Nick Reno of West Bath stands in victory lane at Wiscasset Speedway on Saturday night. Kennebec Journal photo by Travis Barrett

 

WISCASSET — When it was over, both Nick Reno and Kevin Douglass blamed the other for having played games on a series of late-race restarts.

Once the drama had played out, it was Reno who opened the season with a celebration Saturday night, holding off Douglass to score the victory in the 50-lap Pro Stock feature at Wiscasset Speedway. Reno, of West Bath, won in a Pro Stock for the first time since 2018.

“He played a few games on the restarts,” Reno said. “I’ve been around a while, and I know what these games are. It wouldn’t have been that bad if my clutch wasn’t slipping. That clutch made it hard on the restarts.”

Douglass recovered from a flat right front tire on the first lap after having started on the pole, rolling up behind Reno at the midway point of the event. Reno kept his car pinned to the bottom of the track, and Douglass tried in vain on a couple of different occasions to gain the advantage to his outside.

By the time the caution came out for the final time on lap 42, with several early contenders having fallen by the wayside, it set the stage for the two fastest cars on the property to settle it once a for all.

It took three attempts to get the green flag to fly again.

On the first lap 43 restart attempt, the start was called off when Reno got too early of a jump. The second try was also called back after Douglass cleared Reno into the first turn. The third restart was uncharacteristically slow — but clean — with cars jumbling up at the start-finish line and Reno checking out to victory.

“I wanted to make sure the green came out,” Reno said of the final start. “I let him take off first. I didn’t want them to say I jumped it. I didn’t want to jump it. I just wanted to stay beside him and get into turn one and settle it on the race track, so to speak. I don’t like races being settled on restarts — a lot of people try to snooker them over on those.”

Douglass, of Sidney, was less than pleased at the way things played out, particularly the second restart in the series.

“I voiced my opinion (to starter Nate Dennett), because I felt like that was a good restart,” said Douglass, who put his frustration level at a 12 on a scale of one to 10. “We were both at the line at the same time, in my opinion. Maybe it didn’t look that way. They make the calls, and it is what it is. That was my chance to get him. I knew his clutch was slipping, so my chance was on a restart. He wasn’t going to give up the bottom and I wasn’t going to move him.”

Douglass also disputed any notion that he played games on restarts.

“I go the same time every time,” Douglass said. “The (first) one, he left in turn three and four. There’s a line we’re supposed to start at, and that just didn’t happen. I was trying to shift when he hit the side of me (on the final restart), so it wouldn’t go in gear. I got jacked up, and that’s how it went.”

The win was Reno’s second in a three-week span, having won his first career Pro All Stars Series Modified event at Riverside Speedway in Groveton, New Hampshire, on July 24. He won six Modifed races at Wiscasset last season.

That Reno and Douglass finished one-two was fitting, given they’d had the fastest cars in practice during the afternoon, were quick in their qualifying races and logged the fastest single laps in the feature.

“I knew he couldn’t go around me. I’d have to make a mistake for him to pass me,” Reno said. “The car was just good on the bottom, and if I ran my own lane it was as good as him. I’d say the best two cars finished first and second, plain and simple.”

Rodney Brooks of Thomaston finished third, with Jon Rideout and Kevin Morse completing the top five.

In other racing, 17-year-old Nicole Benincasa of Buxton won her first career 4-Cylinder Pro Stock feature, beating out Ryan Hayes and Jeff Prindall on a late restart for the 25-lap feature win.

“I don’t even know what to say,” Benincasa said. “I was just happy they didn’t mess up my win and took it like adults.”

James Osmond of Wiscasset snapped a six-year winless drought by snagging victory in the 30-lap Super Street feature, and Zach Audet of Skowhegan won the Thunder 4 Mini main. Audet also won in the Outlaw Mini Stock division on opening day on Aug. 1.

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