SCARBOROUGH — Gary Smith checked the final race track off his bucket list Sunday.

Smith, of Bangor, won his first Pro All Stars Series race in more than seven years, cruising to the PASS 150 win at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. Smith, 62, now owns victories at every stock car facility in Maine.

“I honestly thought the time had passed for this year. I thought it was going to have to be next year,” Smith said of finally winning at Beech Ridge. “These races are just so hard to win. The competition is just phenomenal. We were (around 20th) in speeds all weekend, and then we bolted on (new) tires and the car was just lights out. It was phenomenal from there.”

The veteran has won at Beech Ridge, Oxford Plains Speedway, Speedway 95 in Hermon, Wiscasset Speedway, Unity Raceway and Spud Speedway in Caribou during his decades-long career.

Smith beat Farmington’s Jeff Taylor by nearly two and a half seconds to the checkered flag in a race stalled only three times by the caution flag. Curtis Gerry of Waterboro finished third, with Scarborough’s Garrett Hall and Morrill’s Travis Benjamin completing the top-five.

A total of 29 cars started the 15th of 17 races on the PASS North schedule, but it was Smith’s No. 75 standing head and shoulders above all of them. The win was the first PASS victory at Beech Ridge in 15 career starts for Smith, whose prior best finish was eighth at the track in 2012.

“I couldn’t be happier for him,” said Taylor, owner of Distance Racing, a chassis builder in Fairfield, making only his second start of the year. “He’s been a loyal customer, and he came to Distance Racing before I was at Distance Racing. There’s not very many loyal people in the world anymore, but he is.”

Smith started third and rode behind the early lead of Westbrook’s John Peters before setting sail for the top spot on lap 37. He didn’t waste long checking out from the field while things sorted out behind him, at one point leading Taylor by more than four seconds at the midway point of the race.

Even on the three restarts, Smith was able to scoot away to a comfortable advantage time and time again — the last time on lap 100 as Taylor and Reid Lanpher, a two-time track champion and most recent PASS winner at Beech Ridge in July, battled for second behind him. Lanpher was shuffled back after contact with Taylor late and finished ninth.

It was mere window dressing for Smith’s popular win. He was greeted by friends, fans and family — as well as track owner Andy Cusack and PASS president Tom Mayberry — in a jubilant victory lane celebration.

“We had plenty of car left at the end. We were pretty good,” said Smith, whose only prior PASS win came at Lee (N.H.) USA Speedway in 2011.

Smith finished third in weekly competition at Beech Ridge this summer, his second full season of competition at the track without a victory. Gerry and Lanpher, among a handful of others, are Beech Ridge products who have enjoyed success in the touring series ranks at their home track.

“It makes a big difference,” said Smith, who had just one other top-10 at Beech Ridge, finishing ninth in 2005. “Racing with Curtis, racing with Reid, racing with Mike Rowe and all the guys that are really super great racers, it makes me better. I can learn from them, follow them, see their lines — and today it worked.”

Smith won a 50-lap feature event during a weekly program at Oxford Plains Speedway in 2016, leaving only Beech Ridge left to conquer.

He said there’s just one thing left to do now.

“Win twice, I guess,” Smith laughed. “These tracks — especially Beech Ridge and Oxford — were really hard ones to check off my list. But a few years ago we went to Oxford and we got one, and then we got another one (last season). I said, ‘We’re not that bad. Let’s go down to Beech Ridge and see what we can do.’ I’ll tell you, it’s a lot harder than it looks. These guys are good.”

The subplot behind Smith’s win was a shakeup in the PASS point standings.

Two-time series champion Benjamin chopped a 51-point deficit behind D.J. Shaw of Center Conway, New Hampshire, down to just 18 points heading into the final two races of the season. Shaw finished 22nd after suffering contact in the race’s first mishap on lap 84.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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