Veteran short track pilots Garrett Hall and Bryan Kruczek notched wins in their respective divisions on Sunday, as Oxford Plains Speedway (OPS) kicked off its 70th season of racing with a pair of touring series features.
Hall, of Scarborough, took the lead from three-time and defending Pro All Stars Series (PASS) North champion DJ Shaw on lap 136 and hung on to claim the Honey Badger Bar & Grill 150. Shaw settled for second, while Farmington’s Cassius Clark finished third.
Maritime Pro Stock series champion Cole Butcher and 2018 Oxford Super Late Model point champion Gabe Brown completed the top five.
Kruczek, of Newmarket, N.H., wheeled his brand new car to victory in the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) 125. Kruczek, who was running both races on Sunday, took the lead from Joey Polewarczyk Jr. on lap 107 and hung on to win the 125-lap contest, caution-plagued and shortened to save a little time.
Former Oxford 250 winner Polewarczyk (2012) settled for second, while Central Vermont star Bobby Therrien crossed the finish third after leading over 40 laps. Therrien was later disqualified in post-race technical inspection for a wheelbase violation, moving Williamstown, Vermont’s Jimmy Hebert to the final podium spot after driving from 17th on the 36-car grid. Pole-sitter Chip Grenier finished fourth and Rich Dubeau completed the top five.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Kruczek said. “I can’t thank Dale Shaw Race Cars enough, they build me excellent cars. I also want to thank Bobby Webber Jr. for stepping up and letting me drive this thing. I’m just happy to be here wheeling it. My guys made a big effort and it paid off right off the bat.”
Shaw had the dominant car for much of the PASS 150, yet a late break put Hall in the right place.
“I don’t quite know how we managed to win this one,” a stunned Hall said in Victory Lane. “This day was full of ups and downs. I really have to thank my crew, they did an awesome job today. They never gave up at all, and it paid off tonight. Our luck was good, we may have to stop at the Casino later on.”
Shaw was pleased with the performance of his new car, leading the 150 on two occasions.
“It feels good to be back in contention at Oxford,” Shaw said. “The new car performed really well, it didn’t last quite long enough. I tried to save the car as best I could. I prefer not to set the pace, but Cole baited me into it and I went a little too hard. Garrett got us there at the end, congratulations to him.”
Five cautions slowed the PASS pace, none for serious incidents.
Finishing sixth through 10th in the ACT 125 were Rich Dubeau, Rowland Robinson Jr., Dan Trepanier, reigning series champion Scott Payea and Quinten Welch. Twenty of the 36 starters finished on the lead lap, while Kruczek’s margin of victory was just under two seconds.
Other notable finishers in Sunday’s ACT 125 include former Oxford 250 winner Wayne Helliwell Jr. (17th); Canadian iron-man Claude Leclerc (23rd); Vermont veteran Marcel Gravel (29th); and New Hampshire hotshoe Bryan Mason (33rd). The ACT teams will run at Thunder Road (VT) next Sunday.
In earlier feature action, Kenny Harrison (Street Stock); Matty Sanborn (PASS Mods); and Leeds veteran Jimmy Childs (Northeast Mini Stock Tour) all drove to victory on Oxford’s Opening Day.
Oxford Plains Speedway opens the gates next Saturday, May 4, for Championship Series action featuring double features for the Super Late Model, Street Stock, Bandit, Figure 8 and Rookie classes.
-Story by: Phil Whipple, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com