Logan Melcher of Fayette climbs out of his car and waves the checkered flag after winning the Late Model feature Saturday night at Wiscasset Speedway. Kennebec Journal photo by Travis Barrett

WISCASSET — He lost his brakes. He had a four-time track champion hunting him down from deep in the pack. He’d never won a Late Model feature in his career.

And yet somehow Logan Melcher never stopped believing.

“I like to unload thinking I can win today,” Melcher said. “‘I can win today, I can win today.’ I just needed to put it all together. We did it, but I really started thinking it with 10 (laps) to go.”

Melcher, of Fayette, battled all of the adversity to post his first career win Saturday night at Wiscasset Speedway, leading every lap en route to victory lane in the 40-lap Late Model feature Saturday night. A former Thunder 4 Mini champion at the track, Melcher’s only other Late Model win came last season — his rookie campaign — in a non-points event for non-winners at Wiscasset.

Melcher went back to the setup he had for the Coastal 200 at Wiscasset in May, when he finished an impressive fourth.

Thorne, of Sidney, held on for second. Shane Clark, Josh St. Clair and Jake Hendsbee completed the top five.

Thorne started deep in the 20-car field, but needed only 15 laps to race from 13th to third. When the first caution of the race flew on lap 18, Thorne made quick work of Clark for the second spot and seemed poised to jump to the lead on the second and final restart of the event one lap later.

Instead, Melcher never gave him the chance.

“Before the caution it was getting loose, but after the restart … it was worse,” Thorne said. “(Melcher) was good. He was smooth and consistent. He didn’t slip up. I was looking for a hole, but he didn’t make one.”

Logan Melcher, center, celebrates his Late Model win with family and friends in victory lane at Wiscasset Speedway on Saturday night. Kennebec Journal photo by Travis Barrett

“I thought, ‘I’ve got some work to do. I’ve got some real work to do, but we can do it,’” said Melcher, the speedway’s Driver of the Year in 2017. “The car was just set up good. It was set up beautiful. We put my 200 setup back in it, and I’m really glad I did. It tried something else last time, and it was horrible.”

Melcher needed to back up his corner entries and step on the accelerator earlier as his brakes failed him midway through the race. He couldn’t believe his lap times were nearly two-tenths of a second faster than Thorne’s over the race’s final circuits.

“You have no idea what it means to hear that,” Melcher said. “That’s just insane to hold off Chris Thorne. The Chris Thorne. That’s amazing.”

Reigning Late Model champion Andrew McLaughlin of Harrington, who won the division’s most recent event, settled for seventh after getting shuffled from sixth to 11th on the lap 19 restart.

Racing was halted for 76 minutes by a rainstorm near the completion of qualifying rounds earlier in the evening. Melcher and Ryan St. Clair won the Late Model heat races.

• • •

Zack Emerson believes Saturday night was a sign of things to come in the second half of his season.

A champion two years ago, he took the lead for good with 10 laps remaining, holding off Ryan Ripley to win the 25-lap Strictly Street feature. It was the first win of the season for the Sabattus driver, who entered the weekend just 12 points out of the division lead.

“I really feel as though we can (win more races),” Emerson said. “This has been a good car. We’ve just been getting tangled up in little mishaps. If we can keep clear of them, we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with from here on out.”

The victory did not come without nervous moments for Emerson.

On a lap 14 restart, Ripley used the outside groove to nose ahead of Emerson briefly for the lead. That advantage was short-lived, however, as Emerson’s car came back to him the longer the race went on.

By lap 15, Emerson was off and running to the victory.

“I thought I was going to clear him. I was really close,” said Ripley, of Thomaston. “If I’d have had just a little bit more, I would have got him.”

“I thought he was going to get me. I thought, ‘Boy, we’re in trouble,’” Emerson said. “I knew he had some power. When that hooked up, I thought he was going to clear me. It took a couple of laps for (my) car to come in.

“Once we got running, I knew we were going to be all right.”

Solon’s Brad Erskine finished a season-best third. Unlike Emerson, who started third, and Ripley, who started seventh in the 11-car field, Erskine had to battle traffic to get to the front. While the leaders were lining up and getting away, Erskine didn’t get to third until just eight laps remained.

“It was just where I started. Traffic, that was it,” Erskine said. “It was a little tight in the center, but it was pretty good. It’s just hard to go from the back to the front, because it’s all pretty close competition.”

Jonathon Emerson, Zack’s son and current point leader, finished fourth. Norridgewock’s Shawn Austin finished fifth for his first top-five of the season.

Adam Chadbourne of Woolwich dominated the 30-lap Modified main event, turning in his fastest lap times over the second half of the race for his 47th career victory at Wiscasset. Fourteen of Chadbourne’s wins have come in the Modified division.

Nick Reno of West Bath finished second after pulling off a three-wide move through the middle in turn two on a lap 20 restart. Wayne Allard was third.

Leeds driver Jimmy Childs saw his three-race winning streak to begin the season in the Outlaw Mini division come to an end when he finished second to Skowhegan’s Zach Audet in that 25-lap event.


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