One year after missing the majority of the 2013 racing season with a broken foot, Derek Ramstrom scored the biggest win of his Super Late Model career Sunday afternoon at Scarborough, Maine’s Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. Ramstrom used a bump-and-run move on Pro All Star Series North (PASS) point leader DJ Shaw with two laps remaining and pulled away to win the Southern Maine Chrysler Dodge Jeep 300.
“It’s incredible,” Ramstrom said after the race. “Last year I broke my foot and we were out for most of the season so that was kind of a wash. This year we’ve been poking around a bit with the (NASCAR Whelen Modified) Tour car and that’s tough adjusting to that. Then with the PASS Tour, we’ve finished top 10 every race. It’s definitely very nice to get a win here.”
After starting on the outside of the front row for the initial green flag, Ramstrom quickly jumped into the top spot and dominated the first 120 laps of the 300-lap event. Meanwhile DJ Shaw, who was forced to start at the rear of the 34-car field as punishment for his role in a post-race incident at Speedway 95 (ME) last month, was blistering through the field at a quick pace.
Shaw made his way into the top three by lap 75 and would eventually overtake Ramstrom for the lead on lap 121. When a caution flag flew on lap 141, Ramstrom elected to come to pit road for tires while Shaw remained on the track. Shaw took tires when the caution flag waved again on lap 189.
The differing pit strategies that allowed Shaw to have fresher tires at the end of the 300-lap event made Ramstrom nervous that he wouldn’t have enough when it mattered most.
“I got a little nervous because Shaw pitted probably 60 laps after I did, so his tires were a lot fresher,” Ramstrom told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “But I mean, I knew our car was dominant all weekend so I was just patient and made sure I was in the right place at the right time there at the end.”
As the race neared its final 100 laps, the cream had risen to the top and it was Ramstrom, Shaw, and Austin Theriault battling for the race lead.
Following a lap 271 caution, Theriault started in the preferred groove on the outside of Shaw for the restart. Theriault held the advantage at the green, but as they raced around again contact was made between he and Shaw in turn three just before the caution flag waved for a separate incident in turn two.
The contact caused visible damage to the driver’s side of Theriault’s machine and also allowed Ramstrom to slip by to reclaim the top spot.
After the race, Theriault was left frustrated while hoping that the contact was simply a “racing incident.”
“Apparently there was some water down there,” said Theriault. “You can get your car loose on the bottom, that’s why the outside was the preferred groove on the restarts. There’s going to be winners and losers in racing. That’s just how racing is. You’re not always going to come out the leader. That’s not how it works. Some people just think that because they had a bad restart or they start on the bottom that it’s okay to plow through. It’s a racing deal that’s all. You remember it.”
Shaw said after the race that the contact made with Theriault was incidental and apologized for making contact with the Fort Kent, Maine native while battling for the lead.
“Somebody put down water or something and it evidently started in (turn) three because I got into that and then got into Austin. We come back around and they were all piled up on the other end. I’d say it was the whole length of the backstretch, but fortunately it wasn’t worse than it was. I apologize to them.”
When racing resumed, Ramstrom restarted from the inside of the front row with Shaw to his outside. Ramstrom was able to hold onto the top spot until lap 278 when Shaw powered to his inside to take the lead.
Ramstrom remained patient and stalked Shaw for the final 20 laps before giving him a nudge as they exited turn two on lap 298. That nudge was enough to get Shaw loose and allow Ramstrom to dive to the bottom in turn three to take away the lead. Shaw would attempt to mount a challenge over the final two laps, but Ramstrom was able to establish enough of a gap to coast home to the win.
“I’m not too sure what happened there with Theriault and Shaw, but the caution came out after that and I managed to restart from the pole,” said Ramstrom. “I didn’t get that good of a restart and Shaw ended up getting back by me. I just kind of paced myself because I knew that he was tight center off so I just waited and waited, gave him a little nudge coming out of (turn) two there and cleared him.”
Shaw’s eventful day would end with a second-place finish and an increased gap between himself and Johnny Clark in the championship standings heading into the final race of the 2014 PASS North season.
“Derek was good enough to stay up front,” said Shaw. “All three of us were just so tight that whoever got in the lead there at the end was going to have it because second had so much pressure from third and vice versa. It was a good race and good points day for us with the non-regulars up in the front with us.
“The bottom was good for us all day, but it went away at the end there. I took the lead back on the bottom from third on the restart and set to the top but I couldn’t pull a gap. If I could have got three feet I would have been okay. I knew what Derek was going to do and I was ready for it, but there was nothing I could do to get away or stop it.”
After suffering damage from the incident with Shaw, Theriault would claim the final podium spot Sunday afternoon. The Fort Kent, Maine native, who is making his third career NASCAR Nationwide Series start for JR Motorsports next weekend in Kentucky, was disappointed with the end result after having a shot to win in the latter stages of the race.
“I get really, really disappointed when we don’t win these races,” said Theriault. “There’s no reason that we shouldn’t, that’s all. That’s why it’s fun to come back because you know you have a really good shot to win and there’s no reason that you shouldn’t win. We’ll just keep working at it.”
Ramstrom, who has competed in the Super Late Model ranks since 2006, scored his sixth career PASS North win Sunday. After the race, he said that it’d be hard to find another win that meant as much as this one.
“I’d have to say this is the biggest win of my career racing Super Late Models. Without a doubt.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Northeast Editor - Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com