(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.
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.”
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 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.)
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