OXFORD – In short track auto racing, about the only thing that’s predictable is that something bizarre will happen. Just when fans thought they knew who was heading for Victory Lane in Saturday night’s 100-lap Mini Stock feature at Oxford Plains Speedway, it all came unraveled.

Justin Karkos was in the right place at the right time, as he inherited the lead on lap 92 and hung on for top honors. The Jay native was running third behind leader Adam Polvinen and second place Jim Childs when Childs got under the leader coming off Turn 4. Both frontrunners briefly lost control, as Karkos rolled by to capture the point. From there on out, it was protect his lead and hold a solid line.

“I was a lot faster than Jimmy (Childs) and Adam (Polvinen),” said Karkos. “Jimmy came by me on the outside like a madman posessed, so I figured I’d let him go and see what transpired. I saw him and Adam going at it, and we all saw what happened. It’s nice to be on the receiving end of this kind of luck. I’m happy for this entire team.”

Oxford veteran Butch Keene came from 11th on the grid to claim second at the finish, while Childs recovered from his trouble to finish third. Polvinen stayed in the hunt and came home fourth after winning on opening day, while Lisbon’s Jeff Prindall rounded out the top five. Three cautions slowed the pace, with only one creating much of a stir. The one scary moment came when Bob Guptill got together with Don Frechette in Turn 1 and rolled over. The Mechanic Falls native climbed from his car unhurt and the race resumed after a brief delay.

Thom Bell, Mark MacDonald, Scott Belskis and Ricky Rolfe were also feature winners on Sunoco Race Fuels night at the 3/8-mile oval.

In earlier feature action, Bell went wire-to-wire in the first of two 20-lap Outlaw features. This was the Saturday night debut for a division born in Oxford’s successful Wednesday night racing series. Each week, one entry-level division will enjoy the spotlight on a Saturday night program. Bell, of Minot, also won the season opener last Wednesday evening and carried that momentum into the weekend. Oxford veteran Jerry Freve finished second while Mike Ballard was third.

MacDonald picked up the second Outlaw feature in another caution-free affair. The Center Conway, NH, driver passed early leader Bubba Collins of Lewiston just after halfway and hung on for top honors. Gerry Richard put in a solid performance and finished third.

Belskis went wire-to-wire in another caution-free feature for the Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy Strictly Stock division. The Dixfield native held off a hard-charging Sumner Sessions in the late stages to post the victory. Sessions, hot off a strong run on opening day, hung on for second while B.J. Chapman finished right where he started in third. Oxford veterans Tommy Tompkins and Skip Tripp completed the top five.

“I wasn’t able to be out here last week because of a blown transmission,” said Belskis. “The car ran like a charm tonight. Once we hit our stride, we might just take down a few more of these this year.”

Rolfe battled side-by-side with Livermore’s Doug Coombs beofre claiming a thrilling 40-lap Oxford Networks Late Model feature. The driver from Albany Township led the first 35 circuits before Coombs snuck by to take over the point. His time up front was limited to one lap, as Rolfe would not be denied. Glen Luce of Turner came from 14th on the grid to finish third, while multi-time OPS champion Carey Martin was fourth and 2004 divisional champion Jim Davis Jr. fifth.

“I really wanted that one,” said Rolfe. “It’s really fun to be back in a Late Model. These things don’t quite have the power of a Pro Stock, but they’re a blast to drive. It’s all in how they’re set up, and my crew had this one nearly perfect. Doug was fast tonight, but I had enough to hold him off. It’s a great way to start in the 2007 points chase.”

Coombs, who was the highest finishing Oxford regular (fourth place) in last week’s ACT New England Dodge Dealers 150, seemed poised for victory but fell just short of catching Rolfe.

A late-race caution took away his momentum, with a three-lap sprint to the finish dashing his hopes.

“I needed about eight laps to really heat up the tires and get going,” he explained. “Three laps just didn’t cut it, but we can’t complan at all. The car ran beautiful and this backs up the great run we had on opening day.”


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