WILLIAMSTON, S.C. – Jessica Bean left Anderson Motor Speedway last April feeling like she let a victory get away from her.
She made sure that she didn’t let it happen again during Friday night’s USAC Speed2 Eastern Midget feature at the three-eighths-mile South Carolina oval.
Bean charged forward from fifth starting spot to take her ninth-career series win, passing long-time winged sprint car veteran Johnny Bridges on lap 20 of the 35-lap feature and pacing the final 16 circuits.
The Farmland, Ind., native drove out to a two-second margin over Bridges by the time the checkered flag waved, showcasing the same dominance with her No. 5 Flash Precision Racing Engines midget that she used to win her first series championship last fall.
“Last year we struggled all day long, but we had a really quick car in the feature and got reminded that this place is actually really tough to pass at,” said Bean. “Tonight we made sure that didn’t happen. I’m sure I didn’t make it look difficult to pass because we had an awesome race car, but it usually is!
“I told the crew coming into tonight that I didn’t want to change anything because I knew we had a really good car and a really good setup for this place. We didn’t mess with it and here we are. Patience paid off … even though it was pretty cool to see my old race car up front with Johnny there for a while! I knew that thing could run up front if it could get a great driver behind the wheel and he proved that it could and has some real speed, for sure.”
Though Dameron Taylor led the field to green from the pole after an invert of the top six qualifiers, it was Bridges who leapt out to the early advantage on the high side, leading 19 laps before Bean took over.
Bridges, who did double-duty Friday night by also racing with the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series, finished second in his first-ever open wheel start without a wing overhead.
“Man, I had nothing for Jessica … she was really fast,” admitted Bridges. “I just tried to hold her off as long as I could, but I got a cramp in my leg in this little old thing and she got up to me. I had a blast driving it, though. I didn’t really know how I was gonna handle it … but I’d say this worked out alright.”
Neal Allison completed the podium in third, holding fast qualifier Sam Hatfield at bay for the final 10 laps despite Hatfield’s fiercest attempts to make the pass on the inside of turn four.
Nolan Allison, a six-time winner with the Speed2 Eastern Midgets last year, finished fifth.
Jessica Bean, Johnny Bridges, Neal Allison, Sam Hatfield, Nolan Allison, Connor Gross, Jordan Empie, Dameron Taylor.