HERMON – He had cough drops in his radio box “so I could breathe under the cautions.”
Gorham’s Dan McKeage was battling a cold, as well as Levant’s Shane Tatro, and was able to overcome both to capture the 50-lap Pro All-Stars Series Sportsman feature at Speedway 95 Saturday night.
McKeage edged out Tatro by 1 1/2 car-lengths after taking advantage of the faster outside groove to pass Tatro on a lap-30 restart.
In the other features, Falmouth’s Scott Mulkern took the checkered flag in the PASS Outlaw race, Harpswell’s Mark Lucas won the PASS Modifieds event and, in the Speedway 95 Sport Fours race, Hampden’s David Green triumphed.
But the headline race, the PASS North Super Late Model Community Pharmacies 150, was rained out.
The PASS Sportsman feature was a repeat of last year’s race when McKeage had also used a late-race restart to get around Tatro and capture the win.
“Shane was definitely the class of the field,” said McKeage. “He had gotten by me on a previous restart [on the inside groove], so I stayed in his tire tracks to see what he was doing [to get around the track so well]. I learned from him.”
“I knew I had the preferred groove on the last restart,” added McKeage. “I was able to get half a car-length ahead of him getting into [turns] one and two. I knew I had to clear him if I was going to win. I was glad I was able to get a good restart.”
The two bumped side panels and Tatro had to regain control of his car to hang on to second.
“I lost three or four car-lengths. I didn’t want to lose my spot and, by the time I got back up to [McKeage], I had run out of laps [in which to try to pass him],” said Tatro.
“He didn’t bang into me too hard. It was definitely just a racing deal,” said McKeage. “I left him the bottom [groove], but there was only one [fast] groove left. I knew it would be tough for him to get underneath me [and make the pass]. It’s tough to pass on the bottom. I was surprised he got me on the first restart.”
McKeage praised Tatro’s sportsmanship.
“He raced me super hard and super clean,” said the 30-year-old McKeage.
Tatro, who had been a regular at Speedway 95 before joining the PASS Sportsman class last year, had mixed emotions about the race.
“It would have been nice to win here in front of family and friends and the home crowd. I expected to win. But I’m happy,” said the 26-year-old Iraq War veteran.
McKeage said he and team members Peter Lint, Luke Beaulieu, Matt Langevin and Greg Emerson made wholesale changes to the car after the heat race “and everything worked out.”
“I was going to be either a hero or a zero,” said McKeage.
Waterford’s Richie Morse finished third with Stockton Springs’ Duane Seekins and Saco’s Terry Merrill rounding out the top five in the 18-car field. Hermon’s Kris Watson and Orrington’s John Kalel II were seventh and eighth.
In the 50-lap Outlaws feature, Mulkern dueled Brunswick’s Chris Staples until taking the lead for good on lap 39 and pulling away.
He won by 30 car-lengths with Staples finishing second, Winterport native Mike Harnish Jr. in third, Chesterfield’s Joe Decker coming home fourth and Orrington’s Scott Alexander finishing fifth in the nine-car field.
In the Mods feature, shortened from 40 to 27 laps by rain and an attempt to get the Community Pharmacies 150 in, Lucas passed leader Kenny Harrison on a lap-21 restart and caught a break when his two primary challengers, Harrison and Andy Shaw, slid off the track in turn three on lap 24.
Tom Oliver of Windham was second with Gary Norris Jr. of West Gardiner, Stephen Bennett Jr. of Buckfield and Ronald Gooden Jr. of Whitefield, N.H., completing the top five. Eleven cars started the race and there were six cautions.
In the Speedway 95 Sport-Fours, Green pulled away on a lap-21 restart and never looked back over the last four laps.
Lagrange’s Rick Grant was second with Belfast’s Spencer Garvin, Old Town’s David Shorey and Glenburn’s Steve Moulton rounding out the top five. Twenty cars began the race.