NICK HINKLEY of Wiscasset poses after winning the Wood Pellet Warehouse Late Models feature on Saturday at Wiscasset Speedway. Hinkley ran away with the 35-lap win.

NICK HINKLEY of Wiscasset poses after winning the Wood Pellet Warehouse Late Models feature on Saturday at Wiscasset Speedway. Hinkley ran away with the 35-lap win.

WISCASSET

If Kevin Girard Jr., had left any doubt over the past two seasons who the top dog in the NELCAR Legend ranks at Maine’s fastest track happens to be, he put an exclamation point on it with a statement win Saturday night in the INEX sanctioned National Qualifier at Wiscasset Speedway.

 

 

The 300-lap race, sponsored by Four Season Synthetic “Your Amsoil Factory Connection,” showcased the top NELCAR regulars, intermixed with several of the best from southern New England and beyond for a tripled purse and big trophies, not to mention valuable provisionals in the INEX Asphalt Nationals in Las Vegas.

Girard took the lead shortly after a lap-8 restart and then held off a fierce challenge from Noah Korner, then cruised to a comfortable victory. The win highlighted a chilly but action packed night of racing at Wiscasset Speedway, with Group 2 in action. Other winners included Brent Roy, Nick Hinkley, Ben Tinker and Kurt Hewins.

Young gun Austin Teras of Windham brought the field of 23 Legends to the green flag with defending champ Girard of Old Orchard Beach alongside. Teras set the early pace with Noah Korner jumping in line behind him and Girard settling into third. The first caution of the race came out on lap 5 when Matt Grant tagged the turn 3 wall as he tried to avoid the spinning car of Thomas Everson.

Back in the pack, out of town favorites, TJ Thompson and Brandon Martinez had begun their aggressive charge up from the back of the pack, relegated there by failing post heat inspection. It took just five laps for them to pick their way halfway through the field. Lap 8 produced the next caution, a red flag, when Jake Matheson tangled with Alan Smith in turn two, collecting Thompson and sending all three cars into the turn two wall. All drivers walked away unharmed.

Just one more minor caution on lap 18 bunched up the cars, and that’s the last time anyone had a shot at Girard. First he shook off Teras and then withstood a brief challenge from Korner, but as the laps wound down the challengers faded and Girard remained strong. He crossed the line for the win by nearly a full straightaway. In Victory Lane, he called it the biggest win of his career so far.

Korner followed him across the line, 2.1-seconds behind for the runner-up trophy. Teras completed a solid day of racing with his third-place finish. In the four different classes of drivers within the race, Girard was the top driver in the Pro Division, Ryan Doucette of Framington, Mass., finished seventh to lead the Semi-Pro Division, Austin Teras topped the Young Lions Division.

The 35-lap spotlight race for the Kennebec Equipment Rental Outlaw Minis was a battle of attrition, not only on the track but in the tech garage and in the pits. Things looked intense but in control through the early going, but then several mid-race cautions thinned the field of 10 that were able to start the race. Jimmy Childs of Leeds led through the mid-point of the race with challenges from Tim Collins and Zach Audet. A mechanical issue with Audet, a turn two crash between Shawn Kimball and Rob Greenleaf, and a restart penalty for Collins started to change the tone of the race.

Roy took advantage of the opportunity and came to life to drive around Childs to grab the lead just past halfway. Just two laps later a crash on lap 25 between Collins and Jacob Hendsbee scrambled things yet again and left fans wondering who would be left to finish the race. Track officials, thinking the same, decided that the next flag would end the race. It didn’t take long for that to happen as on the ensuing restart Larry Melcher tangled with Shane Smith in turn one to end the race with 24 laps complete.

Brent Roy rolled into Victory Lane to claim the winner’s trophy — his first in 10 years at the track where he had already collected 33 career victories. Things continued to change up the picture after the race. Jimmy Childs and Shane Smith had to hand back their second and third-place trophies after they both failed post race inspection for unapproved sized spoilers. Melcher was credited with second place and Hendsbee, whose car went off on a wrecker just before the last restart, was awarded third.

In support action, Hewins of Leeds returned to show who was still the boss of the Norms Used Cars Strictly Streets. He started at the back of the pack and charged up the outside lane to grab the lead on lap 14 of the 20-lap feature. Hewins, the defending division champ, grabbed his first victory of 2017. Joe Hutter, also of Leeds, ran his best career race at Wiscasset, holding point until he was passed by Hewins, but finished strong to take second. Mike Haynes of Livermore Falls backed up his opening day podium appearance with another third-place run.

The Wood Pellet Warehouse Late Model Sportsman showed once again why they are the top draw in Group 2. Twenty drivers ran the 35-lap feature with just one caution slowing the intense action. Brandon Bailey and Hinkley put on a clinic on how good hard side by side racing should be done. They battled through the middle of the race, trading the lead back and forth; Bailey on the inside and Hinkley on the outside, neither one with an advantage of more than two feet.

Soon they were joined by Shane Clark, Ryan St. Clair and Chris Thorne, who had charged up from 17th. The five cars stayed locked up in a tight battle that kept fans on the edge of their seats for the final 10 laps. Heading into turn 3 with the checkers in the air, Bailey got sideways, nearly collecting the group, but made a great save to charge to the line. Hinkley took home the hard-fought win, spending the entire race in the outside lane. Clark, who may have been the fastest out of the five, settled for second. Bailey turned in his best career finish with third. Thorne and St. Clair filled out the top 5, all separated by just a second on the track.

The Midcoast Region NAPA Modifieds finished the show with a 30-lap tilt. Tinker of New Gloucester continued his early season hot streak, taking the lead from Allen Moeller and cruising to the victory. Moeller, who had been chasing after his first in four years, settled for second while Adam Chadbourne’s third-place finish was his 100th career podium appearance.

Wiscasset Speedway returns to action this upcoming Saturday at 5 p.m.


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