Alex Mowatt overcomes obstacles notching 2nd Bandits Division win at Oxford Plains Speedway

Alex Mowatt battled back to get second Bandits win

Alex Mowatt (11) escapes a Lap 2 wreck

(Oxford ME) It wasn’t a straight line to his second win, but Alex Mowatt will take it.

“I didn’t have the fastest car,” said Alex, “but we still won.”

Alex finessed his way through a major wreck in Lap Two only to be placed last while he had a damaged fender removed in the pits.  He didn’t let that discourage him and skillfully worked his way close to the front in the closing laps.

Alex has dominated the Bandits Division at Oxford Plains Speedway for six weeks, never finishing lower than third in every race this season.  He is the current points leader in the division

Having a good car helps but Alex’s ability to stay out of wrecks so far has been crucial.

David Cook first and Alex Mowatt second

Newcomer David Cook actually won tonight’s race but was immediately disqualified giving Alex Mowatt the winner’s trophy.

There were eighteen cars in tonight’s crowded feature.  With the heats having little bearing on the positioning in the feature you knew that newcomers in the cars in the front would have their hands full.

They did manage to go around the track once but in the tight second lap leader Doug Churchill spun out and finished several driver’s evenings with the resulting crash.

Chad Wills looks back at his damaged car

Chad Wills took advantage of a spinout last week and came out of it in second place.  Tonight, he wasn’t so lucky.

Alex Mowatt faced the spinning car and avoided a direct hit by getting down to the curb.  Chad was behind Alex and had nowhere to go, taking a direct hit that ended his evening.

Bridgton’s Chris Foster was further back.  “I was lucky enough to be behind the wreck,” said Chris.  “I saw it happening, so I got into the curb and avoided it.”

Chris earned second place tonight.

 

This is what the spinout/wreck in Lap Two of the Bandits feature looked like:

Travis Verrill with the lead after the spinout

Travis Verrill and Brandon Caston came out of the wreck in first and second.

Chris Foster and Jeff Libby chased Travis for a few laps before David Cook rallied for first in the 13th lap of the 20-lap feature.

Alex Mowatt was the lone challenger over the last few laps.

“He (Doug Churchill) got into my fender,” explained Alex.  “I had to go off and get that fixed and had to start last.”  Alex would rein in everyone but the disqualified winner in a rousing comeback.

Chris Foster captured second place

Chris Foster: “We started 11th.  That wreck helped us a lot.  I’ve got a good crew and a good car.  I used to race on Wednesday nights.  I ended up buying a Bandits car and here we are.”

There were a few spectators in the grandstands as Governor Mills limited the crowd to two hundred people.  But that is better than the zero spectators that had been allowed previously!  The Oxford 250 is four weeks away.  What will the crowds be like then?

I am on Twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClellandMiscellanea).

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Brandon Caston wins Heat 1

Brandon Caston gets inside Doug Churchill in the first heat

Alex Mowatt wins Heat 2

Jeff Libby and Chad Wills chase Alex Mowatt in Heat 2

Luke Mowatt

Waiting for the feature

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chad Wills earns first Bandits win of the season at Oxford Plains Speedway

Chad Wills gets his first win tonight in the Bandits Division this season

A Lap 2 spinout gave Chad Wills an opening into second place

(Oxford ME) Chad Wills has won before but sometimes it’s more than the best car that earns you the checkered flag.

“We were fast for sure, but our win tonight had to do with being in the right place at the right time,” explained Chad after winning the Bandits feature at Oxford Plains Speedway on Saturday night.

That “right place/right time” occurred for Chad in the second lap of the twenty-lap event.  He started in the 4th row but a spinout (Eric Parlin) in the 2nd lap quickly rearranged things in the front to his benefit.

“The guys up front at the start are still learning and so we got off to a bit of a slow start,” recalled Chad.  “When things happened, I picked the right lane to get through it.”

Eric Parlin in a spin

Despite several cars thrown off course, there was no caution.  “It stayed green,” added Chad, “and that definitely helped.”

Alex Mowatt, who would end up second, was near the back when the spinout happened.  “I thought there was going to be a caution when Eric Parlin got spun.  I slowed down but they didn’t throw the caution.”

Nick Ogden came out of the spinout ahead with Chad Wills nearby, but not for long.  Chad was by him on Lap 4.

Chad Wills moves to get inside Nick Ogden

“I figured that Nick would do all he could to protect the bottom, but he gave me plenty of room, surprisingly,” said Chad about getting past Nick and into the lead.

“I certainly appreciated the opening,” added Chad.  “Nick is a good driver.  He won the championship at Riverside.”

Last year’s points champion in the Bandits Division cruised over the final sixteen laps to get his first win of the season.

Alex Mowatt rallied back to get second place

This year’s points leader (Alex Mowatt) finished strong getting past Jeff Libby for 3rd place in Lap 15 and Nick Ogden for 2nd place in the last lap.

“I think I would have had a shot at (Chad) Wills if my front tire held up,” said Alex.  “It was pretty chunked off.”

Alex has had a first, second, and three thirds so far.  “I won the first race and I’m ready for another,” he said.

Chad said that he was aware of Alex’s late run: “I kept watching the board.  I didn’t want to burn up everything I had if I didn’t need to.  But then I saw with about two laps left that Alex was making his way around Nick Ogden, so I had to step on it.  I wanted to stay away from those lap cars because you never know what they’re going to do.”

Josh Toothaker

Newcomer Josh Toothaker took the only Bandits heat.  “Josh used to race Outlaws,” explained Chad.  “He can weld and fabricate, and he stumbled upon a good deal for a car.  He hit the right lane in that heat that he won today just like I did in the feature.”

Alex Mowatt: “Most of the drivers get along pretty well.  At the same time, we’re not out here to make friends.”

Another week (it’s been five) without spectators.  The Oxford 250 is less than a month away.  Will that race be run without a crowd?

I am on Twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClellandMiscellanea).

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

crowd at OPS

Alex Mowatt gets by Jeff Libby

Chad, Alex, and Nick in late lap

Chad Wills alone in front

Chad Wills moves in front of Nick Ogden

Chad Wills wins feature

Doug Churchill (07) leads at start of feature

Feature just before spinout

Nick Ogden tries to hold off Alex Mowatt and Jeff Libby

Nick Ogden with the lead after the spinout

Josh Toothaker has big lead in heat

Josh Toothaker (left) uses the top of the track to get the lead in the heat

 

 

 

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Travis Verrill gets second win this season in Bandits Division

Travis Verrill shown here with son Tucker wins his 2nd Bandits race of the season

Travis Verrill first, Chad Wills second in the feature

(Oxford ME) Every other week Travis has been awfully good.

The other weeks?  Not so much.

But he has shown with the two W’s that he is tough to move from the front.

And there were plenty of attempts to do just that tonight at Oxford Plains Speedway.

“I don’t think that there was a corner I turned that someone didn’t hit me in the rear,” said Travis smiling, “but that’s what makes it fun.”

Not as much fun tonight for Jeff Libby.  Jeff had consecutive seconds in place and looked to be heading for another second in tonight’s feature, when he spun out with three laps left in the 20-lap feature.

Travis Verrill pulls away from Grady Doherty early in the feature

“Jeff did everything he could to get around Travis,” explained runner-up Chad Wills.

Asked about the spinout that took Jeff out, Chad said, “We were all in a line behind Travis and he was protecting the bottom on the corner by going slow.  That is what you’re supposed to do when you have the lead.  We just didn’t check up in time and Jeff ended up getting spun out.”

Chad and Alex Mowatt benefitted from the spinout and were able to jump into 2nd and 3rd.  They would hold those positions the rest of the way.

“I glanced up real quick and I saw Jeff heading for the infield,” recalled Travis.  “They must have done a little too much bumping behind me.”

Close finish in the first heat between Jeff Libby and Travis Verrill

Chad Wills was coming off three straight 4th place finishes.  “We got one more position tonight with a little bit of luck, but I definitely thought that we had a top three car.”

The competition has been tough in the Bandits Division this year. “We’ve got five or six real fast cars in the division,” said Travis.

“The competition is a lot more stout this year than it has been in the past,” added Chad.  “Tonight you could have thrown the top seven under a blanket for most of the race.”

“Jeff (Libby) has definitely figured out his stuff this year,” said Chad.

Best race of the night was in the heat that pitted Travis against Jeff.  Very close finish but they gave it to Travis.  Jeff has never won a heat or a feature.  That should change in the near future.

Nice weather.

I asked Chad about the missing spectators: “When you’re racing you don’t notice the fans at all.  I think we’ll get them back.  It hard to see why people can’t sit outdoors here.”

This is what the costly spinout in the Bandits feature looked like:

I am on Twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClellandMiscellanea).

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Mason, Chad, and Shelby Wills

Alex Mowatt wins second heat

Nick Ogden has the early lead in the second heat

Row of cars in the feature

First head – Travis Verrill, Jeff Libby, Dean Jordan

Travis Verrill, Chad Wills, and Jeff Libby

 

 

 

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Eric Parlin takes Bandits feature for first win at Oxford Plains Speedway

Eric Parlin won his first feature tonight at Oxford Plains Speedway in the Bandits division

Eric Parlin wins the first heat

(Oxford ME) The car was a winner last year.

This year the owner of the car (Eric Parlin) was along for the ride and took the Bandits feature on Sunday night at spectator-less Oxford Plains Speedway.

“I let my buddy Jake (Hall) drive it last year when I first bought it and he got a win out of it,” explained Eric.

Eric’s previous best had been a third at Wiscasset.  Eric also won his heat tonight.

“It felt awesome,” said Eric, “I’ve been at this for a little while.”

In tonight’s 20-lap feature, Eric took the lead in the third lap and wouldn’t be denied.

Jeff Libby gets second for the second straight week

Jeff Libby (Auburn ME) continues to rack up seconds.  Rather than being discouraged, he sounded optimistic when I talked to him. “We’re killing it this year,” he said.  “We’ve made a lot of gains with the car and the set up.  I can’t complain about another second-place finish.  We’ll get a first one day.”

Jeff had two seconds last year and already has two this year.

Jeff said that the track’s conditions were a factor: “I was struggling for grip today.  The track was hot and greasy.  It’s hard to do too much with conditions like that.”

The two top finishers were fortunate that their heat successes gave them up-front positioning for the feature.  Why?  In lap two, five of the seventeen starters went into the infield in a group collision, and they were all done for the night. Here is a sequence of that action:

Eric Parlin told me that he didn’t see the crash.  “Many of those guys are friends of mine.  I’d rather be racing with them then see them tore up.

In the feature the four top finishers- Eric Parlin, Jeff Libby, Alex Mowatt, Chad Wills

Once the dust and the cars were cleared, Eric quickly took the lead from Adam O’Neil.  Jeff moved up into second with Alex Mowatt nearby.  Chad Wills, who went into the pits for repairs, returned and settled into fourth.  That foursome got into that order until the race ended.

Alex now has a first and two thirds so far.  “Alex is really fast,” said Jeff Libby.  “If you want to beat him you have to get in front of him and stay there.”

Chad Wills, last year’s Bandits champion, has come in 4th in all three races to date.

Two weeks ago Eric Parlin looked to have a heat won until he spun out with no one around him.  I asked him about it. “Every lap tonight,” he said, “I thought about that spinout two weeks ago.  I felt like I was on ice.”

Second heat – Alex Mowatt, Travis Verrill, Caleb Proctor

I asked Eric how his driving has improved.  “Tonight, I was patient with my cornering,” he said.  “I used to barrel in, and the car never seemed to handle right.  I taught myself to be a little more patient and let the car do the work.”

Jeff Libby: “When you start out racing not too many people are willing to give you a hand, so you have to learn on your own.  As you gain respect, people will help you.”

I asked Eric about racing without fans: “I don’t see the sense in allowing people to go into Walmart but not out here.”

Eric Parlin: “I want to say thanks to Shawn Knight for helping me out.  My car stays at his house all week long.  I wouldn’t have anywhere to work on it if it wasn’t for him.  He encourages me.”

Sunny and breezy tonight.

I am on Twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClellandMiscellanea).

All of the pictures above and below should enlarge considerably if you click on them.

First heat – Eric Parlin, Jeff Libby, Chad Wills

Feature – finish

Feature – Eric Parlin nears finish

Feature – Eric Parlin catches Matt Smith (4) and Colby Marriott (95)

Feature – Adam O’Neil (14X) with early lead

Colby Marriott

Alex Mowatt wins 2nd heat

 

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Travis Verrill wins Week Two in the Bandits Division at Oxford Plains Speedway

Travis Verrill first, Jeff Libby second in the Bandits Feature

Travis Verrill went from last to first in one week

(Oxford ME) Last week Travis watched the end of the Bandits feature from the bleachers.

This week? An entirely different story.

“It worked out great,” explained Travis Verrill afterwards.

Travis won his heat and then went on to take the feature on Saturday night at spectator-less Oxford Plains Speedway.

“We had no mechanical failures,” said Travis. “We stayed in front. Clean racing. Good Saturday.”

Jeff Libby was close tonight but still is chasing that elusive first win.

Jeff Libby chased Travis in the heat and the feature. “We’ll get to first someday,” he joked afterwards. Jeff is still looking for his first win.

Travis lined up in the front in the feature with Adam O’Neill. By lap two Adam was fading back and the top four finishers (Travis Verrill, Jeff Libby, Alex Mowatt, and Chad Wills) were in place.

Round and round they went in that order for the final eighteen laps. “It’s hard on these hot days because we have to run these radial tires and it’s hard to keep grip,” added Travis.

So the first four stayed on the bottom of the track waiting for things to change. They didn’t. And there were no cautions leading to restarts.

The order of finish (Travis Verrill, Jeff Libby, Alex Mowatt, Chad Wills) was already in place in the second lap of the feature.

“I just needed that one little shot at it,” lamented Jeff, “but he never opened the door.”

Adam O’Neill got off to an early lead in the feature.

“(Jeff) Libby was all over me though out the whole race but I managed to keep it up in front,” said Travis.

Although Jeff finished second, he loved the race. “It was probably the most fun I’ve had here in three years. The competition was bumper to bumper. If any one of us moved out of the way, someone else was taking that spot immediately. Everyone ran real fair and clean and that’s all you can ask for out of racing.”

Jeff: “We definitely miss the fans, that’s for sure. It’s just not the same.”

Crowd tonight

Travis: “It’s frustrating for a lot of the fans because we can only bring ten people in with us. Now we don’t even have pay-per-view coverage which is even more frustrating. I am hoping that in the next couple of weeks they can figure it out with the state and get the fans back in here. Then we can all enjoy it together.”

Nice weather conditions…….temps in the upper 70s.

It was certainly a quick evening at OPS. There were heats and features for four divisions and everything was over in less than two hours.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

I am posting things on Twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClellandMiscellanea).

Alex Mowatt (finished 3rd in feature) finds some water in the pits

Chad Wills finished 4th in the feature

First heat ending – Travis first, Jeff second

In Heat 2, Chad Wills and Brandon Varney battle

Chad Wills wins the second heat

Matt Smith

 

 

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Alex Mowatt wins Bandits opener at Oxford Plains Speedway

Alex Mowatt takes the Bandits Division opener at Oxford Plains Speedway

The pits were filled with cars, drivers, and crew members

(Oxford ME) The caution flag has been out for several months.

That ended Saturday as the green flag dropped at Oxford Plains Speedway and this season’s racing began.

No spectators were allowed making for an odd view across the way of an empty grandstand. Hopefully, this will soon change.

I decided last year to concentrate my coverage on one division (Bandits) at OPS and I am doing it again this year.

Alex Mowatt (11) was quick to build his lead after restarts in the feature

Alex Mowatt (Norway ME) won tonight’s Bandits feature easily.

Alex’s win in the first heat earned him the pole position in the feature.

Alex never gave up the front in the feature despite two restarts and clearly had the best car in the Bandits division on this evening.

Even in his heat win, Alex was lengths ahead of the rest of the field when it was over.

In the second heat, Eric Parlin (Oxford ME) appeared to be coasting to a win. However, with less than two laps left, Eric lost control, spun out, and his lead vanished. He ended up 6th.

Brandon Varney chats pre-race with Dustin Salley

Brandon Varney (Mechanic Falls ME) took advantage of Eric’s spinout and won the second heat. Brandon finished the feature several car lengths back of Alex in second place.

Mike McKinney (Greenwood ME) rallied in a close finish to get third in the feature, despite a car that seemed to be coming apart the longer he drove it. Mike had a fender that hung off for several laps and later a pipe that was bouncing on the asphalt in the final laps. These things, however, didn’t faze Mike. He was going to drive that thing until it stopped!

Comfortable weather and plenty of, “how-you-been’s?,” heard in the stands.

I am on Twitter (Mcclellandpeter) and Instagram (McClellandMiscellanea).

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Spinout Doug Churchill (07) in the Bandits feature

1st Heat – Alex Mowatt (11), Chad Wills (52), and Jeff Wentzil (77)

2nd Heat – Eric Parlin (3), Brandon Varney (1X), and Mike McKinney (08)

Travis Verrill’s car stopped in the feature

Fender trouble for Mike McKinney (08)

Eric Parlin

Colby Marriott

Chad Wills gets ready to race

Alex Mowatt wins first heat

2nd heat lead change – Brandon Varney (1X), Mike McKinney (08), Dean Jordan (55), and Leon Kennison (13K)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mulching in the skateboard park at Nock…..brilliant?

Couldn’t agree with Mike Cronan’s letter in the Newburyport Daily News more.

The reactions of local authorities to the coronavirus are head scratchers.

Mulching in the skateboard park near Nock was an embarrassing piece of government overreach. It got Newburyport some “great” press!

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Covid-19 Dashboard for May 4th, ZERO teenagers have died from the coronavirus. Confining/Restricting teenagers is based then on what supporting health statistics? Destroying three months of schooling and activities for teenagers over these obvious numbers doesn’t make sense.

How about taking local action based on these statistics instead: The average age of the Massachusetts fatalities is 82, and 95% of the fatalities were seventy and over. How would closing schools and confining teenagers fix those stats? How has confining folks in nursing homes and healthcare facilities helped those stats?

The healthy and productive, as well as kids of all ages, have played along passively for far too long. The numbers do not support the treatment those groups have been enduring. Time for them to press the “had enough” button and at least question the actions of local officials.

(Sent this to the Newburyport Daily News on May 6, 2020)

 

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Letter to the Newburyport Daily News editor (April 16, 2020)

Things are tough at the Newburyport Daily News according to today’s front page.

Potential advertising revenue is drying up in the current climate.

No longer unaffected by coronavirus, the NDN is now better aware of the financial impacts many in this area already know.

Ending the shutdown safely/quickly would certainly be in the paper’s best interests. What could they do? Publish stories that create momentum toward a quick/safe reopening.

Today’s edition had a front-page article titled, “Gov: state seeing ‘the surge’ of cases.” Within that article, Governor Baker is quoted saying, “…we are pretty well-positioned to deal with this.” The title suggests that there’s trouble coming, not as it might have suggested, that we’re ready for it.

We need hope. We need to read that we’re making progress toward a quick/safe ending. Create some momentum in that direction, please.

 

 

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Letter to the editor of the Newburyport Daily News

I am a subscriber to the online edition of the Newburyport Daily News.

I write to commend Mac Cerullo’s efforts on the NDN sports page. He’s kept things mostly local and that’s where most of our current attention is located. Through the Q’s & A’s with area high school athletes we are learning how they are coping in our current crisis. I’m saddened by the serious disruptions these kids are experiencing but optimistic because of the drive they show to hang in there and make the most of it.

The rest of the paper? Obviously, there are fewer pages. Why is it shrinking?  Explaining how things are really going at the NDN might make for an excellent editorial.

My advice to those running the NDN is to concentrate locally. It is my conclusion that the more stories you include from outside sources, the more obvious your political biases show.

I loved the simplicity of Lisa Anderson’s attack on the President in a letter-to-the-editor, but will tomorrow’s edition include an attack of some sort on Joe Biden?  Can’t wait to find out.

Mac Cerullo has tapped into a good, reader-worthy local theme. Will the rest of the writers at the NDN follow suit?

 

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Thoughts on Katherine Quigley’s interview in today’s Newburyport Daily News

Losing is not easy.

Immediately after a tournament loss at Lowell High School I asked the losing coach for, “her take on what had happened.” She replied, “We lost,” and then gave me a look which suggested that my next question could well be the last question I ever asked!

The coronavirus has made “losers” out of all of us.

We’ve had 2+ weeks to settle into the new reality and many of us haven’t settled well.

We’re missing people and we’re missing things.

The hardest part about all this is that the end of it is totally uncertain. Therefore, putting dates on events like the senior prom, graduation, or a field trip to somewhere is foolish. Why make “promises” under these conditions? Yet the MIAA insists on doing just that by making post-CV scheduling plans. Shame on them IMO.

Katherine Quigley

The first question we ask those who are away from us these days is, “How are you doing?” Everyone has an answer and a story. Katherine Quigley of Triton responded to that question in today’s Newburyport Daily News.

It was good to see that Katherine can see the Big Picture despite all the interruptions she’s facing. “I do understand,” she said, “that the world is in a pandemic and losing these things to save lives and ‘flatten the curve’ is worth it.”

Filling an uncertain amount of time while being housebound is not easy. We’re used to time constraints. Things having a beginning and an end. What pressure do I have to get anything done when the next day I’m in the same setup?

But these are times when some folks separate themselves from the rest of us. They find something to do on their own. They get themselves engaged with a task of their own choosing and busy themselves doing it. They’re not bored. They’re not stagnant. And the time goes by productively. Easy for me to write!

I trust that the teenagers interviewed by the NDN will realize that though their lives are roughed up, it is even more of a troubling time for the adults in their lives. I can’t imagine how parents are coping all these days with school-aged kids at home.

When the school bus finally shows up at the end of the CV, the kids will run to get on the bus and the parents will not try to slow them down!

Nice to see that Katherine is staying positive with the underclassmen on the softball team. Older siblings can make a difference at home.

I have seen Katherine pitch a lot of games. She is very good at it and committed to it. She’s also way too polite when interviewed afterward! I trust/pray that the CV will end and that Katherine and the rest of us will get our away-from-home lives back again. I would also ask Katherine to take good care of a couple of my former students in the meantime that are also known as her parents.

 

 

 

 

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