With a stout field of local combatants ready to face the Granite State Pro Stock Series regulars at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway on Saturday evening, it seemed likely that one of the locals would come away with the big prize.
And while a few weekly veterans took turns out front, David Oliver was the final one to take command.
Oliver took the lead from fellow Beech Ridge regular Joe Pastore within the final forty circuits to earn his first-ever GSPSS win in the series’ second-ever visit to the coastal Maine oval.
The veteran racer from nearby Standish led a top-four sweep for Beech Ridge locals. And while home-track pros took eight of the top ten finishing positions, the GSPSS title hopefuls were sent home licking their wounds.
Saturday’s race, the first in nearly a month for the GSPSS after a late-May event was rained out, was the first of two long-distance showdowns at the Scarborough speedway in 2021. Beech Ridge’s weekly Pro Series follows a very similar rules package to the GSPSS touring cars, making it one of the few tracks on the schedule that can offer a deep field of local challengers.
Oliver, Pastore and Garrett Hall claimed heat victories following time trials, but weekly regular Rusty Poland brought the 24-car field to the green flag after the redraw. Poland led the early laps before Pastore went to the front, setting a torrid pace.
But in the final third of the event, Oliver took charge. The 2002 Beech Ridge Pro Series champion took the lead on lap 114 and had nearly a second and a half on Pastore as he took the checkered flag. For Oliver, who won a Pro All Stars Series feature at Beech Ridge in 2015, it was his first touring win in several years.
Pastore, a two-time Beech Ridge Sport Series champion, nearly reversed his results from last summer’s GSPSS race at Beech Ridge, in which he was the first car to retire. Poland held tough throughout the race to come home third, one of the local favorite’s best touring performances to date.
Hall, who was quickest in time trials before his heat win, was hampered by a poor redraw but came back to finish fourth. Bryan Kruczek, a former PASS winner at Beech Ridge, drew on his experience to earn a fifth-place finish, best among the GSPSS racers.
Wyatt Alexander, the winner of August’s Beech Ridge GSPSS debut, came in with high hopes but could only get to sixth at the finish. Joey Doiron wheeled Rollie Lindblad’s #48 entry to a seventh-place finish in another strong effort for the Lindblad team. Corey Bubar, last August’s runner-up, was eighth, with Evan Beaulieu ninth and GSPSS veteran Kevin Casper rounding out the top ten.
Beech Ridge regulars and graduates swept the top four and claimed eight of the top ten positions. Plenty of local names were sprinkled through the rest of the field. Among them was rookie Charlie Sanborn III, who only lives a few miles from the track; the Sport Series veteran and podcast host made his GSPSS debut with an encouraging 14th-place run as he prepares to increase his schedule in 2022.
Gabe Brown, who took advantage of the long touring break to run some weekly shows at Beech Ridge, was unable to spin his experience into a better result. Brown was 13th in the final rundown, with Devin O’Connell two positions back in 15th. Early-season point leader and Monadnock Speedway winner Angelo Belsito was a no-show, though, shaking up the points battle. Brown’s average day was still enough to move the former Oxford Plains Speedway track champion into the points lead.
Average was not the word to describe David Oliver’s afternoon, though.
Oliver spent a brief stint touring part-time with PASS in the mid-2000s, peaking with his 2015 feature win at Beech Ridge. However, as the years ticked on, he found that his best results came from staying closer to home. An intriguing technicality awarded the veteran at the end of 2019; while Dave Farrington, Jr. clinched his second Beech Ridge crown that year, the track points were slightly different from the NASCAR weekly points system. As a result, Oliver earned the nod for the NASCAR All-American Series championship for the state of Maine.
With a shortened season on deck last year due to Maine’s pandemic reopening protocol, Beech Ridge opted not to award championship points for its summer race dates. Oliver, therefore, remains the state’s defending weekly champion. And with Farrington racing weekly at Oxford Plains Speedway, Oliver sits poised to challenge for a repeat of his 2002 track title.
It may not count for points, but a 150-lap victory helps with momentum.
Unofficial Results, GSPSS Beech Ridge 150 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway:
1. (21ME) David Oliver
2. (20) Joe Pastore
3. (44) Rusty Poland
4. (94) Garrett Hall
5. (19) Bryan Kruczek
6. (96) Wyatt Alexander
7. (48) Joey Doiron
8. (12) Corey Bubar
9. (56) Evan Beaulieu
10. (88) Kevin Casper
11. (90NH) Casey Call
12. (21) Josh King
13. (61) Gabe Brown
14. (1) Charlie Sanborn III
15. (43) Devin O’Connell
16. (9T) Alan Tardiff
17. (16) Donnie Colpritt
18. (M3) Brandon Barker
19. (25) Barry Poulin
20. (3) Travis Buzzell
21. (7) Travis Benjamin
22. (53) Bill Rodgers
23. (76RI) Tyler Tomassi
24. (29S) Trevor Sanborn