“I was in there and I think that it was my spot,” said Ricci. “He got in there and I got on the brakes trying to not get into him. He’s probably the last guy out there who I wanted to get into. His car owner Marco [Turcotte] has been my go-to guy for advice since the first time that that we unloaded in the series back in April. I hate that it happened with his car, but I still don’t think that I did anything wrong.”
At first, series officials did think that the incident was Ricci’s fault. They penalized him by sending him to the rear of the field. While parked at the start-finish line, Mechalides swiped the side of Ricci’s car in full view of the grandstand. At that point, both drivers were starting in the back and were plenty hot. No further beating and banging took place. Both drivers ran into additional problems before the end of the race as well. Mechalides ran out of fuel and finished 18th, while Ricci got caught in a last lap wreck and finished 15th.
After the race, the tables turned. Series officials reviewed the videotape and concluded that it was in fact a racing incident and that Ricci should not have been penalized. Meanwhile, some type of penalty is likely for Mechalides’ bump under caution.
And it is also clear that neither driver will be exchanging Christmas cards this year.
“He banged on everyone coming up through,” said Mechalides. “I don’t know if that’s how he races or what, I’ve never raced with him before. But he’s an idiot. He went to the back too. He had a good car and could have had a good finish too.”
“I don’t know if he’s happy or not,” said Ricci. “He didn’t come over and say anything. I probably should go over there and break the ice, but I don’t think that I did anything wrong.”
FANS WOWED WITH LAST LAP SHOWDOWN
Meanwhile, a pair of veterans put on a clean battle for second late in the race that gave the fans their money’s worth. Dwight Jarvis and Beech Ridge veteran David Pinkham went wheel-to-wheel with Pinkham edging out Jarvis at the line.
TRUE VALUE MODIFIED LEFTOVERS: BEECH RIDGE by Mike Twist
Battles, Where's Kirk? PASS Drivers, Young Guns and More
CAGE MATCH: MECHALIDES vs. RICCI
A racing incident on lap 60 at Beech Ridge sent Louie Mechalides’ #40 car spinning out of second-place, but that was not even close to all of the fallout from the contact between Mechalides and Tony Ricci.
The incident robbed fans of what was shaping up to be a great battle between the two fastest cars at that stage of the race. It also ruffled feathers and caused controversy.
Just a few laps before, Ricci had been up to second and was passed by Mechalides. An unrelated caution came out and one lap after the restart, Ricci set up Mechalides going into turn one. The two touched, with Mechalides spinning off the track.
Both drivers had a different perspective on what happened
“I had a little contact with the #4 car,” said Mechalides. “I guess that he decided that he didn’t want to race me and that instead, he just wanted to wreck me. I came to the race track with the fastest car and to have some moron run into the back of you like that makes for a sucky deal.”
Andy Seuss ' ride was very hot at the end of the night.
The #4 of Tony Ricci and the #40 of Louie Mechalides got together battling for second-place at Beech Ridge. (Jamie Williams Photo)
“It was exciting,” said Jarvis. “The car tightened up on me at the end there. I did what I could to hold Dave Pinkham off, but I knew that he was a good runner. He was fast.”
“It was a lot of fun,” said Pinkham, who was driving the #25 Modified normally wheeled by Gary Casella. “Those last 30 laps, we ran green and came up a little short. I might have waited too long to make my move. But that’s all right, we put on a great show.
Although he finished third, Jarvis was happy with the outcome of the race because of the fact that Dale Evonsion was able to score his first career TVMRS victory.
Les Hinckley's #06
“We’re happy to see Dale win, he’s a good young driver,” said Jarvis. “We’re happy to see a different face in victory lane. He deserves to win and tries hard.”
Jarvis also extended his point lead over Jimmy Kuhn, Jr., but that wasn’t really on his mind after the race.
“That’s what they say, but I try not to think about points too much myself.”
PREECE GETS UP TO SPEED QUICKLY
Ryan Preece is not a household name in Modified racing yet, but after the teenager scored a top five finish in only his second TVMRS points race, it shouldn’t be long before fans start to know him well. Preece finished fifth at Beech Ridge.
Pinkham (#25) and Jarvis (#28) battle for second. (Jamie Williams Photo)
“This is my second real True Value race,” said Preece. “I went to Waterford, where we didn’t have much of a night, and Seekonk [for the Modified Madness open show]. I’m happy about tonight. My Dad did a heck of a job getting this car ready.
“I’m liking this a lot right now. It’s a really good moment for us because we had some tough times in practice, in the heat and in the consi. We just couldn’t get the car dialed in. We made a lot of changes before that consi and a change before the feature. The car ended up awesome. Towards the end, I could really make my moves anywhere – inside or outside. If we had another 10 or 15 laps, I probably would have made it up to the next pack and started to move my way up through there.”
Fans might not have to wait long to see Preece compete again. It looks like Preece might be back in action for this Saturday’s TVMRS race at Star Speedway.
“Hopefully, we’ll be at Star for the North vs. South Shootout qualifier.”
RICCI AND MECHALIDES SEE THEIR GOOD RUNS GO BAD
Earlier we addressed the incident that took Louie Mechalides and Tony Ricci out of the running for the race victory. There was more to it than just boiling tempers though. Before all hell broke loose, both drivers had great races going.
Tony Ricci (#4) and David Pinkham both have plenty of laps at Beech Ridge. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Meanwhile, Mechalides was in his third race back as the driver in the #40 car, a ride that he drove to victory lane last season at Star Speedway.
“I have a lot of fun, these guys put together a good car. It was good at Seekonk and good here. Now, I’m really looking forward to going to Star. I hope that we can win there, but it doesn’t always matter if you have the fastest car. So we’ll have to see what a happens.”
ANOTHER NEW TRACK FOR GRIGAS
The 2006 racing season is Bobby Grigas, III’s rookie year in Modified Racing. It is also the first time that he has ever visited, much less raced at, many tracks in the True Value Modified Racing Series. Grigas has outdone himself so far this season by scoring victories at Waterford and Canaan. He continued with his learning curve by recording an eighth-place finish at another track where he had never been before – Beech Ridge.
And while a top 10 is a solid effort, Grigas believes that if not for an ill-handling car, he would have finished even better in the 100-lap race.
“We just missed the set-up,” said Grigas. “The car was just loose off the start. We had heard that this place gets tighter and tighter, so we figured if it was loose in the heat race, we’d be fine in the feature. It never got to where we wanted it. But, I missed the wrecks and came away with a top 10 finish. I’m getting better. I’m getting top-fives and top-10’s now instead of top-20’s. I’m not complaining, to never have seen this track before and to finish in the top-10 is good’.”
SEUSS RIDE IS HOT – TOO HOT
Last week at Monadnock Speedway, Andy Seuss and his #70 team were hot. They won the race on the tough quarter-mile track. This week, the car was hot again – and it wasn’t a good thing. Overheating problems at Beech Ridge forced Seuss to lose laps in the pit area and also to make several unscheduled stops. He ended up finishing 17th.
What is PASS North driver Alan Tardiff doing in True Value Modified Racing Series leftovers? (51 Photo)
“We were going well,” said Ricci, who is a rookie in TVMRS competition but a veteran at Beech Ridge. “I was just trying to survive and get to the end. We had a good car and were going on top, which a lot of other guys can’t do here. I won’t say that I would have won it, but I was definitely going to be there at the end. I was running in the mid-pack and trying to save my stuff, but in the end it didn’t matter.”
Racing a Modified at his home track was a dream come true for Ricci.
“I love these things, I’ve always wanted to race a Modified here. Even though we had a bad night, I’m still happy. I thought that we could run well and we did. I hope that at least we put on a show for everybody.”
Now it’s up to the #70 team to find out why their car was boiling hot.
“We’re going to have to diagnose what went wrong this week,” said Seuss. “Hopefully, it’s something minor. The light came on during the race, but the gauge showed that it was cool. We popped the cap and it was hot in there. We filled it back up, but we don’t know if some air got in there and made it worse or what. It’s unfortunate because the car was fairly decent. It was getting better and the car was fast, but then it started overheating.”
TVMRS rules dictate that the tour’s most recent winner starts shotgun on the field for the next race, so Seuss started in the back and Beech Ridge and was making
steady progress through traffic before the overheating problems surfaced just before the one-third mark of the race.
PASS IN THE PITS AT BEECH RIDGE
What do racers do when they are off? Well, the answer for several PASS North competitors was to go to the track and take in some action.
Among the PASS competitors in the pits watching the True Value Modified event at Beech Ridge were car owners Jay Cushman and Dick Dearborn, as well as drivers Scott Mulkern and Scott Chubbuck.
PASS North rookie Alan Tardiff took things one step further. The former Beech Ridge regular returned to his roots by running in the Pro Series race that was on the Saturday night car at Beech Ridge. Tardiff started 10th, contended for the victory, but had to settle for third when a tire started to go flat late in the race. The appearance served as a test session of sorts.
“After the Oxford 250, the car was out to lunch so we brought our weekly car out here with some new shocks
and springs to try before we made a 12-hour drive to Halifax [for this week’s PASS North event]. We’re pretty happy with the car. It was fast, but a tire going down on the right rear got us in the end.”
And after seeing the Modifieds in action, is that something that Tardiff would consider driving someday?
“If the opportunity was that to drive for a good team with good equipment, I’d like to try it. They remind me a lot of a go-kart and seem like a lot of fun.”
SHUMWAY PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
The bright green and yellow #5 of Bryan Shumway ran towards the front for most of the race at Beech Ridge. The Monadnock Speedway (NH) Pro Stock regular fell to 16th at the end of the race, but it was still a valuable experience for the young driver.
“We had a good top-five car, we just got shuffled out on a few of the restarts,” said Shumway. “We bent a tie-rod real bad and we’re just lucky to finish the way that we did. It was a good night, we finished all of the laps and we have a hot rod under us. We were running right up there with the top-five for awhile.”
Shumway has driven many different types of racecars and his next plans are to make a home in the True Value Modifieds.
“Pro Stocks, Late Models, Go-Karts, I’ve done it all and worked my way up. Next year, we’re going to go full-time with this and take a break from the Pro Stock. We took the night over from Pro Stock racing tonight to come up here and get some experience here, so we can run the full season and know what we are up against.
Missing in action at Beech Ridge was two-time defending TVMRS champion Kirk Alexander, who wrecked his #43 car at Monadnock. Alexander had reportedly gone fishing while a new clip was put on his #43 ride. He plans to return to the series this weekend at Star Speedway.