Max Dolliver in victory lane at Bear Ridge Speedway. (DIRTcar photo)

Dolliver Scores First DIRTcar Sportsman Series Victory

BRADFORD, Vt. — After finishing second in last year’s DIRTcar Sportsman Series East Region event at Bear Ridge Speedway, Max Dolliver made sure it wouldn’t happen again this year.

The Londonderry, N.H., driver stormed past Jason Gray on lap 20 and held him off to earn his first career series victory.

“That was awesome,” Dolliver said. “The two series races here are the ones that go on the calendar. To beat Jason here always feels good, and in a series race, it’s just awesome. It usually takes me a while to get a win, and hopefully, we can keep the momentum rolling all year.”

Jason Gray, the defending race winner, led the field to the green in the 40-lap feature. The race was quickly slowed on lap 2 after a caution for Brian Chaffee, Chris Huntington, and Jeremy Ferland, who got together off Turn 4.

When the race resumed, Gray continued his quick pace at the front of the field until he approached the race’s halfway point. That’s when the East Thetford, Vt., driver caught lap traffic, allowing Dolliver to close in.

As Dolliver caught the back of Gray’s No. 00, the Granite State competitor saw his chance to strike. On lap 20, Dolliver thundered underneath Gray, wrestling the lead away in traffic. Gray switched lanes to try and regain the lead but couldn’t make the outside line work in the final 20 laps as they both navigated through traffic. 

After a caution with two laps to go, Gray had one more shot, but Dolliver pulled away on the restart and held on to win the $1,057 prize. Dolliver said he used his knowledge of what cost him the race last year to make sure he was the first one to the checkered flag.

 “(Last year) he was leading, and I was second and trying to make the top work,” Dolliver said. “So, I saw him try the top and knew I had to head to the bottom and just stay there and it ended up working out for me this year.

“I figured he’d get a good run in (Turns) 1 and 2 because there was a lot of bite. But I knew in (Turns) 3 and 4 there was nothing on the top. I knew if I could pull him in (Turns) 1 and 2, I knew it’d be clear out of [Turn 4].” 

Gray settled for second after falling back to third at one point in the race. It’s the four-time and defending Bear Ridge Speedway champion’s fourth consecutive DIRTcar Sportsman Series podium at the track.

“I tried to slow down the car in (Turns) 3 and 4 as much as possible,” Gray said. “There just wasn’t anything there. I knew once I got off the bottom, I was in trouble. I should’ve stayed. We’ll take second place. Every time the series has been here, we’ve been on the podium. So, I can’t complain about that.

“Congratulations to Max. He did exactly what he needed to do. That asphalt mentality needed patience. And I don’t have that, and I don’t like to follow the leader. So, I tried that, thought I could do it, and it bit me. So, we’ll go back to the drawing board and come back next week and see what happens from there.”

Robert Tucker rounded out the podium after finishing 13th in 2023. He said he made changes before the race began, and almost didn’t make it out in time for the feature.

“It feels pretty good after what we went through between the [Heat Race] and the Feature,” Tucker said. “We changed the fuel pump, put a new needle seat in the carburetor, and we didn’t really get a lot of time to work on the car.

“We’re just glad to be here.”

Tad Kingsbury finished fourth, and Mike Ryan finished fifth after starting 10th.

Feature Results (40 Laps)

1. 29-Max Dolliver, 2. 00-Jason Gray, 3. 42-Robert Tucker, 4. 09-Tad Kingsbury, 5. 86-Mike Ryan, 6. 26-Jeremy Huntoon, 7. 29H-Nick Heywood, 8. 66-Tim Churchill, 9. 16-Brian Chafee, 10. 3-Jeff Huntingon, 11. 631-Todd Buckwold, 12. 3H-Kyle Huntington, 13. 4-DJ Robinson, 14. 24P-Ashton Pierson, 15. 9H-Chris Huntington, 16. 21-Jamey Ferland, 17. 6-C.V. Elms