Bubba Pollard, along with his daughter Mac and wife Erin, celebrates winning the 45th annual Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway on Sunday. (Brewster Burns photo)
OXFORD — For a first-time visitor, Bubba Pollard catches on fast.
The professional short track racer from Senoia, Georgia, made a triumphant debut in Maine’s biggest stock car showcase, driving to victory in the 45th annual Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway. Former 250 winner Joey Polewarczyk Jr. finished second, while Reid Lanpher took third.
“That was one of the toughest races I’ve ever run,” Pollard said in victory lane. “This track is amazing, the fans up here are amazing and the racers are pretty intense. We had to really work to get back to the front after we pitted for tires, but we pulled it off.
“This feels absolutely fantastic.”
Garrett Hall led 103 laps and crossed the stripe in fourth, while Joey Doiron completed the top five.
Polewarczyk was frustrated after the finish, yet praised his southern rival with a super-fast car.
“We played our strategy a little different than most,” Polewarczyk said. “I knew it was a gamble, but our plan was to get track position. I never thought we could drive back to the front like we did. I have to hand it to Bubba, he’s a top racer and he sure proved it here tonight. He’s a very impressive racer.”
Finishing sixth through 10th in the Oxford 250 were DJ Shaw, Travis Benjamin, Mike Hopkins, Brandon Barker and two-time 250 winner Ben Rowe. Eighteen of the 42 starters finished on the lead lap, while Pollard’s margin of victory over Polewarczyk was just over a half-a-second.
Ten cautions slowed the pace, none for serious incidents. Five drivers led laps at one point, with Hall leading the most (166 laps).
At the drop of the green, Hall took off and set a blistering pace for the first 103 laps. Nine-time Oxford champion Jeff Taylor started 8th and took command at lap 104, yet Hall fought back and regained command just one lap later.
Polewarczyk jumped out in front at lap 172 before Super Late Model rookie Austin Teras took a brief run up front. Rowe set the pace for a single circuit until Travis Benjamin took command.
For Pollard, the entire weekend in Maine was an eye-opener from start to finish.
“I knew this was a big race, but I didn’t realize just how big it was until I got up here,” Pollard said. “Friday, there were a few people around. On Saturday, it got a little busier, and today, man, when we got here, the place was already packed. I hope these fans enjoyed the race; I know I sure enjoyed running it. This feels great.”
Other notable finishers in Sunday’s 250 include former 250 winner Eddie MacDonald (11th); 1995 NASCAR Busch North Series champion Kelly Moore (17th); Turner veteran and former Oxford Late Model champion Shawn Martin (20th); and 2017 ARCA Racing Series national champion Austin Theriault (30th).
The race itself took just under two hours and 20 minutes to complete. With nearly 70 cars on site to qualify, this year’s 250 was a rousing success from a competition standpoint. And with the front grandstand packed to the gills when the green flag waved, it was a home run from the front gate viewpoint, as well.
Bubba Pollard flashes the number one signal his daughter, Mac. “It’s her favorite thing about racing,” he said. “Winning.”
Bubba Pollard takes the checkered flag at the 45th annual Oxford 250 on Sunday. (Brewster Burns photo)
Bubba Pollard opens up a commanding lead late in the race over Joey Polewarczyk Jr. (Brewster Burns photo)
The field gets the green flag to begin the Oxford 250 on Sunday. (Brewster Burns photo)Fans wave to the field as the car pass the grandstand during pace laps at Sunday’s Oxford 250. (Brewster Burns photo)Austin Therriault races down the backstretch in early going at the Oxford 250 on Sunday. (Brewster Burns photo)Ben Rowe from Turner takes the lead around the 200th lap after the leaders pitted during a caution. Austin Teras (29) is in second, while Travis Benjamin is in third. (Brewster Burns photo)Mike Rowe runs sixth in the early laps of Sunday’s Oxford 250.Mike Rowe leads his qualifying heat. Rowe won the heat to qualify for the Oxford 250. (Brewster Burns photo)