WATCH LIVE: 48th Annual Oxford 250
Jeff Taylor – 19 starts, 3 top 5s, 11 top 10s
Has there been anyone better than a multi-time Super Late Model track champion who has nearly 100 wins at Oxford? It’s not that Jeff Taylor has lost the race, but how many times it has seemed to slip through his fingers. He’s been second in 1995, 2012 and 2020. Along those finishes we have seen pit mistakes, unlucky moves and mechanical problems, yet Taylor has always seemed to smile with defeat. His 442 laps led place him third in the event’s history books behind Ralph Nason and Mike Rowe. Dale Earnhardt won the Daytona 500 in his 20th start, and Taylor is set to make his 20th try this weekend.
Tracy Gordon – 19 starts, 4 top 5s, 6 top 10s
In the late 90s Tracy Gordon was the best driver who never won the Oxford 250. He was second in 1997 and 1998 as well as third in 1995, which made him one of the toughest drivers in that period. Gordon led nearly 200 laps during his run, but he never led the final laps. Gordon is still making starts as he seeks that first win. If he makes the show this year it will be his 20th start.
Dale Shaw 20 starts, 2 top 5s, 4 top 10s
If it weren’t for bad luck, then Dale Shaw would have no luck at all. In 20 starts Shaw started the race in the top 10 on 11 occasions. At the finish he had two top-five runs and four in the top 10s. What is lost in that is the amount of times he had a car that could have won only to find a wreck or mechanical problems. Shaw was on the pole twice and finished a career-best second in 1992.
Robbie Crouch – 15 starts, 4 top 5s, 7 top 10s
He was the best driver in ACT history and the numbers showed that. He was a seven-time winner at OPS in the open and ACT Series. In the Oxford 250 he was 0-for-15. In 1981, 1984 and 1986 he was the runner-up in the historic race. 1984 could be the one that stands out the most, as he was second to Mike Rowe who was running a V6 engine. Crouch led 77 laps after starting fourth. In all he had four top-fives and seven in the top 10.
Tommy Houston – 7 starts, 3 top 5s, 4 top 10s
Short track veteran Tommy Houston didn’t find too many race tracks that he couldn’t figure out. He did his best at the Oxford 250 and has two runner-up finishes to show for it. Houston was second behind Chuck Brown in 1990, who dominated to his second win in the 250. A year later, Houston was the best driver at the Oxford 250, other than Ricky Craven. The local favorite got out front and Houston stalked him, but he couldn’t pull it off and had to settle for second again.
Morgan Shepherd – 14 starts, 4 top 5s, 6 top 10s
Back in the 1970s, the southern drivers like Shepherd would come north chasing points. in 1977 and 1978, he was the pole sitter. He posted four top five runs in first five starts. In 1980, he was third behind Geoff Bodine and Butch Lindley in a power-pact podium of drivers. When he was done, Shepherd made 14 starts at OPS in the 250 and had six top-10 runs.
Austin Theriault – 6 starts, 4 top 5s, 4 top 10s
In a short amount of time, Austin Theriault made his mark at the 250. In four straight years, he was third, third, fourth and second to cap off an impressive run. He led 95 laps in 2014, but he couldn’t track down Travis Benjamin for the win. He has not been back to Oxford for a few years, but he’s still in his prime.
Beaver Dragon – 14 starts, 1 top five, 7 top 10s
From the 70s to the 90s Beaver Dragon was always in the mix, but he could not figure out Oxford in the 250. In 14 starts he had half his finishes in the top 10 and a career best fifth in 1979. Dragon never did well at Oxford outside of the 250 as he never won on the NASCAR tours or ACT. Even in the weekly series, he failed to find victory lane. Dragon was one of the best and Oxford was his Waterloo.
Bobby Dragon – 17 starts, 4 top 5s, 10 top 10s
He tried for 17 years, but Bobby Dragon never could taste victory in the 250. Despite two poles and three front-row starts Dragon was never on the podium at the Oxford 250. It’s a toss up for which defeat was more painful. He led 135 laps in 1992 from the pole, but finished eighth. In 1983, he led 57 laps from the pole and lost an engine in the late stages.
Cassius Clark – 13 starts, 3 top 5s, 6 top 10s
If you toss out the first five runs for Clark in the 250, then he has been in the top 10 six times in eight starts. Clark was third in 2017 after leading 123 laps and many saw him as a favorite last year, but he started shotgun on the field and finished 14th. Clark does have some luck on his side with four heat wins. That type of confidence in qualifications could be half the battle to him getting a 250 win.
DJ Shaw – 8 starts, 2 top 5s, 4 top 10s
The son of Dale Shaw has carried on the tough luck at the Oxford 250, but the one thing that gives him an edge is that he still has time left to pull it off for the whole family. A win for this New Hampshire driver would be a party for the whole family. His best finishes have come in recent years with third-place runs in 2019 and 2016. He completed every lap in the 250 in the last five years.
-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51 Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo