Full field expected for season finale; SCoNE, USAC DMA set to determine champions
–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
BRADFORD — Bear Ridge Speedway will close its 50th season of racing on Saturday, September 23 with the Newport Chevrolet Crate Motor Nationals.
Recently crowned Sabil & Sons DIRTcar Sportsman Modified champion Derek Graham will lead a talented field into Saturday night’s 100-lap season finale.
The Woodsville, N.H. driver sealed the championship with a third place finish and ahead of his closest championship competitors.
Graham finished 11th one year ago in the 100-lap event that was part of the King of Dirt Sportsman Modified Series.
Second place Sportsman Modified point driver Richie Simmons posted two wins on the year and is expected to challenge for the race win on Saturday night, as is Terry Williams, who earned his first career DIRTcar Sportsman Modified win earlier this year. Todd Buckwold and Robert Tucker each picked up victories this season and are expected to challenge for the race win during the 100-lap season finale.
Ryan Christian picked up a pair of wins — both times also winning with his Limited Late Model — and is expected to contend for his third feature win of the season.
Jordan Fornwalt has put together an impressive season despite missing seven races this season — including two double point counting events — and parked himself in victory lane twice this season.
Multi-time Bear Ridge Speedway champion Adam Pierson picked up two wins late in the year after running just a partial schedule and is expected to enter Saturday night’s 100-lap finale, as is Kevin Chaffee, who posted a runner-up finish one week ago and has posted strong back-to-front runs despite running just five races this season. Chaffee was the highest finishing Bear Ridge regular one year ago.
Josh Sunn is expected to enter Saturday’s 100-lap finale after he returned to victory lane in just his second race back from a violent Midget crash in August last year that left him sidelined.
Other drivers expected to enter Saturday’s event include D.J. Robinson, Mike Dunn, race winners Walter J. Hammond and Matt Lashua, newcomer Stephen Lary, Chris Clark, rookie Mike Ryan, Todd Fenoff, Wayne Stearns, Walt Hammond Jr., and Josh Currier.
Various drivers from area tracks, including Devil’s Bowl Speedway and Legion Speedway, are also expected to challenge the Bear Ridge front runners for Saturday’s Crate Motor Nationals event.
The Wells River Chevrolet Sportsman Coupes will also take part in their final event of the season with Brian Chaffee just needing to start the season finale to claim his first championship.
The Coupes will run a 50-lap feature event that will cap their 2017 season. All of the season’s regular drivers are expected to compete.
Bear Ridge will also hold their annual “Growler” events for the Modifieds and Coupes. This winner’s only showdown will pit the race winners of 2017 in a special race to for extra cash. Thirteen drivers are eligible for both the Modified and Coupe “Growler” event.
The Sprint Cars of New England and USAC Dirt Midget Association will also crown their 2017 champions.
Clay Dow holds a narrow one-point advantage over Will Hull as the two drivers enter the season finale. Jake Williams sits close by in third, 13 points back of Dow. Matt Hoyt remains in mathematical contention 32 points back of Dow, but would need some help to claim the championship in his sophomore season.
In the USAC Dirt Midget Association, Dean Christensen holds a 23-point advantage over Adam Whitney and a 34-point advantage over Joe Krawiec entering the final event. Derek O’Hearn sits in fourth, 38 points off the lead.
Bear Ridge Speedway will have time trial qualifying for its divisions, which will begin at 5:00pm.
PHOTO: Recently crowned Sportsman Modified Champion Derek Graham (10), Jordan Fornwalt (24), and Richie Simmons (34) are all expected to challenge for the during Saturday night’s 100-lap Sportsman Modified season finale at Bear Ridge Speedway. (Alan Ward photo)