WISCASSET — About an hour before the green flag dropped to begin the 2021 season, Josh St. Clair spotted Garrett Hall near the pit gate and asked Hall if he was in town to pick up an easy win.

Turns out, it was St. Clair who made simple work of the Opening Day field at Wiscasset Speedway.

St. Clair, the third generation-driver out of Liberty, started on the pole and led every lap to claim the 40-lap Pro Stock/Super Late Model feature Saturday afternoon at the track his grandfather once owned. The victory was the second of St. Clair’s career in a Pro Stock and his second in three starts dating back to last season.

“That’s a heck of a way to start,” said St. Clair, who had no working radio communication with his pit crew during the race.

Scarborough’s Garrett Hall was second, with Wyatt Alexander of Ellsworth third. Sidney’s Kevin Douglass and Jamie Wright of Woolwich completed the top five in the caution-free event.

St. Clair made his debut with the car — one once owned by multi-time Pro All Stars Series winner Reid Lanpher of Manchester — in the Boss Hogg 150 last September. He won with it the very next week.

After running an abbreviated schedule with severely limited grandstand capacity in 2020, the track opened to a big crowd of anxious race fans. One hour before the start of racing, the line at the ticket window stretched the length of the speedway’s parking lot all the way to West Alna Road several hundred feet away.

Track officials estimated a grandstand attendance of 1,000 spectators on Saturday, about half of the facility’s capacity.

The Pro Stock cars go around the track during a heat race Saturday at Wiscasset Speedway. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“I was beyond happy,” promoter and track announcer Ken Minott said. “I know people were anxious to get back to the track, and we wanted them to be able to get out and enjoy some racing safely.”

James Osmond survived a caution-filled 30-lap Super Street feature to hold off Mike Hodgkins and Matt Beers for the victory.

“When I won last year, it didn’t feel like a real win,” Osmond said in victory lane. “With all the fans here and everything, this feels like a real one.”

After leading the 12-car Pro Stock field to the green flag, St. Clair checked out to a two car-length lead over Hall to lead a 1-2-3 breakaway with Alexander at the front of the field.

“It is easier when you start from the front,” St. Clair said. “Coming up through a whole field of cars is a different story, but I’ll take it. I’m not proud.”

“We needed to tighten it up a little,” Hall said of being able to catch St. Clair. “I guess some of these guys are allowed to run tire softener. I guess we weren’t prepared to do that, but it’s OK. We had a fun time.”

Through the first half of the race, it appeared things might shake out very differently.

2019 track champion Nick Hinkley started 10th and was the only driver to make use of the outside lane with any success. He scooted around the high side of the .333-mile track to leap from 10th to seventh on lap 3, and on lap 13 he drove around the outside of former track champion Andy Saunders to grab sixth.

Hinkley, of Wiscasset, was making serious ground on the leaders by using the outside — until he slapped the concrete wall on the backstretch on lap 23, flattening his right front tire and doing  significant suspension damage that ended his day early.

“As everybody gets looser and you move up the race track, there’s marbles up there and it drops off once you go in,” Hinkley said. “I guess it’s a racing deal. When you’re going that speed and trying to lay on somebody, as the cars get looser you’re bouncing around.

Kids club junior official Wes Overlock, 6 of Warren, presents a trophy to Dave Cook after the Thunder 4 Mini feature race Saturday at Wiscasset Speedway. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“I didn’t expect to be that close to the wall, but once I touched it I couldn’t get off it.”

With Hinkley sidelined and cars stretched out single-file behind him, the only thing between St. Clair and the win would have been a caution flag.

That never came, and nobody benefited from a late-race challenge the yellow No. 14 livery that Dave St. Clair made famous across Maine racing in the 1970s and 1980s.

“It’s a job to get around somebody on the outside,” St. Clair said of any potential restarts. “I think it would have been a race, but I think we still would have had it.”

Alexander wasn’t the only one glad not to have to face the threat of a restart. He lost his clutch prior to the green flag.

“If we’d have had a yellow or a red flag, I might have had to pull off,” Alexander said. “I was sitting in the lineup, and I could feel the (clutch) pedal going all the way to the floor. I jammed it in gear and I didn’t want to have to do that again if we had a restart. That would have done some damage.”

In other racing, Nicole Benincasa won the 25-lap 4-Cylinder Pro event for her second career win. David Cook took home the checkered flag in the 30-lap feature for the Thunder 4 Mini Stock division.

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