WISCASSET — Nick Reno had the best car until he didn’t. Ajay Picard had the best car by far, until he didn’t, either. And Kevin Douglass spent all evening convinced he didn’t have a car capable of even sniffing the front of the field.

But, as the saying goes, the best car doesn’t always win in this game and sometimes you just have to be around long enough to benefit from bad luck around you.

After losing the lead during a brief green flag run sandwiched between a pair of mid-race restarts, Reno overcame chaos in the closing laps to get back to the front and hold on for his first career Pro Stock win in the 40-lap feature Saturday night at Wiscasset Speedway.

“It feels awesome,” Reno, of West Bath, said. “I guess you don’t ever really know what to expect (for your first win), but this was a good way to do it.”

Reno started on the pole in the 16-car field and set a blistering early pace, while Picard, point leader Nick Hinkley and others jockeyed for position in the pack behind him. When the race was slowed for the first time by caution on lap 15, Reno’s straightaway lead evaporated and he had Picard to contend with.

Picard took the lead on the outside on a restart — by the width of the fiberglass on the front bumper — at the start finish line, and was placed at the point when the caution came out again just a lap later.

Picard and Reno occupied the top two spots for the next 16 laps — until the race came unglued over the final eight circuits. Four cautions ensued, including two false starts, which jumbled both the running order and the list of contenders.

Picard was clipped by Douglass in turn one after one restart was waved off, leaving the Palmyra driver’s No. 99 with right front damage. On another run to a would-be green flag, Picard was spun from behind before he ever got to the start-finish line.

Nick Reno of West Bath climbs out of his car after winning the 40-lap Pro Stock feature Saturday night at Wiscasset Speedway. Staff photo by Travis Barrett

On lap 34, Reno finally got the run he needed down the backstretch to clear Picard — whose wounded car was given its spot back on both false starts with the field never getting an official green flag — and survived a light tap to his rear bumper entering turn three to race off once and for all toward eventual victory.

“We’ve had some hard luck in this car, and I thought once we lost the lead we were probably all done,” said Reno, a rookie of the year contender who has 11 career wins at the speedway in support divisions, including two this season in a Modified. “But I knew my opportunity was on the restart, and that’s what we did and we pulled away and won it.”

Picard’s machine, clearly the fastest on the race track for most of the night, was never the same after his first dust-up with Douglass. Douglass would eventually race his way to second, with Picard settling for third.

“My spotter said clear and I came down, and (Picard) must have just caught my bumper and spun me around,” Douglass said. “That’s the way it is these days. I thought I was out of the race, running fifth or sixth or whatever. Then stuff started happening, and you just take advantage one spot at a time. It’s not a win, but it’s second, so I can’t really complain.”

“I got toe-in issues, I’m sure of it. When I went into the turn, I couldn’t turn,” Picard said. “It was looking really good for a while, but I messed up or whatever. I nailed every single restart but one, and that’s the one that cost me.”

It was the one Reno had been waiting for since surrendering the lead to Picard earlier.

“We lost the lead on a restart, and I don’t even honestly know what happened,” Reno said. “I didn’t think it was quite fair, so I said, ‘I’m going to take it back on a restart’ and that’s what I did. It was just good, hard racing. I liked it. It was fun.”

Hinkley, of Wiscasset, finished fourth with Joe Decker of Chesterville earning his second top five in as many starts this season.

• • •

Oakland’s Zach Audet made it two straight wins in the Thunder 4 Mini division and his fourth of the season overall, making quick work of the back half of the field after starting eighth on the 10-car grid before setting his sights on early leader Noah Haggett.

Haggett, 16, of Wiscasset, was taking his first ride in a car he purchased from Travis Pouliot and did his best to hold the bottom groove on a night where the outside didn’t have a lot of grip. Audet hounded Haggett’s bumper until lap 18, finally taking advantage of Haggett’s slip in turn four to take the lead for good.

“The car was really loose the whole race,” Haggett said. “I just couldn’t hold it down enough.”

Audet stayed glued to low side of the track until taking second place from Brian Burr on lap seven — almost immediately dropping right back along the infield curb to set his sights on Haggett.

“There wasn’t much bite (outside) tonight,” Audet said. “It is what it is.”

Haggett crossed the finish line in second, but he was assessed a three-position penalty in post-race technical inspection for illegal motor mounts on his No. 54. Albion’s Spencer Sweatt was credited with second, while Cameron Campbell of New Gloucester ended up third.

The race went green over the final 20 laps. As good as Audet had been early, he had been nervous about a late caution setting up a restart.

“I was hoping not for a restart because it would have been a good one,” Audet said.

But Haggett wasn’t so sure.

“It’s tough on the outside,” he said.

Audet has two wins in three Thunder 4 Mini starts at Wiscasset to go along with two wins in the Outlaw Mini class. In all, he’s won four of the seven races he’s entered thus far at the track in 2018.

“It just played out that way. We’re having fun,” Audet said. “That’s what we’re here for.”

Michael Harrison of Durham earned his first career Super Street win, holding off Oakland’s Sean Johnson over the final few circuits for the 25-lap victory. Point leader Mike Hodgkins of Jefferson was third.

Matt Bourgoine of Newport won the 25-lap NELCAR Legends main event. Point leader Jeff Prindall of Lisbon took the checkered flag in the 4-Cylinder Pro Stock feature.

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