Turner’s Glen Luce drove inside of Shawn Martin on lap 200 and pulled away to claim the most lucrative victory of his career in the 42nd annual AIM Recycling Oxford 250 Sunday night at Oxford Plains Speedway.
Luce held off a hard-charging Reid Lanpher for top honors in one of the most exciting late-race battles in recent history. New Hampshire native and North Carolina resident Ben Lynch powered his way to third, while multi-time Pro All Stars Series North champion Johnny Clark and former ACT champion Joey Polewarczyk Jr. completed the top five.
“This is crazy, I just can’t describe the emotion,” a choked up Luce said in Victory Lane. “We started way back in our heat, but managed to get up through traffic and get in the show. We had the car out of balance with tires early; I was kind of tight up through lap 118 or so. Seth (Holbrook, his crew chief) pulled us in and the boys got us out in a hurry. We had an incredible pit stop when we needed it.
“We went back in at lap 190 and took four tires and fuel, and we took off. I had Reid glued to my back bumper, but he did an awesome job and never got against me. I don’t even know who was third; I didn’t look in my mirror.”
Lanpher, 17, who won his fourth NASCAR Pro Series feature Saturday night at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, was elated with his performance against veterans with years of experience.
“I knew we were pretty good about at lap 150 or so,” Lanpher said. “We could hold our own on old tires battling against guys with fresh rubber. When we bolted on new ones, the car really came to life. We lucked out a little to get on the inside for those restarts. We were able to roll up through there, which helped a ton. The car was good on the bottom. Glen was too fast for us, but I’m thrilled to finish second.”
Lynch, who doesn’t race full-time and wasn’t expected to contend for a top five, was overwhelmed and proud of his team’s efforts.
“Even though we started near the front, the right front tire we put on had a hole in it and was starting to go down,” Lynch explained. “We were falling back quickly, so we pitted and took two new tires. After I had driven back up to seventh, somehow they said we were a lap down. I don’t know how that happened, but I guess it did when we were on pit road.
“They put us to the back behind all the guys on new tires, so I just tried to pick off as many cars as I could without using up my car. On the next restart, I was fortunate enough to work my way forward and drove it up to a podium finish. These guys behind me gave me a super car, I’m very proud of them.”
Finishing sixth through 10th in the Oxford 250 were Cassius Clark, Wayne Helliwell Jr., Corey Bubar, David Oliver and Trevor Sanborn. Twelve of the 41 starters finished on the lead lap, while eight cautions slowed the pace. Luce’s margin of victory was just a tic over one second.
Other than the winner and Martin, four different drivers took a turn up front. Two-time 250 winner Eddie MacDonald led the field to green and stayed there for three laps until 1995 NASCAR champion Kelly Moore took command. Helliwell took off like a rocket once he got there, leading 144 laps.
PASS North winner Doiron, who earned wins at Thunder Road (May 24) and Beech Ridge (June 27) this summer, drove inside of Helliwell to take over the point at lap 162.
Always a strong runner but never really a multi-time winner, Luce turned his career on its nose when he pulled off the big win. Prior to Sunday night, the best finish Luce had in the mid-summer classic was second in 2008 behind NASCAR star Kevin Harvick. This time, he had the fastest car in practice, and he carried it over to Sunday to nab the big payday.
Other notable finishers in this year’s 250 include pre-race favorite and recent PASS winner Bryan Kruczek (11th); local favorite and multi-time Oxford feature winner Shawn Knight (14th); weekly point leader Tim Brackett (16th); former 250 winner Scott Robbins (19th); two-time race winner MacDonald (24th); defending two-time 250 victor Travis Benjamin (27th); nine-time Oxford champion Jeff Taylor (34th); and two-time 250 winner Ben Rowe (40th).
MacDonald, Moore, Mike Rowe, Lynch, David Oliver and Helliwell all won qualifying races. As expected, the action during qualifying was worth the price of admission. With nearly 80 cars attempting to earn only 34 spots in the race (positions 35 through 41 came through provisionals), side-by-side battles were all over the racetrack.
For Luce, it will take a while for it all to settle in.
“It’s unbelievable, I don’t really have any words to describe this feeling,” Luce said. “My dad raced here back in the 1960s and early 1970s. I watched Mike Rowe here as a kid, he was my father-in-law and still treats me like one of bunch. I have to thank everybody involved with this team; they’ve put up with a lot of late nights and long travel. I can’t thank the Mayberry family enough for bringing the 250 back to its former glory.”