The field gets the green flag to begin the Oxford 250 in 2018. Brewster Burns photo

The bad weather got out of the way Saturday. The bad luck, well, that will always be around on Oxford 250 Sunday.

Curtis Gerry, the 2017 champion, said he is hoping to have good luck this year after being bitten by bad luck the past two years.

Gerry said earlier this week that he is feeling pretty good about his car going into the 47th running of the crown-jewel event of Maine auto racing. A top time in one of Friday’s practice sessions doesn’t hurt, with his best lap of 15.477 seconds around the 3/8ths-mile oval representing the third-fastest time of the five sessions.

The 250 is the spotlight feature for Pro All Star Series, and is one of the biggest short-track races in the country.

A limited crowd – only 200 tickets were sold – will likely mark the smallest attendance in the race’s history, but it has still attracted more than 50 drivers seeking the $25,000 first-place prize.

“I know (owners) Mike and Tom (Mayberry) and (office manager Liza Macomber) over there, they’ve been working extremely hard to be able to pull off what they’ve been able to do, and we’re very thankful,” said driver Shawn Martin. “We know that it’s going to be financially not as beneficial to the Mayberrys this year, so anything we can do to help, and we understand that the prices are going to go up so that hopefully these guys at least break even and make a little bit of money. And us, as racers, we’re fine with that. We really appreciate having such a great place to run.”

Several frequent 250 contenders have been among the fastest in practice sessions. Only Cassius Clark’s 15.374 in the final Friday practice and Johnny Clark’s 15.439 in the session before that topped Gerry’s best effort. John Peters was fastest in the first session, and Martin also had a chart-topping run.

“We’re feeling pretty good about it,” Martin said before bringing his car to Oxford Plains Speedway. “We’ve always had some decent long-run speeds. You know, qualifying on 250 day, the shorter runs have tended to have bit us the last few years, but I think we got a better handle on the short-run speed.”

Teenager Austin Teras, who will be trying to qualify for the race for the third consecutive year, said earlier this week that he thinks he has a fast car, and Friday’s practice backed that up. Teras was sixth fastest in the third session and fourth best in the final practice, right ahead of 2018 winner Bubba Pollard of Georgia.

Despite his youth, Teras already knows Oxford Plains can be “finicky,” so he isn’t putting too much stock in Friday’s showing.

“You can be good one instance and not so much in another. You also have Lady Luck deciding some people’s fates throughout the day, and (that) can surprise you,” Teras said.

Just ahead of Teras in the final Friday practice session was three-time and defending race winner Travis Benjamin, who had his best lap times in the later sessions.

Father-son duo Mike and Ben Rowe, both multiple 250 winners, each had a top-10 showing in the opening session, with two-time winner Ben (2003, 2004) fourth fastest and three-time champ Mike (1984, 1997, 2005) seventh quickest. Ben Rowe was also fifth fastest in the second session, but was passed on the charts in later sessions.

Eddie MacDonald, the 2009 and 2010 champion, had his best showing in the second session, finishing seventh fastest with a lap of 15.676 seconds, while 2002 winner Scott Robbins was in the middle of the pack in the early sessions.

Nick Sweet, who has won four of the eight PASS feature races this season, didn’t participate in any of Friday’s sessions. Derek Griffith, who won the second PASS race of the year, had top-10 times in three sessions, and Dave Farrington Jr., the most recent PASS winner and the hottest Super Late Model driver at Oxford Plains going into the 250, was fifth fastest in the third session.

Gerry said Farrington should have the bullseye on his back after his recent performances, as should nine-time track champion Jeff Taylor, who has won twice in limited starts at the track this year but has a history of Oxford 250 heartbreak.

Johnny Clark and Gerry have also won on the PASS tour this year. The Oxford 250 represents the ninth stop on the tour’s schedule.

 

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