OXFORD — Wayne Helliwell Jr. got the opportunity he’d been waiting nearly 20 laps for and pounced on it.

Helliwell, of Dover, New Hampshire, trapped Travis Benjamin behind a lapped car with six laps remaining and drove off to win the 43rd annual H.P. Hood Oxford 250 on Sunday night at Oxford Plains Speedway. It was Helliwell’s first career Oxford 250 win, but it was his third Pro All Stars Series win at the track this season alone.

Benjamin, of Morrill, settled for second, while D.J. Shaw of Center Conway, New Hampshire, was third. Turner’s Ben Rowe, a two-time Oxford 250 champion, and Joey Polewarczyk Jr., of Hudson, New Hampshire, completed the top five.

“It’s mind-blowing from where we’ve been over the last few years here,” said Helliwell, who won $29,500, including lap leader bonuses, for the victory. “We struggled here for years. … But, boy, once we got it, we got it.”

Helliwell got underneath Benjamin following a lap 227 restart and hounded him for nearly 20 laps. He was unable to make the pass with Benjamin’s momentum off the outside lane.

When the slow car of Garrett Evans clogged up Benjamin’s lane of choice, Helliwell scooted up the inside and had a clear path to victory. Benjamin made a last-gasp effort with two laps remaining, but his right side tires caught dirt on the top of the backstretch to slow his momentum.


“I knew we were going to catch him, but I really didn’t know where (Evans) was going to go,” said Benjamin, the 2013 and 2014 Oxford 250 champion, who led a race-high 159 laps Sunday. “I probably shouldn’t have backed out. That late in the race, we probably would have made it fine. I don’t really blame him for that. I blame myself, really.”

Helliwell was part of another dramatic Oxford finish earlier this month, winning in a dead heat with Polewarczyk. Prior to that, he earned a guaranteed starting spot in the Oxford 250 by winning a special 100-lap PASS non-winners race at the track in early July.

The victory for car owner Bruce Bernhardt was especially meaningful. Bernhardt got his start in racing with three-time Oxford 250 champion Dave Dion, and Helliwell’s No. 27 car bears the same simple orange paint scheme as Dion’s famous No. 29 carried for years. Dion is one of only three drivers to win three 250s, and he was the first to win them in three different decades, in 1975, 1985 and in 1992.

“It’s huge. It’s a big thing for (Bernhardt), and for me as well,” Helliwell said. “They have a lot of history coming up with the Dions. I’m so proud to do this for Bruce. It still hasn’t sunk in.”

Joey Doiron of Berwick led the first seven laps from the pole, before giving way to 2015 Oxford 250 champion Glen Luce. Luce led nearly 40 laps before Benjamin asserted his dominance in the outside lane. Benjamin went from 11th-place to fifth in the span of just nine laps, chasing down Luce and moving to the top spot on lap 47.

Benjamin stayed there until a pit stop on lap 122, when Helliwell — who had pitted earlier — inherited the lead. When Helliwell pitted again for right side tires on lap 159, that put Benjamin back out front.


Benjamin never pitted again, and Helliwell had just enough tire under his car to pull off the pass for the win.

“Those 40-lap fresher tires made a big difference,” Benjamin said.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621


Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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