OXFORD — Travis Benjamin joined a very exclusive club Sunday night.

The two-time Pro All Stars Series champion dominated the final 40 laps at Oxford Plains Speedway to capture the 46th annual Oxford 250. With the win, Benjamin became just the fourth driver in history to win the race three times in his career.

All of the Morrill driver’s wins have come in the last seven years, after winning back-to-back Oxford 250s in 2013-2014.

Mike Rowe, Ralph Nason and Dave Dion — New England racing royalty — are the only other drivers to win the Oxford 250 three times. Nason won three in a row from 1998-2000, while Rowe is the only driver to have won the race in three different decades.

“I’m in shock,” said Benjamin, who started 11th. “I was sitting in my car almost just about ready to cry. I just can’t believe we’ve won it three times. I haven’t won many races. I haven’t. But I’ve won some big ones, and that’s all the crew.

“It’s crazy. Words cannot even express what that means. I’m waiting to wake up and having this day start all over again.”

The win was the 13th of Benjamin’s PASS career, where he won championships in 2012 and 2017.

Benjamin held off D.J. Shaw of Center Conway, New Hampshire and Hudson, New Hampshire’s Derek Griffith on two restarts inside the final 12 laps en route to the victory. Unofficially, Benjamin collected $29,000 for the win.

Griffith finished second, with Shaw ending up third. Johnny Clark of Farmingdale and Mike Hopkins of Hermon completed the top five.

“We weren’t that good at the beginning of the race,” Benjamin said. “We tried the pit strategy, and we came in and made some adjustments and the thing was a rocket after that. This is just unbelievable.”

Griffith was glad to have the restart opportunity, while Shaw knew that he needed the race to go green to the finish in order to have a shot at beating Benjamin.

“We definitely had a good car on those short runs. It definitely fired off,” Griffith said. “It just lost a little bit of speed after a couple laps. But it was really good on the bottom, and that’s where I was able to pass a lot of cars.”

“I think if it the race had gone the long run right to the finish, there was a 50 percent chance I caught Travis,” said Shaw, who led the first Oxford 250 laps of his career. “Short runs, I just didn’t have it. It just didn’t fall our way tonight.”

The race turned dramatically on lap 179. Leaders Alan Tardiff and Nick Sweet were among four cars to stay on the track while the rest of the field pitted under caution, and it took Benjamin only 30 laps to drive from 11th to the lead after making a four-tire pit stop to complement a two-tire stop 90 laps earlier.

He passed Cassius Clark in a gaggle of lapped traffic and never looked back.

“When we came in and put those last tires on, about five laps into that run the car was the best it’s been since a couple of years ago,” Benjamin said.

Cole Butcher, Ben Ashline, Cassius Clark, Curtis Gerry and Tardiff finished sixth through 10th, respectively, in the 44-car field.

Defending champion Bubba Pollard of Senoia, Georgia, retired from the race on lap 140 after going two laps down with handling issues. He was never a factor.

Ryan Kuhn, Eddie MacDonald, Cassius Clark, Griffith and Butcher all won qualifying heat races to begin the day.

Consolation wins went to Ashline, making his first career Oxford 250 start after failing to qualify in 2012, and two-time Oxford 250 winner Ben Rowe of Turner.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.