Local auto racing: Lanpher claims PASS 150 at Oxford

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OXFORD — Former Beech Ridge Motor Speedway track champion Reid Lanpher took the lead from Glen Luce on a late restart and hung on to win the Speedway Homes 150 for PASS North Super Late Models Sunday afternoon at Oxford Plains Speedway.

Lanpher, of Manchester, got the jump on Luce as the two led the field back to green at lap 120. As the laps wound down, defending Maritime Pro Stock Series champion Cole Butcher charged toward the front, coming up just .644 seconds short of Lanpher for runner-up honors.

Luce settled for third, while Turner’s Ben Rowe and former ACT regular Nick Sweet of Barre, Vermont, completed the top five. For Lanpher, his first career Pro All Star Series win meant so much more than a nice trophy.

“The whole team put a lot of hours into this new car over the winter, and it sure paid off here today,” Lanpher said. “I’m just so happy to give this team a PASS win. We unloaded strong, and my crew chief, Jason Ricker, knows how to put all the pieces in place. I hope this is an omen for a great season ahead.”

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Butcher, of Porters Lake, Nova Scotia, started 27th on the 40-car grid and steadily worked his way into contention. While his No. 53 entry was battered at the finish, the savvy young driver was pleased with his efforts.

“This place is quite the challenge,” Butcher said. “I said before the race that I’d seen plenty of people come from the back to the front here, so why can’t that be us. We just took our time, gaining positions when we could. We may have used our tires up a bit more than we would have liked, but we were still able to come up second. Getting a top three finish at Oxford is quite the accomplishment.”

Luce, who won the 2016 PASS North finale at Oxford and the 2015 Oxford 250, started eighth and led 26 laps on his way to a solid podium finish.

“It feels great to come out of the box with a good run,” Luce said. “We knew we would struggle at Thompson with our little crate engine, but we were hoping to come here and capitalize like we did last fall. Our tire specialist was out this week; but we’ll take this finish and be happy with it.”

After starting on the pole, Lanpher led the first 54 laps before Joey Polewarczyk Jr. wheeled by to take command. Polewarczyk looked to have the race in hand until he suffered mechanical failure while leading at lap 84. His misfortune handed the lead back to Lanpher, who felt bad yet accepted the gift.

Finishing sixth through 10th in the Speedway Homes 150 were Donnie Culprit, Joe Squeglia, Shawn Martin, Cassius Clark and Dave Farrington Jr. Twenty-three of the 40 starters finished on the lead lap, while seven cautions slowed the pace.

Other notable finishers in Sunday’s PASS event include Tracy Gordon (12th); Johnny Clark (16th); TJ Brackett (18th); defending PASS champion DJ Shaw (21st); and British Columbia native Sarah Cornett-Ching (30th). Forty-four cars attempted to qualify for the feature, a strong turnout by any standard.

Next up for the Pro All Stars Series competitors is a 300-lap contest on Saturday, April 29, at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough. The 300 was traditionally held in mid-September since its inception in 2005, but now moves to spring for 2017. Qualifying races get under way at 3 p.m.

pwhipple@sunjournal.com

Joe Squeglia (No. 03) and Sarah Cornett-Ching (No. 99) lead their qualifying heat to the green flag during Sunday’s Speedway Homes 150 for PASS North at Oxford Plains Speedway. 

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