OXFORD – Chris Staples continued his mastery of Oxford Plains Speedway, while Jeff Taylor recorded his 68th career victory at the track Saturday on an intense night of racing.

Drivers were jockeying for position with just one more points race remaining in 2006.

Staples held off Dana Grover in a five-lap shootout to notch a victory in the 50-lap Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Modified division, while Taylor recorded his victory in a thrilling Oxford Networks Pro Stock feature.

Carey Martin, Bill Childs Sr., Ben Tinker and Travis Adams were also feature winners at the three-eighths mile oval.

Staples is the only driver to win a PASS Modified race at Oxford, as the Brunswick driver has dominated all four races at the oval.

“It’s been a really good year for us in this division,” Staples said. “I wish our Pro Stock car was running this good, but we’ll get that figured out eventually. I have to thank my crew for their hard work, and my parents who support my racing operation. Without the whole package, this wouldn’t be possible.”

Grover, a former OPS regular with wins in multiple divisions, led at the stripe on the final restart, but Staples resumed command before the lap was completed. Troy Morse stayed within sight of the leaders throughout and finished third, while Oxford newcomer Gary Norris Jr. drove all the way up from 13th to claim fourth. Steve Bennett Jr. rounded out the top five.

“That was a great race, but I don’t know what we’ve got to do to beat Staples,” Grover said. “To finish second is way better than our last outing (in Groveton, N.H.), so I’ll take it. We had a strong car, just not quite strong enough to catch Chris.”

Taylor started 14th in the Pro Stock race, moved into the top five after 15 circuits and grabbed the lead from Mike Maietta Sr. on lap 37. With just two laps remaining, several cars came together going into Turn 3, which brought out the event’s fourth caution and set up a green, white-checkered run to the finish. Taylor wasn’t about to let this one slip away, and recorded his second consecutive and fifth victory of the 2006 season.

“It wasn’t all that easy tonight,” Taylor said. “It was awful dusty there for a while, Charlie (Colby) lost an oil line and that Speedy-Dry made it a challenge. All of us were slipping and sliding around. I just happened to be lucky enough to be on the outside when we caught Mike. They helped the track a lot when they applied that traction compound, and this car works pretty good, too. Between the two, it works out very well for us.”

Defending Pro Stock champion Timmy Brackett of Buckfield battled Taylor side-by-side in the closing laps, but settled for second, knowing his chances to close the gap in points was better served by holding his ground.

“There wasn’t any way I was going to get around Jeff on the outside,” Brackett said. “Jeff is going to have a problem in order for us to get the title, so we took second and hope to gain on him next week.”

Oakland’s Jeff Burgess finished third, while OPS veteran Tommy Tompkins was fourth and ageless Al Hammond put in a strong performance for fifth. Rookie sensation and 2005 Late Model champion Chuck Colby led the first 12 laps before Maietta took over and started to pull away.

In earlier feature action, Martin dominated the Limited Sportsman feature to record his 40th career win at Oxford. The Denmark native took the lead from Freeport’s Neil Martin on lap four and cruised to an easy victory. Neil Martin hung on for second, his best-ever finish in 10 years. Tommy Ricker stayed near the front throughout and claimed third, while David Tripp and Matt Williams rounded out the top five.

Once again, the Limited Sportsman gang ran without a caution in their next-to-last ever race at Oxford. It was recently announced that this division, along with the Pro Stocks, will be discontinued at the conclusion of this season.

Childs drove to his first victory of 2006 in Mini Stock feature. The Leeds driver took over the point from Don Frechette on lap nine and held off Larry Melcher for top honors. Adam Polvinen put in another stellar performance and came home third. Points leader Jim Childs steadily worked his way up from 16th to claim fourth, while Frechette faded slightly at the end and finished fifth.

Tinker notched his third victory in a month in the Strictly Stock race. The Gray native started 18th, took over the point from Scott Belskis on lap 24 and hung on for the win. Sumner Sessions had the crowd on its feet as he worked his way through traffic to claim second. Belskis faded just a bit for third, while Oxford native Kim Tripp was fourth. Auburn’s Mike Short rounded out the top five.

Adams gained ground in his bid to secure a second championship with a convincing win in the caution-free Late Model feature. The Canton native made a strong move underneath Donnie Wentworth and Dale Verrill coming through Turns 3 and 4 on the 30th circuit. He cruised home to victory while Verrill settled for second and Wentworth took third. Shawn Martin, the 2004 champion, was fourth and Dennis Spencer Jr. stayed near the front throughout and completed the top five.

It was a night when three point leaders, Adams, Taylor and Martin all did the best possible to ensure their championships hopes remain alive.


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