(Oxford ME) Two weeks ago, Brandon Caston took the lead early in the Bandits feature…..and lost it at the end.
Not this time.
It was Brandon’s first win at Oxford Plains Speedway.
“I’ve been chasing this for four years,” said Brandon afterwards. “I couldn’t be happier.”
Jeff Libby was the guy in Brandon’s rearview mirror as he navigated lap-after-lap of the 20-lap feature in front.
Two weeks ago, it was last year’s points winner, Alex Mowatt behind him.
“It was the first race of this season,” recalled Brandon. “I was out there getting used to the car. I had the lead and then I saw Alex coming. I had watched him for two years and I knew he was quick. I was like, ‘Oh, no. Here we go.’ I overdrove the car and lost the lead. I was, however, happy to get my first trophy.”
This time around Brandon kept the challenger (Jeff Libby) in his rearview mirror in the closing laps and secured his first top spot.
Alex Mowatt finished third after winning the first two weeks.
“It’s good to get on the podium with Jeff and Alex,” said Brandon. “They’re really good people.”
One of the appealing trademarks for spectators of Bandits features is that the more successful a driver has been, the further back he is placed to start in future races. (I’m not sure the drivers are thrilled with this!)
“I was pretty nervous going into the feature,” said Jeff Libby, “because I was starting in the middle of the pack. There were guys up front with less experience.”
Accurate split decisions become essential for the previously successful drivers if they are to finish at, or near, the front as they have done before.
“I knew going into the race that I had to get to the outside,” said Brandon. “The car was really fast out there. To get there early I ended up pushing Caleb (Proctor) out three wide. I didn’t mean to do that. I thought there was room.”
But Brandon did get outside and quickly was by early leader Josh Lovell and on his way to the front for the rest of the race.
Brandon’s move helped Jeff Libby.
“Our buddy Brandon poked a big hole for us, and we followed him through it,” said Jeff. “It worked out for the best for us tonight.”
Jeff and Brandon both won their heats.
Jeff was able to hold off Alex Mowatt in his heat.
“Alex is very fast,” said Jeff. “We did everything we could to keep him behind us.”
Brandon Caston: “Three years ago I started racing using Caleb’s old O4. It didn’t go too well and so I took a couple of years off. Last year, I did a little bit and finished 4th in my first race back (July 18th). I decided to buy another car this year and go for the points and see how it would do.”
Jeff Libby: “The car is going very good (4th and two 2nds). We’re running a different tire this year and that seems to be helping quite a bit.”
Overcast weather looking as if it might rain but it didn’t.
Lengthy time in post-race tech for the Bandits drivers after new regulations kicked in.
Good to finally be at OPS in person although the videos of the races from the previous two weeks have been very helpful is seeing how things are going at OPS.
The Bandits feature today was restart free. Maybe the “inexperienced” drivers are getting better at navigating the early laps? Last season that first corner was close to a fender-bender certainty!
It took Jeff Libby nine weeks last season to get his first-ever top finish. Hasn’t had one after three weeks this season. About due?
Expecting something special from Alex Mowatt in Week Four.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)