This past Saturday evening, the Super Late Model stars of the Pro All Stars Series had one last opportunity to show what they had at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) before the 47th Oxford 250 weekend. After 100 laps, it was one of the home state guys, Ben Ashline from Pittston, Maine, taking the trophy and setting the bar one last time in competition.
In the time since both PASS and weekly racing at Oxford returned back in June, Ashline and his No. 99 crew have been searching for race winning speed in all races entered. Despite striking gold on Saturday, they will go straight back to work digging even deeper for more speed starting with the first practice session this coming Friday, leading into racing on Sunday, August 30.
“Yeah, we’ve been puttering around on it. Obviously, it was pretty good as it was, but it can always be a little better, you can find some more speed if you dig deep enough. So, we’re going to keep at it and see if we can get it a little better for Sunday,” Ashline said on The Bullring Monday morning.
Perhaps just as importantly, the 99 camp now has the confidence to go after the big trophy this weekend.
“It’s a good morale boost for everybody, really. We had a little bit of a tough start to the season, things have changed for us a little bit. We were just missing our stride a little bit out of the gate. It was good to figure out the ‘whys’ through the first few races, and start getting better and better through the last three or four races. We’ve been significantly better than where we were.”
Known mainly amongst his fellow Mainers over his career, Ashline hit the front pages of the national short track publications this past November, taking a hard-earned win at Lanier Raceplex in Georgia. Becoming the first Super Late Model driver to win a race there in a decade.
“That’s one of those memories that you’re just not going to forget. Easy to say because it was the win, but we were sitting here with the crew in the garage, tossed up the idea of just one more race for last year. We were like, let’s try it. We got brave enough to go down, it was a long ride, lot of laughs shared, we were all tired when we got there, but it was well worth it.”
Like any major short track race throughout North America, the Oxford 250 brings all kinds of talent into the spotlight, and that no matter how much momentum you have heading in, it will be a huge fight for supremacy.
“It’s some of the best racers in the country, there’s a lot of hidden talent in the local short tracks, and you get some of those guys who come out. It’s not just the drivers, it’s the crew chiefs, the crew members, spotters, just different people you don’t get to see every Sunday on TV. To mesh some of these people together from different areas, different series, in one place is tough. There’s going to be some really tough guys.”
While Ashline will have his eyes on the PASS touring stars, he knows that the 250 can just as easily come down to Oxford’s weekly racers who take on the 3/8-mile every Saturday night.
“There’s some good weekly guys like Alan Wilson, he’s had some good speed during the week. Curtis Gerry is generally really good. There’s a handful of cars, you can list a whole bunch of cars, but realistically it’s a long weekend, and everything up to this point is a wash now. You hope you’re prepared as you can be, but once you’re in the moment lined up for your heat race you hope everything you’ve done is enough. But, you just never know.”
See who will claim the 47th Oxford 250 this weekend August 28-30, as Speed51 will broadcast all three days of racing action. Also, follow Speed51.com for updates and stories from practice, prerace, and more.
For the entire interview with Ben Ashline, check out a replay of this week’s episode of ‘The Bullring’.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51