Bubba Pollard may have stolen the headlines following Sunday’s 45th Annual Oxford 250, but the Georgia driver’s big victory wasn’t the only interesting storyline. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest stories to come out of the race in our post-race notebook below.
Hall Dominates Early, Earns Over $20K
Garrett Hall climbed out of his race car Sunday night wanting more. The 23-year-old from Scarborough, Maine led the 42-car field to the green flag and dominated the first half of the race, leading all but one of the opening 128 laps.
When the pit strategy played out, Hall settled for a fourth-place finish after leading a race-high 166 laps.
Despite coming up short of the top prize, Hall earned more money than any driver not named Bubba Pollard. Combining his $16,600 in lap money and $4,000 for finishing fourth, the driver of car No. 94 will unofficially take home $20,600 for his performance.
“The car was really good the first half of the race. It kind of sucks to lead that many laps and not finish on top but this is the best we’ve run in the Oxford 250 so we’re really happy about it,” Hall told Speed51.com. “The car just got a little bit too tight there.”
While many drivers elected to visit pit road earlier in the race, Hall remained on the race track for the first 199 laps of Sunday’s race. When the caution was displayed with 51 laps to go he visited pit road for the first time and strapped on four new tires.
With four fresh tires strapped on his No. 94 Super Late Model, Hall charged through the field but couldn’t find the speed needed to nab a podium finish.
“I ran it by the guys about maybe coming in to put two rights on around like lap 130 but normally you get another caution around lap 170 or lap 180,” Hall said. “We thought we had been playing it well. Obviously you second guess yourself every time but it was a good race and we’re happy with it.”
Another Podium Finish for Lanpher
Reid Lanpher has done everything but win the Oxford 250 over the last four years. The driver from Manchester, Maine followed up a pair of runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2017 with a third-place finish on Sunday night.
“It’s hard to not be pleased with a third place at the Oxford 250 but at the same time I definitely think we had a car to contend tonight,” Lanpher stated. “It would’ve helped if I wouldn’t have stalled it on the backstretch putting us in the pits last instead of like third to put tires on. That definitely sucked sitting their hopelessly flooding the car out just making it worse. We ended up just starting last with new tires. It was fun. I got to pass a lot of cars but just didn’t quite have enough there at the end.”
Lanpher won his heat race earlier in the day, which put him on the outside of the front row for the main event. He battled at the front of the field for much of the race before stalling his No. 59 on the backstretch during a caution. Once he was able to re-fire Lanpher rocketed back into the top five and completed the podium when the checkered flag waved.
“Jason (Ricker) has always told me, ‘You gotta do a thousand things right and can’t do one thing wrong to take you out of contention.’ We did one thing wrong so it took us out of contention.’
Pole Pleased With Finishing Second to Bubba
Joey Polewarczyk, Jr.’s name was listed next to the number 38 following Friday’s opening round of practice. The 2012 race winner was 38th fastest in the three-hour practice session but claimed that he was the happiest he’s ever been on the opening day of Oxford 250 weekend. His runner-up finish in Sunday’s race proved that he wasn’t lying.
The driver known as Joey Pole put himself in contention for the win just after the lap 150 mark before eventually powering under Garrett Hall to take away the lead on lap 172. The Hudson, New Hampshire driver led the next 28 laps and rocketed out to a huge advantage over the field prior to the caution flag waving on lap 199.
It was at that time that Pole’s hand was forced and he had to visit pit road for two fresh right side tires. After getting held up behind some slower traffic on the ensuing restart, Pole lost ground to Pollard and other drivers in the lead group including Travis Benjamin and Ben Rowe. He battled back in the closing laps and eventually had a shot at Pollard but he didn’t have quite enough in the tank to score his second career Oxford 250 win.
“It’s huge for us. We’ve honestly struggled a little bit with the Super Late Model, here especially just on long runs,” Polewarczyk admitted. “I talked to you earlier in the weekend and we really worked on that and worked on older tires. We did a little strategy tonight. We took our four tires a little early to try to get a little track position. I would’ve never guessed we would’ve driven to the front like we did, but we did. Then we had that yellow and I felt like we had to take those two rights that we had at the time. I knew those guys would probably take four but if I could make it last for a little bit, I figured it’d even out after a little bit.”
The Underdog Stories
It seems as though nearly every Oxford 250 has at least one underdog story, whether that is simply a driver qualifying for a race or a driver outperforming their expectations. That trend didn’t change during the 45th Annual Oxford 250.
Highlighting the list of underdogs was 24-year-old Brandon Barker who carried momentum into the race after recently scoring his first career Super Late Model win at Oxford. Barker quietly battled within the top 10 during the closing stages before eventually earning a top 10 finish in his Oxford 250 debut.
Another driver who scored a big victory by simply qualifying for Sunday’s race was Valvoline Fast Track to Fame winner Wyatt Alexander. After two failed attempts at qualifying for the biggest race in his home state, the Ellsworth, Maine native drove a smart race before eventually finishing 12th.
Finishing right behind Alexander was Ray Christian III, another driver who experienced failure before success at the Oxford 250. The driver known as RC3 failed to make the race during his first attempt in 2017, but he came back hungry for more and finished 13th on Sunday after starting the race 30th.
One year after scoring the biggest victory of his career when he qualified for the Oxford 250 and finished 32nd, local driver Calvin Rose, Jr. once again impressed on the big stage. Driving for a low-budget, family-owned team Rose drove a beaten and bruised No. 8 Super Late Model to a career-best 16th-place finish in the big race.
Can’t Get Enough of the Oxford 250?
The weekend may be over but that doesn’t mean you need to just forget about the Oxford 250. Speed51.com was on-location all weekend long producing high-quality video content. Beginning with Media Day on Wednesday, the Speed51 Network was littered with exclusive interviews, music videos, highlights, on-board cameras and more. We’ll also have additional video content from the weekend posted over the next few days.
Sign up for a monthly or yearly subscription to watch it all today.
-Story by Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / John A. Miller