OXFORD – Don Mooney knows what it takes to win races at Oxford Plains Speedway.
The former Mini Stock division champion had to use his years of experience and nearly every trick in the book Saturday night, as he held off a valiant charge from defending champ Danny Morris to capture Round 1 of the 2006 Cole-man’s Concrete Iron Man Series.
Morris, who earned his 2005 title without visiting Victory Lane, took over the point on lap two from polesitter Jeff Prindall and led the field for 15 laps. He and Mooney battled side-by-side through the mid-stages, working their way through traffic. Mooney finally took control for good on lap 41.
Morris settled for second, while Melcher, who won on opening day, finished third. Oxford’s Bill Thibeault kept his nose clean the entire distance and came home fourth, while Chris Varney completed the top five. Finishing sixth through 10th was Adam Polvinen, John Cary, Ashley Marshall, Prindall and Scott Moore.
Mike Short, Skip Tripp, Shane Green, Travis Adams and Ricky Rolfe were also feature winners on Sunoco Race Fuels Night at the western Maine oval.
In early action, Short ran away from the field in the first of two 20-lap Strictly Stock features. The Auburn driver took over the point from Oxford’s Kim Tripp and lap six and was never challenged. Tripp held off a hard-charging Jason Gaboury for second, while Chris Coolidge and Mike St. Germain completed the top five. Gaboury drove the final 10 laps with no brakes to pull off a solid third. Only one brief caution slowed the pace.
Tripp inherited the lead of the Strictly Stock A feature on lap 13 after Sumner Sessions spun coming through Turn 4 and collected several cars in a frontstretch pile-up. Sessions was hit hard from behind in the melee but was not injured. Tripp pulled away in the closing laps to record the win, while Guy Childs finished second and Tommy Tompkins, winner on opening day, was third. Jeff Moon, also a winner on opening day, and Roxbury’s Jeff Merrill rounded out the top five. As in the first feature, the pace was slowed by one quick caution period.
Green got the jump on Auburn’s Bruce Helmuth on a lap-30 restart and hung on to win the 35-lap Limited Sportsman feature. Helmuth, who started on the pole and led all but the final five laps, faded in the closing laps and dropped outside the top five. Multi-time OPS champion Carey Martin charged up the outside lane to finish second, while Steve Bennett Sr. was third.
Adams led all the way in a thrilling 40-lap feature for the Late Model Stock division. The 2003 champion had Oxford veteran Jon Brill glued to his rear bumper the entire distance, yet never flinched when the pressure mounted.
Brill settled for runner-up honors.
while 20-year-old sophomore sensation T. J. Watson put in an impressive performance to claim third .
in what was easily the night’s most competitve event. Dale Verrill, winner on opening day, helped his points-chasing efforts with a fourth-place run, while Turner’s Glen Luce finished fifth.
Rolfe was in top form as he drove away with the first 50-lap points race for Pro Stocks in 2006. Rolfe, who has driven in just about every division that has run at Oxford, took advantage of his pole position start and cruised to a convincing victory. Timmy Brackett proved the much talked-about outside groove at Oxford is indeed viable in 2006, as he drove from deep on the starting grid to claim second Brackett, who won his first championship in 2005 after a 20-year career,
“The track owed me one after last week, ” explained Rolfe. “We had a great car here last Saturday, then had a tire go down and it really spoiled our run. This makes up for it, and I’m proud to be back in Victory Lane.”