Travis Adams Scores One for His Hometrack in Oxford ACT Race
Late Race Incident Changes Complexion of Race
Travis Adams boasts back-to-back Oxford Networks Late Model championships and three of the last five titles at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME).
Dragon led a total of 111 laps, with Adams using the outside lane to steal away the advantage briefly on laps 16 and 95 prior to the fateful encounter with Coombs. Dragon reclaimed the top spot on lap 124 when Adams slid up the slight banking in turn one.
"I was able to get around him a couple of times early in the race and show the strength of this car," Adams said. "When I got the lead, it got a little bit tight on me and he passed me again. It was setting up to be a pretty good race there at the end until he got tangled up in that mess."
"I missed that by inches. I'm the driver-owner of this car, so I pay the bills. I decided I'd better stay out of that mess," Adams said.
Brown and Canadian charger Donald Theetge exchanged the runner-up spot twice after the ensuing restart, giving Adams the cushion he needed to secrire the victory.
Although he fell two car lengths shy at the checkers, Brown happily settled for the lucrative Oxford Open crown. Including his TD Banknorth 250 winnings, Brown took home more than $40,000 from OPS this season.
"Everything Bill Ryan has done for late models makes me want to race here every week next year," Brown said. "We only had a top-five car today. I'm absolutely sick for Scott Dragon. I've been in that situation before when it feels like you have the car to beat, and it leaves you depressed when it turns out that way."
Theetge claimed his first career podium finish at Oxford, running in the top five throughout the main event after a surprising second-place run in his qualifying race.
"We missed the set-up completely and didn't qualify for the 250," Theetge said. "I used to hate this track because of the way we ran here, but I love it right now."
Brent Dragon and Eddie MacDonald rounded out the top five, followed by Martin, Alan Tardiff, John Donahue, Randy Potter and Tracie Bellerose.
MacDonald, Donahue and Potter were previous winners along with Brown in the L/A Harley-Davidson Late Model Challenge series.
Forty-eight cars signed in at the pit gate, with 34 starting the finale. Six caution flags slowed the race on the heels of MacDonald's flag-to-flag win in August.
For a while, it looked like the celebration would belong to second-generation touring standout Scott Dragon. His night ended in dramatic and bizarre fashion nine laps from the finish.
Dragon and Adams swapped the lead five times, the last when the lapped car of Doug Coombs spun and then pulled directly into the leaders' path in the fourth turn with nine laps remaining.
Running roughly two car lengths in front of Adams at the time, Dragon had nowhere to go and barreled into the back of Coombs' ride, leaving both cars in a shambles. Adams steered to the right and narrowly averted the fracas.
Travis Adams shows the winning flag. (Leif Tillotson Photos)
At least one trophy was conspicuously absent from his his mantle, however.
"My father (crew chief Don) said he's been wanting me to come out here and win one of these ACT races," said Adams.
Mission accomplished. Adams outlasted Scott Dragon and held off TD Banknorth 250 champion Roger Brown to capture the American-Canadian Tour New England Dodge Dealers 150 season finale at his home track Saturday.
Adams, 30, won for the seventh time at Oxford this season, setting a new career high. He joined Ricky Rolfe, Shawn Martin and Ryan Moore as OPS champions to win races in the historically even rivalry with the Vermont-based tour regulars.
"We were third in our last ACT race, but prior to that we had horrible luck and mechanical problems," Adams said. "Thank God the car held together for 150 laps. I was a little concerned with fuel, but apparently it had enough left in the tank to do a burnout."
A wreck involving the #70 of then-leader Scott Dragon and the lapped #57 of Doug Coombs changed the complexion of the race.