OXFORD – While much of the short-track world in the Northeast focuses on today’s TD Banknorth 250, it was the wild and rocket-fast modified machines that took center stage on Saturday night.
Kirk Alexander drove out around the outside of Les Hinkley with six laps remaining and hung on to capture the Maine-ly Action Sports 100 for the True Value Modified Series.
The 600 horsepower, ground-pounding open-wheeled machines hadn’t turned a lap at Oxford in 16 years. The modifieds put on a thrilling show in a triumphant return to Oxford Plains Speedway.
Jim Childs and Glen Henderson were also feature winners Saturday.
Alexander, of Swanzey, N.H., started 16th on the modified grid and quickly worked his way into contention. Polesitter Jimmy Dolan, of Bethel, Conn., led the first four circuits before legendary modified star Dwight Jarvis took over. Jarvis, a former standout at New Hampshire’s Monadnock and Claremont ovals, ruled the action around the 3/8-mile track as the race approached its midpoint.
Jarvis held command until lap 78 when Hinkley powered around the outside to lead the pack. Hinkley, of Windsor Locks, Conn., looked to have the race well in hand until Alexander made his impressive late-race charge.
“That was an awesome run for us,” Alexander said. “My car was a little tight, but it didn’t change the whole race. I could see those guys starting to fade and come back to us, and we got the long run there so we could run them down. It worked out for us, Les was fast, but I got around him when it counted most.”
Hinkley hung on for second at the line, while Jarvis finished third. Peter Jarvis steadily worked his way into contention and came home fourth, while well known modified pilot Chris Pasteryak was fifth.
Completing the top 10 was Louis Mechalides, Rob Goodenough, Billy Goodrow, Jimmy Kuhn Jr. and Andy Seuss.
Thanks to the blistering pace run by the rocket-ship modifeds, the 100 lap race was completed in a little more than 45 minutes, despite five caution periods.
In earlier feature action, Childs picked up his fifth win of the season with a dominant performance in the Mini Stock feature. The Leeds driver took the lead from Dave Mooney on lap 16. Mooney hung on for second, while Bob Guptill was third. Former champion Don Mooney made a late charge to secure fourth at the finish, while Ashley Marshall completed the top five.
After two straight weeks of failing to finish because of mechanical trouble, Childs was happy to get back into Victory Lane.
“That was a tough run, the car had a bit of a push to it,” Childs said. “It feels good after struggling the last couple of weeks. I saw the white flag and thought, wow, this race isn’t over yet.”
The Mini Stock gang went flag-to-flag without a caution in an unusually-smooth feature race.
Henderson came out on top of a wild feature for the Strictly Stock division. The Sabattus driver started on the pole and led wire-to-wire, surviving one restart and holding off a hard-charging Tommy Tompkins at the finish.
Tompkins has become Mr. Runner-up in 2007, posting more second-place finishes than any other driver in the division.
Skip Tripp put in a solid performance and brought his machine home in third, while Oxford veterans Sumner Sessions and Mike Short completed the top five.
Short was part of the race’s best battle, as he and Danny Smart went side-by-side for at least 15 laps. Only one caution slowed the proceedings, that for an early-race pileup on the backstretch on lap 1.
“It was an easy race, but also a hard race in a way,” Henderson said. “When the competition like Tommy gets to you, they put the pressure on. The lapped cars don’t always do what you’d like. When there is two right in front of you, what do you do? I’m just happy we could hold them off and score the win on a big night like this.”