(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 (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.
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.”
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).
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