OXFORD, Maine. — Recap by Race Chaser Online New England Correspondent Kyle Souza — PASS photo —
Glen Luce banked $31,300 on Sunday evening, by capturing his first career Oxford 250 win at the Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, Maine.
The 42nd annual AIM Recycling 250 saw some tight racing up front, some rubbing in the middle of the field and some big name surprises in the back of the field. Those three headlines were the highlights of an event that took just under two hours to complete.
Luce, of Turner, Maine, found himself struggling in the early stages of the day on Sunday after being among the fastest cars all weekend in practice. His struggles did not come on the track, but off, during the driver’s draw for position. Luce drew a number that lined him up to start last in the fourth of six heat events.
However, when Luce hit the track, he moved all the way up to fourth, a qualified spot, by the time the heat race saw the checkered flag. That started him mid-pack, 22nd for the 250, with a ton of cars lying in front of him.
The early stages of Sunday’s 250 saw a determined Wayne Helliwell go to the point. He got by polesitter Eddie MacDonald fairly early on, then took the lead from Kelly Moore on lap 16 with a move of turn two.
The goal at that point for Helliwell was to get away and lead as many laps as possible. As the Oxford 250 lap board showed on Sunday, each lap lead was $100 towards the driver. That collection of cash can add up quickly.
While MacDonald backslid through the bottom of the top five with an ill-handling car, the first caution flew on lap 31, when West Boylston, Massachusetts native Derek Ramstrom went spinning on the entrance to turn three.
Pit crews got their first work of the afternoon during that caution, when Ramstrom, among multiple others towards the back of the field pitted for adjustments. One of which included Distance Racing Chassis master Jeff Taylor, who was surprisingly struggling with his handling.
The restart saw Helliwell go back to the point, but the struggles in the back continued as driver’s tried to stop themselves from contact. A multi-car crash in turn two, just two laps after the restart, drew the second caution of the evening. Tate Fogleman, former 250 champion Ben Rowe and multiple others collected to the bottom of turn one.
The ensuing green flag saw Helliwell Jr. drive back to the lead, while Moore and multi-time Oxford 250 champion Mike Rowe began the battle for second. Just as it seemed the field had got some rhythm going, with the leaders in lapped traffic and Trevor Sanborn starting to make his presence felt, a third caution period was brought down on the race.
Christopher Bell, driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports, spun his Toyota Care Super Late Model from the middle of the field in turn one. Multiple other drivers spun either with contact from behind or to avoid Bell, including Ramstrom and defending race winner Travis Benjamin. The struggles for Benjamin on Sunday began in the heat races and continued to get worse as the day went. He took a provisional into the event and never even got a chance to make his way through before getting involved in the incident.
Bell and others returned to the track for the green, but Benjamin ended up down a lap, stuck on pit road when the green flag went back in the air. That restart was when Johnny Clark, driver of the No. 54 Clark Scrap Metals machine started making his move. He restarted just outside the top four in fifth, but moved to the outside with ease and started going by drivers to the front. He went by Mike Rowe for third on lap 54, then went after Moore in the battle for second. After a long fight, he was able to clear him and get the position by lap 65.
Clark started his fight towards the leader Helliwell, who was in some heavy lapped traffic at the time. Those lapped down cars included Ramstrom and Benjamin, who basically ended any chances they had at making a comeback in the middle part of the event. Sanborn moved to third by Moore on lap 81, while Clark had close to the back bumper of the leader. He looked inside and outside multiple times, but the lapped traffic seemed to always be in the way for Clark.
The green flag run, that lasted over fifty laps, saw the struggles continue for Eddie MacDonald and it also saw Joey Doiron begin to come from the tail of the field. Doiron was forced to take a provisional on Sunday to get into the Oxford 250 after a terrible draw saw him struggle to qualify through the three attempts he made. He had moved inside the top twenty by the 100 lap mark, chasing down 15th position after starting well outside the top thirty.
It was then that eventual race winner Luce began his march into the top five. He moved outside Jeremy Davis, regular competitor on the Granite State Pro Stock Series and moved to sixth position, then took the fifth spot from Moore at lap 118 and stared his chase towards the top of the leaderboard. Kyle Treadwell spun down into the grass in turn three at lap 118, however he was able to keep rolling while others crashed in turn one. That drew the fourth caution of the Oxford 250, just before the halfway point was shown to the leaders.
Shawn Knight came sliding sideways into the turn and multiple others were forced to quickly jump out of the way in order to avoid him. One of them was Bryan Kruczek, who ended up bouncing through the dirt in the first turn and struggled to see his way into the pit area. While leader Helliwell and second place Clark stayed out, multiple others decided to make their needed pit stop under this caution.
Moore, Sanborn and eventual winner Luce were the first three in the front of the field to make the hard left and come to the attention of their pit crews. They and multiple others returned to the track for the restart that ended up quickly slowed once again for another caution flag. Trouble in turn one saw Brent Dragon, Benjamin and David Oliver all get collected.
The next restart let the field hit the halfway point and the battle up front was for second, with Mike Rowe and Clark. Helliwell lead the field across the stripe for the crossed flags, while Corey Bubar and Davis battled for third, being closely chased at the time by Doiron. Those three drivers battled hard for third, with Bubar backsliding on the top groove.
The sun had began to set at Oxford Plains Speedway at that point and when the lights came on, the sparks came out. Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Christopher Bell had a front end issue on his mount, sending sparks all around the 3/8 mile oval and forcing him to come to the attention of his team on pit road. He quickly returned just a few laps later, but he would never recover from that, going multiple laps down.
The drivers that had pitted under the most recent caution for tires then started to show how much fresh rubber meant on Sunday. Sanborn and Luce worked their way methodically back up into the top five by lap 170, while Doiron made his move to the front. He moved by Clark was ease, then rolled up to the back bumper of Helliwell and drove under to the lead for the first time on the day on lap 162. He had come from all the way in the back to the front and put a move on Helliwell with ease.
Joey Pole, winner of the last chance race on Sunday afternoon, also had come from the back of the field into the top five by lap 170. He was charging hard in a car that actually is his full-time ride on the American Canadian Tour, just converted over to be able to meet technical inspection rules. Pole was looking for third spot just went Luce grabbed the point from Doiron to a big applause from the crown. Mike Rowe came close to hitting the outside wall on the backstretch, slid through the dirt and drew the caution flag just a few short laps later. This caution would be the crucial factor in the outcome of the outcome of the classic.
Luce, who had already pitted earlier in the race, decided he would come down the pit road once again for more tires under this caution and brought almost the whole field of challengers with him. Shawn Martin inherited the lead under that caution, while Luce and Pole lead the group of fresh tire cars of the pit road and back onto the 3/8 mile oval.
A quick caution for a spin on lap 192 slowed the event just after the restart, but Luce then began his march to the front of the field. Luce moved into third by lap 198, but his progress was slowed by a multi-car crash in turn one. The most notable of the drivers involved was Johnny Clark, who had been among the best cars in the first half of the race. Clark, much like others had done earlier, went through the dirt and got it all over his windshield and was forced to come from the back of the field.
Luce made his move by Shawn Martin to the lead on lap 201 and drove into the sunset in route to his first career Oxford 250 victory. It was his second career top-two finish in the event, with the other coming to Kevin Harvick in 2008.
“The feeling is pretty emotional, it’s just unbelievable,” Luce mentioned in victory lane. “I tried just to hit my marks and not think about it. I did look at the scoreboard once and there was like 27 laps to go and I was like don’t look at that.”
“It seemed like so long. I tried to keep hitting my marks and the lapped cars were good. It’s just an unbelievable feeling and I really can’t even describe it. It’s pretty emotional. This completes my career even if I never raced another race.”
Manchester, New Hampshire teenager Reid Lanpher came home second, a night after winning the Pro Stock feature at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway just up the road. Ben Lynch scored a career best at Oxford with his third place finish, while Johnny Clark rebounded to finish fourth with Joey Pole fifth.
RESULTS; 42nd ANNUAL OXFORD 250; Sunday August 30, 2015:
- Glen Luce
- Reid Lanpher
- Ben Lynch
- Johnny Clark
- Joey Polewarcyk
- Cassius Clark
- Wayne Helliwell
- Corey Bubar
- David Oliver
- Trevor Sanborn
- Bryan Kruczek
- Kelly Moore
- Shawn Martin
- Shawn Knight
- Spencer Davis
- Tim Brackett
- Cole Butcher
- Scott Farrington
- Bobby Timmons
- Garett Hall
- Matt Matheson
- Scott Robbins
- Rapheal Lassard
- Eddie MacDonald
- Mike Rowe
- Christopher Bell
- Travis Benjamin
- Jason Corliss
- Jeremy Davis
- Kyle Tradewell
- Joey Doiron
- Mike Hopkins
- Scott Mulkern
- Jeff Taylor
- Brent Dragon
- Derek Ramstrom
- Jeremy Whorff
- Vanna Brackett
- Tate Fogleman
- Ben Rowe
- Tyler Dipple