Monthly Archives: July 2020

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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