OXFORD — He’s paid his dues the last few years and shown tremendous promise. Finally, things all came together for him.

Rising star Ben Ashline powered his way underneath J.T. Thurlow coming through turns 3 and 4 on lap 11, then built a huge lead to claim the Late Model feature race Saturday night at Oxford Plains Speedway.

Tommy Ricker got his late-season struggles corrected with a solid second-place finish, while Jeff White made a strong late-race charge up to third. Dennis Spencer Jr. and TJ Brackett completed the top five in one of the cleanest Late Model races of the season.  

Corey Williams, Ryan Hewins, Jimmy Childs and Kurt Hewins were also feature winners on a perfect late-summer night for racing at the western Maine oval.

After a rough stretch of luck the last couple of weeks, Ashline, of Pittston, was ecstatic to finally be standing in Victory Lane.

“This win goes out to my crew,” Ashline said while trying to take in the emotional moment. “We’ve been here four years, and after the season we’ve had, this is awesome. Without D.S. Norton Construction, this would have never happened. I really appreciate what Darrell Norton and his family have done for me. After I wrecked my own car, they made it possible for me to be back here racing the very next week. My crew gave me a Cadillac, this thing drove like a dream tonight.  I don’t want this feeling to go away.”

Finishing sixth through 10th in the Late Model feature were Dave Farrington Jr., Shawn Martin, point-leader Timmy Brackett, Ricky Rolfe and Corey Morgan. Only one caution slowed the pace, that waving on lap nine for a minor spin.

With only the season finale Sept. 11 left, anticipation is building with the championship battle comes down to the wire. It’s been quite a season, with Ricker on fire the first two months, only three multiple feature winners (Spencer, Taylor and Ricker) and a good two-man fight for the crown.

In earlier feature action, Williams prevailed in a wild caution-free battle for the Truck division. The young driver from Sumner inherited the lead on lap 17 when Walter Knight was shown the black flag for spinning early leader John Lizotte coming off turn 2. Lizotte had led the first 15 circuits. Ryan Farrar drove from outside the top five to claim second, while Jeff Schmidt placed third. Jerry Stevens and Ryan Varney completed the top five.

Williams also clinched the 2010 points championship in the Saturday Showdown division of Oxford’s Acceleration Series.   

“This is my mother and father’s anniversary,” Williams said. “I’m proud to have won one for them.”

Hewins notched a convincing wire-to-wire victory in a caution-free feature for the Runnin’ Rebel division. The young hotshoe from Leeds held off divisional powerhouse Troy Jordan for top honors, while Corey Beaulieu came home third. Jeff Hebert of Auburn and Turner’s Matt Dufault rounded out the top five. Jordan claimed the Saturday Showdown points championship.

Childs recorded his second consecutive and fourth victory of the season in a thrilling caution-free sprint in the Mini Stock division. The former champion from Leeds powered his way underneath Ashley Marhshall on lap 19 and hung on for top honors.

Marshall held a commanding 50-point lead in the point standings coming into Saturday’s event, and all but clinched his second title in three years with another solid run. Former champion Danny Morris ran among the leaders  and finished third, while Darrell Moore and Calvin Rose Jr. completed the top five.

“After struggling with everything from ignition troubles to difficult handling issues early this year, it feels awesome to have things going our way,” Childs said. “Four wins overall is nice. We’ll see if we can make it five at the season finale.”

Hewins continued his incredible 2010 campaign when he recorded his third straight and ninth Strictly Stock victory. The Leeds driver slipped underneath Jim Davis Jr. going down the backstretch as the leaders approached lapped traffic.

He cruised to another win and pretty much locked up the championship. Former champion Larry Emerson came from outside the top 10 to finish third, while Gene Hatch (Hewins’ cousin) and Zach Emerson rounded out the top five.

“I think we wrapped it up tonight, that’s why I burn’t the tire off,” Hewins said. “It’s a lot of fun racing with these guys, we’ve had an awesome year. The car is still in such good shape it wouldn’t take much work to put it back in the Mall show. You sure can’t complain about a season like this.”

Fans were also treated to two races for the Wicked Good Vintage Racers, a Maine-based group dedicated to keeping the sport’s history alive. Greg Veinot (Outlaws & Late Models) and Dick McPhail (Bombers & Modifieds) won their respective features as fans enjoyed a glimpse into short-track racing’s colorful and humble beginnings.


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