Bub Bilodeau and Gary Babineau open defense of Beech Ridge titles with opening night wins.  Scott Dorr and Ed Connolly also find victory lane.


By Dan Walker


Scarborough, Maine- Bub Bilodeau began his NASCAR Whelan All American Series title defense in the Pro Series division with a win on Saturday night at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway.  Over the Winter, Bilodeau lost his chief rival in Bobby Babb who has stepped away from the seat to help his son as he takes over the #4 Pro Series car.  Enter Maine racing legend Mike Rowe to fill that void and after the 40 lap feature race Saturday night the Bilodeau-Rowe rivalry has been rekindled. Rowe started on the pole with Aaron Ricker to his outside and Bilodeau on his rear bumper in third.  Rowe shot to the lead with Ricker and Bilodeau settling in behind.  Bilodeau tried to move around Ricker on lap 6 but Ricker held off the challenge for the time being. 


Bilodeau pulled off the pass on Ricker at lap 8 and began to eyeball the car of Rowe directly ahead.  Bilodeau took a shot to the outside on lap 10 but Rowe fought him off.  On the 13th trip around the oval Bilodeau took a peak to the inside but Rowe slammed the door to maintain the lead.


Over the next 6 laps Bilodeau repeatedly tried to go around Rowe but could not pull off the pass of the leader.   The complexion of the race changed on lap 23 when Rowe bobbled in turn 2 as he was trying to turn off an electric fan and accidentally hit the kill switch on the motor.  Bilodeau reacted quickly and went around Rowe for the lead.


Rowe was not done yet as he began to close back in on Bilodeau as the laps were winding down.  On lap 31 of the 40 lap race, Bilodeau and Rowe played bumper tag with both drivers making a spectacular save to stay in the top 2 positions.   The final few laps saw Bilodeau stay in front for the win as Rowe took second but these two drivers who have had many epic battles over the years racing together set the stage for what is to come all season long.  Aaron Ricker was third with Jay Sands and Dave Oliver fourth and fifth.


 In Sport Series action Scott Dorr held off defending champion Sally Gherardi for the 35 lap main event win.  Dorr and Gherardi battled side by side for the second half of the race before the outcome was settled.  Gherardi finished second with Russ Morse third.  Don Morse and Andy Field were fourth and fifth.


Gary Babineau opened his title defense with a wire to wire win in the 30 lap Wildcat feature race.  Lyman McKeage chased Babineau all the way to the checkered flag for second place with David Wildes third.  Shawn Gilpatrick and Lewis Anderson rounded out the top 5 finishers.


Ed Connolly only led 1 lap but it was the final one as he took opening night honors for the Road Runner competitors.  Matt Dow led 19 laps before making the wrong lane choice around lapped traffic as Connolly slipped by and stole the win.  Dow was second with David Turner, Ray Letellier and Trevor Graffam filling the top 5 spots.