(Oxford ME) Travis Benjamin led the 43rd annual Oxford 250 for 159 laps but it wasn’t enough as Wayne Helliwell led the final five laps to earn the checkered flag on Sunday night at Oxford Plains Speedway.
After the last of the cautions (12) on lap 227 an entertaining battle unfolded between 2-time champ Travis Benjamin and Wayne Helliwell of Dover (NH).
By then most of the non-contenders were off the track and there was plenty of open territory ahead for the two leaders after the restart. But at the speed the two front-runner were going you knew that the race would eventually be won in the traffic ahead.
Wayne was on the inside and Travis was on the next line up. Travis had used that line to get by many cars during the race.
In lap 244 the two leaders approached field-trailer Garrett Evans (#64). Garrett was on Travis’ lane and Wayne was on the inside lane beside Travis. Travis said afterwards that he hesitated when he approached the 64 because didn’t know what the 64 was going to do. That “hesitation” allowed Wayne to fly by on 64’s inside and forced Travis to drop down in back of him. Travis would never recover from what happened with the 64 and had to settle five laps later for, what had to be, a disappointing second place.
Travis said afterwards that he thought the difference was that Wayne had pitted for tires fifty laps after he did. Those fresher tires allowed Wayne to keep up with Travis and to eventually get to the front. I’ll still go with what happened dealing with the 64 as the actual difference maker.
Exciting race to say the least.
Wayne finished seventh in the OPS 250 last year. This time he won the race and received a check for $29,500.
DJ Shaw came in third.
Last year’s winner Glen Luce was strong in the early going.
TJ Brackett came out of the very first caution unable to get his car to start and was quickly done for the night.
Ben Rowe finished 4th while his dad Mike ended up 24th.
A couple of the young favorites (Reid Lanpher and Derek Griffith) got into benders early and never could challenge the leaders. Reid was 2nd last year.
I saw the race from above the sky boxes on the roof. Nice and breezy up there on a hot afternoon/evening with an extraordinary view.
Only problem with that lofty perch was that it was impossible to get down from there to the track in time to get pictures of the early post-race celebrating. But you can’t have everything!
Thanks to Tom/Mary Mayberry for arranging the media credentials.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)