OXFORD — Until this season, Curtis Gerry had never even won a Super Late Model race in his career. Now, he’s won the biggest one in the region.

Gerry, of Waterboro, led the final 53 laps on Sunday night at Oxford Plains Speedway to win the 44th annual Scott’s Recreation Oxford 250, holding off two-time champion of the event Eddie MacDonald over three restarts inside the final 30 laps for the win. It was also the first Pro All Stars Series win of his 27-year driving career dating back to 1990.

“This is unbelievable,” said Gerry, 46, who won $35,200 after leading 102 laps. “To come here and win the Oxford 250, it’s a dream come true, really. I’ve been coming here since I was 8 years old watching my father race in these.”

Reid Lanpher of Manchester finished second for the second time in three years, with pole-sitter Cassius Clark of Farmington third. Eddie MacDonald and Mike Rowe, both multi-time Oxford 250 winners, completed the top five.

The race featured 17 caution periods, 11 of those before the halfway mark. It muted strategy throughout the middle stages of the race as drivers were unwilling to give up track position. Clark, who led a race-high 122 laps, yielded to Gerry at the exact midpoint as the race went into its longest green-flag run until lap 172.

At that point, every contending driver opted to hit pit road for fresh tires under the caution flag, restarting the race behind a half-dozen cars opting to stay out. When Gerry — who had pitted out of the lead — restarted on lap 173, he sat 14th in the running order. Seven laps later, he was third.

“The car was spot on when we took off for the green. I had my doubts, but…,” said Gerry, who at one point during the charge went from seventh to fourth in one turn. “The car was just amazing on the outside. Those other guys, they just weren’t good on the bottom out of the gate.”

It wasn’t until after that run that the race finally started to shake out, the rash of early caution periods jumbling more than a half dozen drivers into the same pack of cars in the back half of the top 10. But Gerry’s quick sprint to the front, when he grabbed the lead for the second and final time on lap 198, helped him avoid the mess that everyone else was navigating through behind him.

Clark was spun while trying to make his way back to the lead, pitting late for two right side tires that gave him enough to get to third. There, his charge stalled as the laps dwindled.

“Unfortunate that we got spun out there and lost all our track position,” Clark said. “We just ran out of laps. Honestly, the car was good enough that if we’d restarted with (Gerry) we’d have had a shot, but we just didn’t have enough time to get back up there.”

Lanpher lost a lot of track position of his own on the lap 172 pit stop, when pit road was blocked by three cars when he came in for tires. He had to wait, and restarted deep in the field.

“We just went to work, and the crew gave me an awesome piece,” Lanpher said. “We’d just used everything up by the time we got to second. We had a lot of things not go our way during the race, but we had a lot of things go our way, too, when we got back up there.”

For Gerry the win was years in the making. He won the first track championship of his career in 2016 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough without even winning a race. He began his Super Late Model career with more than 50 starts in the Pro All Stars Series without even scoring so much as a top-five finish.

Everything for Gerry changed this summer, when he finished on the podium in a PASS race at Beech Ridge. He turned that momentum into three wins in a four-week stretch in weekly competition at Beech Ridge, and he opened Oxford 250 weekend by setting the fast time in Friday’s three-hour practice.

He never relented after qualifying 21st in the 44-car field.

“I drive the same way. I may be a little more aggressive, but that comes with a faster car,” Gerry said. “You’ve got to have the car to drive to be good. Jeff Taylor built this car for me two years ago, and we’ve been able to keep the same setup in it. It’s been phenomenal since day one, it really has.

“We’ve had so many good runs with it.”

None better than Sunday night.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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