Auto Racing: Teen wins main event at OPS

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OXFORD — Tommy Stilphen snuck past a last-lap melee in turn four and drove on to claim a wild feature for the Pro Late Model class Friday night at Oxford Plains Speedway.

Stilphen, 14, is the youngest feature win in a headline division in the 64-year history of the track.

Justin Larsen (Mini Stock), Corey Morgan (Outlaw Sportsman) and Tyson Jordan (Street Stock) were also feature winners on the first Friday night program since 1995 at the Western Maine oval. The track moved its weekly racing from Saturday nights this season.

Stilphen started fourth on the 16-car grid, worked his way into contention by the halfway mark and was ready to capitalize when leader Chris Coolidge was involved in a tangle in traffic.

Two-time Oxford champion and most recent feature winner Shawn Martin drove all the way to second from 14th, while T.J. Brackett finished a solid third. Former NASCAR champion and opening day winner Dale Shaw came from ninth on the grid to finish fourth, while Dave Farrington Jr. charged from 15th to fifth in the 40-lap caution-free battle.

“I’m just getting into this type of car, trying to get some seat time and learn the ropes,” Stilphen said. “I never drove so hard in my life. I have a lot of great people working on this team, veterans like Trevor Sanborn who guide me in the right direction. This feels great to beat these guys. I love driving this car.”

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Finishing sixth through 10th were Kevin Douglass, Tim Brackett, Vanna Brackett, Scott Farrington and Adam Polvinen. With no cautions to slow the pace, the 40-lapper ran off in short order. With cool temperatures on a spring night, traction was sufficient for side-by-side racing.

In earlier feature action, rookie Larsen drove inside of Brady Romano on lap 2 and drove away to his first win of 2013.

Defending champion Rob Greenleaf (and winner on opening day) finished a distant second, while Calvin Rose Jr. was a few car lengths back in third. Shane Kaherl and Ryan Glover completed the top five.

“This is my first win of any kind in four years,” said Larsen, who got his start in go-kart racing at Oxford. “I just focused on holding my line and tried not to watch the mirror. I knew those guys were back there, but this car was hooked up big-time tonight. This is the kind of flawless race everybody dreams about.”

Morgan backed up his victory on opening day with another solid performance Friday night. The veteran from Lewiston held off a hard-charging Guy Childs for top honors, while Kyle Hewins finished third. Auburn’s Kyle Treadwell and early leader Steve Moon completed the top five.

“This is pretty amazing,” Morgan said. “This is a brand new car right out of the box. It’s actually the car my wife will drive on Wednesday nights this summer. I really wasn’t expecting it to run so well, but I’m happy it did, and winning always feels great. I have a lot of folks who help out and make this happen.”

Jordan provided the most excitement of the night with his thrilling last-lap pass on Rick Spaulding. The veteran from Turner wheeled his machine to the outside coming to the checkered flag, nipping his rival by inches for the victory.

Spaulding ran a fabulous race but settled for second, while former champion Skip Tripp was third. David Whittier and Spencer Morse rounded out the top five.

“The car has been pretty good so far this season. I’ve just had a lot of bad luck,” Jordan said. “This was win No. 50 for my car owner. that was what we were shooting to reach. I hope our bad luck is behind us. I’ll take a win like this any time.”

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