It was a key move at a crucial moment. It was also an act of daring that he borrowed from his own son.

“Two weeks before that, he made the same move,” said Benjamin of his son’s go-kart race. “There were two guys side-by-side. He snuck in there in the middle. So that move, I learned from him.”

As Benjamin prepares to defend his victory last summer, he’s liking his chances. He feels good about his car, his crew and the success he’s had recently at Oxford Plains Speedway.

“I have so much confidence in my team and in my car at Oxford,” Benjamin said. “I don’t want to sound cocky, but if we’re not competing for the win and around up front and lose out of the top three, I’m going to be disappointed.”

This year, the 35-year old from Morrill may not have any new tricks he’s learned from his son. The seven-year old Kaiden hasn’t been able to run many go-kart races this year.

“It’s sad, we haven’t had a chance to race yet this year,” Benjamin said. “We actually went out and tested. He raced one go-kart and I raced another. We kind of went against each other. It was kind of a rainy day. So I got the better of him that day. When the pavement gets dry, he might teach me something.”

Benjamin has still learned plenty in recent years, and that has helped account for his recent success at Oxford. There was a time that he struggled there.

“We figured out things geometrically in the front end,” Benjamin said. “I used to start 20th and be leading in the first 75 laps. Then the last 75 laps, I’d be last. I’d be going backwards. So we kind of figured out how to make the car last longer.”

Feeling like he’s figured out how to race at Oxford more effectively gives him greater confidence, especially since the results have followed. He says he’s also matured as a driver and learned to be patient over the course of a race.

“We’ve really learned a lot,” Benjamin said. “At the beginning of last year, we began to hit on a lot of stuff in practice, right before the 250. Since then, we’ve won won three of the last four races. We’ve got a real good hold on that place.”

The 250 win last year proved to be a wonderful experience. It was an amazing feat a year ago and one he continues to relish as he prepares for Sunday’s race.

“It’s been so special,” Benjamin said. “You don’t realize how special that race is until you do win it. My phone didn’t stop ringing for two months after that race. Now you see all the hype going into the 250 and I’m like, ‘I won that race.'”

As he looks back on his victory, he wishes he could have savored the experience a little more. With a hectic race day and a competitive feature, there wasn’t really time to enjoy it all.

“It’s something that can never be taken away from us,” Benjamin said. “I almost wish they could pick a winner before the race. That way you can enjoy the day. I really wish I could go back and enjoy that whole day. All day long you’re so stressed out. You’re just trying to make your car go good. We drew last in a heat race last year. Before that heat race, I was almost hyperventilating because I was so nervous that we weren’t going to get in.”

Benjamin, who won the Ripley and Fletcher 150 Pro All Stars Series North Super Late Model race at OPS in April, will drive the same Ford Fusion that he won with last year. Ryan Leadbetter returns as his crew chief, and his team is pretty much the same.

“I’d like to do it again,” Benjamin said. “Everything’s got to work just right. Everything went our way last year. We’ve won three of the last four races at Oxford. So as long as we don’t beat ourselves, we should be alright.”

Benjamin says he’s had conversations about how to race Sunday. Leadbetter has suggested changing up strategies, while Benjamin says he might stick with what has worked.

“We’re sticking with what we know,” he said. “It’s one of those things where you’ve got to see where you’re at. If you’re not in the top five or 10 in the first half of the race, you have to change it up a bit. If you’re running in the top five, I think you’ve got to stick with the game plan we went with last year.”

Benjamin says he can only worry about what he can control. He feels good about the car and how he’s been driving. His team has a little momentum going its way and some confidence to boot.

Benjamin is currently fifth in points in PASS North.

“You just have to be there at the end,” Benjamin said. “This year, we’ve kind of beat ourselves in a couple of races. As long as we don’t do that, we should have a good shot at it.”

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