OXFORD – Reigning Pro All-Star Series North champion Travis Benjamin became the first Maine driver in seven years Sunday night to win the TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway.
Benjamin, a 34-year-old driver from Morrill, led the final 46 laps of Super Late Models on the three-eighths of a mile oval.
Benjamin, who led a total of 84 laps, out-dueled current PASS North points leader Joey Doiron, a 21-year-old driver from Berwick, to become the first Mainer since Jeremie Whorff of West Bath to win the prestigious short-track race.
Jay Fogleman, the reigning PASS national champion from Durham, N.C., finished third.
Benjamin made a bold move on Lap 210 to put some distance between him and Doiron by shooting the gap between two lapped cars going into the third turn.
“Coming out of Turn 2 it looked like I had plenty of room and going into (Turn) 3 they came back together,” Benjamin said. “I wanted to go underneath, but when they came back together, I was already committed.”
“The No. 7 (car) went up a little bit and he was able to go underneath and I wasn’t able to follow him,” Doiron said. “I just thought I couldn’t do it without taking a risk.”
“It gave me some breathing room so I could focus on my driving,” Benjamin said. “When they’re right behind, that’s when you overdrive. I was able to plug off laps there.”
Benjamin, who won a 150-lap PASS North race on July 12 at the speedway, took the lead for the first time on Lap 156, pulling ahead of Cassius Clark of Farmington.
He made that move after he pitted for tires and his crew made adjustments to his car during a caution on lap 148.
“Honestly, that car was out of control in the first part of the race,” he said. “When we came in, I know we lowered the track bar. (My crew) is just so good at watching the car and they’re listening what I’m telling them.”
Doiron said he noticed a difference in Benjamin’s car after that pit stop.
“I don’t know what Travis did on his pit stop, but he didn’t fade after that,” he said.
It was the first time Benjamin had run in the race since finishing sixth in 2006.
It also the first time Fogleman, a veteran of 30 years of racing in the South, had run in the 250, and he was impressed with the quality of the competition.
“It’s really, really competitive,” he said. “You’ve got to stay up on the wheel all the time. You never have any time to rest or ride.”
Ben Rowe, a two-time 250 champion from Turner, led 117 of the first 131 laps. He finished seventh. Other early leaders included pole sitter T.J. Brackett and Corey Bubar.
Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: