Auto Racing: Martin claims Pro Late Model feature at Oxford

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OXFORD — Two-time Late Model champion Shawn Martin wheeled around the outside of Gary Chiasson with just seven laps remaining, then pulled away to win the 40-lap Pro Late Model trophy dash Sunday afternoon at Oxford Plains Speedway.

Skip Tripp (Street Stock); Nik Coates (Mini Stock); and Corey Morgan (Outlaw Sportsman) were also feature winners in the second points event of 2013 for Oxford’s Championship Series teams.

Martin, of Turner, won his second title in 2012 under the old crate engine/spec tire rules previously used at Oxford. In just his first appearance in the newly-created headline division, Martin showed his team’s ability to adapt with a convinving victory after starting 12th on the grid.

Chiasson led the first 25 laps and hung on for a solid second place finish, while Oxford newcomer Kevin Douglass was third. Second-generation driver TJ Brackett drove from ninth to fourth, while Donnie Wentworth completed the top five.

“These cars are an absolute blast to drive,” Martin said. “You can really get up on the wheel and be aggressive. There is a lot of grip in those Hoosiers, it gives you the chance to make some moves. Our car kept getting better as the race progressed. I waited for traffic to open up and once it was clear, the car went to the front. I hope we can repeat a few more of these as the season unfolds.”

Opening Day winner Dale Shaw also led the feature briefly but received the black flag from officials on lap 29 for his role in an incident with Chiasson. Shaw pulled his machine into the pit area, while Chiasson continued to show the way.

Finishing sixth through 10th in the Pro Late Model tussle was Tommy Ricker, Tommy Stilphen, Adam Polvinen, Timmy Brackett and Thom Bell. Only two cautions slowed the pace, both for minor spins. Bell and rookie Scott Farrington both spun their cars yet sustained no major damage.

In earlier feature action, Tripp went wire-to-wire from the pole to claim a caution-free affair. The former champion from Poland built a huge lead by halfway and was never challenged. Matt Williams powered his way through traffic all the way to second after starting 13th, while Ryan Robbins claimed third. Multi-time champion and last week’s winner Kurt Hewins settled for fourth, while Corey Morgan rounded out the top five.

“This win was nice, but next week will actually be a lot more fun for me,” Tripp said, referring to the fact he’ll start out back after winning Sunday. “I’ll have to work at it and pass some cars, but I think the car is capable. It ran like a dream today; the folks at RPM Engines that own this thing make it easy.”

Coates had to fend off a serious challenge from Calvin Rose Jr. but was able to prevail in a hotly-contested feature. The veteran from Lisbon hung tough lap after lap on the inside while Rose applied loads of pressure from up high. Rose settled for second, while Shane Kaherl finished third. Ryan Glover and defending champion Rob Greenleaf completed the top five.

“I sure didn’t want to see that late caution,” Coates said. “Calvin put up a good fight, but he raced me fair and it was a good, clean race. I brought my 11-month-old daughter to her first race today. She may not know it but she’ll be coming every week now. I think we have a new good luck charm.”

Morgan claimed his second straight victory after getting the jump on Steve Moon on the event’s first restart. Guy Childs grabbed most of the attention in this one as he drove from dead last all the way to second at the finish. Kyle Hewins came from outside the top 10 to finish third, while Mike Haynes and Auburn’s Kyle Treadwell rounded out the top five.

“They really made me work for this one.” Morgan said. “I was able to get through traffic quickly and get to the front. But I looked in my mirror on that late restart and saw Guy and Kyle. They both had strong cars. I’m just thrilled we had one fast enough to hold them off. We’re having a terrific start to our season.”

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