Pinkham Wins On Familar Turf, Cyr Almost Steals the Show, at Oxford By Mike Twist
TVMRS Race Proves to Be An Entertaining Lead-In To Oxford 250
For decades, a familiar sight at Oxford Plains Speedway have been the cars sponsored by Greeley's Garage. From the Oxford 250 on down, that particular area repair shop and tow fleet has been involved with many different racers through the years.
Prior to the start of the 2008 racing season, Tom Greeley decided that merely sponsoring cars wasn't enough anymore. He wanted to get back into racing as a car owner and he wanted to do it in a big way. He purchased a Modified that was last raced by Ben Rowe. His team rebuilt the car since its condition was pretty rough after Rowe's 2007 wreck at Waterford Speedbowl. Greeley then secured the services of longtime Maine racer David Pinkham to drive the car for a full season of True Value Modified Racing Series competition.
The pairing got off to a great start by winning earlier this year at Waterford. They've also held the point lead at times as well. But those accomplishments were small compared to what they did together this past weekend.
Pinkham took the Greeley's Garage #22 to victory lane at Oxford…and not just on any weekend either. No, this was on the eve of the TD Banknorth 250 - a race that the Greeleys had fielded cars for in the past and that Pinkham had unsuccessfully tried to qualify for as a driver.
This victory was a big one.
“There's nothing better than this,” said Pinkham. “For me and for Tom, this is his home track and this means a lot to all of these guys. They've been out of racing for awhile.
And even though Pinkham has a pedigree in the fendered racecars (he last won at Oxford a dozen years ago with a Pro Stock/Super Late Model car), driving a Modified is what he loves the most…so winning with one on his home turf just feels natural.
“This is my home,” said Pinkham of Modified racing. “I love these things. Not that I wouldn't
drive a Pro Stock (or Late Model), but I love these cars.”
Pinkham's winning ride. (Leif Tillotson Photo)
Dwight Jarvis (#28) and Kirk Alexander (#43) do battle.
Another driver with fendered experience who also loves the groundpounders is seven-time ACT Late Model champion Jean Paul Cyr. The former NASCAR Modified Tour regular was at Oxford for the 250 and got the last minute call to drive the #25 Gary Casella-owned Modified on Saturday night as well. Cyr made the most of the opportunity, leading the first 85 laps of the race.
He didn't take much time to re-adjust to his old style of racecar.
“No, it only took a couple of runs to catch on with it,” said Cyr. “But Gary Casella had a great car tonight. He ran it in the first practice after bringing it here and it was a real fast car. I had no intent of running a Modified tonight, but he came over and offered it to me. I would have been a fool to say no.”
A late race caution wiped out Cyr's lead over Pinkham.
“If it would have gone green to the end, he would have have had it,” admitted Pinkham. “These cars were so close. I couldn't gain on him and he couldn't pull away. We were just too even. It would have been his show if it wasn't for that restart.
“When we had that restart, I had a big smile on my face because I knew what I needed to do. This car is awesome on restarts and I knew that I just had to get him going into one. Going into turn two, I knew that I had him.”
“I probably messed it up a little bit because I tried to put some heat in the tires before that restart. I hadn't been doing that all night, but I was thinking that it might have been a good trick, but I think that I also put a little bit of stagger in it at the same time.”
Pinkham pulled away after that restart to take control of the race and win over Cyr, Dwight Jarvis, Jon McKennedy and Les Hinckley. He also had a little bit of honor at stake when it came to beating the #25 owned by Casella.
After all, it was only a few years ago when Pinkham received a similar offer to drive the car at Beech Ridge. Even though he had been out of Modified racing for years, he jumped at the chance and surprisingly won in his first TVMRS start.
“It's all Gary Casella's fault why I'm racing one of these,” joked Casella. “And I couldn't let the #25 win because I was the last one to win in that car…so I couldn't let anyone else do it.”
Jean Paul Cyr (Right) is joined by fellow Late Model driver Patrick Laperle after finishing second in the TV Mod feature. Laperle cheered for Cyr during the race and even jokingly asked Pinkham after he won, "Why did you beat my friend?"
“I didn't need that last caution,” said Cyr. “The tires didn't come in quite right on that last run. I would have liked to have given these guys a win, but it is what it is and I'll take it.
Pinkham stands tall in victory lane. (Leif Tillotson Photo)