It has been a long road back to the American Canadian Tour for Pittston’s Ben Ashline.

On Dec. 29, 2012 Ashline severely injured his shoulder at work lifting a heavy box, tearing his rotator cuff, labrum in two places and fraying a number of muscles in his shoulder.

The injury knocked Ashline out of racing for the 2013 season. He ultimately had surgery to repair his shoulder, followed by an intense combination of physical and aquatic therapy.

“It was a pretty intense rehabilitation you could call it, trying to get my shoulder muscles back,” he said. “Honestly, to this day my shoulder bothers me quite a bit. I don’t think it’s ever going to be right. I continue to do all my exercises and keep a positive attitude about it.”

As the 2014 season approached Ashline once again suspected he’d be on the sidelines for the season.

“I had an appointment with my surgeon two weeks before the American Canadian Tour started,” Ashline said. “We were kind of waiting, I hadn’t touched a car or worked on a car. Before that appointment the word was we still couldn’t race this year.”

At that appointment Ashline’s surgeon gave him the OK to climb back in the car though, leading to a mad scramble to get ready for the season.

“Honestly, the first goal was just to make it to every race,” Ashline said. “We’re as low budget as we can get. For our little family team it’s just an achievement to make the race.”

Not only has Ashline made all six races, he’s done pretty well for himself in them.

In the season opener in the New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 150 he came from the 24th position to take seventh. He had his best finish June 7 in the Riverside 150, finishing sixth after starting in the 23rd position.

The two top-10 finishes have helped Ashline climb to ninth in points with 397. Joey Polewarczyk Jr. leads the ACT Late Model Tour with 548 points.

“If we can end up with a top 10 in points,” Ashline said, “it’s a great year for us.”

• • •

What better way to celebrate our nation’s independence than with a week jam packed with racing?

That is what a number of Maine’s tracks are planning at least.

Billed as “Maine’s Great American Week of Speed,” a series of six straight days of racing at Beech Ridge and Oxford Plains Speedways began Tuesday at Beech Ridge — all leading up to what promises to be a very busy Saturday.

The Pro All Star Series North will return to action Saturday night with the Southern Maine Chrysler Dodge Jeep 150 at Beech Ridge, while Wiscasset Speedway and Speedway 95 will also have their usual races.

Unity Raceway — which at one point had questions circling about whether it would open at all this year — will hold its first night of action also on Saturday.

“(It’s going) pretty good. After being off so long I haven’t done this for a while,” Unity owner Ralph Nason said. “It’s just trying to get everything ready.”

Despite the hefty workload — which included routine maintenance in the bathrooms and concession stands in addition to preparing the track — Nason was confident everything would be ready to go for Saturday.

Among the races to be contested Nason said the 50-lap Outlaw class, as well as the Wicked Good and Fantasy Vintage races, are shaping up to be good ones.

When asked whether or not he thought having four tracks hosting events on the same night would hurt attendance Nason quickly dismissed the notion.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “There’s plenty of room.”

• • •

It has been so far, so good for Richmond’s Nate Tribbet in the Outlaw Mini division at Wiscasset.

Tribbet placed fourth in the race this past Saturday and is squarely in the hunt for the points lead. He is in third place with 232 points, trailing only Augusta’s Shawn Kimball (246) and Leeds’ Jimmy Childs (252).

“It’s a pretty tight group of cars,” Tribbet said. “Each week we show up everyone is usually fast. There are usually five or six of us that are right neck and neck.

“..We’ve done pretty good. As long as luck is on our side, we’re usually right up front.”

It has also been a very busy season for Tribbet, as he is trying his hand at racing Thursday nights at Beech Ridge with his uncle, Casey Nash, as well.

“We’re not doing too, too bad,” Tribbet said. “We just started there so it’s definitely a learning curve.”

• • •

After a number of top-three finishes, West Gardiner’s Kamren Knowles finally broke through with his first New England Four Cylinder Prostock win of the season at Wiscasset Saturday.

Knowles started from the pole position and led the whole way to pick up the win, rebounding from a sixth-place result the last time out.

“It was all right,” Knowles said. “The car wasn’t going good before this week but then (Saturday) we did a different set up and it seems to be going good.”

Knowles — who has two second and two third place finishes on the season — is currently second in points with 250, trailing only the 278 put up by Jeff Prindall, of Lisbon Falls.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: Evan_Crawley

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