finishing 61 points behind Farrington in the championship standings.
Lanpher’s team had their backup car at the track that day and made the decision to allow Farrington to race the car so that he could remain in contention for the championship.
“It was such an incredible opportunity that his father Scott gave us and his crew chief Jason Ricker, as well as Reid,” said Farrington. “We were a little nervous driving it because we didn’t want to put a scratch on it and we didn’t. Reid ended up winning that night, so I feel like there was some good karma there.
“It certainly played out to be the turning point of the whole year. I think we would have gone from leading the points that night and we could have left ninth in points if we didn’t make that race. We ended up third instead. I can’t thank them enough. They’re a great group of people.”
Despite displaying consistency throughout the campaign, Farrington clinched his first career championship without a single trip to victory lane. He is the first driver from the Pine Tree State to accomplish that feat since NASCAR began its new system of crowning NWAAS state champions in 2007.
So, how consistent was Farrington?
According to NERaceStats.com, his average finish of 4.5 is over three positions better than the next driver, Bobby Timmons, in that category. Farrington also gained a total of 124 points throughout the 13-race schedule, an average of 9.5 positions gained each race.
“We had the mentality going into the final race of wanting to go out and win a race,” said Farrington. “We had plenty good enough of a car to win on a couple occasions, but just with the handicap and everything it didn’t work out. I guess it isn’t a bad thing to be a champion without winning a race. I guess that really doesn’t matter.”
Even though he would have liked to carry the checkered flag this season, Farrington believes that his championship carries a lot more weight than a single checkered flag. As he stood on the frontstretch just minutes after clinching the championship, Farrington was humbled by what he was able to accomplish.
“When I was listening to driver introductions they were talking about Dan McKeage and Billy Rodgers,” said Farrington. “This was there day back when they won the championship. Sitting in the car waiting for the green flag to come, I knew once I took the green flag it was going to be my day.
“Last year, Mike Rowe was the champion so it’s going to be very neat to look back on this year decades down the road and see Mike Rowe and then see my name below his.”
Maybe more important than any win or any championship, Farrington believes he finally found a home at Beech Ridge this season. He said he has had a blast running at the Andy Cusack-owned facility and he has plans to once again return in 2015.
“A lot of people say they hate points racing because it’s so stressful and everything, but when we come here we just feel so welcome. Everybody is so accommodating; they don’t yell at you, they need you to be here. That gives us that urgency to want to keep coming back for more.”
– By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51. Photo credit: Speed51.com