Gerry claims PASS finale at Oxford; Benjamin wins series championship

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Former Beech Ridge Motor Speedway champion and 2017 Oxford 250 winner Curtis Gerry drives off Turn 4 at Oxford Plains Speedway during qualifying for Saturday’s PASS North season finale. Gerry backed up his August victory by winning the 150.

OXFORD — Reigning Oxford 250 winner and former Beech Ridge Motor Speedway Pro Series champion Curtis Gerry closed out a career-best season in style, winning the Pro All-Stars Series (PASS) North finale Saturday afternoon at Oxford Plains Speedway.

Gerry, 47, of Waterboro, started 12th on the 32-car grid, drove around the outside of Joey Doiron on lap 110 and hung on for top honors. Points leader Travis Benjamin charged up from his 13th starting spot to finish second, locking up his second career PASS North championship.

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New Hampshire native and former series champion DJ Shaw drove from 16th on the grid to finish third, while Manchester’s Reid Lanpher claimed fourth. Doiron, of Berwick, completed the top five.

“It’s been an unbelievable season,” Gerry said. “To win the 250 and come back to win this one today is unreal. Between winning the points title last year at The Ridge, the 250 and today’s season finale, we’ve really been blessed. I have to thank God, my sponsors and a great race team for this success.”

Benjamin was visibly emotional in Victory Lane as the reality of earning a second title started to set in.

“These guys are just unbelievable,” he said pointing to the Petit Motorsports crew. “We have such big fun at the tracks, but they work very hard and know exactly what they’re doing. I’ve raced about every kind of car there is and worked with a lot of people, but this car and race team are the absolute best.

“To run this series, it takes not only hard work but smart work, and good partners. I’m blessed to have a fast car, a great team and sponsors who make a title run possible. I thank this team and my family for helping me win this second championship. It means a ton and wouldn’t have happened without them.”

Shaw was happy with his performance, yet felt the car could have been better on the long runs.

“It was a tough race today,” Shaw said. “Our car was decent all day, but not great. We left it a little too free. We’ll take it home with a top-three finish, which is never a bad thing. All in all, we had a good race to close out the season.”

Finishing sixth through 10th in Saturday’s PASS 150 were Derek Griffith, Glen Luce, who went in to the event trailing Benjamin by 25 points, Scott Robbins, Tracy Gordon and Wayne Helliwell Jr. Eleven of the 32 starters finished on the lead lap, while four cautions slowed the pace. 

Gerry’s margin of victory over Benjamin was 1.580 seconds, while the race took just under one hour (59:35) to complete. Forty-five cars attempted to qualify for the 150, a strong sign for local SLM racing as the 2017 season concludes. 

Ben Rowe led the first eight laps before Jay’s Dave Farrington took over the point. Gordon drove around the outside of Farrington to take command at lap 55 and led until the race reach halfway. Doiron looked strong up front until Gerry turned up the heat.

Other notable finishers in the PASS 150 include three-time 250 and 2015 series champion Mike Rowe (15th); Fort Kent native and soon-to-be-crowned ARCA Racing Series champion Austin Theriault (16th); Scarborough native and former Beech Ridge standout Garrett Hall (18th); Nova Scotia native and Maritimes Pro Stock champion Cole Butcher (21st) and Vermont native Scott Dragon (23rd).

Other feature winners on PASS Championship Day at Oxford include Casey Call (Legends); Jamie Heath, of Waterford (Bandits); Livermore’s Tyler King (Street Stock Open, where Bridgton’s Bryce Mains clinched the title); and Mark Lundblad Jr. (PASS Modifieds).

pwhipple@sunjournal.com

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