The 47th Annual Oxford 250 came down to a pair of Maine natives, both with tremendous track records, seeking their first win in the marquee event in their home state. The night ended with Johnny Clark celebrating a hard-fought win, while Jeff Taylor was left to wonder what might have been.
After a pit road miscue during a lap 179 caution relegated Taylor to 10th, Clark took the lead from Alan Tardiff and led the rest of the way for his first Oxford 250 win in 16 attempts.
Finally climbing to the mountaintop at Oxford nearly rendered Clark speechless afterwards, reflecting on a wild year on and off the race track.
“It’s unbelievable. It really is. I don’t know what to say. It’s been a crazy year. Honestly, the fact that it’s been such a crazy year is probably why we’re standing here.”
“It’s been stressful to be a good dad, be a good husband, and be the best race car driver you can be. The fact that I’ve been able to slow down a ton has been huge for me and huge for my family, everything, personally.”
The victory was the culmination of a year’s worth of effort for the six-time PASS North champion to finally score the elusive win.
“We worked so hard right from March,” said Clark. “We’ve got an awesome relationship with Gary Crooks and Port City Race Cars. He has busted his a– to get this company where it’s at, and I’m reaping the rewards for it. We talked almost nightly; you can ask my wife.
“It’s unbelievable. We just worked so hard. I know Jeff Taylor has worked really hard to get to victory lane here, but man, we’ve worked really busted a—- this season.”
Taylor was another home-state driver looking for his first Oxford 250, making his 23rd appearance in the race in 2020. Instead, he came away with his third runner-up finish in the event.
During the lap 179 caution, Taylor exited pit road after his first pit stop of the night. Believing he had driven through the stop sign at pit exit, Taylor took a self-imposed pass-through penalty on pit road rather than forcing series officials to penalize him.
That put the nine-time Oxford Plains track champion 10th in the field with less than 100 laps to go, a distance he was unable to make up in that span.
“I did it to myself, so it’s not really a luck thing. I wasn’t paying enough attention coming out of the pits. I screwed it up getting out of the pits. I decided to penalize myself.
“I don’t know if that was the right move or not, but that’s the one I made. Inevitably, it cost us a chance.”
Along with being a milestone victory for the Maine standout, it was a bounce-back performance from a dismal showing a month ago. When the PASS North series visited the bullring on July 18, Clark finished three laps down in 26th place during a 150-lap feature.
Despite that showing, Clark knew they had the pieces to contend for the Oxford 250 this weekend, and that they did.
“We’ve been good here testing, but In July we went three laps down here. Our heads were hanging when we left, but we knew that it just didn’t work that day. We had already found what would work, we just had to get back to it.
Joey Doiron completed the podium, with Dave Farrington, Jr. and Mike Hopkins rounding out the top five.
Fans who missed Sunday’s Oxford 250 can click here to watch an on-demand replay of Speed51’s live broadcast of the race.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twiter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo
47th Annual Oxford 250 Unofficial Results
Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) – August 30, 2020
|4||23||Dave Farrington, Jr.|
|31||93CT||Ray Christian III|
|33||8||Calvin Rose, Jr.|