OXFORD — It’s an Oxford 250 tradition old as the race itself.

At the end of a non qualifier’s race — or in the case of Saturday night, a long-distance late model event — the driver is given a choice. Take a big chunk of money and run, or take a smaller chunk and run in the summer classic.

In a different economy, the answer is, “You’re kidding, right?” But for 23-year-old Ben Ashline of Pittston, on the comeback trail after a hard crash in 2012 Oxford 250 qualifying and an unrelated shoulder injury that wiped out his entire 2013 season, taking home $4,000 and a hefty trophy from the Dave’s Husqvarna 125 Saturday night was enough.

“I’m all about racing and competition, but unfortunately I think we have to take the money in this one. We finished tonight in one piece. We’re real low-budget,” Ashline said.

It was the debut event for the Pro All Stars Series North East Late Model Series, one constructed to rival the American-Canadian Tour and strengthen the PASS super late model feeder system. Thirteen cars made the maiden voyage.

Ashline’s other major victory was an ACT race at Oxford in May 2012.

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“The track hasn’t changed much in terms of the surface,” said Ashline. “I can’t thank the crew enough. They gave me a rocket tonight. This is pretty emotional. Last year was the first time in 13 years I missed racing, so to come back and win for the first time in front of the home crowd, this is truly amazing.”

Ashline led the final 60 laps after the lone restart of the event, using the outside lane of the track to incrementally extend his advantage.

Brad Babb of Windham drove a car borrowed from Vermont’s Joey Laquerre to finish second, with Stearns third. Both have super late model cars entered in Sunday’s 250.

Entering the 250 would have shaved $1,000 off Ashline’s winnings.

Purse money from the guaranteed starting position would have at least matched that total. But acquiring the necessary tires and making the shock and carburetor adjustments in order to compete would have cost his family-owned team thousands more.


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