OXFORD — He knew his way into Victory Lane, he just hadn’t been there in a long, long while.
Veteran short track driver Donnie Wentworth powered his way around the outside of Doug Coombs on lap 34, then pulled away to claim the Oxford Casino Trophy Dash for Late Models on Thursday night at Oxford Plains Speedway.
Wentworth, of Otisfield, started seventh on the 26-car grid and worked his way up into contention by lap 20. Second generation driver TJ Brackett made a big late-race charge to second in the closing laps, while Coombs hung on for third. Former champion and recent winner Shawn Martin came home fourth, while ageless veteran Al Hammond completed the top five with a solid performance.
Jonah Farrington, Rob Greenleaf and Kurt Hewins were also feature winners in a slightly delayed yet still spectacular holiday program at the 3/8-mile oval.
Corey Morgan led the Late Model feature to green just minutes after he finished competing in the Strictly Stock feature. The Lewiston driver led the first 14 circuits before Coombs took command.
“I have to thank my crew for this one,” an appreciative Wentworth said. “We brought this thing home in pieces the last time out, and they’ve worked their tails off to get it back in action. This was a fun night; I raced against some good friends which I really enjoyed. I’m lucky enough to not only have a great team, but also several great sponsors who make this possible. I truly appreciate all of their support."
In earlier feature action, Farrington battled side-by-side for several laps with early leader Ryan Glover before nosing ahead with one lap to go and hung on to win the 20-tussle for Runnin’ Rebels. The driver from Minot started ninth on the grid and powered his way into contention in short order.
Glover hung on for second, while rookie Cody Chiasson made his podium debut with a solid third. Brady Romano and Matt Dufault completed the top five in a caution-free affair.
“This has been a blast,” Farrington said. “Ryan was strong tonight, but we worked our way past right when it counted. He ran me clean all those laps, which is all I could ask. I can’t believe we’ve won two this season, it feels awesome.”
Greenleaf has been the hottest thing in Mini Stock competition in recent weeks, and he was simply untouchable Thursday night. George Fortin led the first 22 laps before Greenleaf powered by on the outside and hung on for second, while defending class champion Darrell Moore finished third. Matt Moore and veteran Calvin Rose rounded out the top five.
“George was fast tonight, but my car was strong on the outside,” Greenleaf said. “He has been one of the top cars here this year, but my car is really starting to come around. I knew we could win with it, and we proved it tonight. This is a very competitive division; nobody pulls over and gives you a spot.”
Hewins inherited the lead with two laps remaining in the Strictly Stock battle when leader Matt Williams lost a wheel going into turn 1. Williams had become the event’s third different leader after Spencer Thompson and Ryan Hewins took their turn on the point. Corey Morgan made a slick move underneath Zach Bowie to take second in the closing laps, while Rick Spaulding and former champion Larry Emerson completed the top five.
“That was a wild race if I ever saw one,” Hewins said. “This is a brand new car, we’ve worked on it for weeks to get it hooked up like it needs to be and we’re making some decent progress. It isn’t quite where we want it just yet, but it’s getting there. I feel awful for Ryan (his son), he looked to have this one in the bag before he spun out. He’s going to win one of these things soon, and I’ll be thrilled to see it. But I’m just proud to win one for my awesome car owners, Eric Brown and Scott Brewer. They’ve given me everything I need to win races, so this night is what it’s all about.”