UNITY — There will not be any Late Model or Super Late Model racing at Unity Raceway this season.

Track owner George Fernald made the announcement earlier this week, citing issues with the asphalt racing surface. Last week, Fernald said this would be the last season of asphalt racing on the .333-mile track with a planned conversion to dirt for next season.

“It was a really hard decision,” Fernald said. “But the track has a lot of (damage) to it, and it’s already starting to come apart in places.”

Late Models were scheduled to be the track’s premier division in 2017, highlighting the once-a-month Sunday racing cards that will begin on May 21. Now, Unity will go with the Wildcat/Street Stock class as its top division and will add an Enduro division to each program. A 50-lap Super Late Model race on July 7 has also been canceled.

The annual season-ending Long John Weekend in October will be held without Late Models.

Fernald cited safety concerns as one reason for deciding against holding Late Model races this season. And though social media was buzzing this week with critics of the track’s decision, Fernald added that the track is in such poor shape, Late Model and Super Late Model teams would certainly incur added costs for damages associated with excessive wear and tear to their automobiles.

“I have a (Super Late Model) of my own that’s never been raced, and my son just bought a Late Model,” Fernald said. “One of the hardest things I ever had to do was tell my own son that he wouldn’t be able to race his car at Unity.

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Sidney driver Chris Thorne put together an impressive season for himself last summer at Wiscasset Speedway, and the second-generation racer aims to duplicate it this time around.

Thorne, who won the Coastal 200 and his fourth Late Model championship at Wiscasset in 2016, will compete full-time again at the track this summer.

A year ago, Thorne — who won three straight titles from 2007-2009 — led all Late Model drivers at the track with four wins.

Only three times did he fail to finish on the podium.

“It’s going to be pretty hard to top last year,” Thorne said. “We set some pretty high standards to follow up on this year.”

Wiscasset lost its schedule opener to rain last weekend. The forecast looks much more promising for Saturday’s 2 p.m. start time, which kicks off a program led by a 35-lap Late Model feature.

Thorne has long been a huge advocate of Wiscasset’s scheduling, which features bi-weekly racing for each division.

“When I was 20, I’d race every day if I could,” he said. “But when you’ve got other things going on in our life, it’s nice to have that time (off) for those things. It’s nice to know you’re racing consistently, but when you’re racing every week you don’t have much time.”

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The Pro All Stars Series is back in action this weekend for their most grueling race of the season.

The Beech Ridge 300 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, which until this season had been run in September, will be held this Saturday at 3 p.m. The move alleviates some of the pressure previously placed on teams by running the 300-lap event featuring live pit stops just two weeks after the Oxford 250.

Reid Lanpher of Manchester, the 2015 Beech Ridge track champion, won his first career PASS race last weekend at Oxford Plains Speedway. Lanpher will join other weekly drivers at Beech Ridge, including Curt Gerry, the reigning Super Late Model champion, Dave Farrington Jr. and Garrett Hall in the field on Saturday.

Mike Rowe of Turner, a three-time Beech Ridge 300 winner, will race for Caruso Fowler Racing this season at the track as he chases a third track championship.

Johnny Clark of Farmingdale is a four-time winner of the Beech Ridge 300 to lead all drivers in that category. Ben Rowe of Turner has won the event twice, while two-time Oxford 250 champion Travis Benjamin won last year’s shortened event.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

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Twitter: @TBarrettGWC