OXFORD – While NASCAR may have been the buzzword among northeast race fans this weekend, some good, old-fashioned short-track racing returned Monday to kick off the region’s Independence Day holiday celebration.
Oxford native Bill Thibeault inherited the lead on lap 77 when point leader Jim Childs broke an axle and drove away to capture the Maine State Lottery 100 for Mini Stocks at Oxford Plains Speedway.
Childs dominated the first three-quarters of the event, lapping all but one car after taking the lead from Thibeault on the second lap. His tough luck allowed Thibeault to become the second repeat winner in Mini Stock competition this year.
Travis Adams and Sumner Sessions were also feature winners on Maine State Lottery Fireworks night at the 3/8-mile oval.
“That sure was a surprise,” Thibeault said in Victory Lane. “Jimmy had us all covered again tonight. I figured when he blew by me early and drove away, we’d all be battling for second place. But mechanical troubles can strike any of us, even Jimmy. Our car was strong enough to earn the win, and I’m glad we could do it in front of such a big crowd.”
Ashley Marshall of Jay notched his best career finish with second place, while Don Frechette finished third. Shane Kaherl and sophomore sensation Adam Polvinen completed the top five.
Only two cautions slowed the pace, the final one for Childs’ machine, when he sprayed sparks around the oval from the dropped axle. Only four cars finished on the lead lap, while fifth and sixth place were one-lap down.
“I sure am surprised to be standing here,” Marshall said. “We had a strong car, but I didn’t have anything for Bill, and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to catch Jimmy the way he was running. I’m sorry to see him have trouble, but I’m thrilled to finally notch another podium finish.”
Completing the top 10 were Bill Irving, Kevin Bishop, Greg Watkins, Greg Durgin and Dale Brackett.
In earlier feature action, Sessions inherited a win when Tommy Tompkins failed post-race technical inspection following the Strictly Stock feature. Sessions started 12th on the grid and quietly worked his way through traffic. Former champion Larry Emerson crossed the line, third but was bumped up to second following Tompkins’ disqualification. Chapman faded in the outside groove during the final 10 laps, but hung on for third, while Matt Williams and Glen Henderson completed the top five. Only two cautions slowed the proceedings, neither for serious incidents.
“Sumner’s crew saw what I did to his car earlier, but he didn’t,” Tompkins said. “I went over and gave it a little kiss and told it not to pass the No. 113 tonight. I guess it was listening.”
Adams had the huge crowd in attendance as he recorded his fourth win of 2007 in a thrilling Late Model feature. The defending division champion from Canton went three-wide to pass Dave MacDonald and Zach Emerson on lap 24 to take over the point. When the third and final caution waved for MacDonald’s spin on lap 30, it set up a 10-lap sprint to the finish. Turner’s Mike Rowe, the all-time king of Oxford with 150 career victories, moved steadily through the field and was in position to challenge Adams in the final five circuits. All the undisputed king could do was chase the current prince of Late Model racing.
“I was a little concerned having Mike on my tail,” Adams said. “I knew I had to be ready for anything, but fortunately our car was just a little bit better than his. Our car has run great in the features this year. This just feels great to beat a guy like Mike Rowe here tonight.”
Former track champion Ricky Rolfe was glued to the leaders the entire distance and brought his machine home in third. Timmy Brackett made his second start in three days pay off, claiming fourth, while 2004 Late Model champion Shawn Martin completed the top five.