OXFORD — He stole the headlines on opening day, even though he didn’t win the race.
Veteran short track driver Tommy Ricker started his 2010 season with an impressive second place finish in last Sunday’s WJAB 150 for the American-Canadian Tour.
And when it was time to get the weekly racing program off and running, it was Ricker leading the way.
The Poland native powered around the outside of early leader Ricky Rolfe coming through turns 3 and 4 on lap 33, then hung on to claim the Late Model feature Saturday night at Oxford Plains Speedway. Rolfe hung on for second, while Scott Luce finished right where he started in third. Corey Morgan ran like a real front-runner all night and came home fourth, while ageless veteran Timmy Brackett finished fifth.
“We were sure good tonight,” Ricker said after doing a little dance in Victory Lane. “We needed those last few laps to get it done. I knew Ricky was gaining on me, but we had car enough to hold him off. I’m still excited about last week, so this just adds to the feeling. Right now, it looks like we’re going to have a pretty solid season.”
Vannah Brackett, Zach Bowie, Nic Stanley, Kevin Bishop and Kurt Hewins were also feature winners on 99.9 The Wolf Fan Appreciation Night at the 3/8-mile oval.
Finishing sixth through 10th in the Late Model trophy dash was Donnie Wentworth, Billy Childs, Travis Stearns, Ben Ashline and Gary Chiasson. There was just one lead change among two drivers, and Rolfe wants revenge in two weeks.
“I’ll get you next time,” he said while pointing at Ricker. “Tommy is really hooked up right now, but my car was fast for most of the race. I like these caution-free deals, especially when I’m running up front. We’ll think about our chassis setup a bit and try it again next time. Second isn’t bad, but we want to win a few of these things, too.”
In earlier feature action, Brackett took advantage of a minor slip by Missy Morgan to claim the first Ladies division feature of 2010. The Buckfield driver started sixth on the 11-car grid and put herself into position by lap 10. Morgan hung on for second, while defending class champion Dottie Patria was third. Early leader Tori Burgess faded to fourth at the finish, while Sue Veinott completed the top five. Only one caution slowed the pace.
Bowie jumped out to an early lead in the Outlaw division, survived one restart and cruised home to an easy win. The Lisbon driver checked out on the field early, yet that huge lead evaporated when caution flew at lap 12 for fluid on the speedway. On the ensuing restart, Bowie set sail again with Randy Robitaille in tow. Robitaille spun out of contention with two laps remaining, handing second place to Gerry Richard. Thom Bell ran among the leaders all race long and finished third, while Spencer Morris and Mike Childs rounded out the top five.
Stanley put in an impressive performance to claim the second Outlaw feature. After Todd Bisbee led the field for two circuits, Stanley powered his way by on the outside. Chris Burgess started deep in the pack but worked his way to second, while Josh Childs came from outside the top 10 to claim third. David Childs of Oxford came home fourth, while Guy Childs Sr. completed the top five. The event ran caution-free despite a few close calls.
Hewins drove off into the sunset when it came time for the Strictly Stock feature. The veteran from Leeds drove by early leader Perry Tucker on lap five and was never challenged. Mike Short started outside the top five and steadily worked his way to second in the caution-free affair, while Tucker faded to third. Zach Emerson and Matt Williams rounded out the top five.
“This is Jim Duguay’s old car, and it sure ran great tonight,” Hewins said. “We really didn’t do anything to it before this race. Starting up near the front makes it a lot easier to win. I sure hope we can run like this all season.”
Bishop claimed the 30-lap Mini Stock battle in exciting fashion. The driver from South Paris went side-by-side with Calvin Rose for what seemed like 10 laps before pulling away for top honors. Rose hung on for second, while Steve Barker claimed third. Danny Morris and Jeff Beaule completed the top five.
“We made a few adjustments after the qualifying heats, and they really helped,” Bishop said. “The car was a little tight, but it freed it up nicely. I clipped Calvin there a little once, but he knows I didn’t mean to and that was just hard racing. It sure feels great to be in Victory Lane on the first Saturday night of the season.”