The Northeastern Midget Association rolled into Bob Webber’s Star Speedway this past Saturday evening, marking another event at NEMA’s most historic venue. Not to disappoint, the results were also historic with the club celebrating two first time winners on the evening for the first time in the club’s 65 year history.
In the Lites division, sixteen year old Ben Mikitarian drove his New England Truck Solutions #9 to his first ever win in the ultra competitive division. In the NEMA division, Paul Scally who won his first Lites race at Wiscassett Speedway a few weeks ago, snapped a nearly 25 year drought to take down a very popular win over tough competition. To make the victories even sweeter, both took home NEMA’s “First Time Winner” bonus – in the Lites sponsored by Mike Scrivani Jr. and family, and the NEMA division sponsored by Seymour Enterprises.
In the Lites division, Ben Mikitarian and five time NEMA champion, Randy Cabral would put on a duel in the first two laps, before the red flag would fly for a wreck between Paul Scally and PJ Stergios that sent Scally flipping onto his side, before a minor fire erupted next to his vehicle. Scally was taken away for inspection in the ambulance, and would later end up in the announcer’s stand to help call the rest of the feature event!
When the green flag flew again, Mikitarian began to distance himself from the field. By lap eight Mikitarian had pulled a straightway away from the field.
Behind him, Cabral ran a comfortable second, but further back, Jim Chambers and Danny Cugini were slicing their way through the field, and one of the stories of the night, was Dylan Duhaime, making one of his first starts of the season was blasting his way through the field in the Cataldo #5 machine.
By lap seventeen, Mikitarian was into heavy lapped traffic, and Chambers had cleared Cabral. Duhaime would then set his sights on Cabral and overtake third on lap twenty, and begin to cut into the gap that Chambers and Mikitarian had created. Mikitarian was flawless in lapped traffic, and would go on to take down his first ever win in his second season, over Chambers, Duhaime, Cabral, Cugini, Anthony Payne, Kevin Iannarelli, Ryan Locke, Jim Cataldo and Dennis O’Brien.
“I was watching the board every lap. I didn’t know how much of a lead I had so I was driving hard every lap. When I saw the 12 (Jim Chambers) move up to second I knew he was coming, he’s always fast. I just kept doing my thing, hoping the yellow wasn’t going to come out,” said Mikitarian. “Lap traffic is always a factor at the end of a race. Luckily there was only a couple cars and they were spread out so it wasn’t too bad. It’s hard to time it right so you don’t lose all your momentum trying to get around them. I had a good lead so in the end it all worked out. It seemed the track was loose all night, we were loose in practice and in the heat, made a few adjustments and it all worked out,” he said.
In the NEMA feature, Paul Scally and Alan Chambers in the Earth Movers #30 brought the field to the green flag. Scally, a heat race winner from earlier in the evening, blasted into the lead. Scally would set a torrid pace over the first ten circuits, pacing himself over a straightaway from the field.
Behind Scally, Chambers in the Mac’s Auto World #7 was running a solid second, with Avery Stoehr in the Bertrand Motorsports #39 on his tail in third.
Scally looked to be setting sail in hopes of his first ever NEMA victory, when Chris Deritis in the #66 and Doug Cleveland, making his first start of the season in his #87, got together, with Cleveland going off on the hook with a flat tire.
The caution that Scally did not want to see, lined the field back up side by side with nine laps remaining. On the restart, Scally spun the tires, and he & Chambers drag raced into turn one. Scally blasted his car into the bottom grove and the two were side by side down the back stretch, with Scally regaining the lead.
Behind him, Chambers, Seth Carlson and Stoehr were mixing it up, with Stoehr and Carlson swapping the third spot a couple of times. Out in front, Scally stretched his lead out, and would go on to take down a very popular and historic first victory. He was followed by Chambers, Stoehr, Carlson, Todd Bertrand, Jim Chambers, Randy Cabral, Chris Deritis, and Jim Santa Maria.
“At about half way I was telling myself – we’ve got a heat race distance left stay calm, and then the yellow came. I saw the 7 would be outside and knowing how good that car is at Star, it was all or nothing and I wasn’t coming away empty handed,” he said. “We haven’t finished a feature this year, it’s been plenty fast but had different issues pop up.
I feel like we were long over due because of past heartbreaks, but you can’t let that discourage you from trying. The whole night was a roller coaster ride of emotion, between wrecking the lite car and winning the NEMA feature feels like a dream,” said Scally. Star is an awesome midget track, the whole NEMA group shows well there. It’s an honor to join the list of winners there. I look forward to continuing to race there for many more years,” he concluded.
NEMA’s next race is the Boston Louie Memorial, on Wednesday June 28th, one of the most prestigious races of the season.