Monthly Archives: September 2020

Alex Mowatt wins Bandits finale and points championship at Oxford Plains Speedway

Alex Mowatt takes a victory lap after winning the Bandits feature tonight

Alex Mowatt

(Oxford ME) Great start.

Great finish.

And in between wasn’t so bad for Alex Mowatt either!

Tonight, at Oxford Plains Speedway, 21-year-old Alex won the Bandits twenty-lap feature and took the points championship as well.

“We got what we wanted,” said Alex afterwards.

Alex was the winner on opening night (June 27th) and finished the same way in tonight’s season finale.

In between those victories, Alex won two other races and never finished lower than fifth in any race in a very competitive division.

Spinout early in the race

This season OPS used a 3-week rolling average to place cars in the Bandits features.  That rewarded the faithful attendees who weren’t doing very well with front-of-the-pack starts.  The “successful” drivers had to start further back and get by cars to get to the front.  This arrangement had a habit of making the first few laps exciting to watch.

Tonight was no exception.  Lap One, spinout and a caution.  Lap Two, spinout and another caution.

Fortunately, for Alex and his brother Lukas who finished second, the spinouts didn’t bother them.

Lukas Mowatt

“I started in ninth,” explained Lukas.  “and was on the bottom.  I saw it happen and was able to sneak under it.”

Alex gained ground on the first caution and had the lead after the second caution.

After that tonight’s race reminded me of many from last year.  The cars got in a row on the bottom (Alex, Lukas, Eric Parlin, Chad Wills, Ralph Green) and stayed there, lap after lap.

“If you pull up to try to pass you may not get back,” said Eric Parlin.

“After the first few laps, everybody kind of cleared out and it was clear sailing,” said Lukas.

Lukas told me that he felt lucky to have finished second.  “I changed a tire after the heat and it probably wasn’t the greatest idea,” he said.  “The car was really loose in the feature.  I had all I could do to keep it under control.”

Chad Wills was 5th tonight and finished 2nd in the Bandits points standings.  “It was an up-and-down season for us.  We won two races and used four different cars.  We won the overall championship last year so I’m happy with how this season ended up.”

Eric Parlin finished 3rd in the race and 4th in the points standings

Eric Parlin used the same “up-and-down” description for his Bandits season.  He won a race on Week #3 after finishing 10th and 15th the two previous weeks.  He also had his share of car trouble.  “Please include in the story how thankful I am for the help Caleb Proctor and Brandon Caston have given me,” said Eric.  “I never would have finished 4th in points without them.”

Six different drivers (Alex, Lukas, Chad, Eric, Jeff Libby, Travis Verrill) took checkered flags during the eleven-race season.  Next year looks as if it may be just as competitive.  Alex Mowatt was the only one that I spoke with who wasn’t certain he’d race with the Bandits.

“I’m going to have a full season of Bandits next year,” said Lukas who didn’t compete until August.  “I’ve got a new car.”

“I’ll be back racing again,” said Eric.  “It’s fun.  Once you get the hang of it, it’s a blast.  I’ve raced other tracks just trying to get more experience.”

Chad Wills

“I’d like to try the Outlaws,” said Chad, “but my budget will keep me in the Bandits division for a while.”

I have gotten used to the small crowds in the grandstands.  It would be nice to have that all changed to the way it was come next season.

Really impressed with the driving skills of Alex Mowatt.  His ability to race up on the track kept him away from much of the trouble early in races.  Never finishing lower than fifth enabled him to win the points championship by a wide margin.  He was a distant 7th in 2019.

Nice crisp fall night for racing.  There was only one race (of eleven) postponed in 2020.

The delayed start of the racing season worked well for me because my wife and I don’t usually arrive in Maine until June.

I enjoyed interacting with the cooperative/appreciative drivers.

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

I am on Twitter (mcclellandpeter) and Instagram (mcclellandmiscellanea).

Eric Parlin, Travis Verrill, and Chad Wills

Alex and Lukas Mowatt finished 1-2 in tonight’s feature

Alex Mowatt under the checkered flag in the Bandits feature

The lineup for many laps – Alex, Lukas, Eric, Chad, and Ralph Green

Start of the feature

Jeff Libby, winner in Week 10, off with car trouble

Chad Wills chased by Lukas Mowatt in the 2nd heat

Alex Mowatt passes Eric Parlin in the first heat

First heat – Alex Mowatt on the upper level

 

 

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Jeff Libby gets first Bandits win at Oxford Plains Speedway

Jeff Libby got that elusive first feature win tonight at Oxford Plains Speedway

Jeff Libby (44) never trailed in his heat or in the feature.

(Oxford ME) Food can be a great motivator.

“My friend Chris Foster told me that if I won tonight, he’d buy me some ice cream,” explained tonight’s Bandits winner Jeff Libby laughing afterwards. “Now I’ve got to go find him.”  Good luck with that!

Last time the Bandits raced (August 28th) at Oxford Plains Speedway, Jeff broke through with his first heat win.  Tonight, he topped that with not only a heat win but also his first feature’s win.

“We had great starting positions (front row), new tires, and a crew that has been working real hard on this car,” Jeff explained.

All those things came together on this night to make it easy for the driver from Auburn (ME).  “We led all the green laps today,” recalled Jeff.  “That was awesome.  It felt amazing to finally win.”

Jeff is the fifth different driver to get a checkered flag in the ten Bandits races to date.

Shelby, Mason, and Chad Wills after tonight’s 2nd place finish

Chad Wills, who finished second, saw the multiple winners as a good thing for the division: “Seeing others win, opens peoples’ eyes to their chances of building a car and doing the same.”

“Jeff has improved every year,” added Chad.  “He’s a lot more competitive than he’s been in years past.”

In the 20-lap feature, Jeff started in the front next to rookie Doug Churchill.  Three laps into the race, Jeff was away from the pack and on his way to an easy win.  Not so fast.

On Lap Three, Eric Parlin (driving Chad Proctor’s car) and points leader Alex Mowatt collided bringing out a caution.

“It was my fault,” said Eric post-race.  “I’ve got to do better.”

Getting ready for the restart in the Bandits feature

The caution gave the field a chance to get another crack at the lead.  “When you’re out front you never want to see yellow,” said Jeff.

But yellow it was.  On this night, however, it didn’t matter.  Jeff flew away from Chad Wills and the rest of the Bandits on the restart and restored a sizable lead quickly.

“I thought that we might be able to battle it out with Jeff a little bit,” said Chad, “but as the laps ticked off, he just pulled away.”

Chad ended up feeling fortunate that he held off Luke Mowatt (winner on 250 weekend) for second.  “I thought that Luke had a faster car,” explained Chad.  “It forced me to protect the bottom a little more because if Luke got under me, I would have been 6th before I could get back down.  I appreciated Luke driving me clean.”

Alex Mowatt, who was put at the back of the pack from the Lap Three spinout, rallied to finish fifth.  Because the starting positions in the Bandits feature are determined by a 3-week rolling average, the points leader is regularly needing to rally to improve a bad starting position.  Alex has accomplished this feat so often that he should be the 2020 Bandits points leader after the divisions next, and final, race of the season on September 26th.

Ralph Green ended up 4th.

Jeff Libby leads Dean Jordan in the first heat

Jeff Libby defeated Dean Jordan and won the first heat handily.

The second heat featured a tight battle between Alex Mowatt and Eric Parlin.  Alex, who seems to thrive on the upper levels of the track, pulled by late in the race to take the win.

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

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

Travis Verrill (24) veers off course in the feature

Alex Mowatt (11) and Eric Parlin (04) off the track in the feature

Jeff Libby all alone in the lead early in the feature

Jeff Libby pulls away early in the feature

Getting ready for the start of the Bandits feature

Alex Mowatt (11) gets past Eric Parlin (04) in the 2nd heat

Eric Parlin (04) pressed by Alex Mowatt (11) in the 2nd heat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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