Tag Archives: Travis Verrill

Alex Mowatt overcomes obstacles notching 2nd Bandits Division win at Oxford Plains Speedway

Alex Mowatt battled back to get second Bandits win

Alex Mowatt (11) escapes a Lap 2 wreck

(Oxford ME) It wasn’t a straight line to his second win, but Alex Mowatt will take it.

“I didn’t have the fastest car,” said Alex, “but we still won.”

Alex finessed his way through a major wreck in Lap Two only to be placed last while he had a damaged fender removed in the pits.  He didn’t let that discourage him and skillfully worked his way close to the front in the closing laps.

Alex has dominated the Bandits Division at Oxford Plains Speedway for six weeks, never finishing lower than third in every race this season.  He is the current points leader in the division

Having a good car helps but Alex’s ability to stay out of wrecks so far has been crucial.

David Cook first and Alex Mowatt second

Newcomer David Cook actually won tonight’s race but was immediately disqualified giving Alex Mowatt the winner’s trophy.

There were eighteen cars in tonight’s crowded feature.  With the heats having little bearing on the positioning in the feature you knew that newcomers in the cars in the front would have their hands full.

They did manage to go around the track once but in the tight second lap leader Doug Churchill spun out and finished several driver’s evenings with the resulting crash.

Chad Wills looks back at his damaged car

Chad Wills took advantage of a spinout last week and came out of it in second place.  Tonight, he wasn’t so lucky.

Alex Mowatt faced the spinning car and avoided a direct hit by getting down to the curb.  Chad was behind Alex and had nowhere to go, taking a direct hit that ended his evening.

Bridgton’s Chris Foster was further back.  “I was lucky enough to be behind the wreck,” said Chris.  “I saw it happening, so I got into the curb and avoided it.”

Chris earned second place tonight.

 

This is what the spinout/wreck in Lap Two of the Bandits feature looked like:

Travis Verrill with the lead after the spinout

Travis Verrill and Brandon Caston came out of the wreck in first and second.

Chris Foster and Jeff Libby chased Travis for a few laps before David Cook rallied for first in the 13th lap of the 20-lap feature.

Alex Mowatt was the lone challenger over the last few laps.

“He (Doug Churchill) got into my fender,” explained Alex.  “I had to go off and get that fixed and had to start last.”  Alex would rein in everyone but the disqualified winner in a rousing comeback.

Chris Foster captured second place

Chris Foster: “We started 11th.  That wreck helped us a lot.  I’ve got a good crew and a good car.  I used to race on Wednesday nights.  I ended up buying a Bandits car and here we are.”

There were a few spectators in the grandstands as Governor Mills limited the crowd to two hundred people.  But that is better than the zero spectators that had been allowed previously!  The Oxford 250 is four weeks away.  What will the crowds be like then?

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

Brandon Caston wins Heat 1

Brandon Caston gets inside Doug Churchill in the first heat

Alex Mowatt wins Heat 2

Jeff Libby and Chad Wills chase Alex Mowatt in Heat 2

Luke Mowatt

Waiting for the feature

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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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.)

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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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Travis Verrill wins first Saturday night Bandits feature at Oxford Plains Speedway

Travis Verrill celebrates his first Saturday night feature win

In the final yards, Travis Verrill (24) holds off Jeff Libby (44) with three other cars close by

Start of the Bandits feature

(Oxford ME) They came around the final turn with the chance of a lifetime.

One driver had never won a Saturday night feature.

The other had never finished above third.

Travis Verrill got his first win; a Saturday night feature in the Bandits division at Oxford Plains Speedway.

“It was my first Saturday night win,” said an exuberant Travis afterwards.  “We’ve got a couple of third places and fourth places on Saturdays.  We’ve won some flag poles but never on a Saturday night.”

For Travis to get that first Saturday night checkered flag was exciting but the race itself (20 laps) was one of the best I’ve seen at OPS.

Jeff Libby (pardon the poor camera setting) finished second

It was highly competitive from start to finish.  With no cautions sometimes the field spreads out and the outcome takes shape very early. This race wasn’t like that.  Travis and Jeff Libby started at the front and never seemed to separate by more than a car length.  Most of the time they were side by side.

Later in the race, three other drivers (Chad Wills, Dustin Salley, and Alex Mowatt) closed in on the top two.  Dustin has multiple wins while Alex had a win two weeks ago.  Any mistake up front and they were ready and in position to take the lead.

But it didn’t happen.  Both Travis and Jeff were that good on this evening.

I asked Jeff about the race: “It was exciting to get second since third was the best I had ever done before this.  The only chance I had to get past him (Travis Verrill) would have been to move him and I don’t race like that.  It still was our best race so far.”

This is how it looked into the 19th lap

Travis used his car last Friday in a four-cylander, figure-eight race.  Things didn’t go so well.

“We don’t usually do a race like that,” said Travis, “and we took a lot of damage.  We had to replace everything in the left rear.  We even missed the first practice today but got it together before the heat.”

Travis won the first heat ahead of Alex Mowatt.

Dustin Salley took the second heat.

“I figured that all the work these guys put in this week to get me back on the track, there was no way we were going home without that trophy,” said Travis.

Little room for error in the last lap

The Paris resident added, “We won this in front of a good crowd.  I have a lot of fans who come out and support me.  My mom makes everyone come whether they want to or not!  But I appreciate everyone who comes.  It’s really the only reason it’s worth it.  You don’t make a million here.”

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

Brian Caswell (47) loses a tire

Rookie spinout – Brady Childs (1) and Dylan Cook (87)

Mark Turner (09) spins out in the Street Stocks

 

 

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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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