Ben Ashline can’t quite shake the images of a disastrous weekend at the 39th annual TD Bank 250 on July 22.

The 21-year-old Pittston driver smashed up his car coming out of Turn 3 along the backstretch at Oxford Plains Speedway. The front end damage was so significant it threatened to derail Ashline’s season.

“We weren’t sure what was going to happen,” he said.

Nearly two months later, Ashline is finally ready to race again.

Ashline is one of 42 American-Canadian Tour drivers who will compete at the fourth annual Bond Auto Invitational on Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H.

“I still have a lot of work to do,” Ashline said. “We’re sticking the old nose back on it now and we have to brace everything up. But we’re going. I’ve been chomping at the bit the last two months. I sold an old chassis and scraped up enough money to fix it.”

The ACT Invitational starts at 4:15 p.m. Saturday. It is one of four races to be contested at the track this weekend, which is hosting the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300.

The ACT race will feature past race winners Eddie MacDonald and Joey Polewarczyk, who won the TD Bank 250 in July. Two-time runnerup Nick Sweet and eight-time ACT champ Brian Hoar are also in the field.

“I’m excited,” Ashline said. “I’m ready to get back in it. We’ve been hammering on the car. It’s a long process. We’ll pull some all-nighters, but it comes down to this: How bad do you want it?”

Ashline has raced at NHMS before, including at this race last fall.

“It’s a whole different animal at Loudon,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

The NELCAR Legends tour will also hold a 25-lap invitational at 5:45 p.m. Saturday.

Manchester native Reid Lanpher, 14, will compete.

“It’s going to be crazy,” he said. “I’m really excited. This is a Cup weekend so there will be a lot of people there.”

Lanpher, who’s competed at New Hampshire Motor Speedway six times this season, finished third at this race last year.

“Our goal is to go top three,” Lanpher said. “That’s what we did last year. We also want to bring the car back in one piece.”

Lanpher is 11th in points on the Legends tour, although his age prevents him from competing at some of the races.

He has eight top-10 finishes, including two victories.

Lanpher also has had some success at NHMS.

He became the youngest race winner in track history when he won a feature in May.

“We started off the year really strong,” Lanpher said. “We haven’t had good luck at the middle so we’re hoping to turn it around. We’ve missed out on some finishes but we’re feeling pretty good.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]

 

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