BRIDGEWATER, Mass. — official series release — Cugini Motorsports photo —
The Wiscasset Speedway put together a blockbuster evening for NEMA this past Saturday night, with packed stands, and fans eagerly awaiting the return of the Winged Warriors.
At the end of the night, a very happy Danny Cugini took down his first ever NEMA victory over five time champion Randy Cabral, and Ryan Bigelow took down the Lites victory.
In the NEMA feature, veteran Paul Scally took off from the pole position. Scally looked extremely strong, stretching his lead out to ten carlengths over the first half of the race. Behind him, Cugini had worked his way up to second, but had not challenged Scally at that point. Cabral had worked his way by John Zych for third by the halfway point.
With eight laps remaining, Scally, who was over heating at the time, had his worst nightmare come true – a caution for a spin by Matt O’Brien. On the restart, Cugini powered by Scally to take the lead, and Cabral quickly got by for second.
“I had been trying to save my tires because it was a 30 lap race and my motor lagged a little on the restart,” said Cugini. “I saw Randy next to me (he restarted 3rd) and I knew the only way I was going to stay in front of him was to sail it in on the outside. Once we cleared Randy I figured I’d try for Scally in the same corner, I never lifted and cleared them both by turn 3. After that, I just tried to hit my marks.”
With three laps remaining, Cabral appeared to narrow the distance between himself and Cugini, and Seth Carlson slipped by Scally. With two laps to go, Cabral had caught Cugini and slipped his nose under Cugini’s left rear. The last lap proved to be one of the most exciting in recent NEMA history.
“The last lap was something else, I left a little door open and Randy did what any other race car driver would do and he stuck his car under me,” Cugini explained. “I didn’t want to give my first win away so I was on it 100% coming off of turn two. Randy and myself made contact. Whether I pinched him off or he came into me, it was just good hard racing. His right front tire ended up on my exhaust header and we rode half the back stretch like that.”
“The whole time he was on me all that was going through my head was ‘how can we finish the race?’ I was turned right as hard as I could and I kept my foot in it and Randy having all his experience wheeled his car off and we made it through 3 and 4 for the finish, and I came out on top.”
Cabral crossed the line in second, happy with the finish, followed by Carlson, Scally and John Zych in the top five.
Jim Chambers, Avery Stoehr, Jim SantaMaria, Bethany Stoehr and Todd Bertrand completed the top ten.
In the Lites Feature, Ryan Bigelow started fourth and was able to get under Chambers going into three on lap one. He survived two restarts on lap six and 16 and both times was able to get a good jump and take down the win. Bigelow was driving the 32 car, last year’s championship car that is regularly driven by his brother Scott.
“I would like to thank Scott (Bigelow) for giving me such a good car and of course my father for supporting my racing. Also have to thank my sponsors Bigelow Electric, Royal Tire and Stewart race engines,” said a happy Bigelow.
He was followed across the line by Cugini and Cabral, who made up the rest of the podium.
Meg Cugini and Joey Payne rounded out the top five, with Jim Cataldo, Jeremy Decourcey, Dennis O’Brien, Chambers and Anthony Payne capping off the top ten.
NEMA races next at Monadnock Speedway for the Iron Mike Scrivani Memorial.
CREDIT: NEMA Racing