OXFORD — It didn’t take long for Bubba Pollard to figure out Maine’s most historic racetrack, or how to beat its best drivers. It only took three days, in fact.

Pollard, of Senoia, Georgia, drove under Travis Benjamin with 31 laps remaining Sunday night and won the 45th Clark’s Scrap Metals Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway. Pollard, who has won some of the most lucrative Super Late Model races in the country, added another crown jewel to his resume and unofficially collected $28,300 for the win.

“This race right here was huge for me,” said Pollard, who started 29th in the 42-car field. “There’s so many people on that damn social media … and they’re like ‘Bubba Pollard won’t come up here because of heat races.’ Well, I just won the Oxford 250. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Joey Polewarczyk of Hudson, New Hampshire, tried to chase Pollard down over the last 20 laps but couldn’t whittle away at a three-car length deficit. Reid Lanpher of Manchester, Garrett Hall of Scarborough and Berwick’s Joey Doiron rounded out the top five.

“Man, I wanted to get there,” said Polewarczyk, the 2012 winner. “I was trying as hard as I could, but it feels good to finish a close second to the best in the country.”

Pollard had never seen the track prior to practice on Friday. Among the drivers he held off in the final quarter of the race were two-time winners Travis Benjamin of Morrill and Ben Rowe of Turner. The 31-year-old has won more than 60 Super Late Model races around the country, including the All-American 400 and Slinger Nationals in Tennessee, and he earned a guaranteed starting spot in the Oxford 250 by winning a Pro All Stars Series race at South Boston (Virginia) Speedway two weeks ago.

Pollard’s victory snapped a six-year streak of Oxford 250 winners from either Maine or New Hampshire. NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch in 2011 was the last winner from outside of New England.

“I knew this race was big, but I didn’t know how big it was until I got here,” Pollard said. “I came in (Sunday) morning, and it was ‘Holy (crap), there’s a lot of people here.’ That’s what racing’s all about. That’s what gets me excited and wanting to go to these places.”

When a caution came out on Lap 199, the race took its shape.

Virtually every lead lap car hit pit road, with Polewarczyk and Rowe winning a mad dash back onto the track. But it was Benjamin, with a lightning-quick four-lap run through traffic, who took the lead for the first time on Lap 205.

Benjamin stayed in front until Pollard nosed under him heading into Turn 1 on Lap 219.

It was the ability of Benjamin, Pollard and Rowe to get the early jump in lapped traffic – while drivers with fresher tires were trapped further back in the field – that set them up to battle it out for the win.

“Saturday, I was ready to go home,” Pollard said of his frustrations with his car in practice. “We came in Sunday and regrouped, back to baseline, and started over and did what we do each and every week, down the same path. That was the biggest thing; I went with my gut.

“It wasn’t until middle of the (practice) session (Sunday), I felt we had a car to win. Man, it was good tonight.”

A caution 24 laps from the finish put the pole-sitter Hall, Polewarczyk and Lanpher within striking distance, but Pollard and Rowe simply pulled away.

“I think I was getting a little bit closer with like three to go, but I was driving it as hard as I could,” Polewarczyk said. “It’s Bubba Pollard. In the short track world, every person knows how good he is. There’s no reason he shouldn’t be in the top levels (of NASCAR) right now, in my opinion.”

Rowe appeared headed to a runner-up finish behind his chassis partner, but his car lost power briefly with three laps remaining and he faded to 10th.

It was a long day for defending champ Curtis Gerry, who had a mechanical issue before completing a single lap in his qualifying heat. His crew hurried to make repairs, and Gerry won the last-chance qualifier and started 34th.

Gerry eventually worked his way into the top five, but he and Cassius Clark crashed on Lap 206 while in heavy traffic. Clark finished 36th, Gerry 37th.


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