OXFORD — He’d been trying for three years to seal the deal, and he finally got it done.
Veteran short track driver Tommy Ricker powered around the outside of Donnie Wentworth on lap 50, then drove away to record his first career Late Model victory in the Agren Appliance Trophy Dash Thursday evening at Oxford Plains Speedway.
Ricker started third and became the third different leader when he took over the point. Wentworth settled for second, while Winthrop’s Jeff White was third. Former champion Shawn Martin and defending title holder Travis Adams completed the top five.
Skip Tripp and Jimmy Childs were also feature winners on Agren Appliance Summer Shootout night at the 3/8-mile paved oval. All three of Oxford’s Championship Series divisions ran 60-lap features in Round 2 of the three-race Summer Slam program.
Martin came into the Summer Slam event as the points leader and got to start on the pole after Nick Brown failed post-qualifying technical inspection. Martin set the pace for 11 laps until Wentworth powered by to assume command. As the Otisfield veteran started to pull away from the field, Ricker began his march toward the front. Coming off a strong run in the TD Banknorth 250, where he actually made it into the top 10 for a while, Ricker was dialed in for the tricky outside groove. Wentworth gave him a run in the closing laps, but came up short.
“Two weeks ago, we broke a part in the rear end,” Ricker said. “If that hadn’t happened, we might have been up here sooner. The car is running really well, and I used patience to get this victory. We’re not usually strong in the long races, but the car just kept getting better tonight. This feels even better than I had hoped.”
Eleven cars finished on the lead lap, while two cautions slowed the pace. Ricker’s margin of victory was just under a half second, while the race took just 26 minutes to complete.
In earlier feature action, Tripp powered around the outside of Zach Emerson on lap 23 and easily pulled away to claim his fourth Strictly Stock victory of the season. The defending division champion from Poland took advantage of a caution-free sprint to build a sizable lead by halfway. Emerson held on for second, while Auburn’s Mike Short was third.
Short tried to charge up the outside lane early on but found out traction was marginal at best. Mike St. Germain and Jon Brill completed the top five in this special mid-week performance.
“The car went real well after our last practice,” Tripp said. “I tried something in the qualifying heat, but it didn’t work so we put it back to where it was. It was still a little tight, but I can’t complain because I won. Zach was strong early on, but I figured it was time to go and the car was capable. Now we’ll try to do it again on Saturday night.”
Childs earned his third Mini Stock win of 2009 in dramatic fashion. The Leeds driver inherited the lead on lap 57 when Adam Polvinen’s machine fell victim to mechanical trouble. Polvinen was making his first start of the season, but looked as if he’d been practicing for weeks as he powered his way from dead last to the point. The two swapped the lead six times during the second half of the event, and Polvinen had the upper hand until the heartbeat went silent under the hood. Childs started second on the 19-car grid and led on four occasions.
Steve Barker never lost sight of the leaders and came home second, while Justin Karkos settled for third. Rookie hotshoe Jake Burns drove from sixth to fourth ahead of Kevin Bishop. Only two cautions slowed the pace, neither for serious incident.
“I know it’s more exciting to see me come from the back,” Childs said. “But with the year I’m having, I’ll take a win any way I can get it. I don’t know what happened to Adam’s car, but he sure was fast when the thing was running.”

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