One week before the Pro Series 100 at Beech Ridge, Bub Bilodeau passed away. On that night, Bilodeau completed his feature event and went into cardiac arrest shortly after that race was completed.
Hearts were heavy on Saturday night when the Pro Series 100 was run with Bilodeau now gone. The three-time track champion had won the Pro Series 100 twice before, most recently in 2007 [Click Here For Story]. More importantly though, he was a friend and well respected competitor to most of the pit area. He also had a large amount of fan support in the grandstands - having been a veteran of the track's “Happy Half Hour” promotion where top drivers meet and greet fans after a night of racing is completed.
On the night of this Pro Series 100, there were plenty of memorials to Bilodeau. Flowers and hand-made signs were placed around his pit stall. Every single competitor in the race ran with a #9 on their side windows or roof to honor him. Teammates Dan McKeage and Mike Landry even made a special decal to go across their hoods.
The most emotional sight though might have been on the side of Keith McKinnon's car. The #79 that McKinnon drives was the final racecar that Bilodeau built. So the team took one of Bilodeau's #9 decals and placed it with a regular old #7 to create their #79 for the race.
Bilodeau's team, supported by family members, towed the fallen racer's car to the track just like every other week - even without their driver physically there to join them. Wearing #9 shirts, the team pushed their car onto the track with Bub's brother Rick behind the wheel before the start of the Pro Series 100. Rick took three laps around the track, a number referencing Bub's three track championships. He then received a final checkered flag at the conclusion of those laps before pacing the field of the Pro Series 100.
While weather threatened the races at Beech Ridge all day long, it only actually rained once for about 10 minutes all day long. Ironically, that happened right as the #9 car was ready to go around the track a fitting tribute to the man who many hoped was looking down from above on the night's races.
After winning the Pro Series 100, Mike Rowe's team handed him a flag that they hand-made with the #9 on it. Rowe took his victory lap displaying the flag and even paused on the backstretch where Bilodeau's family and friends were seated. Rowe told Speed51.com that he could see everyone from his car and wanted to show them that in his moment of victory, they were on his mind.
Rowe on Pace for Another Title?
At times last season, Mike Rowe seemed unbeatable on his way to the track championship at Beech Ridge. This year, he watched Trevor Sanborn win the first two features of the season while settling for a fifth and a second himself. On Saturday night, he broke through for his first weekly series victory of the year.
Ironically, Rowe's first 2009 victory for RJF Motorsports came in last year's running of the Pro Series 100 and the team points out that they are ahead of where they were at this point last year. Rowe isn't just settling though. He's working to regain that unbeatable form of one year ago.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Rowe. “The car is not the way that we'd like for it to be yet. We need to work to get it better. Especially if Trevor comes back. If he had been here tonight, I'm sure he would have been better than we were. But my crew is doing a good job and we just have to keep working to get a little bit better.”
Shaw Shows Up, Grabs a Podium Finish
It wasn't until the afternoon before the Pro Series 100 that D.J. Shaw and his team decided to run the race. This year, Shaw has been busy running the full schedule of NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races and filling in the blanks with a few PASS North races and even an ACT Late Model start. But when he had no plans to race last weekend, Shaw decided to go back to Beech Ridge - where he used to be a regular in the Pro Series - and run their biggest weekly show of the year.
Shaw struggled through practice, and even much of the race, but rebounded late in the going and took home a finish of third.
“That wasn't bad,” said Shaw. “We didn't really work on it. We just came here and got lucky I guess. I'm surprised that we did that well because we weren't really that good. The stars all aligned right though for us.”
Possibly more importantly, Shaw's notebook got fatter by racing at the Ridge last weekend.
“We were using this as a test. We have a pretty good set-up here, but we've been just a tick off from winning a PASS race. We tried some different front end stuff and it didn't really work. But we'll keep at it.”
Ricker on the Road Again
In addition to being a Pro Series (Super Late Model) regular at Beech Ridge, Aaron Ricker has also been known to enter several ACT Late Model and PASS Super Late Model events when his schedule permits. He plans to continue with half of that approach during his off-time from Beech Ridge during the 2010 season
“I got rid of the Late Model. But every PASS race that we can get to, we're going to go to,” said Ricker. “I like longer races. I don't really care for 40-lap brawls. I like to relax and take my time and work my way up.”
Ricker finished a strong second at Beech Ridge in the Pro Series 100.
Dearborn Drives to Fourth Place
Richie Dearborn isn't running a full PASS North campaign this season. Instead, he is only running selected races at tracks close to his Hollis, Maine home base. But Dearborn isn't going to stay away from the racetrack either. He hopped into Steve Berry's #15 Super Late Model at Beech Ridge last weekend and finished fourth in the Pro Series 100.
“It wasn't bad,” said Dearborn. “We wanted to do some testing down here and we figured that the only way that we could do that was to race. It's not one of our cars, but it' s similar so we are learning some stuff.”
Dearborn will be back for more shows at the Ridge this year.
“Next week, we're going to run it and probably will some more this year. We're not going to run the whole PASS deal. We didn't go to Canada this week. We're just going to stay close to home and run those races.”
Ricci Racks Up a Top Five Finish
Tony Ricci joined the ranks of the Pro Series regulars at Beech Ridge this year. After some early season struggles and bad luck, Ricci broke through to finish fifth in the 100-lapper at the track.
“After the first two races here, it's nice to bring it home in one piece and not have anyone pissed off at me,” said Ricci after the race.
When asked how he liked transitioning from the Modified Racing Series, where Ricci has won feature events previously in his career, into the Super Late Models, the Maine driver was anything but politically correct.
“It sucks,” said Ricci. “When you want to be racing Modifieds, these cars just don't cut it. I thought that I had a home in the Modified Racing Series, but I don't. So now I'm back home and if I'm going to be racing weekly somewhere, it is going to be at Beech Ridge.”
Ricci explained that finding a set-up that he likes under his Super Late Model has been a challenge.
“The biggest problem with Super Late Models when we have bump stops and all of this technology is that it is all trial and error. You set them up and every driver wants something different. I came out here and tested three times. You'd try something and if that didn't work, you'd have to go the other way. We're gaining, but it's tough to come down here and race weekly because there are some tough teams have that have been doing this for awhile. They're good.”
Sanborn Skips The Ridge in Favor of Chasing PASS North Points
On of the most talked about drivers at the Pro Series 100 was someone who wasn't even in the same country when the race took place.
Trevor Sanborn had announced plans to run for the track championship at Beech Ridge and started off the season with a pair of victories. But last week, he changed his plans and was named as the full-time driver of the Richard Moody Racing #44 Super Late Model in the PASS North Series.
“I always wanted to race on that tour from the beginning, and even though we didn't have everything together this spring, now that it's come together I'm really excited about it,” said Sanborn in a team release. ”I know we can be a contender for the championship, and I know that I've got a great shot at finally winning my first PASS North race. With this team, I know we can go to any race track and win, and I have a ton of confidence in the crew chief (Brian Burgess) and the cars. It all just adds up.”
Sanborn will continue to race weekly at Beech Ridge during gaps in the PASS North schedule.
“Absolutely. I won't be able to run for the championship, especially because the entire month of July it seems we're PASS racing,” said Sanborn. “But I plan to go there still on our off weekends and try and win some races.”
- Mike Landry, who is a winning Sportsman and Late Model driver in Maine, hopped into a second Super Late Model fielded by the Naughty Forty team of his cousin Dan McKeage for the Pro Series 100. Landry finished a solid ninth while McKeage placed sixth after leading early in the race.
- Dan McKeage and Steve Carrier won the Pro Series 100 heat races.
- Billy Whorff gave the crowd a scare when he was involved in a wreck with Chris Thorne and briefly got airborne before hitting the turn three retaining wall. It took a few moments to help Whorff out of his car, but he ended up walking away from the wreck and back to the pit area without having to take an ambulance ride.