Drivers for the upcoming Oxford 250 sit down for questions on Media Day at Honey Badger Bar & Grill in Oxford on Wednesday. Seated from left are: Oxford Plains Speedway Vice President Mike Mayberry, Curtis Gerry, Mike Rowe, Derek Griffith, DJ Shaw and Garrett Hall. Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

OXFORD — A half-dozen of the top Super Late Model drivers in the region maneuvered around in the back room of the Honey Badger Bar & Grill on Wednesday. This coming Sunday they hope to be doing the same thing at the front of the field nearing the end of the 46th annual Oxford 250, though it likely won’t be as cordial as things were at the race’s media day.

“It could be 10 guys up there that we have to really watch on Sunday,” 2017 champion Curtis Gerry said.

A sign inside the Honey Badger Bar & Grill in Oxford reminds everyone at Oxford 250 Media Day on Wednesday about what is coming up on Sunday at adjacent Oxford Plains Speedway. Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal

Alongside Gerry were father-son combo Mike and Ben Rowe, as well as Derek Griffith, DJ Shaw and Garrett Hall. Four of the drivers make up four of the top five in the Pro All Stars Series North standings, with Shaw just ahead of Hall, and Griffith barely ahead of Ben Rowe for fourth and fifth.

PASS and Oxford Plains Speedway owner Tom Mayberry called it the “young and the old there” Wednesday. Mike Rowe, one of three drivers to win the race three times, is going for his fourth at 69 years old.

“If I could win this thing and be the only four-time winner, it’d be awesome,” Rowe said.

Ben Rowe, a two-time winner, and Gerry also are veteran drivers. Shaw, Griffith and Hall, meanwhile, are all in their 20s.

All of them were asked who they thought might win if it wasn’t themselves, and many mentioned Vermont driver Nick Sweet, who won the most recent PASS race at Oxford and is currently third in the PASS North standings.

Gerry, who finished second to Sweet in the race two weekends ago, said he still thinks momentum is with him after multiple wins at Oxford earlier this season.

“We’re confident,” Gerry said. “I mean, we’re basing it on past performance. You know, the car’s repeated itself over and over again, the car’s always there in the end. So stay out of trouble, we have a good draw and hopefully start up front this year and not the back end.”

Ben Rowe started near the back in the most recent PASS race but was able to finish third, the same spot he finished in the previous Oxford PASS race, in which Gerry edged Sweet for that win. Rowe said he “feels great” about his car and his chances this year, with a year under his belt with a new chassis — the same chassis that defending race winner Bubba Pollard uses.

“Last year I was a little skeptical and we ran great. So I think this year we got a lot more confidence, especially the last two PASS races here we’ve been right in the top three,” Rowe said.

PASS races away from Oxford have been dominated by the younger trio of drivers that were at Wednesday’s media day. Shaw and Griffith each have three wins, while Hall has two.

Hall said he “absolutely” thinks he can win on Sunday.

“We’re all confident and we’re all having a lot of fun,” he said. “Hopefully just everything falls into place, and I think that my team knows that. You know, we’re not expecting great things, but we’re well aware of what could happen, and I think that everything will fall into its hand, and hopefully we’ll be well-prepared from the shop.”

Ben Rowe wasn’t so prepared for media day, arriving late after getting his hair cut first.

“Yeah, it got kind of ratty,” he said. “I was supposed to get it cut a month ago, but work and being busy — so I said, ‘I better get it cut before Tom Mayberry gets mad at me if I’m not looking the way I’m supposed to.'”

Mayberry joked that Rowe would be starting at the rear of the field for arriving late.

Even though he wasn’t on time, Rowe was happy to be at media day.

“Just to get invited to this, just to get in and be part of this is pretty cool,” he said. “You know, what Mayberry puts on for the Oxford 250 is — I grew up as a kid watching this — and it’s unreal. It’s one of the best races ever, not alone just this year. Hopefully everything goes our way and we’ll be in contention.”

Mayberry said he thinks 20 guys have a realistic shot to win the race, and maybe 10 more if luck goes their way. Upwards of 60 cars are expected to enter, with 57 on the entry list as of Wednesday.

As the signat the entrance of the track indicates, it will be a busy weekend at Oxford Plains Speedway, culminating with the 46th running of the Oxford 250 on Sunday. Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal


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