Going into the final Thursday Night Thunder Legends race of the season at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, Evan Beaulieu was 3 points behind Kevin Hutchinson. Starting the race in the rear of the field, the 56 legend car quickly made its way to mid pack, when a wreck took out most of the leaders including the #27 car of Hutchinson.
Evan recalls as seeing the 27 car make it through the field back towards the front and with 5 laps to go, “I knew the opportunity was there to take the championship when I saw the 27 have issues. I saw the 27 was coming back, so I was peddling hard, I knew what the fight was, what I had to do and how many spots I needed to finish in front of him.” In the final laps, Evan was able to get around the 30 car of Ed Field, to finish the race in 5th place and winning the TNT Championship by only one point.
Though the TNT racing was concluded the legends were not done racing yet, as NELCAR returned to New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS), to take on the “Mini-Magic Mile.” NELCAR races on both the ¼ mile oval course and the 1.6 mile road course, so I asked Evan which was his favorite track to run on at NHMS. His reply “I really love the road course, it’s a lot of fun to do and it’s different. Both courses have unique things you have to love about them, but I love road racing turning right and left.”
The 56 car finished 2nd in the second heat race, so Evan started the feature in 4th position. Midway through the race the leaders got together coming out of turn 4 and had to restart the race at the tail end of the field. Tom Gray took over as the leader and Beaulieu restarted in 2nd place. With 5 laps to go, the 18 car was leading with Evan still in second, then the 38 car of Matt Bourgoine and low and behold the 23s car of Shaun Buffington was in 4th. On the final lap Buffington was able to get around Bourgoine to get 3rd, Evan took 2nd and Gray took the checkered flag for his 1st NELCAR win.
I asked Evan if the race had gone on for another 5 laps could he have held off the charge of the 23s car of Buffington. “I would have held him off. I was trying for Tom when I had seen him (Shaun) spin out. We were really good going for that last run, I saw Shaun, behind me he obviously had a fast car, but we done everything to hold him off.” This makes Evans 3rd top 3 finish this season at NHMS.
With the economy today and NELCAR being a touring series, travels to race tracks through out New England, it can put a strain on the race teams. “We have good sponsors behind me and my dad. Hancock Lumber, has been a great support for us for the past coupe years. The economy isn’t where it needs to be, we always ask for sponsorship any little bit helps.
I ask this question of every driver. “Safety” and what would they do to improve it? Evan’s thoughts on safety in NELCAR, “Right now we are really safe in the race car. I feel really good with the HANS Device and the Lajoie seat. The only thing I would like to see improved in legend cars, I have been saying it for years, we need more support in the front ends. When you have a hard hit, its going to hurt, in on of these cars, but I have a few hard hits, and have been able to walk away.”
One of the changes this season is that the drivers can drop 2 of the worst races from the point. “I think it’s great. It tightens everything up. Especially over 25 races that we have, if you have to miss a race, its unfortunate, but you aren’t out of everything by missing 1 or 2 races. I think it’s a good deal.”
NELCAR will return this coming weekend to once again race at the “Mini-Magic Mile.”