OXFORD – Leon Heckbert took the lead on lap five and pulled away from the field to post his first victory in seven years in the Late Models on Saturday night at Oxford Plains Speedway.

Heckbert recently returned to racing after taking some time away from the sport. His last Late Model win came in June of 2000.

The Wilton driver started third on the 26-car grid and held off Travis Adams in the closing laps to seal the win. Adams, the current points leader and defending champion, looked like the rocket he was in May and June after a few weeks off the pace. Oxford veteran Glen Luce was the big mover of the event, wheeling his way from the 13th starting position to claim third at the finish. Carey Martin, who thrilled the fans last week as he battled for the win with Ricky Rolfe, was strong again this week and came home fourth, while Donnie Wentworth edged Dave MacDonald at the line for fifth.

Skip Tripp, Don Mooney, Doug DeGroat and Deanna Bisbee were also feature winners at the 3/8-mile asphalt oval.

In the Late Model feature, cautions played a role in the overall outcome. Oxford’s Dale Verrill ran up front for the first 25 laps before being caught up in problems. Verrill, 59, who finished second in this year’s TD Banknorth 250, was spun around on lap 28 and never made it back to the front.

Five cautions slowed the pace, three of which fell on two consecutive laps. When everybody finally settled in for the finish, it was an 11-lap sprint to the checkers.

“This feels great,” said Heckbert. “Of course we started up front, but we had car enought to stay there, too. In only our third race back, it feels nice to be back in Victory Lane. I have to thank Mark Brackett, who gives me the opportunity to race this car. It feels super to give him a win here tonight.”

“All that hard work that my father put into the car this week paid off,” Adams said. “It was kind of a tough time for us to wreck last week. I had a lot going on and couldn’t work on the car like I wanted. Dad really picked up the slack, and I want to thank him and the whole crew for all they do.”

In earlier feature action, Bisbee notched a wire-to-wire victory in the Ladies division. The South Paris driver started on the pole, built a huge lead during the mid-stages and held off Kim Sessions for top honors. Cathy Manchester battled with Christina Spalding most of the race and claimed third at the finish, while Dottie Patria completed the top five.

With her solid run, Patria clinched the Grand Slam title for 2007 in her division.

DeGroat drove to a convincing victory in a 20-lap tilt for the Sport Truck division. The Oxford driver passed Bill Sawyer on the second lap and was never challenged. Lee Spurling tried to run down the leader in the final five circuits, but settled for second, while Rick Hebert of Peru finished third. Ryan Farrar and Roger Allard completed the top five for this entry-level class that normally runs Wednesday night.

Mooney held off a hard-charging Jim Childs for top honors in the Mini Stock feature. The 2004 champion from New Gloucester led all 30 laps, but Childs was glued to his rear bumper in the final stages. With his runner-up finish, Childs extended his point lead to roughly 25 as the season starts to wind down. Bill Thibeault finished right where he started, in third, while Adam Polvinen was fourth. Kevin Bishop came from ninth on the 16-car grid to complete the top five.

“I had some handling issues tonight,” said Mooney. “I want to thank Jim for running me so clean. He could have spun me, but chose not to. It’s been a while since we won one of these. It feels pretty good to be back on top for at least one night.”

Tripp recorded his second straight victory in a wild battle for the Strictly Stock gang. The Sabattus native took the lead from Bob Crocker on lap nine and hung on in a caution-free affair. Sumner Sessions made his typical charge up through the field, starting 13th and claiming third. Chris Burgess fought off Tommy Tompkins to claim fourth, with Tompkins rounding out the top five.

“To win two in a row is just awesome,” said Tripp. “We got off to a slow start this year, but it’s all coming together lately. It went pretty smooth tonight. Maybe we can win a couple more before it’s all over.”

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