There’s no doubt about it, Curtis Gerry is the odds-on favorite to win the 45th Annual Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME). You know it, I know it and he knows it.
The success Gerry has had at the 3/8-mile Oxford, Maine oval since his Oxford 250 triumph last year is nearly unprecedented. He hasn’t lost in five PASS-sanctioned races at Oxford Plains Speedway. His overall worst finish at the track since August 27, 2017 is third (twice), with both of those coming in weekly 50-lap Super Late Model races at the track. For the record, he started 15th in one of those races.
Needless to say, the stats don’t lie; Curtis Gerry has the best odds of winning the 45th Annual Oxford 250. But the favorites don’t always win, especially when it comes to one of the toughest short track races in America.
With that said, who can beat Curtis Gerry at the Oxford 250? Truth be told, a lot of drivers could beat Gerry to claim the $25,000-plus check this Sunday night. However, there are a select few who have established themselves as favorites to dethrone the most recent “King of Oxford.”
At the top of the list is recent Toromont Cat 250 winner Cassius Clark, who has recorded a pair of runner-up finishes in PASS North 150’s at Oxford this season. In those two races this year, Clark led a combined 235 laps before losing the lead to Gerry during the late stages of both races.
In addition to his success this season, Clark has been a model of consistency in his last five Oxford 250 starts since the race returned to its Super Late Model roots in 2013. During that time, the Farmington, Maine driver has not finished outside of the top six.
One year ago, Clark recorded the best Oxford 250 finish of his career when he started from the pole, led the first 123 laps and crossed the finish line in third.
Given his success at Oxford and his success at big short track races throughout North America, Clark will certainly be on the list of favorites come Sunday.
Joining Clark on that list will be two-time Oxford 250 runner up Reid Lanpher. After bursting onto the scene with his first runner-up finish in 2015, Lanpher proved it was no fluke one year ago when he followed Gerry under the checkered flag.
Since last year’s Oxford 250, Lanpher has once again established himself as a force in the Northeast. His wins this season include the $10,000 U.S. Pro Stock / SLM National Championship at Seekonk Speedway (MA), the Granite State Pro Stock Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the July PASS North 150 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME).
In three PASS North starts at Oxford this season, Lanpher has recorded finishes of 14th, fifth and third. While he hasn’t exhibited the dominance that Gerry has, he has flashed consistent speed around the 3/8-mile oval and will be a factor when the green flag waves.
Speaking of consistency, insert defending PASS North champion Travis Benjamin into the picture. The two-time Oxford 250 winner (2013 & 2014) has finished no worse than fifth in three PASS North races at Oxford this year.
Benjamin has always been superfast at the Route 26 oval and isn’t afraid to put his No. 7 Petit Motorsports machine in the third groove to make things happen.
After two years of being listed as an overwhelming favorite, Benjamin enters this year’s race flying a little bit under the radar. That may be exactly what he needs to return to Oxford 250 glory.
One driver hoping to experience Oxford 250 glory for the first time is current PASS North points leader DJ Shaw. While the biggest race of the season has been one that has given him difficulties at times, the two-time series champion has turned the corner in recent years.
In addition to his third-place finish in 2016, Shaw was battling in the top-five late in last year’s race before being involved in an accident. The speed he’s shown throughout the year and his improved performance at Oxford make him a likely contender for the $25,000-plus top prize this weekend.
And then there’s that Bubba guy, Bubba Pollard. While Pollard will be a “rookie” at the Oxford 250, his experience at tracks throughout the country will certainly put him in the conversation this weekend. Whether or not he can top the competition at Oxford depends on a variety of factors including luck (the draw) and how he adapts to the tough Oxford oval.
There’s also a variety of former Oxford 250 winners who could return to form to steal another win in the big race. Eddie MacDonald, Glen Luce, Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. and Wayne Helliwell, Jr. are all capable of getting to the front of the field if things go their way.
Realistically, there are over 40 drivers who will likely have a chance of winning the biggest asphalt Late Model race in the Northeast. And although Curtis Gerry is certainly the favorite, he’s certainly not the only driver who could be standing in victory lane come Sunday night.
Race fans who can’t make it to Oxford, Maine can watch all of the excitement unfold by watching Speed51.com’s live pay-per-view video stream. Live video tickets can be purchased today by clicking here.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com