OXFORD, Maine – In one of the closest TD Banknorth 250 finishes ever, Roger Brown withstood a furious charge by Oxford Plains Speedway weekly competitor Dale Verrill out of the final corner to win the 34th annual short track extravaganza.

Brown, 28, of Lancaster, N.H., led all but one of the final 109 laps on his way to a $35,800 payday.

“It’s unbelievable to think of myself on a list with guys like Dave Dion, Mike Rowe and Ralph Nason,” said Brown, who groomed his talent in supporting divisions at Riverside Speedway in New Hampshire and Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Vermont before joining the American-Canadian Tour. “I’m sure I don’t belong on that list.”

No driver from outside Maine had won the OPS summer classic since 1995, when ACT stalwart Dave Whitlock capped a streak of three consecutive wins by Canadian drivers.

Brown is the first New Hampshire winner since Dave Dion scored his third title in 1992.

Verrill’s runner-up finish in his first TD Banknorth 250 appearance since 1989 was worth $12,000.

Scott Payea of Vermont and ACT was third, followed by OPS home track stars Jon Brill and Dennis Spencer Jr.

“I won the non-qualifiers’ race to get in the last (250) I ran,” Verrill said. “It was a Busch Series race. They had something like 100 cars.”

Ninety-seven cars registered in the pit area for Sunday’s race, the highest total for a TD Banknorth 250 in this decade.

The race underwent its first format change since the early 1990s in the offseason, with Late Models replacing Pro Stocks as the showcase cars.

“The difference is that I just won $36,000 with a $25,000 race car, and those guys won $36,000 with an $80,000 race car,” Brown said. “And in my opinion the racing is every bit as good if not better.”

Touring competitor flexed their muscles in the second half of the race after the OPS delegation conducted a clinic for the first 132 laps.

Brown took the lead from five-time OPS Limited Sportsman champion Carey Martin on lap 142. He ruled the roost until lap 226, when David Avery put a nose out in front just before the two made contact while running in traffic.

Avery spun wildly over the top of the first turn, effectively ending his chances of victory. He rallied to seventh, the next-to-last car on the lead lap.

“I think he had a better car,” Brown said. “If he had been a little more patient, I think he eventually could have gone around me. Hey, I probably would have done the same thing in that situation. We’re going for the win in the Oxford 250.”

Payea snuck past Verrill on the ensuing restart. Verrill used the preferred inside lane to repay the favor on a lap 235 resumption.

That 15-lap sprint wasn’t quite enough time for Verrill, whose car was exceptional on long runs.

“Five more laps and I would have gone around him,” Verrill said. “I had to go for it there at the end. I wasn’t paying attention to what lap it was, and nobody told me.”

Shawn Martin earned the pole position with his win in the first of eight qualifying heats and set a blistering pace for 41 laps in the main event.

Ricky Rolfe used the outside lane to make his charge to the front. With the exception of Shawn Martin’s brief return to the point for one pass, Rolfe led from lap 42 to 94.

Then it was Carey Martin’s turn. The second-generation standout sandwiched two impressive stretches at the front around a seven-lap stint by Eddie MacDonald.

MacDonald was penalized a lap for passing the pace car prior to his mid-race pit stop and wound up 23rd.

Avery, Rolfe, Trampas Demers, Eric Chase and Brent Dragon ran sixth through 10th.

NASCAR Nextel Cup veteran Kevin Lepage finished 21st. Two-time Cup champion Terry Labonte was involved in a crash and was credited with 42nd.

Twenty-eight of the 44 drivers in the starting grid were first-time 250 qualifiers.

Among the dignitaries who failed to make the cut: Nine-time OPS champion Jeff Taylor, Brian Hoar, Robbie Crouch, Patrick Laperle, D.J. Shaw, Mario Gosselin and Bobby Dragon.


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