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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - For Curtis Gerry, consistency was the name of the game at Maine’s Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in 2016.
The 46-year-old driver from Waterboro, Maine, finished in the top-five in 10 out of 11 starts at the third-mile asphalt oval. That was enough for him to capture his first NASCAR track championship at Beech Ridge as well as the Maine state championship.
He did all that without finding victory lane once last year at Beech Ridge.
“We came out of the gate with a brand new car, that really made a big difference,” Gerry said. “We organized a really great team for the year and came out of the gate really strong and really consistent. We just kept the car really consistent. It was fast and consistent. We only finished out of the top-five once all year.”
The consistency Gerry put together with his family-backed late model was enough to give him the Pro Series track championship at Beech Ridge by a scant 10 points over 2015 track champion Reid Lanpher. In the Maine state standings, Gerry won the championship by 22 points over Lanpher.
U.S. state and province champions are determined by the best 18 finishes at tracks within the respective state or province.
Winning a track championship or a state championship without winning a race is rare. Gerry is one of just two drivers, the other being Jason Groves of Canada’s Eastbound Int’l Speedway, to win a track and state/providence title without winning a race in 2016.
“We weren’t able to win a race, but having the consistency is what won us the championship,” said Gerry, who finished within the top 150 drivers in the country in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National standings. “Having so many top twos and threes and all those top fives.
“We came so close so many times (to winning). Our local track only runs 40 lap races. I probably, if you look back through the races and the statistics, I probably could have won four races, maybe five, if they were 50 lap races. Most of the time all of the ones I finished second or third in I was right on the bumper (of the leader) on the last lap.”
While so might argue that winning the championships without winning a race tarnishes what Gerry was able to accomplish, he politely disagrees.
“I don’t think it tarnishes it in any way,” Gerry said. “We did win a race, we won a race at another track. We had a week off and we ended up going to Oxford Plains Speedway and won a race up there. So we did win one there, we just didn’t win one at our home track. I don’t think (not winning) took away from it (the championships) at all.”
The championship at Beech Ridge was Gerry’s first during his racing career and he said winning both the Beech Ridge and Maine state championships in the same year was a dream come true.
“It’s my first track championship at all, then to top it off with it being a NASCAR track championship and the state championship, it was quite an honor really,” Gerry said.
Gerry said winning both championships justified the hard work by him and his father, Jim, as well as the expensive of fielding the race car each week.
“It definitely makes it harder. It’s a financial burden. We did good because we brought in so much winning money, but it is definitely still a huge expensive. It takes a lot of time,” Gerry said. “It’s just me and my dad who work on the car mostly and do all the setup stuff.”
The plan right now for Gerry is to return to Beech Ridge to defend his track championship this season. This time, he said, he’s hoping to make a visit to victory lane as well to silence the naysayers.