For the first time since 1983, the Oxford 250 trophy and winner’s check are headed south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Bubba Pollard of Senoia, Georgia took the lead from Travis Benjamin for the final time on lap 219 and survived multiple restarts late to win the 45th Annual Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME).
Pollard’s win in one of the nation’s Super Late Model crown jewel races comes in just his first start at a race track that many consider to be one of the toughest in the country to master.
“It’s cool to come here in the first race and win it,” Pollard said. “But what makes me feel good is that there’s so many people on that damn social media that talk. They’re like, ‘Bubba Pollard won’t come up here because of heat races.’ But damn I just won the Oxford 250. That’s all I’ve got to say.”
For Pollard, driver of the No. 26, the stars aligned on Sunday, August 26 at the Route 26 oval in Oxford, Maine.
Driving through a field mixed with differing pit strategies, Pollard battled back to the front and took the lead for the first time on lap 207. Benjamin grabbed the lead back from Pollard on lap 208 and held it until Pollard beat him to the line on lap 219.
From there, Pollard fended off challenges from Benjamin, Ben Rowe and Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. to claim the victory.
Unofficially, Pollard will pocket $28,300 after leading 33 laps.
Pollard’s Oxford 250 debut began on Friday when he surprisingly finished fifth on the speed chart. On Saturday, the speed in the No. 26 Super Late Model went the wrong way and left the Pollard Motorsports team with some work to do.
With two days of practice to learn the track and what the car needed, the team put together a perfect recipe for Sunday afternoon’s race.
“Hell, we worked Friday three hours after everybody left and then Saturday we worked another three hours,” he explained. “It was seven or eight o’clock before we left again on Saturday night. I hate it for my guys, they want to come out here and have fun but they want to win and they do what it takes to win. I think we were the last team to load up both days.
“We went back to our baseline to start today and just worked off of it. We got better and better and took a little bit from what we learned from each day to apply it to today.”
After leading 27 laps in the middle stages of the race, Polewarczyk charged to the front late to finish second behind Pollard. The 2012 Oxford 250 winner was pleased to finish second behind one of the best Super Late Model racers in America.
“It’s huge for us,” Pole began. “We’ve honestly struggled a little bit with the Super Late Model, here especially.
“Bubba, man. What can you say about Bubba? He’s the best in the country. Florida, California, Oxford, Maine, the guy is good and you can’t take that away from him. It was awesome to get a chance to race with him tonight. I felt like I was catching him a little bit at the end, but he’s good.”
Reid Lanpher scored the third Oxford 250 podium finish of his career with a third-place finish. Polesitter Garrett Hall finished fourth and unofficially pocketed $16,600 in lap money alone after leading a race-high 166 laps. Joey Dorion turned in a strong performance late to round out the top five.
As a winner of big races such as the Winter Showdown, Rattler 250, SpeedFest, Slinger Nationals and All-American 400, Pollard expressed his appreciation for the Oxford 250 after his victory Sunday night.
“It is a big race. I didn’t realize how big it was until I stepped into here this morning,” Pollard admitted. “That’s what it’s all about. I have a lot of respect for this place, these racers after running 250 laps. The people, the fans, Tom (Mayberry), the series. I don’t get to race with them much and there’s some people out there that need to take a look at some things.”
With all of his wins and success throughout the country, Pollard summed up his most recent achievement quite simply.
“That’s the most badass thing I’ve ever done in a racecar.”
Race fans can watch a full on-demand replay of Sunday’s race by clicking here.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / John A. Miller