OXFORD — Travis Benjamin finally has things back where he wants them.

The two-time Pro All Stars Series champion from Morrill had just one top-five all season entering the 46th Oxford 250 – a fourth-place run at Thunder Road in Vermont in late May. He wasn’t enjoying going to races, he was trying to juggle too many cars and too much work for car owner Peter Petit, and he needed something to change.

So what he did was go back to focusing on one car, and he got back together with the guys who helped him race to Oxford 250 wins in 2013 and 2014.

It paid off with a record-tying third Oxford 250 victory Sunday night, where pit strategy and four new tires led him to a winning run over the final 40 laps. Benjamin became the fourth driver to win the race three times.

Nobody has ever won four.

“We struggled all year, and we finally went to the one car that I’ve always liked the best,” Benjamin said. “We just keep making it better and better and better. I’m excited for the rest of the year.”

Crew chief Ryan Leadbetter, crew member Kyle Keene and tire specialist Nate Littlefield all played key parts Sunday. They’ve been there for all three of Benjamin’s Oxford 250 victories.

“Ryan, I tell you what, he calls some awesome races,” Benjamin said. “He knows what I’m looking for. Nate, he’s very good at what he does. Kyle Keene’s been working his tail off. These guys just work so hard.”

JOHNNY CLARK’S weekend started off promising, as he had one of the fastest cars in practice and qualifying. When he pulled off a three-wide move to go from 10th to fourth on the first lap of his qualifying race, it looked like he had a shot to finally win his first Oxford 250.

Instead, things never really clicked for the six-time PASS champion, who finished fourth.

“Better than we’ve been, but fourth is about the worst we were all weekend,” said Clark, of Farmingdale. “We had a tire issue the first half of the race … Ride it out, ride it out, ride it out and tried to work on the car (during pit stops), but it made it no better.”

Fourth is Clark’s best finish in a PASS race since early May. In four previous races at Oxford this season, he posted an average finish of 14.7.

Clark was 12th in his most recent start at Oxford on Aug. 11.

“We salvaged a top-five out of it, but it’s so disappointing,” Clark said. “We made so much noise this weekend, as fast as we were. It’s just disappointing to finish fourth, but at the same time, the last time we were here we went down a lap. So, that’s a positive.”

D.J. SHAW of Center Conway, New Hampshire led a handful of laps for the first time in seven career starts in the event.

It marked progress for the second-generation driver, whose father, Dale, never won an Oxford 250 in a Hall of Fame career. He matched his third-place effort in 2016.

“Me and (Derek Griffith) were on the bottom,” said Shaw, who had one of the most consistent cars for all 250 laps. “I can’t complain too much. I wish we could have chased Travis down, but it just wasn’t the year. In hindsight, it was a good day, still.

“I don’t know what we could have done different. It’s a whole new setup for us, but we’ve got it going in the right direction.”

THERE WERE plenty of Cinderella stories Sunday.

None was better than last year’s Late Model track champion at Seekonk (Massachusetts) Speedway, Ryan Kuhn, winning the pole by virtue of winning the first of five heat races.

Kuhn, of East Bridgewater, Massachusetts, was making his first career Oxford 250 appearance.

Jake Johnson, another Massachusetts driver, was poised for a breakout night, too. After drawing 57th out of the 57 cars entered – starting him dead last in his qualifying race – Johnson qualified 15th in the 44-car starting field.

He drove his way into the lead on Lap 120, but the good vibes didn’t last, as he ended up against the frontstretch wall on Lap 182 to end his night.

Meanwhile, some prominent drivers had little to celebrate.

Nine-time track champion Jeff Taylor did not qualify for the main event. Defending champion Bubba Pollard of Senoia, Georgia, retired from the race on Lap 140 after going two laps down. Glen Luce, the 2015 champion from Turner who is making a return from illness this year, needed a provisional to get into the race and was never a factor.


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