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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.

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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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Chad Wills catches a break and wins 2nd Bandits race at Oxford Plains Speedway

Chad Wills wins the Bandits feature with Jeff Libby second at OPS

Chad Wills takes a victory lap after winning for the second time at OPS this season

(Oxford ME) Over a year ago in the Bandits Division at Oxford Plains Speedway, Caleb Proctor won his only race of the season while driving the 04.

Tonight, Caleb’s 04 earned another checkered flag.  This time, however, the driver was Chad Wills.

“I’ve really got to thank Caleb,” said Chad post-race.  “I wrecked my car two weeks ago and he let me use his.”.

Chad has gotten a third and now a first in Caleb’s car.  Caleb will probably be the driver the next time the 04 appears at OPS.

There will be nearly two weeks off before the next Bandits race.  “I bought another car yesterday,” explained Chad, “like the hatchback that I wrecked.  Hopefully, in a couple of weeks I’ll be here with it.”

Chad Wills and Jeff Libby get inside Eric Parlin (3) in the last lap

Chad got his first win on July 25th when he took full advantage of a multi-car crash to move into contention.  Tonight, it wasn’t a crash. This time it was leader Eric Parlin slipping away from the bottom of the track near the end of Lap 18.

“Eric got loose in the last lap,” said Chad, “and I happened to be close enough to capitalize on it.”

Chad moved inside of Eric and Jeff Libby followed as Eric tried to recover.  Chris Foster also got to the bottom of the track.

“I could have forced my way back down there,” said Eric Parlin afterwards, “but cars might have been wrecked and I couldn’t do that.”

Eric ended the race settling for a tough fourth behind Chad, Jeff, and Chris.

Eric Parlin gets ahead of Brady Heath (91)

At the outset of the 20-lap feature, Eric took the lead from Brady Heath in the second lap.  Chad followed with Alex Mowatt running third.

Alex is not only the points leader but has won two straight weeks.  It was easy to expect him to get the lead sooner or later.  But not tonight.  In fact, his brother Luke, beat him in the second Bandits heat race.

Alex spent most of the evening racing on the upper levels of the track.  “Alex worked hard on the outside, but it heated his tires,” said Chad.  “It was impressive that he could hang out there as long as he did.”

Alex Mowatt (11) persisted in trying to pass Eric Parlin using the upper part of the track

Alex threatened leader Eric Parlin from the outside on several of the later laps.  When Eric slide up from the bottom in Lap 18, Alex got caught behind him and ended up finishing fifth.

Chad realized his good fortune.  “For the second time this year I was in the right spot at the right time.  Sometimes it’s better to be lucky rather than good.”

Jeff Libby continues to chase that elusive first win.  He has finished second three different times, including tonight.

Jeff was behind Chad Wills when the bottom of the track opened up on Lap 18.  “We followed Chad and that’s how we ended up where we did,” said Jeff.

Luke Mowatt won the second heat defeating his brother Alex in the process.

Chad Wills won the first heat and Luke Mowatt won the second heat.

Eric Parlin’s car threw off plenty of smoke last week.  No sign of any smoke this week.

Eric had a pretty good hold on first until a spinout (Brady Heath) in Lap 11 forced a caution and a restart.  The restart bunched everyone up.

The good weather continues.  This is the 8th week I’ve been at OPS and it’s been nothing but sunshine.

Limited number of spectators on the other side of the track.

I am on twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClellandMiscellanea).

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

Caleb Proctor Chad Wills, Brandon Caston

Jeff Libby (2nd)

Last lap action

Alex Mowatt tries to get by Eric Parlin on the high side

Eric Parlin comfortably in front in the feature

Brady Heath has the early lead in the feature

Chad Wills and Brady Heath set up in front for the Bandits feature

Luke Mowatt

Luke Mowatt on the inside and Alex Mowatt on the outside in Heat 2

Chad Wills and Josh Lovell in front in Heat 1

 

 

 

 

 

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Alex Mowatt wins third Bandits Division feature at Oxford Plains Speedway

Alex Mowatt (11) gets the lead in the Bandits Division feature

Alex Mowatt – 3-time winner

(Oxford ME) The three-week rolling average used in the Bandits Division at Oxford Plains Speedway handicaps the successful.

If you win you find yourself at the back at the start of the next race.

The possibility for frustration is obvious.

But it’s been anything but frustrating for highly successful Alex Mowatt.

Alex has shown the driving skills needed to work from the back to the front week after week.

Tonight’s win was his third of the season and his second in a row.

Alex Mowatt came from dead last to win last week’s Bandits Division feature. Tonight, he started in tenth position.

Eric Parlin finished second

“Alex is a good kid,” said 2nd place finisher Eric Parlin post-race.  “He’s having a heckuva season.  I feel like he’s a shoo-in for the championship.”

Hard to argue.  Alex has been consistently competitive with three 3rds, one 2nd, and three 1sts.

“I couldn’t ask for a better season,” admitted Alex.  “I’ve had pretty good luck.  Last week we had some damage but nothing serious.”

The attention getter in tonight’s twenty-lap feature was the smoke from Eric Parlin’s car.

Eric started the feature in the front and when smoke started pouring out of his car you figured his night would be over at any moment.

“I thought Eric’s car was blowing up or something,” recalled Alex. “I wasn’t sure what was going on, but he came out of it.”

Plenty of smoke out of Eric Parlin’s car

The smoke, at one point, caused a caution.  “They were going to black flag me,” explained Eric, “but I wasn’t losing oil.  I had raced at Beech Ridge this morning and the car did the same thing there.  For some reason going from second into third sends a lot through it.  Once I get settled down into 3rd gear it snaps out of it.”

The caution over Eric’s car in Lap 8 looked to give Alex the lead but after realizing there was no oil issues, Eric began the restart on the pole.

Alex started on the outside in the restart but quickly took the lead from Eric, and never trailed thereafter.

There was a third caution in Lap 13.  This time Alex had the pole and pulled away quickly.

Alex Mowatt (11), Eric Parlin (3), Dustin Salley (22)

The battle for second was a good one.  It featured Eric with his smoking car, Chad Wills in Caleb Proctor’s car, and former Bandit champion Dustin Salley in the car that David Cook drove last week.  Plenty of tight action there with Eric holding onto second and Chad taking third.

“It was one of my better races,” said Eric of his 2nd place finish.  “There have been a lot of ups and downs.  I had an incident a couple of weeks ago.  I didn’t know if I was going to make it up here tonight.”

Alex won one of the Bandits heats while Josh Lovell took the other heat in his best showing of the season.  Josh started his heat in the front and refused to give way to Chad Wills and Chris Foster.

Alex Mowatt (11) with the lead in the feature

One of the keys for Alex in my opinion has been his ability to avoid wrecks in the seven races to date.  “I’ve stayed out of wrecks so far by watching ahead,” explained Alex.  “I don’t just watch the car right in front of me because a problem ahead will come too quick.”

Eric raced twice today.  “It definitely helps me as a driver because I had a race under my belt.  I felt comfortable in the car today.  From week to week you don’t usually sit in it or run in it.  Then you’ll get back in it on Saturday and it’s a whole different animal.”

Alex talked about the end of the race: “The car was getting a little tight down toward the end.  I used up my tired pretty good.”

Asked about plans to move up a division, Alex answered, “I’m not sure yet.  We’ll see how the year goes.”

The number of spectators is still restricted.

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

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

Alex Mowatt (11) becomes the leader

Alex Mowatt (11) is ninth early in the 20-lap feature

Early in the feature Eric Parlin leads

In Heat 1, Josh Lovell holds off Chad Wills (04) and Chris Foster

In Heat 2, Alex Mowatt outside of Travis Verrill

Street stock damage

 

 

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Chad Wills earns first Bandits win of the season at Oxford Plains Speedway

Chad Wills gets his first win tonight in the Bandits Division this season

A Lap 2 spinout gave Chad Wills an opening into second place

(Oxford ME) Chad Wills has won before but sometimes it’s more than the best car that earns you the checkered flag.

“We were fast for sure, but our win tonight had to do with being in the right place at the right time,” explained Chad after winning the Bandits feature at Oxford Plains Speedway on Saturday night.

That “right place/right time” occurred for Chad in the second lap of the twenty-lap event.  He started in the 4th row but a spinout (Eric Parlin) in the 2nd lap quickly rearranged things in the front to his benefit.

“The guys up front at the start are still learning and so we got off to a bit of a slow start,” recalled Chad.  “When things happened, I picked the right lane to get through it.”

Eric Parlin in a spin

Despite several cars thrown off course, there was no caution.  “It stayed green,” added Chad, “and that definitely helped.”

Alex Mowatt, who would end up second, was near the back when the spinout happened.  “I thought there was going to be a caution when Eric Parlin got spun.  I slowed down but they didn’t throw the caution.”

Nick Ogden came out of the spinout ahead with Chad Wills nearby, but not for long.  Chad was by him on Lap 4.

Chad Wills moves to get inside Nick Ogden

“I figured that Nick would do all he could to protect the bottom, but he gave me plenty of room, surprisingly,” said Chad about getting past Nick and into the lead.

“I certainly appreciated the opening,” added Chad.  “Nick is a good driver.  He won the championship at Riverside.”

Last year’s points champion in the Bandits Division cruised over the final sixteen laps to get his first win of the season.

Alex Mowatt rallied back to get second place

This year’s points leader (Alex Mowatt) finished strong getting past Jeff Libby for 3rd place in Lap 15 and Nick Ogden for 2nd place in the last lap.

“I think I would have had a shot at (Chad) Wills if my front tire held up,” said Alex.  “It was pretty chunked off.”

Alex has had a first, second, and three thirds so far.  “I won the first race and I’m ready for another,” he said.

Chad said that he was aware of Alex’s late run: “I kept watching the board.  I didn’t want to burn up everything I had if I didn’t need to.  But then I saw with about two laps left that Alex was making his way around Nick Ogden, so I had to step on it.  I wanted to stay away from those lap cars because you never know what they’re going to do.”

Josh Toothaker

Newcomer Josh Toothaker took the only Bandits heat.  “Josh used to race Outlaws,” explained Chad.  “He can weld and fabricate, and he stumbled upon a good deal for a car.  He hit the right lane in that heat that he won today just like I did in the feature.”

Alex Mowatt: “Most of the drivers get along pretty well.  At the same time, we’re not out here to make friends.”

Another week (it’s been five) without spectators.  The Oxford 250 is less than a month away.  Will that race be run without a crowd?

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

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

crowd at OPS

Alex Mowatt gets by Jeff Libby

Chad, Alex, and Nick in late lap

Chad Wills alone in front

Chad Wills moves in front of Nick Ogden

Chad Wills wins feature

Doug Churchill (07) leads at start of feature

Feature just before spinout

Nick Ogden tries to hold off Alex Mowatt and Jeff Libby

Nick Ogden with the lead after the spinout

Josh Toothaker has big lead in heat

Josh Toothaker (left) uses the top of the track to get the lead in the heat

 

 

 

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Travis Verrill gets second win this season in Bandits Division

Travis Verrill shown here with son Tucker wins his 2nd Bandits race of the season

Travis Verrill first, Chad Wills second in the feature

(Oxford ME) Every other week Travis has been awfully good.

The other weeks?  Not so much.

But he has shown with the two W’s that he is tough to move from the front.

And there were plenty of attempts to do just that tonight at Oxford Plains Speedway.

“I don’t think that there was a corner I turned that someone didn’t hit me in the rear,” said Travis smiling, “but that’s what makes it fun.”

Not as much fun tonight for Jeff Libby.  Jeff had consecutive seconds in place and looked to be heading for another second in tonight’s feature, when he spun out with three laps left in the 20-lap feature.

Travis Verrill pulls away from Grady Doherty early in the feature

“Jeff did everything he could to get around Travis,” explained runner-up Chad Wills.

Asked about the spinout that took Jeff out, Chad said, “We were all in a line behind Travis and he was protecting the bottom on the corner by going slow.  That is what you’re supposed to do when you have the lead.  We just didn’t check up in time and Jeff ended up getting spun out.”

Chad and Alex Mowatt benefitted from the spinout and were able to jump into 2nd and 3rd.  They would hold those positions the rest of the way.

“I glanced up real quick and I saw Jeff heading for the infield,” recalled Travis.  “They must have done a little too much bumping behind me.”

Close finish in the first heat between Jeff Libby and Travis Verrill

Chad Wills was coming off three straight 4th place finishes.  “We got one more position tonight with a little bit of luck, but I definitely thought that we had a top three car.”

The competition has been tough in the Bandits Division this year. “We’ve got five or six real fast cars in the division,” said Travis.

“The competition is a lot more stout this year than it has been in the past,” added Chad.  “Tonight you could have thrown the top seven under a blanket for most of the race.”

“Jeff (Libby) has definitely figured out his stuff this year,” said Chad.

Best race of the night was in the heat that pitted Travis against Jeff.  Very close finish but they gave it to Travis.  Jeff has never won a heat or a feature.  That should change in the near future.

Nice weather.

I asked Chad about the missing spectators: “When you’re racing you don’t notice the fans at all.  I think we’ll get them back.  It hard to see why people can’t sit outdoors here.”

This is what the costly spinout in the Bandits feature looked like:

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

Mason, Chad, and Shelby Wills

Alex Mowatt wins second heat

Nick Ogden has the early lead in the second heat

Row of cars in the feature

First head – Travis Verrill, Jeff Libby, Dean Jordan

Travis Verrill, Chad Wills, and Jeff Libby

 

 

 

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Eric Parlin takes Bandits feature for first win at Oxford Plains Speedway

Eric Parlin won his first feature tonight at Oxford Plains Speedway in the Bandits division

Eric Parlin wins the first heat

(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 gets second for the second straight week

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.

In the feature the four top finishers- Eric Parlin, Jeff Libby, Alex Mowatt, Chad Wills

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.”

Second heat – Alex Mowatt, Travis Verrill, Caleb Proctor

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).

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

First heat – Eric Parlin, Jeff Libby, Chad Wills

Feature – finish

Feature – Eric Parlin nears finish

Feature – Eric Parlin catches Matt Smith (4) and Colby Marriott (95)

Feature – Adam O’Neil (14X) with early lead

Colby Marriott

Alex Mowatt wins 2nd heat

 

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Travis Verrill wins Week Two in the Bandits Division at Oxford Plains Speedway

Travis Verrill first, Jeff Libby second in the Bandits Feature

Travis Verrill went from last to first in one week

(Oxford ME) Last week Travis watched the end of the Bandits feature from the bleachers.

This week? An entirely different story.

“It worked out great,” explained Travis Verrill afterwards.

Travis won his heat and then went on to take the feature on Saturday night at spectator-less Oxford Plains Speedway.

“We had no mechanical failures,” said Travis. “We stayed in front. Clean racing. Good Saturday.”

Jeff Libby was close tonight but still is chasing that elusive first win.

Jeff Libby chased Travis in the heat and the feature. “We’ll get to first someday,” he joked afterwards. Jeff is still looking for his first win.

Travis lined up in the front in the feature with Adam O’Neill. By lap two Adam was fading back and the top four finishers (Travis Verrill, Jeff Libby, Alex Mowatt, and Chad Wills) were in place.

Round and round they went in that order for the final eighteen laps. “It’s hard on these hot days because we have to run these radial tires and it’s hard to keep grip,” added Travis.

So the first four stayed on the bottom of the track waiting for things to change. They didn’t. And there were no cautions leading to restarts.

The order of finish (Travis Verrill, Jeff Libby, Alex Mowatt, Chad Wills) was already in place in the second lap of the feature.

“I just needed that one little shot at it,” lamented Jeff, “but he never opened the door.”

Adam O’Neill got off to an early lead in the feature.

“(Jeff) Libby was all over me though out the whole race but I managed to keep it up in front,” said Travis.

Although Jeff finished second, he loved the race. “It was probably the most fun I’ve had here in three years. The competition was bumper to bumper. If any one of us moved out of the way, someone else was taking that spot immediately. Everyone ran real fair and clean and that’s all you can ask for out of racing.”

Jeff: “We definitely miss the fans, that’s for sure. It’s just not the same.”

Crowd tonight

Travis: “It’s frustrating for a lot of the fans because we can only bring ten people in with us. Now we don’t even have pay-per-view coverage which is even more frustrating. I am hoping that in the next couple of weeks they can figure it out with the state and get the fans back in here. Then we can all enjoy it together.”

Nice weather conditions…….temps in the upper 70s.

It was certainly a quick evening at OPS. There were heats and features for four divisions and everything was over in less than two hours.

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

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Alex Mowatt (finished 3rd in feature) finds some water in the pits

Chad Wills finished 4th in the feature

First heat ending – Travis first, Jeff second

In Heat 2, Chad Wills and Brandon Varney battle

Chad Wills wins the second heat

Matt Smith

 

 

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Travis Verrill wins 2nd leg of Bandit Triple Crown Series at OPS

Travis Verrill wins the Bandits Triple Crown feature

A line formed

(Oxford ME) It was like the old schoolyard days when the teacher told the class to get in line and stay there!

Travis Verrill started on the pole in the 25-lap Bandits feature at the Oxford Plains Speedway and nobody passed him.

Believe me, the attendees this sunny Sunday afternoon will tell you that those who wanted to pass Travis were close by for most of the race.

The track conditions forced drivers to stay down low (in line) and wait for something to happen.

Chad Wills and Shelby

“Today was pretty much a one-groove track,” explained 3rd place finisher Chad Wills afterwards.  “There were no second groove whatsoever.  It was too slippery out there.”

This was the second time Travis has won at OPS.

“It’s been an awesome weekend for our team,” he said.  “We won the Demolition Derby at the Fair (Oxford County) last night and then to come over here and win this race is something special.”

Travis got a good start and separated from the rest of the drivers in the early going.  Grady Doherty (finished second last week) was the nearest pursuer.

“In the beginning I broke away a little,” said Travis.  “I thought for a little bit that I had some room, so I tried to make the track a little wider for myself.  Once I saw (Chad) Wills and Alex (Mowatt) get by #1 (Grady Doherty) I knew that it would be only a couple of laps before they would get close.  It was just a fight for the bottom.”

Once Alex and Chad got close there were at least fifteen laps for them to get by Travis………..but they couldn’t.

Alex Mowatt

“Travis did a good job of holding me off,” explained 2nd place finisher Alex Mowatt.  “I didn’t have anything for him on the outside.  It was just too slippery.”

So in line they stayed and very close to each other.

“Everyone was sliding around so it was a much slower race,” explained Chad.  “You really had to use the brakes and pay attention so that you didn’t run into the guy in front of you.  On a normal night you’re able to coast through the corners but today people were slowing down because they had no grip.”

There was plenty of contact.

“Alex came into me a couple of times, but I managed to hold on,” said Travis.

“We were playing tag a little bit,” added Alex.  “I was having fun and they were having fun and we all got trophies.”

I asked Alex about moving out and trying to pass Travis: “I might have had a chance, but Chad was right on my butt and I didn’t want him to get under me.”

There was contact but Travis held on

“I could feel them there,” said Travis.  “There wasn’t time to look back.  I could hear them.  You get caught mirror-driving here and it will cost you.  I over-drove one corner because I made eye contact with Alex in the mirror.”

Alex won the first leg of the Bandit Triple Crown on July 7th.  (That was the first Bandits race I covered.)

The final leg of the Triple Crown is in October.

Travis: “Today is my last race.  My boy plays flag football and I’m a coach.”

Chad: “I will do the October race and maybe a race in Bangor after that.”

With a win and a second, Alex is the points leader going into the final race in October.

Chad: “GA Downing (Minot) sponsors me and I work for them.  They like racing and have helped me out a lot.”

Travis: “I told Alex in tech that he did a great job because he easily could have dumped me a couple of times.  Chad and Alex were in my rear view the whole race.  They certainly were faster than me.”

Nice weather with sun and temperatures in the low 70’s.

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

Car 50 starts on the pole

Frustration for driver of Car 50

Chad Wills, Travis Verrill, Alex Mowatt

Chad Wills tries the second lane

The final stretch of the Bandits feature

Grady Doherty was in second early in the race

Onto the tow truck in another race today

The finish of the top three

Travis and Alex afterwards

Travis out of the car with the checkered flag

Victory lane

Victory lap

The start of the race

Early in the race

 

 

 

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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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Rookie Alex Mowatt wins Race #1 in Bandit Triple Crown series at Oxford Plains Speedway

Alex Mowatt wins the first of three races in the Bandit Triple Crown series

Alex with trophy

(Oxford ME)  Rookie Alex Mowatt won the first race in the 2019 Bandit Triple Crown series on Sunday night at Oxford Plains Speedway.

The second, of three races, in this series will be held on September 15th at OPS.

Alex, of Norway, ran away and hid in his heat and then did the same thing in the 25-lap feature.

“I got off to a great start and Dustin (Salley) had trouble with his car,” Alex explained afterwards.  (Dustin is the points leader among the Bandits and has won numerous races this season.)

The way Alex’s car was moving on this evening, however, I’m not sure Dustin would have stayed with him even if his car had worked well.

Chad Wills (Oxford) took second and Dustin, despite his gear trouble, was third.

What certainly helped Alex was the combination of a small field (12 cars?) and no cautions.  Alex never had to weave through traffic, and he didn’t have to chance his lead with a restart.

It was clearly his day.

After one lap Alex (11) had control of his heat and later the feature.

Highlight of his racing career?  “This was nice, but the racing highlight so far for me was the first race I won here earlier in the season,” said the 20-year-old from Norway.

Dustin Salley (18) and Chad Wills (54) battled for second place

I tried to figure out the way things go at the speedway.  Sorting out drivers and cars was a challenge.  No up-to-date rosters anywhere to be found in the press box certainly didn’t help.

Dustin Salley (3rd) with Alex after the race

I had planned to interview several drivers afterwards.  That fell through because the inspection of the cars after the race seemed to last at least an hour.  That left me little time to find the other drivers.

But it was my first time trying to cover a race where I interviewed participants, and I enjoyed being there.  I am creating my own Bandits’ roster and I will know better what to expect next time.

I expect to be at OPS for the 250 late in August.

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

Alex with the victory flag

Alex’s car

Nick Ogden (9) leads Dustin Salley in heat

Chad Wills (54), Dustin Salley (18), and Travis Verrill (24)

Eddie MacDonald’s car

Alex finishes

Alex ahead of Dean Jordan (55) and Greg Sessions (91) in his heat

Alex alone on the corner

 

 

 

 

 

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