WISCASSET — Ben Ashline has been the show before, for all the wrong reasons. On Sunday afternoon, he made sure there was no show.

The Fairfield driver completed a nearly perfect day at Wiscasset Speedway, leading all but two laps and crushing the competition to win the Coastal 200 without any hint of a serious challenge. Ashline was fastest in all three morning practice sessions, won the pole with ease in his qualifying race and won the Late Model feature event without so much as a single bobble, wiggle or missed shift.

His first career win at Wiscasset was every bit as easy as it looked.

“It sounds horrible to say, but the race itself was the easy part,” said Ashline, 27, who earned $5,000 for the victory. “The amount of time that was spent working on this car — this is all I do, this is all we do. When you live racing that way, you win races in the shop. The time spent in there, the hard work you do in there, made this day the day that it was.

“Boy, that was a lot of fun.”

Dave Farrington Jr. of Jay finished second, nearly eight seconds behind Ashline. Winterport’s Shane Clark was third, with Andrew McLaughlin and Daren Ripley rounding out the top five.

Ashline’s dominance showed up in virtually every facet of the race. Not only did he lead 198 laps, but he lapped 22 of the 26 cars in the starting field. He pulled away on virtually every restart to a two-second lead within a few laps. Despite having tires 30 laps older than Farrington’s over the final 54-lap green-flag run to the finish, Ashline — who grew up in Pittston — pulled away to a margin of victory of 7.78 seconds.

Clark, who stayed within shouting distance of Ashline in second place for the bulk of the race, felt a bit helpless trying to reel in the leader.

Staff photo by David Leaming Driver Ben Ashline greets race fans prior to the Coastal 200 on Sunday at Wiscasset Speedway. Ashline won the race.

“It was really, really tough, especially with as much effort as I was giving to try and get close to him,” Clark said. “We got close maybe once, but he was pretty stout. I did everything I could, that’s for sure.”

Ashline’s dominant victory was a long way from 2012.

That season, Ashline had whipped an American-Canadian Tour field at Oxford Plains Speedway in a fashion eerily similar to Sunday’s at Wiscasset, and he entered that year’s Oxford 250 on the short list of favorites to win the event. But instead of winning it, he never even made the starting grid — having instead been involved in a qualifying crash when he impatiently tried a bold three-wide move in traffic.

It was a move that Ashline became unfortunately known for. The Coastal 200 win at the track where he began racing a decade ago may have served as the necessary piece in putting that difficult memory — finally — in the past.

If nothing else, Sunday’s victory was proof positive that Ashline has matured as a driver.

Blocked behind heavy lapped traffic racing side-by-side two rows deep just past the halfway mark, Ashline saw Farrington creeping closer and closer in his rearview mirror. Instead of making an unnecessarily bold move to keep the lead, he watched Farrington pass him on lap 114.

Staff photo by David Leaming Racing fans fill the stands during the Coastal 200 on Sunday at Wiscasset Speedway.

“I got myself in a little bit of a bad position, but I’m thinking, ‘I’ve got to take a minute here and not chance ending our day the way it shouldn’t be,'” Ashline said. “Dave got me good. I made a wrong decision, but it’s a lesson learned and it was one of the first times I was put in that situation. The key was to make sure it didn’t happen again.”

It did not. The caution flew one lap later, and Ashline and the other leaders hit pit road for fresh right side tires. Farrington stayed out.

“We got snookered there,” said Farrington, whose plan had been to pit when Ashline did. “We took the lead, looking good, car’s really driving good — and everybody ducks on pit road (behind us).”

One lap after the restart, on lap 116, Ashline was back out front to stay.

“In all aspects of the race, it is (the biggest win of my career),” said Ashline, who was emotional in victory lane, where he dedicated the win to his late grandmother — whose passing he learned of on his way to the track Sunday morning. “There’s a lot of reasons I wanted to win this, that we wanted to win this.

“It wasn’t just to get a trophy.”

Staff photo by Travis Barrett Ben Ashline celebrates after winning the Coastal 200 on Sunday at Wiscasset Speedway.

Farrington thought his error in judgment might pay off, anyway, when he lined up fourth — seventh in the on-track running order — on lap 146, with fresher tires than anybody else.

But Ashline was simply too good.

“I thought we were in really good shape,” Farrington said. “We just couldn’t cut into that dent. He’d get away the first four or five laps, he was really fast on restarts… Second stinks, that’s for sure. To know we got by him (earlier) and got the lead, it showed we had a chance. I just couldn’t get back to him.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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