Category Archives: Oxford 250

Travis Benjamin gets his third Oxford 250 win

Travis Benjamin wins the 46th Oxford 250

DJ Shaw (3rd), Travis Benjamin, and Derek Griffith (2nd)

(Oxford ME) “Short track racing is alive and well here at Oxford Plains Speedway,” declared 3rd place Oxford 250 finisher DJ Shaw.

“What a crowd,” he added……and who could argue!

The seats were filled, and the crowd was into it for the 46th edition of the OPS 250, held on Sunday.

Travis Benjamin won the Oxford 250 for the third time.  The last time was five years ago.

“I can’t believe it,” said Travis to a gathering on Victory Lane that may have included everyone from his hometown of Morrill (ME), “to have our name on the trophy again.”

Travis surveys the crowd on Victory Lane

There was no mention of Travis on Media Day on Wednesday of this week.  Why? His best run this year had been a 4th in Vermont.

And Travis didn’t show much in the first half of the race to make you think that he would be holding the checkered flag later.  But he has been racing for a while and there had been some changes to the car and in the makeup of the crew.

“We concentrated on the car that I liked, and we got the crew back together that keyed the other two Oxford 250 wins,” explained Travis.

Travis admitted that for the first half of the race he would have been willing to “settle for a top five finish.”

Travis Benjamin (7) leaves pit row

There were seven cautions, however, and things turned Travis’ way during the one on lap 179.  He added four tires and thereafter was in contention, taking the lead for good with forty laps left.

Eddie MacDonald (17) and Ryan Kuhn (72) started in the front

Two cautions, however, in the last twelve laps made things exciting for the crowd and nerve-wracking for Travis, who had gained separation from Derek Griffith and TJ Shaw.  “I was nervous on those last restarts,” said Travis.  “DJ has won a lot of races and Derek is as hungry as anyone, but I was confident in our car at that point.”

Travis broke away quickly on each of the restarts, regained some breathing room, and won his third title.

“Those last two restarts really helped us,” said second-place finisher Derek Griffith post-race.  “I had a better restart run on most of the people around me.  He (Travis) was just a little bit better than we were today.”

DJ Shaw crossed third and didn’t think that the restarts did him any favors.  “We had a long-run car and we got short runs at the end,” explained DJ.

Scott McDaniel ran into trouble

“To be the best car on a one-stop strategy says a lot for our program,” said DJ.  “It was our best race of the year.  We led a lot of laps and they knew we were here.  It’s never a bad day to get a top three in the 250.

DJ was 6th in 2018.  “This is our second 3rd-place finish.  We’ll look to move up next year.”

Mike Hopkins (Hermon ME) got 5th but wasn’t happy about it.  Mike, however, was quick to praise his crew (“They killed it on pit stops”) but was sure that he personally could have done better.

“Right before we came in to take four tires, I dropped down too early and Tom penalized me and put me in the rear,” Mike told me.  “We would have been fifth with four new tires.  I don’t think anyone had anything against us, but it would have made a difference, I think.  We drove from the back to the front twice.  We rode the corners so well and passed a lot of cars.”

Mike had a win in Richmond (VA) in March.  “We killed it in Richmond but haven’t put it together since.  I cost us a chance tonight to win the Oxford 250.”

Winning car

Travis Benjamin explained that the track was hard to read.  “Part of the race I was good outside and other times I wasn’t.  The bottom was like that too.  You just kind of had to go all over the place.”  This was certainly where the years of racing, including many at Oxford, paid off.  Travis had the skills to adjust successfully to the changing conditions.

Travis had nothing but kind words for the racing in the Northeast.  “When someone like Bubba Pollard (last year’s winner) comes up here and we’re lapping him that tells you who’s racing up here.  That’s nothing against the guys down South.  It’s just that the racing up here is the best in the country, hands down.”

Forty-four cars started and eighteen of them finished on the lead lap.

Travis started in 11th place.

The estimated winning total for Travis from the race was $29,000.

Johnny Clark came in fourth.

Bob Bahre was the grand marshall

Former owner Bob Bahre was the grand marshall.

I have to admit the degree to which I was taken in by the talk at Media Day on Wednesday.  I heard there plenty of good words about Curt Geary’s chances of winning the 250………and there were lots of them deserved for the 2017 winner.  When I saw that “7” flashing by in the limited lights of the track later in the race last night I thought it was Curt Geary (also #7).  The PA announcer eventually straightened me out. My bad and I do wear glasses!

Also full disclosure: I did not sit in on the post-race interview with Travis Benjamin in the press box.  However, I did see the Sun-Journal’s video of that interview.  I had actual conversations with Derek, DJ, and Mike after the race.

The crowd was certainly amazing.  The two cautions in the closing laps gave everyone a clear look at the defining moments of the race.

OPS humor?  I heard a seated lady ask a 10-year-old (?) boy, who was walking by, if he had a hole in his sock.  The kid naturally said that he didn’t.  The woman asked, “How did you get your foot into it?”

Part of the crowd at the Oxford 250

Nice weather but did it ever cool off when the sun went down!

Thanks to the OPS staff, especially Mary Mayberry, for letting me in to witness the race.

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

Derek Griffith (2nd place) congratulated after the race

Travis Benjamin on the roof

Earlier race trouble on the turn

Eddie MacDonald and Ryan Kuhn introduced as the two in the first row

Garrett Hall (R) pre-race

Heading the wrong way in an earlier race

Setting up for the 250

Third title for Travis Benjamin

 

 

 

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Chad Wills wins the Bandits feature on 250 Weekend………again

Order of finish set on the final turn of the Bandits feature

Chad Wills celebrates his third win of the season

Chad and Dustin get by Jeff Libby in the feature

(Oxford ME) Two years ago Chad Wills won his first Bandits race.

The occasion was the race-loaded weekend of the famous Oxford 250.

Tonight, before a large crowd, Chad did it again.

Beating Dustin Salley on this cool evening, however, was not easily done.

Both Chad and Dustin won their heats with little trouble.  However, the way the features in the Bandits division are set up, winning a heat does not get you to the front in the feature.  Instead, the non-winners are put to the front.  So Chad and Dustin had to get past drivers in a second race to get to the front.

“We had few cars tonight,” said Chad afterwards, “so it put us more toward the front in the feature.  That definitely helped in the first few laps because that’s when you need to get by as many cars as possible before things settle in.”

Travis Verrill, Chad Wills, Dustin Salley

“It’s hard starting from the back,” said five-time winner Dustin Salley.  “All the guys out here are really good racers.  There’s a lot of respect but when you start back you got to get there.  Sometimes you have to be a little rougher than normal.”

Jeff Libby had the pole position in the 20-lap feature.

Chad, and then Dustin, were quick to get by Jeff low…….and then we had ourselves an exciting race between the twosome!

Chad stayed low on the track while Dustin used the second groove for many laps.  They were side-by-side at times and close the whole race. Chad won this race because he wouldn’t let go of the inside. On this evening, Dustin didn’t have the car to get by.

“I tried, I tried,” said Dustin afterwards.  “I had three brand new tires on the car, and it handled it for a while.  Once that right front tire got hot it was junk and I just faded back.”

Chad Wills gets inside Jeff Libby in the first heat

“If Dustin could have got me in the bottom, he would have won,” confided Chad.  “He had the car to beat, that’s for sure.  I just had position on the track and got there before him.  The second groove is hard here, yet he was able to stay with me for many laps.”

The win was sweet for Chad, but he did have to beat his teammate and friend to do it.  “Dustin is one of my good friends,” said Chad.  “The car he’s driving is the one I started with this year.  He had some car troubles, so Kyle Hewins and I let him drive the car I had been driving. I drove a backup car.”

The top three finishers (Travis Verrill came across third) in the Bandits division had their cars checked very carefully after the race tonight.  “They pulled the heads off the top three cars,” explained Chand, “checking for competitive advantages.

Dustin on Chad’s shoulder

Dustin is the points leader in the division.  “I started strong,” he said, “and the other drivers are getting better and better.  I am hoping to win most points for the second straight year.”

Dustin worst finish this year has been fifth.  “You try to pick your spots and be smart about it.”

Both drivers have cars owned by Kyle Hewins.  “I owe a lot to him,” said Chad.

Chad admitted that he doesn’t know too much about cars: “I can drive them but I’m not mechanically inclined.”

*I have just learned that Dustin Salley was disqualified.

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

(I also have a Twitter account – @mcclellandpeter )

Spinout

Truck turnover

Chad Wills wins the first heat

Collision

Sizable crowd for Friday night’s racing at Oxford Plains Speedway

Dustin Salley wins the second heat

 

 

 

 

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Oxford Plains Speedway Media Day

Curt Geary, Mike Rowe, Derek Griffith, DJ Shaw, and Garrett Hall

(Oxford ME) Optimism and uncertainty abounded.

Today was Media Day for Sunday’s 46th running of the Oxford 250.

The Honey Badger Bar & Grill setting had five drivers; Curt Geary, Mike Rowe, Derek Griffith, DJ Shaw, and Garrett Hall on hand.  Ben Rowe arrived later.

Mike Rowe

“At my age (69) I’m still excited about the 250,” said 3-time winner Mike Rowe.  “A lot of drivers have a chance to win it.  You can’t make any mistakes.”

“If I wasn’t the winner, I’d want my old man to win,” said Ben (2-time winner) with a smile.

Ben took a second at Oxford in July and he was quoted as saying that “it felt like a win.”  Makes sense when you realize that in Ben’s previous twelve starts at Oxford Plains Speedway his best showing was one fourth.

“It eats at you when you haven’t won a race in a while,” recalled Ben.  “You ask yourself, ‘Did I forget how to do this?’, and ‘Did I forget all I know?”

Ben won the Oxford 250 in 2003-04.  “I got stagnant because we were ahead of everyone else, but they caught up.  It has taken us this long to get back on top.”

Derek Griffith

Young Derek Griffith (22) watched the race the first time he saw it.  “We came over (from New Hampshire) and didn’t make it in.  I was real young.  It broke us down a bit.  We ended up sitting in the backstretch stands.  It was a cool show.”

Derek sounded like an OPS 250 promoter as he discussed the event: “There is nothing like this race.  It’s crazy watching 41 cars drive around the OPS.  Anyone can win.  The amount of talent and good cars that are here for this weekend is amazing.  People that come for the first time will come back for the rest of their lives.”

Derek has won races this year in Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

Last year was Garrett Hall’s first try at the Oxford 250. He finished fourth.

Garrett Hall

Despite Garrett’s success in 2017 his lack of experience in the big race is causing him some anxious moments: “I’m losing sleep.  There are so many different factors that run through your mind.  It’s stressful.  It’s not a race that is easy to get ready for.”

One of the biggest struggles includes the length of the race and the infield pit stop that is required.  None of the other races that these drivers run in have the length and that pit-stop requirement.  Not only does the driver have to be on his game but his crew needs to as well.

One driver, however, who is familiar with all this is last year’s winner, Bubba Pollard.  “Bubba is used to running and winning long races (All-American 400, Rattler 250) and has a crew in place that knows what to do,” added Ben Rowe.

Even though Bubba could handle the quirks of a long race, he came in (from Georgia) last year totally unfamiliar with Oxford Plains Speedway.  “What Bubba did last year was impressive.  Some good drivers have raced here for years and never won.  He comes in for the week and wins it!”

Bubba will be in the field on Sunday.  He would seem to be the driver to beat.  “I liked Bubba to win it last year,” said Ben, “even though he had never seen Oxford.  We tested Beech Ridge with him and then we came over to Oxford.  I knew right off the bat that he’s that good.”

Curt Geary

Based on this season’s results at OPS, the 250 favorites would be Curt Geary and Nick Sweet.  Nick has been very good lately at the track while Curt had been good all year.  Curt won the 250 in 2017.

“The race is unique,” added Derek Griffith.  “At times it’s four and five wide.  You get guys that can start dead last in the consolations and win this thing.  That’s what Mike Rowe did in 2005.”

Derek wanted the race to start right away.  “I’m ready to go.  The campers are rolling in and the parking lot is filling up.  I wish we were here with a truck and trailer today!”

I asked Derek if he had any superstitions: “I got a new race suit the end of 2017 and every time I wore it, I got wrecked.  I’ve been wearing my old suit for the majority of this year and we’ve had a good year.”

Garrett Hall gave even more detail to his race-day superstitions.  “I am very superstitious: the racing suit, socks, even underwear.  Can’t bring a grill to the track.  No hamburgers or cheeseburgers….and there’s even more!”

The race should certainly be an exciting one with so many intangibles and so many terrific drivers/cars on the track.

Who will be standing near the $25,000 check on Sunday night?

 

 

 

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Caleb Proctor wins first Bandits feature at Oxford Plains Speedway

Chad Proctor won his first Bandits feature tonight

Chad Proctor on Victory Lane

(Oxford ME) You come back week after week and finally everything falls into place.

That’s what happened tonight for Caleb Proctor as he won his first feature at Oxford Plains Speedway.

Caleb started in the pole position and never let go of the lead.

“Starting at the front really helped,” said Caleb afterwards. “We started in the front and stayed there.”

The driver from Casco has been in all fourteen of the Bandits races this season.  Prior to tonight his best finishes were third on June 29th and fourth on May 25th.

I asked Caleb if they had done anything different with the car this week: “Nothing different.  We’re running on old tires.  We’re about as low-budget as it gets.”

Jeff Libby – still chasing his first win

Jeff Libby, from Poland, took second.

“Sooner or later we’re going to get one,” said Jeff afterwards.  “We’re getting close.”

Jeff finished second on July 27th behind Travis Verrill.

Jeff stayed in second for most of the 20-lap feature after moving up from 5th at the start.

“Caleb is a really good guy,” explained Jeff.  “Running second to him?  I’m not mad about it.”

I asked Jeff what it might take for him to win a race: “A little bit better starting position would help.”

I dubbed Dustin Salley, “Mr. Consistent,” last week.  He continues to be just that.  DSal’s lowest finish this season was 5th on June 8th.  Tonight he ended up third but believe me he was pressing Caleb and Jeff over the last few laps.  Dustin started near the back in the feature but skillfully worked his way into contention.

Travis Verrill and Bobby Doherty caused a caution early in the race.  Travis didn’t return from the collision that resulted.

Tyler Green (26) and Luke Mowatt (53) after the race was over

Luke Mowatt and Tyler Green came together at least once during the race and didn’t stop the interaction after the race was over.

I have covered four Bandits features and met a different winner each week.

The weather was chilly and there was a little rain before the race started.

Rookies Brady Childs and Owen Stuart put on another show tonight.  Brady won the heat, but it was Owen in the feature winning for the sixth time.

Two weeks ago, Brady crashed just before the finish.  This week he was spun out at the top of the stretch.

Owen Stuart (8) and Brady Childs (1) pass a slower car

Both these young drivers showed me something when they overtook, and lapped Jeremy Turner.  Brady went high and Owen went low.

The Oxford 250 is on August 25th.

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

Skip Stanley (64) and Matt Dufault (61)

Skip Stanley (64) spins out

Start of the Bandits feature

Travis Verrill won a heat

Travis Verrill and Bobby Doherty in the feature

Final turn in the Bandits feature

Jake Dobson (12) involved with Luke Mowatt and Tyler Green

Luke Mowatt (53) and Grady Doherty (1)

Owen Stuart and Brady Childs side by side

Owen Stuart wins 6th Rookie race

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Bubba Pollard: As good as advertised

 

Bubba Pollard – champion

Joey Polewarczyk – 2nd place

(Oxford ME) “Bubba is just good,” said second-place finisher Joey Polewarczyk after the race.  “He’s the best in the country at super late models.”

Bubba Pollard came to Oxford Plains for the first time on Friday and walked away on Sunday night with the title in the 45th annual Oxford 250.

Bubba, from Senoia, Georgia had won at least sixty SLM races coming in.  Sunday night he took the lead for good with 31 laps left.

“This was one of the toughest races, I’ve ever run,” he said post-race.  “I didn’t realize how big this race was until the day of the race.  The crowd was amazing.”

The weather was terrific.  There was sun, but the clouds kept the temperatures lower than they could have been.  There was also a breeze.

OPS 250 is the only race of its kind at the Oxford Plains Track.  All the crews are set up in the infield so there are no wild dashes behind the grandstand to pit row and back when repairs are needed.

Reid Lanpher (59) earned a top position at the start

The length of the race necessitates pitting and that is where the outcome is often determined.  Cautions are the best time to get in and get out, but who knows when a caution will happen?  There were ten in this race.

Reid Lanpher (Manchester ME) finished second last year and third this year.  It was a pit stop that cost him dearly this year.

“I really messed up,” he told me.  “I stalled it in the backstretch before we came into the pit.  I sat there for a moment.  We came into the pits last as a result after being 2nd or 3rd on the track.  That really threw us back.”

Bubba Pollard gets the win

After that?  “Once we got that second set of tires on we were really good.  Coming from where we were (last) to where we ended up (third) was fun, that’s for sure.”

The pit stops for 2nd place finisher Joey Polewarczyk gave him a chance to win the race.

“We started 21st and took a gamble getting four tires early,” he recalled.  “Our goal in doing that was to get track position.  I didn’t think we’d grab the lead and run away with it like we did.”  Joey was one of five leaders during the race.

“Then we had that yellow with like 50 laps to go and since we had two new right’s in the pits I said that we had to at least take those two.  We did and it worked out.”

Joey chased Bubba Pollard over the final 30 laps for the lead.  “I felt like I was catching him a little at the end and if I had a little bit more….”

Bubba and Joey afterwards

But not on this evening and the first driver in six years not from Maine and New Hampshire took the top prize.

I enjoyed the race.  I started in the pit area and was very uncomfortable there.  If you recall, last year Rowley’s Eddie MacDonald backed into me during one of the heats.  There are so many cars coming and going.  Some are setting up for the next race while others are coming in for quick repairs.  A guy said to me, “It’s a wonder no one gets killed here!”  That “encouraged” me to get around to the pressbox side of the stadium.

The beauty of the pressbox is that there are seats.  No chairs in the pit area although someone gave me one after I was hit last year!  There also is less race-car noise.

I saw the Last Chance race from up there.  Curtis Gerry, last year’s winner, couldn’t even race in the heats because of mechanical problems.  Earlier I had seen all the frantic work going on with his car.  Curtis was in Last Chance race and won it.  He would later get into a wreck in the latter part of the main event.  Pre-race he was the top favorite.

Heavy repairs done on Curtis Gerry’s car pre-race

I was also a year wiser getting pictures.  The lights at OPS are minimal.  No need to dream of an action shot as darkness sets in.

I also have had trouble getting onto the track afterwards to get early celebration shots in the past.  This time I got down the 50+ steps from the pressbox with twenty laps left so I was in position to get onto the track faster.  You still have pitiful light to work with even if you get there but at least I was in position to get shots that I could photoshop later.

Something I need to do next year: I must get numbers to go with cars.  My plan was to shoot drivers pre-race and then use those pictures later.  Couldn’t really do that since I didn’t know numbers.  It doesn’t help that some cars have the SAME number.  Both Travis Benjamin and Curtis Perry (former winners) drive #7.  You also must know the color!  If I looked up the drivers online I’m sure I could have had some of the information I wanted.

Thanks to the OPS folks for enabling my visit to happen.  I enjoyed it.

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

Gabe Brown

Mike Rowe interviewed

Crowd taking their chances on pit row

Car on fire on the track

Pre-race lineup

Bubba after taking a victory lap

Bubba on top of his car

Bubba Pollard interviewed

Bubba with trophy and flag

Bubba with Mac and Erin

 

 

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Curtis Gerry wins 44th Oxford 250 and I get hit by a race car!

Curtis Gerry wins the 2017 Oxford 250

Cassius Clark (3rd), Curtis Gerry (1st), Reid Lanpher (2nd)

(Oxford ME)  Sunday afternoon/evening I took in the biggest car race in the northeast….the Oxford 250.

Curtis Gerry of Waterboro (ME) was the surprise winner at the Oxford Plains Speedway.  Racing on a low budget, the 46-year-old didn’t even try the 250 last year.  This year, however, has been different.  The wins have come (at Beech Ridge Speedway in Scarborough) and his car has been consistently solid.  He had the fastest practice time during Friday’s OPS practice runs.

Pole-sitter Cassius Clark had the car to beat in the first hundred laps but a sea of cautions (eleven in the first 125 laps) offered too many chances for an eventual lead change.  That finally happened but Cassius would finish strong to get 3rd.

Curtis took the lead with 53 laps left and fought off challenges from Eddie MacDonald (4th) and Reid Lanpher (2nd) to get the $25,000 top prize.

The sunny/cool weather was perfect for the race.

Drivers were very adept at avoiding collisions

This race had seventeen cautions.  Almost all of them were caused by individual drivers losing control and spinning out.  There were a couple of multiple-driver incidents but little damage done.  You become aware of the skill of these drivers when you witnessed seventeen restarts on a 3/8-mile track and watched them repeatedly avoid sideswipes on the tricky turns on the small track.

Scott McDaniel spins out

If this entry was for a newspaper it would end shortly but it’s a blog and I get to personalize the Oxford 250 experience.

The big guy in the racing “room” today was Speed51.  These folks were everywhere.  They had the equipment and personnel to thoroughly cover the race.  I realized the extension of their clout when I moved to my favorite viewing spot on top of the grandstand.  Been up there for years.  Didn’t last this time.  A Speed51 person informed me that they had exclusive rights to that space.

Now how would I get pictures?  I can assure you that I had no plan to hang out in the infield as the race went around me!  I saw photographers doing it but it was never a possibility for me.

One of the OPS staff members recognized what had happened to my usual vantage point and directed me to a windowed booth.  The beauty of that spot was that there was a (closed) door which lessened the deafening car noises.

I never had any intention of being in the infield.  Why?  Things happen too fast.

I had discovered earlier in this afternoon that the pit area can be dangerous too.  The pit areas are tight.  You have drivers, cars and crew/family members milling about.  And then there are the photographers, like me.  When races are in progress the cars come fast into the pit area where quick attempts are made to fix problems and get the car back out into the race.  Everyone has to be alert or you can get hurt.

I have been a fan of Eddie MacDonald’s ever since I learned that he was from Rowley (MA). I supply pictures to The Town Common which is headquartered in that town.  Eddie won the Oxford 250 twice (2009 & 2010).

I did not expect to see Eddie at today’s race because there had been zero news that he was coming and he wasn’t in the field in 2016. However, I saw in the early afternoon that he indeed was competing.

The starting positions for the race are determined by performance in qualifying heats.  Qualifying waivers are given to former winners but if they want to start up in the field they must qualify for a better placement.  Competing against drivers who don’t have waivers makes the going extremely rough-and-tumble as Eddie found out.  Twice in the consolation race he was knocked off the track.  The second time he decided to come into the pits to get repairs before re-entering the race.

That’s where Eddie and I got “together.”

I saw his car turned around in the infield during a qualifying consolation race and then I saw him heading for the pit area for repairs.  I decided to get closer to get a picture of the repairs being done in the pit area.

After taking this picture I moved to the left of the tire. Little did I know that Eddie MacDonald in the red car ahead would reverse into me.

Eddie parked his car perpendicular to his normal space.  I took a picture of the work being done and then moved to safety in a spot beside a car two spaces away from Eddie’s space.

I suspected that Eddie would do a quick forward turn and head back to the track when the repairs were done.  Instead, he came my way in fast reverse.

I was beside another car two spaces away and clearly off the roadway but it didn’t matter.  Eddie didn’t realize that there was a car parked in the direction he has chosen to go and he definitely didn’t see me.

I turned to avoid a direct hit and Eddie’s car drove me into the parked car.  I believe that Eddie realized at the last second the bad route he was on and hit his brakes.  I would have been in a morgue, instead of writing this entry, if he hadn’t I suspect.

I never went down and I do not recall Eddie’s car leaving the scene.  I do know that he went back out and competed.

Instantly there were folks coming from everywhere seeing if I was all right.  I told them that I thought I was.  I was offered a chair which I gladly took.  In a while, I stood up to see if my legs were okay.  I felt some soreness in my right side but nothing serious.  People offered me water.  Some of them were my daughter’s age.  The one that meant the most was a young lady who was probably my granddaughter’s age.  So young and yet so thoughtful!

A lady connected to the OPS medical staff talked to me several times.  She wanted me to come over to where the ambulance was and I started imagining a trip to Norway’s St. Stephen’s.  No thanks.  Not needed.

I was asked if I was with anyone.  I wasn’t and there would be no other ride home.  My wife wasn’t going to be called.  No need to worry her because the pain was minor.

As these numerous interactions were taking place the consolation race ended.  Before I knew it, Eddie and his car were back two spaces away.

I stood up to see if Eddie was there.  He was, with his driver’s suit half off.  He must have known that something had happened earlier, when he backed up into me, because he was looking back to where he had hit me.  I put both of my arms up in the air beside me, gesturing in his direction.

For some reason, at that instant, I decided to go over there and see him.  I approached him and said that I was the one he had hit.  He asked if I was alright.  He said he was sorry.  I told him that I couldn’t understand how the accident had occurred since I was not on the road.  He said that he had been hit a couple of times during the race and wanted to get right back out there and wasn’t careful enough.  I told him not to worry about it that I was okay.

The medical staff person intercepted me after that and had me fill out paperwork stating that I had refused medical assistance.  She said that if there any medical problems tomorrow (Monday) the paperwork was in place to proceed.

One of the witnesses to my getting hit told me that instead of signing anything I should find out who Eddie MacDonald’s insurance was with and sue them.  Future lawyer, I suspect!

You would have guessed that my interactions with Eddie MacDonald ended there, wouldn’t you.  But you be wrong.

I have already described my grandstand “adjustments.”  From that new (better?) position I watched the Oxford 250.

Eddie was nearly dead-last in the 43-car field at the start.  But in a long race things happen.  With thirty laps left of the 250 laps, Eddie was in second hounding leader Curtis Gerry.  I started imagining that Eddie might pull this one out.  It was not meant to be, however, and Eddie started to slide back.

I figured that I might get one last interaction with him if he made the top three.  Those are the trio that get to pose with the winner’s check.

Eddie, however, ended up 4th.  I worked my way down to the track.  I had media credentials and planned to get shots of the top three.  I didn’t realize that the top five were down there.

I took the expected collection of pictures of the top three finishers and then I ventured over to where Eddie was.

Eddie MacDonald

I knew his father by sight from Eddie’s two championships.  Eddie was talking to his father and I headed over to them.  Eddie saw me coming and told his father, “This is the guy I backed into.”  Yup, that’s me!

Eddie’s dad asked if I was okay and was quite concerned.  I said that I was fine.  I repeated that I couldn’t understand how the accident happened.  This time Eddie said that he had been directed to back up by his crew.  It was not good advice.

And that’s my version of this year’s Oxford 250.

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

Joey Polewarczyk

Derek Griffith

Sparks fly from Mike Hopkins’ car

Curtis Gerry finishes first

Reid Lanpher

Cassius Clark was the #1 qualifier

Ben Tinker wins Pass Modified feature

Justin Drake (09) nips Dennis Spencer and Mike Rowe in Last Chance race

Joey Graf gets sideways

Andrew Breton wins Street Stock feature

TJ Brackett

Ray Christian

Mike Rowe

Ben Rowe

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All is well for Wayne Helliwell as he wins the 43rd Oxford 250

 

Wayne Helliwell got the checkered flag after winning the 43rd OPS 250

Wayne Helliwell got the checkered flag after winning the 43rd OPS 250

The trophy, the car, and an excited crew.

The trophy, the car, and an excited crew.

(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.

Travis on the high side and Wayne on the inside early in the race

Travis on the high side and Wayne on the inside early in the race

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.

Wayne Helliwell pits for tires

Wayne Helliwell pits for tires

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.

Travis Benjamin stays high and will get past Mike and Ben Rowe

Travis Benjamin stays high and will get past Mike and Ben Rowe

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.)

Mike Rowe explains some of the finer points of racing to TJ Brackett

Mike Rowe explains some of the finer points of racing to TJ Brackett

Derek Griffith before the race

Derek Griffith before the race

Reid Lanpher before the race

Reid Lanpher before the race

Wayne Helliwell introduced

Wayne Helliwell introduced

Travis Benjamin introduced

Travis Benjamin introduced

Austin Theriault

Austin Theriault

Fender bender involving Jeff Taylor (88), Kyle Treadwell (44), Cassius Clark (13) and Mike Hopkins (15).ops-A14-fb2ops-A13-fb3ops-12-fb-4

DJ Shaw after the race

DJ Shaw after the race

Travis Benjamin after the race

Travis Benjamin after the race

Travis Benjamin pit stop

Travis Benjamin pit stop

Travis got past the 64 early in the race

Travis got past the 64 early in the race

2015 winner Glen Luce pressured by Travis Benjamin

2015 winner Glen Luce pressured by Travis Benjamin

Politics on a fender

Politics on a fender

TJ Brackett out early

TJ Brackett out early

 

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Filed under Oxford, Oxford 250, Oxford Plains Speedway