OXFORD — With the biggest race weekend of the year on the immediate horizon, the winningest driver in Oxford Plains Speedway history once again threw his hat into the ring of contenders.

Mike Rowe of Turner made a rare start at his home track Saturday night and wired a light field, rolling off virtually unchallenged to victory in the 50-lap Super Late Model feature. The win was Rowe’s 152nd all time at Oxford Plains and came just eight days before the 45th annual Oxford 250.

Rowe is a four-time Oxford 250 champion.

“We got the car going better,” Rowe. “We started 21st last week and finished fourth, but we’ve still got a little more work to do. I stood on it the last two or three laps, and I was loose. We’ve got to keep the car tight — 50 laps, and we were already loose.”

Point leader Gabe Brown of Center Conway, New Hampshire, who won’t turn 16 until next month, finished a distant second in the caution-free race. Tim Brackett of Buckfield was third.

Only 12 cars made the starting grid, despite the Oxford 250 nearing so close and other tracks in Maine not racing their own Super Late Model/Pro Stock divisions Saturday. Only Rowe and Brandon Barker, both Beech Ridge Motor Speedway regulars, made the trip up Route 26 to Oxford.

That short trip was worth it for Rowe.

“We were here to test the car,” said Rowe, who turns 68 on Sunday. “We thought there would be 30-35 cars, and there were only 13, but it is what it is.”

Rowe started on the pole after winning his heat race, and Brown tried to stay right on the rear bumper of the No. 24. Despite doing so for most of the first third of the race, Rowe blistered off the first sub-16-second lap of the event on lap 22 and started building a gap over the rest of the field.

“I’m sure Mike was playing some games in the beginning to keep (Scott Moore) on the outside of us, but he had the speed and that’s what it took,” Brown. “In the heat race, we had a ton of bite but all the bite went away for the feature. We just had no drive off. That hurt us a lot.”

Brown held on by a comfortable margin for second. The night was not a loss for the teen, however, as he debuted a brand new car.

“It’s got six races on it, but it’s our first time with it,” Brown said. “We had a couple problems last weekend — alternator, water pump, battery — and whatever could go wrong went wrong. We figured we’d try somethign different before the 250, and it went well. It’s definitely going to be running the 250.”

Scott Robbins of Dixfield and T.J. Brackett of Buckfield completed the top five. Only nine cars remained on the track at the end.

In the 50-lap Street Stock feature, which was also the final event of the six-race Honey Badger Series, Gary Babineau led the final 30 laps en route to the victory.

Babineau re-took the lead under caution on lap 20 when leader David Vaughn was penalized for jumping an earlier restart.

Tyler King finished second to win the Honey Badger Series title. Matt Dufault — the overall Street Stock point leader — rallied from last to third over the final 12 laps but finished four points behind King for the Honey Badger championship.

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