Stock car racing

Girard scores convincing win in national qualifier at Wiscasset Speedway

By Ken Minott | May 17, 2017

Wiscasset — If Kevin Girard Jr. had left any doubt the past two seasons who the top dog in the Nelcar Legend ranks at Wiscasset Speedway happened to be, he put an exclamation point on it with a statement win on Saturday, May 13 in the INEX-sanctioned national qualifier.

The 30-lap race, sponsored by Four Season Synthetic, showcased the top Nelcar regulars mixed with several of the best from southern New England and beyond for a tripled purse and large trophies, not to mention valuable provisionals in the INEX Asphalt Nationals in Las Vegas.

Girard took the lead shortly after a lap eight restart and held off a fierce challenge from Noah Korner, then cruised to a comfortable victory. The win highlighted a chilly but action-packed night of racing on the track, with Group 2 in action.

Other winners included Brent Roy, Nick Hinkley, Ben Tinker, and Kurt Hewins.

Young gun, Austin Teras, brought the field of 23 Legends to the green flag with defending Nelcar Legend champ, Kevin Girard, alongside. Teras set the early pace as Noah Korner jumped in line behind him and Girard settling into third.

The first caution of the race came out on lap five when Matt Grant tagged the turn-three wall as he tried to avoid the spinning car of Thomas Everson. Back in the pack, out-of-town favorites, T.J. Thompson and Brandon Martinez, had begun their aggressive charge up from the back of the pack; relegated there by failing post-heat inspection.

It took just five laps for them to pick their way halfway through the field. Lap eight produced a red flag, when Jake Matheson tangled with Alan Smith in turn two, which collected Thompson and sent all three cars into the turn two wall. All drivers walked away unharmed.

One more minor caution on lap 18 bunched the cars, and that was the last time anyone had a shot at Girard. First he shook off Teras and withstood a brief challenge from Korner, but as the laps wound down the challengers faded and Girard remained strong.

He crossed the line for the win by nearly a full straightaway. In victory lane, he called it the most important win of his career so far. Korner followed him across the line 2.1 seconds behind for the runner-up trophy. Teras completed a solid day of racing with his third-place finish.

In the four different classes of drivers in the race, Girard was the top driver in the Pro Division; Ryan Doucette, led the Semi-Pro Division; Austin Teras topped the Young Lions Division; and Bobby Weymouth took top honors in the Masters Division with his fifth-place finish.

The 35-lap spotlight race for the Kennebec Equipment Rental Outlaw Minis was a battle of attrition, not only on the track but in the tech garage and in the pits. Things looked intense, but in control through the early going, but then several mid-race cautions thinned the field of 10 that were able to start the race.

Jimmy Childs of Leeds led thru the midpoint of the race with challenges from Tim Collins and Zach Audet. Then a mechanical issue with Audet, a turn-two crash between Shawn Kimball and Rob Greenleaf, and a restart penalty for Collins started to change the tone of the race. Brent Roy took advantage of the opportunity and came to life to drive around Childs to grab the lead just past halfway.

Two laps later, a crash on lap 25 between Collins and Jacob Hendsbee again scrambled things and left fans wondering who would be left to finish the race. Track officials, thinking the same, decided the next flag would end the race. It did not take long for that to happen, as on the ensuing restart Larry Melcher tangled with Shane Smith in turn one to end the race with 24 laps complete.

Brent Roy rollede into victory lane to claim the winner's trophy, his first in 10 years at the track where he had already collected 33 career victories.

Things continued to change the picture after the race. Jimmy Childs and Shane Smith had to hand back their second- and third-place trophies after they failed postrace inspection for unapproved-sized spoilers. Melcher was credited with second place and Hendsbee, whose car went off on a wrecker just before the last restart, was awarded third.

In support action, Kurt Hewins returned to show who was still the boss of the Norm's Used Cars Strictly Streets. He started at the back of the pack and charged up the outside lane to grab the lead on lap 14 of the 20-lap feature. Hewins, the defending division champ, grabbed his first victory of 2017. Joe Hutter ran his best career race at Wiscasset, holding point until he was passed by Hewins, but finished strong to take second. Mike Haynes backed his opening day podium appearance with another third-place run.

The Wood Pellet Warehouse Late Model Sportsman showed again why it is the top draw in Group 2. Twenty drivers ran the 35-lap feature with just one caution slowing the intense action. Brandon Bailey and Nick Hinkley put on a clinic on how good, hard, side-by-side racing should be done. They battled through the middle of the race, trading the lead back-and-forth; Bailey on the inside and Hinkley on the outside, neither one with an advantage of more than two feet. Soon they were joined by Shane Clark, Ryan St. Clair and Chris Thorne, who had charged up from 17th. The five cars stayed locked in a tight battle that kept fans on the edge of their seats for the final 10 laps.

Heading into turn three with the checkers in the air Bailey got sideways to nearly collect the group, but made a great save to charge to the line. Hinkley took home the hard-fought win, as he spent the entire race in the outside lane. Clark, who may have been the fastest out of the five, settled for second. Bailey turned in his best career finish with third. Thorne and St. Clair filled out the top five, all separated by just a second on the track.

The Midcoast Region NAPA Mods finished the show with a 30-lap tilt. Ben Tinker continued his early-season hot streak, taking the lead from Allen Moeller and cruised to the victory. Moeller, who had chased first for four years, settled for second, while Adam Chadbourne's third-place finish was his 100th career podium appearance.

The official results from May 13 were:

AMSOIL Nelcase Legends National Qualifier (30 laps) — 1, Kevin Girard, Jr., Old Orchard Beach; 2, Noah Korner, Canton, Conn.; 3, Austin Teras, Windham; 4, Casey Call, Pembroke, N.H.; 5, Bobby Weymouth, Topsham; 6, Parker Varney, Windham; 7, Ryan Doucette, Framington, Mass.; 8, Chris Burgess, Buckfield; 9, Kevin Oliver, Raymond; 10, Colby Meserve, Buxton; 11, Zachary Godbout, Mt. Vernon; 12, Peter Bennett, Cromwell, Conn.; 13, Ed Getty, Gray; 14, Terry Kirk, Durham; 15, Matt Chagnot Derry, N.H.; 16, Brandon Martinez, Kingstown, R.I.; 17, Thomas Everson, Gilmanton, N.H.; 18, David Kinney, Skowhegan; 19, Alan Smith, Nelcar Legends; 20, Jake Matheson, Hilsoboro, N.H.; 21, Thomas Thompson, Lisbon, Conn.; 22, Matt Grant, Windham; 23, Colby Benjamin, Belfast.

Kennebec Equipment Rental Outlaw Minis (24 laps) — 1, Brent Roy, Vasselboro; 2, Larry Melcher, Turner; 3, Jake Hendsbee, Whitefield; 4, Shawn Kimball, Augusta; 5, Zach Audet, Skowhegan; and 6, Butch Keene, Turner.

Norm's Used Cars Strictly Streets (25 laps) — 1, Kurt Hewins, Leeds; 2, Joe Hutter, Leeds; 3, Michael Haynes, Livemore Falls; 4, Brian Caswell, Buxton; 5, Mac Hannan, Union; 6, Kimberly Knight, Chesterville; 7, Brad Bellows, China; 8, Faith Cleaves, Freeport; 9, Jonathon Emerson, Sabattus; and 10, Zachary Emerson, Sabattus.

Wood Pellet Warehouse Late Model Sportsman (35 laps) — 1, Nick Hinkley, Wiscasset; 2, Shane Clark, Winterport; 3, Brandon Bailey, Wiscasset; 4, Chris Thorne, Sidney; 5, Ryan St. Clair, Liberty; 6, Joey Doyon, Winterport; 7, Andrew McLaughlin, Harrington; 8, Josh St. Clair, Liberty; 9, Ben Erskine, Farmington; 10, Cody Verrill, Richmond; 11, Steve Barker, Turner; 12, Steven Chicoine, Portland; 13, Alex Waltz, Walpole; 14, Brandon Fowler, Rome; 15, Steve Rackliff, Starks; 16, Henry Mellows Jr., Anson; 17, Will Collins, Waldoboro; 18, Shane Kaherl, Jay; and 19, Steve Minott, Windham

Midcoast Region NAPA Modifieds (30 laps) — 1, Ben Tinker, New Glouster; 2, Allan Moeller, Dresden; 3, Adam Chadbourne, Woolwich; 4, Mark Lucas, Harpswell; 5, Tom Young, Freeport; 6, Shawn Austin, Noridgewock; 7, Richard Jordan, Kingfield; 8, Nik Coates, Turner; 9, Ron Bryant, Livemore; 10, Patrick Sullivan, Poland; 11, Joseph Williams, Woolwich; and 12, Nick Reno, West Bath.

Ken Minott works represents Wiscasset Speedway.

Courier Publications’ sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.

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