Two years ago, Curtis Gerry was considered somewhat of an afterthought when it came to Super Late Model racing in the Northeast. On Sunday night at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME), the Waterboro, Maine driver shocked the racing world and made his name known by winning the 44th Annual Oxford 250.
Gerry took the lead for the final time on lap 198 and proved to have an unbeatable car in the last 50 laps on his way to winning the Northeast’s biggest Late Model race.
Unofficially, Gerry will take home a check worth $35,200 for the biggest payday of the 46-year-old’s racing career. For a small, family-owned team like his, an Oxford 250 victory goes a long way in making his season a successful one.
“Financially, it’s huge but forget about the money,” Gerry said. “Just having the team and my father, he’s 73, just to win it with him and my son on the team and just everybody all my family and friends. It’s just unbelievable.”
As the laps clicked off during the latter stages of the 250-lap race, many thoughts entered Gerry’s mind as he sat behind the wheel of the No. 7G. However, his biggest thought was quite simple: don’t lose this race.
“I was like, ‘I cannot lose this. We’ve come this far; I cannot lose this.’ I put some brake in it and the next restart it was good and we set sail,” Gerry explained. “I hit my marks and cruised. The last two laps I was like, ‘I can’t even believe this. It was just going through my mind; I can’t believe this.”
Following Gerry under the checkered flag was his chief rival at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, Reid Lanpher. For the 19-year-old from Manchester, Maine it was his second go-round as a bridesmaid in the big race.
“It definitely shows that there’s some strong competition at Beech Ridge,” Lanpher said on finishing one-two with Gerry. “Curt has just had a very strong car the last two years; there’s nobody I’d rather see win that race other than myself. I’m supper happy for Curt and the team, they definitely deserve it. They’re a small team and I couldn’t be happier for them. It was really cool to go one-two with someone we’re racing with the championship for at Beech Ridge.”
Despite having a vocal tone that indicated disappointment, Lanpher affirmed that he was still thrilled with a second runner-up finish in the big race.
“No, no. I’m pumped, don’t get me wrong,” Lanpher said with a smile. “I’m a pretty calm guy in general. I wanted it that much more knowing what it felt like to come up just short.”
Polesitter Cassius Clark led a race-high 123 laps before charging to a third-place finish. His battle throughout the race came as he tried to fight back through the field after pit stops. A spin in the second half of the race all but eliminated the chances of Clark’s first career Oxford 250 win.
“We pitted with the guys that beat us; we were just racing, there was like a half-dozen of us racing three wide. It was crazy getting back up through,” Clark said. “We got by Curtis (Gerry) once, got by Mike (Rowe) and it was just back and forth. It was unfortunate to get spun out in the middle of one there. We lost all our track position and just had to fight from the back again; just ran out of laps. The car was a little bit free at the end, but I think it was good enough that if we started with them we probably would have had something for them.”
Eddie MacDonald faded to fourth in the closing laps while Mike Rowe rounded out the top five after starting 41st.
At the end of the night, the lights at Oxford Plains Speedway shined on Gerry, who didn’t even race the 250 last year, as he celebrated with his friends and family on the frontstretch. While he doesn’t have any huge plans to celebrate, he does plan to take a day off on Monday.
“Yeah, I’m going to take the day off,” Gerry joked. “I’m my own boss, but I’m taking the day off.”
Race fans can find on-demand Trackside Now coverage of Sunday’s race by clicking here.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos
44th Annual Oxford 250 Unofficial Results
Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) – August 27, 2017
|6||27||Wayne Helliwell, Jr.|
|15||97||Joey Polewarczyk, Jr.|
|18||23||Dave Farrington, Jr.|
|33||8||Calvin Rose, Jr.|