SCARBOROUGH — The only person with a smile wider than the one on Ben Rowe’s face following the Pro All Stars Series 150 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway on Saturday was race winner Joey Polewarczyk.

While Polewarczyk, of Hudson, New Hampshire, exorcised some of his own early season demons with the victory, Rowe couldn’t help but feel as though he himself had won the race.

“This is a win for me, a top five at Beech Ridge,” Rowe said after finishing fourth. “We even led 100 laps. I’m happy.”

It has been a difficult season for the four-time series champion from Turner. Though he’s fourth in the PASS North Super Late Model standings with five top-five finishes in eight races, Rowe has not won in over a year dating back to the second race of 2016. In that event at Oxford Plains Speedway, he emerged from a wild, three-wide finish at the checkered flag with a smile almost as wide as the one he wore Saturday.

Signs of how difficult it has been for Rowe of late include a 14th place finish — one lap down — at Oxford on June 11. He went back to Oxford to race with the track’s weekly division on July 7 and finished 16th, dead last in the field.

“It’s a brand new race car,” Rowe said. “We tested with it, horrible. We couldn’t even get out of our own way. We came down here (to Beech Ridge) for a weekly show and parked it. Horrible. You have no idea.”

In the PASS 150, Rowe won his heat race and started on the outside pole. He jumped to the lead on the initial start and led until Polewarczyk passed him on lap 105.

Even after getting shuffled back to eighth following a restart with under 40 laps remaining, Rowe was able to battle back up as high as fourth.

“We just worked on it all day, you can ask anybody in the pits,” said Rowe, who leads all drivers with 40 career PASS North wins. “We changed everything, shocks and springs were off every practice. The last practice we hit on something, so we said let’s go that way. It took off in the feature.”

Rowe, a two-time Oxford 250 winner, has struggled to have a car that stays consistent on long runs. A number of races this season have seen the No. 4 with plenty of early speed, only to tail off well before halfway and leave Rowe making a number of unscheduled pit stops for adjustments.

The Richard Moody Racing team has added Ricky Rolfe, a former Oxford Plains track champion, to work on the cars during the week. Over the weekend, they brought Minnesota native Mike Garvey — a two-time winner of the All-American 400 at Nashville among his many short-track accomplishments — to Maine to help try and get the team pointed in the right direction.

Rowe said he knew just a few laps into Saturday’s race that things were different.

“I knew lap 15, lap 10 even, that it was better. We’ve just been that bad before,” Rowe said. “When you’ve been that bad for that long on these short flat tracks, you’re almost waiting for it to go away. … It’s the grip in the front tires for me. Once I go to turn down in (to the corner) and the front tires just start skating — and you can hear it in the car, you can hear the tires squealing — I know I’m done.”

Rowe joins the rest of the PASS tour at Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire, for the Make-A-Wish 150 on Thursday night.

• • •

If there’s been one constant at Oxford Plains Speedway over the last decade, it’s been the ability for drivers to find success in the outside groove — particularly over the length of longer, touring series races.

During the PASS Open 100 on July 2, however, drivers were left scratching their heads.

Every pass for the lead, including Wayne Helliwell Jr.’s overtaking of Tracy Gordon and eventual winner D.J. Shaw’s pass of Helliwell eight laps from the finish, took place on the bottom of the race track.

“It was funny. I don’t know if it was the heat or what,” said Shaw, who did make a couple of moves to the outside in traffic as he charged up mid-race from the middle of the pack. “It had more grip than the (June 11) race here, but it was odd. My car had no drive at all on the outside. I don’t really know what the deal was with it… Hopefully, the (Oxford 250) will be racy out there 75 or 80 laps in.”

Helliwell, the reigning Oxford 250 champion, was surprised that his car was so much better on the bottom than on the top of the wide, .375-mile oval. He learned during his Late Model days that the third and sometimes fourth grooves at Oxford can typically be the places that separate mere contenders from race winners.

“I tried to go way up like we normally do, but there was nothing there,” said Helliwell, of Dover, New Hampshire. “You almost had to be in the second groove, right down on them. That’s the only way you could get in and through the center.”

The Oxford 250 is on Sunday, Aug. 27.

• • •

Wiscasset Speedway will be a busy place over the next couple of weeks. Racing on Saturday will begin 30 minutes earlier than normal as the track runs a pair of Pro Stock features. Beginning at 5:30, the final 32 laps of a Pro Stock event that was rained out on July 1 will be completed. The track has a doubleheader weekend which includes the Boss Hogg 150 on July 29-30, and on Friday, Aug. 4, the track will host a screening of “Speedway Maine,” a film by Sumner McKane documenting 100 years of auto racing in the state. … The Oxford Championship Series divisions, including Super Late Models and Street Stocks, have the week off at Oxford Plains.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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