(Oxford ME) Dustin Salley won the Bandits feature tonight.
Chad Wills won the Bandits points championship.
Dustin looked to be on his way to winning his second straight points title but ran into some “technical difficulty”, as Chad described it, after the August 23rd race and was disqualified.
Dustin’s zero points for that race put Chad ahead going into tonight’s final chance for points.
“I knew that I had to stay within five cars of the 18 (Dustin Salley) to win the points title,” explained Chad.
The opportunity to win the championship had an effect on Chad prior to the race: “I was a nervous wreck. I was quite sick before the race. It was nerves.”
So while Chad played it safe, Dustin was all in.
“I drove the wheels off it,” Dustin said. “Tonight, this thing was hooked up. Brand new tires are what make a difference with these cars, it’s not going to be all about the motor.”
Grady Doherty had a big night. He won his heat and came across second in the feature. Grady’s best previous finish had been a 4th on August 10th.
Dustin won his heat and had already won five times before tonight’s victory.
Grady had the pole in the feature while Dustin started 6th.
Several laps in, the race was between Grady and Dustin. They were side-by-side briefly and there was contact between the two of them as Dustin took the lead for good.
“I tried to keep it as clean as I could,” he explained. “I didn’t have the preferred groove when I’m out in the second groove, so I kept it tight.”
Once Dustin had the lead, the issue wasn’t who would win but by how much would he win.
“We’ll take the win and move on and see what next year brings us,” added Dustin.
To win the title at Dustin’s expense was bittersweet for Chad: “I owe a lot to Dustin. He helps me on and off the track. I thank Kyle Hewins too. He and Dustin are pretty much the mechanics. All I’m good for is driving the car.”
Dustin: “We had a great crew; KHM, Chad, Kyle and all of those guys. They help out a ton. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to race anymore. It’s a perfect combination between Kyle and me. We get these things to go pretty good. I can’t thank those guys enough.”
I decided this summer to spend some time at Oxford and opted to specialize in one division. The Bandits became the choice, and in my six visits I met six different winners; Alex Mowatt, Travis Verrill, Jake Hall, Caleb Proctor, Chad Wills, and Dustin Salley.
Dustin finished with six victories. Chad had three.
“We got a DQ last week which cost us the championship,” said Dustin. “In the whole year it was the only time we were out of the top five so I can’t complain.”
Other divisions settled championships today as well.
I always find the Rookie division entertaining. It is almost a certainty that the cars will get tangled up. Tonight’s tangle eliminated all put two cars and so 12-year-old Maddie Herrick was declared the winner.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)