ST CLAIR AND COOK AMONG OPENING DAY WINNERS AT WISCASSET
Wiscasset Speedway kicked off the 2021 racing season in the state of Maine on Saturday afternoon, April 24th. A large contingency of eager racers and smiling fans converged on Maine’s fastest track for it’s first April opening day since 2019. Due to the pandemic, the track wasn’t permitted to open until August of 2020, limiting the track to a shortened 10 week season. Back to its traditional April opening, fans were treated to action in the four Group 1 divisions: Pro Stock, Thunder 4 Mini, 4-Cylinder Pros, and Super Streets. The spotlight division was the Schooner Bay Thunder 4 Minis, with veteran David Cook of Jay taking the victory. Other winners on the day included Josh St Clair, Nicole Benincasa, and James Osmond.
The Schooner Bay Thunder 4 Minis had the privilege of the day’s first feature. David Cook started on the outside of the front row and outraced Doug Degroat to the lead by the time they reached the backstretch. Cook survived a pair of restarts and kept the field in his rearview mirror the rest of the way to the checkers in the 30 lap feature. The top 5 positions traded hands behind the leader throughout the race as Degroat, Shane Webber, Jeff Farrington, and others fought it out for the two remaining spots in victory lane. It came right down to the final two turns as Degroat charged from 4th to 2nd to grab the 2nd place trophy. Farrington was on the outside looking in until Webber drifted high in the final turn, handing him the final podium spot. Webber, who charged up from the back of the pack to run as high as 2nd, settled for 4th, and veteran Jeff Davis of Woolwich rounded out the top 5.
In other action on the day, 3rd generation race Joah St Clair showed the strength of his #14 machine leading a strong lineup of competitors in the Norms Used Cars Pro Stocks. He started the race from the pole position with Scarborough’s Garrett Hall to his outside. St Clair disposed of Hall and set sail, leading all 40 caution-free laps to pick up his 2nd career Pro Stock win. In Coastal Auto Parts victory lane he celebrated with his family, including his Hall of Fame grandfather “Boss Hogg” Dave St Clair. Hall maintained his hold on the runner-up spot all the way to the checkers. 2015 Boss Hogg 100 winner Wyatt Alexander ran a trouble-free race to complete the top 3. Perennial contender Kevin Douglass of Sidney took 4th and Jamie Wright of Woolwich finished 5th.
In the 25 lap feature for the Brackett’s Market 4-Cylinder Pros, Buxton’s Nicole Benincasa had a strong showing, moving up quickly from her 5th place starting position to take her 2nd career feature win. Jet Decker of Chesterville challenged early but faded back from the leader over the closing laps. He spent the rest of the race door to door with polesitter Andy Kaherl of Saco. Decker finished the race in 2nd. Kaherl rebounded from weeks of tough luck over the past two seasons to run his best race and secure his first career podium finish in third place. The top 5 was rounded out by a pair of rookies, Daniel Harding of Fairfield, and Cole Binette of Lyman taking 4th and 5th respectively.
The final race of the day was a 30-lap bout with a stacked 17 car field in the Maxwell’s Market Super Streets. Several cautions (5) flew as the drivers battled for their piece of the race track. 2013 Driver of the Year James Osmond of Wiscasset took advantage of a rare front-row starting position and didn’t let the opportunity go to waste. He survived a handful of restarts and went on the victory. “Ive always wanted an opening day win on my resume'” said Osmond”. “Last year it didn’t feel right, but with the fans back here in the stands, this one feels good”. 2019 champion Mike Hodgkins had his hands full for much of the race, battling with a pair of talented rookies in Dominic Curit and PJ Merill. In the end, Hodgkins’ experience paid off, taking him to the runner-up finish. Farmingdale’s Matt Beers had an eventful race as well, going to the back of the field early, but racing his way back into contention, moving in to claim the 3rd place trophy. PJ Merril ended up as the top rookie, starting 15th and finishing 4th. Bobby Mesimer of Woolwich yo-yo’d his way back and forth through the running order to round out the top 5.
Wiscasset Speedway returns to action Saturday, May 1st for Group 2 Opening Day. There will be action in the Portland Glass Strictly Streets, Wood Pellet Warehouse Late Models, 88.5FM Modifieds, along with flex divisions Kennebec Equipment Rental Outlaw Minis and Ideal Roadrunners. Pit gates will open at 9:00 am, grandstands open at 12noon for VIP Season Pass holders, 1:00 pm for $5 general admission. The green flag flies on the action at 2:00 pm. For more information see www.wiscassetspeedway.com