TURNER — Reid Lanpher isn’t chasing championships, checkered flags or career paths. The 20-year-old racer from Manchester is after something much easier to come by this season.

“Having as much fun as possible,” Lanpher said of his plans for 2018. “We’re going to bounce around (this summer). We’re not chasing points anywhere.”

A two-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion at Beech Ridge, including last season’s Super Late Model title at the track, Lanpher has already competed in weekly events at Beech Ridge, NASCAR K&N Pro Series races, Pro All Stars Series (PASS) races here in Maine, and Granite State Pro Stock competition. On Sunday, in a GSPSS event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, Lanpher passed Eddie MacDonald on the final lap to win that 50-lap event for his first career win at New England’s largest track.

“It was very special for sure,” Lanpher said. “We were able to be there for the only lap that matters.”

The victory was the first of 2018 for Lanpher.

He intends to enter the U.S. Super Late Model Nationals at Seekonk (Mass.) Speedway in a few weeks, run the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at NHMS during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend on July 21, and finish out the second half of the year with a number of PASS starts, including ones at Oxford Plains Speedway and Beech Ridge.

Of course, he’ll be at the Oxford 250 at the end of August.

“We’re just going to play it by ear,” Lanpher said. “If a race pops up we’re interested in, and it looks like it’s going to be a good time and the crew wants to do it and everybody’s available, we’re probably going to spring on it. That’s kind of where we’re at right now.”

It’s a long way from where Lanpher was six years ago, when he was traveling south to race for the JR Motorsports Late Model team owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. In those days, there was pressure on Lanpher and plenty of eyeballs on him as he took the first step toward possibly racing for a living.

“Yeah, things have changed in the aspect of looking back to when we were points racing and going after that NASCAR championship and things like that,” Lanpher said. “It was a lot different. I wouldn’t say it wasn’t any fun, but we weren’t as loosey-goosey as we are now. Yeah, there was a point in time when I would have loved to think I could have made my living racing cars, but it didn’t take us long to realize throughout all that that we didn’t have the money to spend to buy rides down south.”

So freed from the burden of points racing every week, Lanpher shows up at the races he does put on his schedule ready to compete for the win.

“We do it for fun,” Lanpher said. “The stress hasn’t outweighed the fun factor during any of my career, now especially. We’re not going to get tied up in points. We’re not going to run conservatively, we’re running for wins. We’re just going for it when we get to the track.”

• • •

Maine native Austin Theriault returns to the seat in his home state Tuesday for a 200-lap PASS race at Spud Speedway in Caribou. It will mark the Fort Kent native’s first start at Spud, where he turned his first competitive laps in a stock car as a 13-year-old, since 2012.

After winning the 2017 ARCA Racing Series championship in a car owned by former NASCAR stalwart Ken Schrader, Theriault — now 24 — is without a full-time ride this season.

“I believe the (Spud Speedway’s) owner, Troy Haney, has planned the biggest event the track has seen in decades, and I’m proud to play a small part in it,” Theriault said in a release. “I have many Maine and Canadian fans, and I’m looking forward to seeing them at the track.”

The Firecracker 200 is part of PASS’ “Roads to Oxford and Richmond” series, in addition to being a PASS points race. The race winner is afforded a guaranteed starting spot in either the Oxford 250 or October’s Commonwealth Classic at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. Theriault will be behind the wheel of his familiar family-owned No. 57.

• • •

Morrill’s Travis Benjamin sits one point out of the PASS point lead with 11 races remaining.

Even though he’s locked in such a tight championship battle, the two-time series champion says he’s not sure he’ll run the entire slate.

“Nineteen races is crazy, in my opinion,” Benjamin said of the series’ schedule, including two races in a five-day span next week. “You’ve got to have full-time people, and there’s not many teams out there that can afford that. To be honest with you, we’re taking it one race at a time. We are kind of chasing points… Honestly, if something happens at Spud, we might not be at Beech Ridge (on July 7).”

After winning consecutive Oxford 250s in 2013-14, Benjamin would like to add his name to the extremely short list of three-time winners.

Only Ralph Nason, Mike Rowe and Dave Dion have won the Oxford 250 more than twice.

“Nobody knows when you win a championship in PASS, but everybody knows when you win the Oxford 250,” the 39-year-old Benjamin said. “I’m excited for this year. I don’t think we’re as good as we’ve been in the past right yet, but the guys on (car owner Peter) Petit’s team, they work so hard. Mark (Lyden) and that whole crew, they’ll have it figured out. I think we’ll be pretty strong that weekend.”

Another Oxford 250 win would be the perfect cap to Benjamin’s season, regardless of the outcome of the PASS championship.

“We’re going to put our best efforts up for the 250. That’s kind of my goal for the year, to be strong for the 250 again,” he said. “After that, you might not see us that much.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter; @TBarrettGWC

Comments are not available on this story.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.