Saturday night was David Pinkham's birthday and before the night began, it looked like it could be a memorable one for the veteran Maine driver. After all, he was entered in the True Value Modified Racing Series event at his hometrack of Beech Ridge Motor Speedway - a place where he had previously won in everything from Super Late Models (known as Beech Ridge as the Pro Series) to True Value Modifieds.
As Pinkham dominated the race through it's middle stages, it looked like it was going to be a fine birthday indeed. But then with 13 laps to go, TVMRS point leader Jon McKennedy crashed the party.
On lap 87, McKennedy drove under Pinkham to take the lead. He never looked back and went on to win the 100-lapper over Pinkham and Dwight Jarvis.
“I didn't know it was his birthday…so Happy Birthday to him!” said McKennedy in victory lane. “I know this is his home track and he was tough I'll tell you. I was able to cross up on him out of four and out-drag race him. It was a great, clean race though.”
The race started with NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver Carl Pasteryak winning the pole and leading the first few laps. Meanwhile, Andy Seuss rocketed from his sixth starting position to creep along the outside into the lead on lap 13. He stayed there for 14 laps until the handling went away on his #70 Modified and Stephen Masse went by into the lead.
“The car was flying early on,” said Seuss. “It was very sensitive to the heat cycles of the tires. We've just got to be doing something wrong with it. We're just trying to figure out where we went wrong. This car just all of a sudden slowed up handling-wise after we were running good. It's something that we were chasing a little bit, but thought that we had in the past after finishing fourth at Oxford with it, but that wasn't the case. It was a similar track top this, but had a different result for us.”
Masse led until just past the 60 lap mark, but his shot at a good finish ended when he was sent to the rear for contact with Jacob Dore. Masse worked back to ninth place at the finish.
Meanwhile, Pinkham was showing the way while McKennedy hid deeper within the top ten.
“I took my time and that was really the key,” said McKennedy. “This track is extremely hard on tires and I had a great car, but it was tight in the early stages of the race. I knew about halfway through that it would come around and it did. Around lap 70, it started going and there were a few cautions - which helped a lot. My restart lane seemed to go and everything really worked out.”
The Beech Ridge race had a lot in common with last month's TVMRS event at Oxford Plains Speedway.
Both races were on similarly shaped ovals in Maine, both races were won by McKennedy and in both races, the Massachusetts driver did not come on strong until the late stages of the event.
“To be funny, it was the same exact deal [as Oxford],” said McKennedy. “We used the same exact set-up and had the same exact strategy. If you went through the car from the front to rear bumper, you'd find that everything was the same. I also drove the race very similar and everything worked out the same way.”
Something that was a bit different though was the fact that McKennedy had no way to tell just how much of a lead that he pulled out to as the laps wound down. There was definitely no “mirror driving” of the #73 Modified at Beech Ridge.
“They told me that there was no pressure and that usually means that you have a good lead. We changed the clutch this week and the transmission shifted into the mirror and cracked it. We didn't feel like spending the money on a new mirror, so every time I glanced up, there were big spider cracks there.”
Finishing behind McKennedy and Pinkham were Dwight Jarvis, Carl Pasteryak and Jack Bateman..
- Three drivers raced at both Beech Ridge in the True Value Modified Racing Series and the night before at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race. Those competitors were Chris Pasteryak, Rowan Pennick and Andy Seuss. Pasteryak and Pennick both scored top five finishes at Stafford before racing at Beech Ridge in different rides. Seuss struggled with handling issues at both tracks in the same car.
- Les Hinckley looked like he had a possible podium finish in his sights, but his #06 developed a bad misfire in the closing ten laps. Hinckley's car was popping and wheezing down the straightaways, but was actually able to pass cars in the corners. Hinckley was able to salvage a sixth-place finish.
- David Pinkham has only run a very limited schedule of True Value Modified Racing Series events in the Greeley's Garage #22 this year. He's run at Oxford, Lee and now Beech Ridge. Pinkham had been a regular, and a championship contender, in the series last season but was reportedly upset with a penalty that he received late in the season during the Thompson race.
When will his next TVMRS event be? Well, that answer was a little cryptic.
“I want to support the two Maine tracks and Lee USA Speedway invited me to their race. So I guess that I'll come out to the tracks that invite me. I'll just leave it at that,” said Pinkham.
- NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Brian Scott was a fan at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) on Saturday night. Scott and one of his crew members, Derek Kneeland, attended the race on an off-weekend for their own series. Kneeland was a former regular in the Sport Series at Beech Ridge before moving to North Carolina.
- Lap 79 was not kind to Tony Ricci, as he was involved in three cautions on the same lap. First, the caution was thrown for Ricci's stopped car on the backstretch. He got the car running again for the restart, but then had a flat tire and spun in turn one. On the next attempt at a restart, Ricci spun in turn two and lost one lap as the caution was coming out. He then decided to park his car for the night before we were able to find out if there is a “three strikes” rule in TVMRS.