OXFORD — The second half of Travis Benjamin’s season has not been kind to the two-time Pro All Stars Series champion.

After rifling through May with a win at Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire and a runner-up finish at Oxford Plains Speedway, he fell out of the series point lead with a 15th-place finish at Thunder Road in Vermont.

It got frustrating enough that even a fifth-place finish at Speedway 95 in June was misleading: only 13 cars started that race. Similarly, he was eighth at Spud Speedway on July 3, but it was barely good enough to finish in the top half of a light 19-car field.

Through 12 of 19 races, the Morrill driver has dropped to 39 points behind leader D.J. Shaw of Center Conway, New Hampshire.

But this is the time of year that Benjamin looks forward to. Sunday’s 45th annual Clark’s Scrap Metals Oxford 250 — a race he’s won twice — is a chance for Benjamin to regroup in a big way.

“It’s exciting,” Benjamin said this week. “Like we’ve talked before, I never really expected to win this race, I just wanted to be a part of (the Oxford 250). How many races do you go to at our level where you have media day and you look outdoors and there’s campers everywhere? Friday you’re practicing, Friday night you’re hanging out with everybody. It’s a lot of fun.”

Finding consistent speed has been easier for Benjamin’s No. 7 team than finding fast laps early, a key to qualifying, particularly in the Oxford 250. Even if Benjamin finds himself relegated to the consolation rounds on Sunday, there’s still reason to be confident.

Benjamin needed a provisional just to start 31st in the PASS 150 at Oxford on July 29. From there, he rolled himself all the way to a top-five finish.

“After the heat race and the consi, I was a little discouraged but I thought we had a decent car,” said Benjamin, the 2013 and 2017 PASS champion. “As the race played out and everybody kind of wore out their stuff, my car was still going. The encouraging thing was at the end of that race, we’re thinking if we could come in and put tires on we’d be right there in the top five again and we could run with those guys.”

If there’s any track where starting position hasn’t mattered to Benjamin, it’s Oxford Plains. He started eighth in his first Oxford 250 win in 2013; a year later he rolled off 27th en route to victory. In 2016, he finished second after leaving the grid from the 14th spot.

Five of Benjmamin’s 11 career PASS wins have come at Oxford.

Over the last three seasons, Benjamin has five top-two finishes and seven top fives in 12 starts at Oxford. He’s finished in the top five in the last four races at Oxford dating back to last season.

Only Curtis Gerry has been better at Oxford during the same stretch. Gerry won last year’s Oxford 250, and setting off a record run of five straight wins at Oxford.

No other driver in PASS history has won five consecutive events at a single track.

“I feel this year people kind of have (overlooked us) a little bit,” Benjmain said. “At one point, we won four out of five here (2013-14). Curtis is probably feeling a little bit of pressure. I tried to enjoy it, because it doesn’t last long enough, believe me.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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