September 1, 2013

AUTO RACING: Whitney survives for win

By Bill Stewart bstewart@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

UNITY -- The biggest race of the season nearly became the biggest mess at Unity Raceway on Sunday.

click image to enlarge

CRASH AND GO: Workers clear a fence and trees from the race car driven by Kyle Robinson, 15, of Clinton that went off the track, up a steep dirt embankment, through a wire fence and landed in a ditch Sunday at Unity Raceway. Robinson was not hurt and returned to race after repairs to the car were made.

Staff photo by David Leaming

click image to enlarge

THEY’RE OFF: Ricky Morse (29) edges Josh St. Clair, left, at the start of the Last Chance Motorsports 150 race late Sunday at Unity Raceway.

Staff photo by David Leaming

The second annual Last Chance Motorsports 150 drew a deep field of Late Models and a decent crowd, but also a caution-filled feature as drivers chased a purse that paid at least $2,000 to the winner.

And when it was over, after 15 cautions and a few technical difficulties, Brian Whitney survived to take the checkered flag.

The Burnham resident led 57 laps, including the last 51 as a field of 27 was whittled to just 10 in the second half of the race.

Josh St. Clair, of Liberty, finished second while Palmyra native Ajay Picard was third.

There were seven cautions in the first 50 laps alone, and track manager Jare Humphrey stopped the race to try and restore order.

It worked -- but only for a few laps.

Phil Richardson wrecked near Turn 1 on lap 63 and both cars needed to be towed from the track.

Three laps later, the lights between turns 3 and 4 went out, which again brought a caution flag out -- the 10th of the night.

When racing resumed, the field again went under caution when the No. 25 car driven by Will Collins spun out along Turn 4.

All the while, Whitney and St. Clair, who started on the pole, stayed out of trouble and in contention.

An accident midway through a 44-lap Monsta Mini class delayed the start of the Late Model feature by about an hour.

Kyle Robinson, 15, of Clinton, lost control of his No. 62 car coming into Turn 1 on lap 24 and plowed up a dirt banking, crashed through a chain-linked fence and finally came to a rest up against a wall -- the last barrier between the track and School Street.

"Going into Turn 1 the throttle got stuck," Robinson said. "I lost control of the car and it just hit the banking. I let go of the steering wheel because I didn't want to break my wrist. I just hung on tight."

And when the car came to a stop?

"I unbuckled and got out as quick as I could," he added. "I was happy to get out of the car."

Track officials needed to repair the fence before the race could resume.

While workers tended to the fence, Robinson returned to the pits and his team put the car back together.

"We put a couple tires on it, fixed the throttle and fixed the radiator," said Kyle's dad, Tim Robinson. "Then we sent him back out."

Kyle Robinson finished 10th out of 17 cars.

"Pretty crazy," he said.

The big-money race had by far the largest field in any division at the track this season.

The opportunity to win at least $2,000 also enticed a few drivers to shake off some proverbial rust and return to racing.

One of them, David Folsom of Skowhegan, competed in his first race since the annual Long John at Unity last October.

Folsom, 51, suffered a serious injury to his left hand about two years ago that nearly ended his career. He missed all of last season, save for the Long John, and the first three months of this season.

However, he couldn't stay away this weekend.

"I missed it," said Folsom, who finished runner-up in 2011 to Jeff Burgess in the Late Model division. "I wanted to come back and do it again. Plus, I have three cars for sale so I can showcase them here."

Wiscasset Speedway

WISCASSET -- Bill Penfold, working his way from the back of the pack to the front on a restart, pulled away for the 30-lap Pro Stock feature win Saturday night.

(Continued on page 2)

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