When Scott Robbins won the Oxford 250 in 2002, his crew included his younger cousin, Ryan Robbins.

Both Dixfield residents drove Sunday at Oxford Plains Speedway, and both qualified for the 250 through their heats (Scott finished third in the first heat, and Ryan was second in the second heat), thanks in part to communicating and helping each other during the week leading up to the race.

“We talk all the time,” said Scott Robbins, 49. “We share information if it benefits us, like, ‘Hey, this works, that works.’ They’re actually the ones that have probably helped us the most straighten out and get a decent car for the weekend. It’s almost like having a two-car team.”

Scott said he’s been driving for nearly 30 years and knows the importance of a good draw. When he drew the fifth starting position in the first heat, he knew he had a chance to get into the 250. The top five drivers in each heat advance to the 250, while everyone else has to try to qualify through the consolation heats.

“As soon as you draw that chip you say, ‘Oh, wow, that’s good,’” Scott Robbins said. “You realize it right away, and then the nerves change from wondering what it’s going to be to, ‘I hope I don’t screw this up.’ You don’t get these draws every year.”

Ryan Robbins, 36, has now qualified for the Oxford 250 in each of his four attempts. He said he learned a lot from his time working on Scott’s crew.

“Just a lot of preparation (I learned) from those guys,” Ryan Robbins said. “They’re very detail-oriented, not just at the racetrack, but at the shop. People always say races are won and lost at the shop, how well you’re prepared, so just mainly being prepared for everything throughout the weekend.”

The cousins were hopeful that their qualifying success would carry over into the main event.

“Obviously, we are family, and me and Scott have a similar driving style, so it’s easy for us to bounce things off of each other throughout the week,” Ryan Robbins said. “Even more so this year, we’ve worked closer this year than in years past, and I think the benefits are starting to show. … We’re each other’s biggest cheerleaders.”

Scott Robbins finished 14th, while Ryan Robbins finished 20th.

WHEN THREE-TIME Oxford 250 winner Mike Rowe, 71, of Turner learned he would start the third heat in 11th place, he knew he needed to make up a lot of spots in a limited amount of time.

“That’s not real bad, it could have been dead last,” Rowe said after the draws were revealed. “We got the bottom, so hopefully we can go inside and get up there and finish fourth.”

Rowe, who won in 1984, 1997 and 2005, said that the speed of the cars in this year’s field made it even more difficult than usual to gain spots, but Rowe’s “hammer down” plan worked: He passed enough cars and finished fourth.

Rowe finished 21st.

Like Rowe, Waterboro’s Curtis Gerry started 11th in his heat, but by the midpoint of the 20-lap race he was at the front of the pack. The 2017 Oxford 250 champion won his heat convincingly.

“It’s my favorite track and I’ve had a good track record here,” Gerry said.

Gerry made another strong run in the main event but wound up second behind Cassius Clark by 0.131 seconds.

KATE RE of Harrison drew the ninth position in her heat and was hoping to tap into her recent experience at Lee Speedway in New Hampshire, when she also drew a low starting position in a qualifier but made her way into the lead. After becoming the first woman to qualify for the Oxford 250 a year ago, Re said she also felt pressure.

“It makes me a little bit more nervous because now I have expectations to meet after the first year, the first attempt, so I’m a little bit more nervous than last year, but I’m excited,” Re said before the qualifiers.

Re did not finish in the top five in her heat and didn’t qualify through the consolation heats or the last-chance qualifier, but she was received one of eight provisional entries and finished 27th.

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