Route 26, Oxford, ME 
Phone: (207) 539-8865 


May 24, 2008 

Stearns backs up big wreck with giant win

OXFORD, Maine - Seasons have been ended, careers rethought, thanks to the kind of crash Travis Stearns experienced one week ago at Oxford Plains Speedway. 

You’ll have to ask Stearns if the thousands of dollars and countless man hours it took to put him back on track one Saturday night later were worth it. Judging from the smile in victory lane, though, we’re going to say the sluggish economy was no object. 

Stearns posted his first career Oxford Networks Late Model feature victory in style, with Ricky Rolfe, Carey Martin and Travis Adams and their combined 10 track championships in his rear-view mirror, getting no closer as the laps that counted most ticked away. 

“We destroyed this car,” said a disbelieving Stearns. “We wrecked the front clip, the rear clip and most of the center section. Thank goodness Ricky Rolfe worked late this week.” 

Rolfe, well known for putting his customers at Race Basics ahead of his own competitive interests, burned the midnight oil to give Stearns and the Pride Concrete Flooring #85 a fighting chance. 

Merely shaking out the cobwebs in a qualifying race and running mid-pack in the 40-lap main event would have been more than a moral victory after last week’s scare. 

Instead, Stearns stalked early leaders Paul Bosse and Don Wentworth before making his winning move on lap 19. Rolfe snagged second from Wentworth three circuits later. Helped by a caution-free sprint to the finish, Stearns never let the 2002 division champion closer than six car lengths, and even that approach was a credit to lapped traffic. 

“It probably could have been 100 laps and I wasn’t going to catch him,” said Rolfe. “I think I fixed it too good. I was just way too loose.” 

Carey Martin accomplished the seemingly impossible and held off the “other” Travis -- Adams, he of three championships and a two-race winning streak -- for third. Wentworth settled for his best finish of the young season in fifth. 

To a man, that cluster of veterans had high praise for Stearns, who won 2007 Rookie of the Year honors after a limited amount of seat time in Oxford’s Acceleration Series. Saturday represented his first feature win of any kind at the speedway. 

“That man there spent a lot of money this week,” said Martin, “and he was on the money. The track changed this week. You look at this feature and the heats, and the guys who are usually fast weren’t top-notch tonight.” 

Stearns’ win highlighted an Oxford Federal Credit Union Night program that included six features and a huge, holiday weekend fireworks display. 

Larry Emerson briefly swapped the lead with Skip Tripp before claiming it for good and stopping Tripp’s two-race winning streak in Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy Strictly Stock action. Bill Childs Sr. became the fourth different winner in as many weeks of Allen’s Mini Stock competition. 

Jim Archer and Nik Coates topped two clean-and-green Chimney Tech Outlaw features. Dottie Patria scored her second straight Allen’s Ladies triumph.

Experience pays off for past champion 

Emerson is the only three-time champion in the Strictly ranks. Counting his dominance in Enduro events this decade, Emerson has won a race in an astonishing seven different divisions at OPS. 

This season hadn’t followed that form for one of Oxford’s all-time greats until Saturday night. 

Just when it seemed inevitable that Tripp would take command after a lap 7 restart, Emerson gave up a narrow advantage for two laps before putting his three decades of experience to splendid use.

Once back in front by a full car length, Emerson couldn’t shake Tripp or the remainder of a pack that included Dave Brannon, B.J. Chapman and Kenny Harrison. Emerson never wavered from protecting the inside lane with his Bo-Mar Transportation/Durham Get & Go #24, and that driving clinic produced his 37th career checkered flag. 

And if the race was the most exciting of the night, well, victory lane arguably was the weirdest. 

“I’ve got Dave Brannon’s tires on there. You can probably see those ugly white wheels,” Emerson said. “He told me if I won with those that he was going to give me a big kiss, and he did it. He needs a shave.” 

Brannon, making one of his occasional visits to OPS, made a spirited attempt to nose underneath Tripp and challenge his friend for the win. Tripp held on for the runner-up honors. 

Running with the usual suspects is nothing new for Brannon, who led more than 70 laps in a long-distance race here late last summer. 

“Man, I love coming here and playing with these guys. It’s a great track and great competition,” Brannon said. “I’ve just got to say that it’s good to see somebody as old and decrepit as Larry be able to get up here.” 

Tripp charged from the rear of the field to fifth in just one lap. 

Thoughts of a third straight win looked legitimate when he followed Emerson through a hard wreck involving fellow top-five drivers Joe Hutter and Matt Williams. After last week’s heat race crash and a sub-par run in Saturday’s qualifier, though, the division’s top gun seemed just a smidge off his usual pace. 

“Ricky Drew really helped us turn this thing around after the heat,” said Tripp. “Everybody knows it’s a bullet.” 

Chapman backed up his early-season runs of second and third with a fourth-place effort, followed by Harrison in his first start of the season in Tim Chambers’ ride. 

Driver change doesn't slow #10 Mini 

Whether he’s a car owner or a driver, Childs’ #10 remains the machine to be feared in the Allen’s Mini Stock division. 

Childs sat back and watched, competing only occasionally while son Jimmy overpowered the field in winning the 2006 and ’07 division titles. Son made the jump to the Oxford Networks Late Model division this season, encouraging Dad’ s return to full-time competition. 

Back-to-back sixth-place finishes gave Childs the chance to get that heavy right foot wet, setting the stage for a heat and 30-lap feature sweep in his third run of the season. Childs tracked down Matt Moore and spoiled the Mini Stock newcomer’s upset bid with an outside pass on lap 23. 

“This is for my granddaughter, Jordyn, because it’s her birthday,” Childs said. “My boys, Billy, John and Jimmy, have helped me out a lot.” 

Behind Childs, the changing of the guard continued in the four-cylinder class. Rookie and point leader Darrell Moore overtook cousin Matt shortly after Childs’ winning move to get his mitts on another runner-up trophy. 

Matt was a career-best third. 

“I don’t think I could get around (Childs). My car was fast, but I just couldn’t catch up with him,” Darrell Moore said of another strong run in the Bachmann #12 “Silver Bullet.” 

Bob Guptill turned around his up-and-down start with a solid fourth-place run, trailed closely by “Wild” Bill Irving. 

Matt Moore led from the drop of the green until Childs’ late challenge. It was his top run in the Championship Series, paved by an off-season car swap that put Jeff Prindall in Moore’s former Strictly Stock mount. 

Archer, Coates, Patria victorious in Acceleration action 

Who needs fancy, vinyl lettering? Jim Archer picked up where his stealthy, silver Outlaw left off a year ago, driving around Don Veinott on lap 4 and cruising to victory in the Outlaw opener. 

Jerry Goss broke free of traffic and appeared to match Archer’s lap times over the second half of the dash, but the margin between first and second remained most of a straightaway. 

“I always say when you don’t have any sponsors, you don’t have to worry about paint,” Archer said. “You can put all your money under the hood.” 

Archer is the brother-in-law of Mike Ballard, who “retired” after winning last year’s Outlaw title. Goss continues to close in on his initial Outlaw victory after previous triumphs in Truck and Runnin’ Rebel. He finished third in his previous start two weeks ago. 

“We started in the middle of the pack again and worked our way up front again,” Goss said. “It was just a good night.” 

Veinott was an impressive third in a ride borrowed from Jerry Freve at the last minute. Bubba Collins and John Leonard followed. 

Coates averted disaster when the entire field narrowly missed spinning Dennis Morang in the fourth turn on the opening lap. 

Once his pulse rate returned to normal, Coates settled into a comfortable two-second lead. Shannon Judd and Keith Landry spent the entire 20-lap run dueling for second, both unable to make a dent in Coates’ lead. It was Coates’ first Outlaw win since 2005 after a brief foray in Strictly Stock. 

“The beginning was pretty exciting,” Coates said. “We’re still loose. My dad has done a great job turning all the wrenches on this thing, because the first couple weeks were pretty rough.” 

Judd won the battle for second. Thom Bell celebrated his birthday by holding Zach Bowie at bay for fourth. Bowie moved into a tie with Steve Moon for the Agren Appliance Saturday Showdown point lead after previous pacesetter Rick Spaulding dropped out with mechanical maladies. 

Reigning Agren champ and current Saturday Showdown point leader Patria survived two late restarts to keep Christina Spaulding and Lisa Vining in her tire tracks. 

Patria took the lead on lap 9 after Sue Veinott, Lisa Brooks and Spaulding shared the early advantage. 

“Stephanie and Rene Foster, my husband John, Rick (Drew) and Bill (Dunphy) have all put a lot of work into this,” Patria said. 

Spaulding snuck back into second after the final resumption. Vining was tucked safely into third in front of Kimberly Sessions and Cathy Manchester. 

Racing resumes at OPS next Saturday, May 31 with Sunoco Race Fuels/WJAB Night. Qualifying begins at 6:30 p.m. 

Fin. (Start) No., Driver, hometown, laps completed 

1. (5) #85 Travis Stearns, Auburn, 40 
2. (13) #51 Ricky Rolfe, Albany Township, 40 
3. (11) #18 Carey Martin, Denmark, 40 
4. (17) #03 Travis Adams, Canton, 40 
5. (6) #63 Don Wentworth, Otisfield, 40 
6. (14) #1 Billy Childs Jr., Leeds, 40 
7. (15) #56 Dale Verrill, Paris, 40 
8. (1) #52 Paul Bosse, Gray, 40 
9. (18) #50 Jeff White, Winthrop, 40 
10. (21) #25 Shawn Knight, South Paris, 40 
11. (12) #10 Jimmy Childs, Leeds, 40 
12. (20) #55 Kurt Hewins, Leeds, 40 
13. (19) #84 Matt Sanborn, West Baldwin, 40 
14. (3) #08 Gerald Parlin, South Paris, 40 
15. (10) #6 Tommy Ricker, Poland, 40 
16. (8) #2 Zach Emerson, Durham, 39 
17. (2) #22 Mark Childs Jr., Mechanic Falls, 39 
18. (7) #26 Corey Morgan, Lewiston, 39 
19. (9) #15 Ben Ashline, Pittston, 39 
20. (4) #95 Conrad Childs, Auburn, 37 
21. (16) #94 Shawn Martin, Turner, 35 
22. (22) #44 Neil Martin, Freeport, 14 
23. (23) #59 Tyson Jordan, Poland, 8 
24. (24) #1x Mark Anzalone, Malden, Mass., 5 
Lap leaders: Bosse 1-8, Wentworth 9-18, Stearns 19-40. 
Cautions: 1 (lap 8) 
Time of race: 14 minutes, 35.675 seconds 
Margin of victory: 0.951 seconds 
Fast lap: Travis Stearns, 16.269 seconds 

Fin. (Start) No., Driver, hometown, laps completed 

1. (5) #24 Larry Emerson, Durham, 30 
2. (11) #12 Skip Tripp, South Paris, 30 
3. (13) #14 Dave Brannon, Lisbon, 30 
4. (8) #81 B.J. Chapman, Bridgton, 30 
5. (12) #27 Kenny Harrison, Pownal, 30 
6. (7) #07 Rick Thompson, Naples, 30 
7. (14) #77 Perry Tucker, Sumner, 30 
8. (4) #57 Glen Henderson, Sabattus, 30
9. (9) #0 Sumner Sessions, Norway, 30 
10. (3) #4 Michael Roe, West Paris, 30 
11. (2) #777 Mike St. Germain, Auburn, 30 
12. (15) #1 Dean Coolidge, Oxford, 12 
13. (6) #56 Mike Short, Auburn, 12 
14. (1) #2 Joe Hutter, Oxford, 7 
15. (10) #63 Matt Williams, Brownfield, 7 
Lap leaders: Hutter 1-6, Emerson 7, S. Tripp 8-9, Emerson 10-30. 
Cautions: 1 (lap 7) 
Time of race: 16 minutes, 8.773 seconds 
Margin of victory: 0.089 seconds 
Fast lap: Dave Brannon, 18.499 seconds 

Fin. (Start) No., Driver, hometown, laps completed 

1. (10) #10 Bill Childs Sr., Leeds, 30 
2. (12) #12 Darrell Moore, Mechanic Falls, 30 
3. (1) #14 Matt Moore, South Paris, 30 
4. (5) #9 Bob Guptill, Mechanic Falls, 30 
5. (6) #74 Bill Irving, New Gloucester, 30 
6. (8) #8 Bill Thibeault, Oxford, 30 
7. (11) #65 Dave Mooney, Wales, 30 
8. (3) #35 Dale Brackett, Oxford, 30 
9. (7) #08 Kevin Bishop, South Paris, 30 
10. (13) #80 Don Mooney, New Gloucester, 30 
11. (9) #77 Ashley Marshall, Jay, 30 
12. (4) #7 Randy Kimball, Mechanic Falls, 30 
13. (2) #28 Craig Moore, Woodstock, 30 
14. (15) #21 Rick Giguere, Auburn, 30 
15. (20) #29 Greg Watkins, Bridgton, 29 
16. (17) #91 Brad Dwinal, Freeport, 29 
17. (16) #4 Dale Durgin, Oxford, 28 
18. (14) #40 Curtis Fanjoy, Oxford, 28 
19. (18) #25 Ken Daigle Jr., Lisbon, 28 
20. (21) #48 Wayne Titus, Minot, 16 
21. (19) #19 Shane Kaherl, Jay, 12 
Lap leaders: M. Moore 1-22, Childs 23-30. 
Cautions: None 
Time of race: 9 minutes, 19.120 seconds 
Margin of victory: 0.213 seconds 
Fast lap: Greg Watkins, 18.349 seconds 

Fin. (Start) No., Driver, hometown, laps completed 

1. (6) #6 Jim Archer, Chesterville, 20 
2. (10) #99 Jerry Goss, Mechanic Falls, 20 
3. (2) #139 Don Veinott, Sabattus, 20 
4. (5) #68 Bubba Collins, Lewiston, 20 
5. (7) #66x John Leonard, Oxford, 20 
6. (8) #38 Addison Bowie, Auburn, 20 
7. (14) #52 Kevin Leighton, Minot, 20 
8. (3) #63 Bob Ferguson, New Gloucester, 20 
9. (4) #10 Scott Ellis, Lewiston, 20 
10. (13) #110 Dillon Coburn, Auburn, 20 
11. (9) #30 Scott Veinott, Sabattus, 20 
12. (11) #72 Bill Coolidge, Bryant Pond, 20 
13. (12) #69 Jay Wilkins, Gray, 18 
14. (1) #8x Corey Williams, Sumner, 12 
Lap leaders: D. Veinott 1-3, Archer 4-20. 
Cautions: None 
Time of race: 6 minutes, 35 seconds 

Fin. (Start) No., Driver, hometown, laps completed 

1. (4) #12 Nik Coates, Lisbon, 20 
2. (2) #97 Shannon Judd, Jay, 20 
3. (6) #90 Keith Landry, Oxford, 20 
4. (7) #18 Thom Bell, Minot, 20 
5. (8) #04 Zach Bowie, Mechanic Falls, 20 
6. (13) #83 Dan Brown, Peru, 20 
7. (9) #19 Steve Moon, Gray, 20 
8. (15) #00 Guy Childs Sr., Turner, 20 
9. (12) #24 Kevin Lawrence, South Paris, 20 
10. (5) #3 Tom Averill, Peru, 20 
11. (3) #34 John Patria, Turner, 20 
12. (14) #53 Steve Brill, Bridgton, 20 
13. (1) #112 Dennis Morang, South Paris, 20 
14. (11) #36 Rick Spaulding, Lewiston, 10 
15. (10) #139 Jerry Freve, Buckfield, 1 
Lap leaders: Coates 1-20. 
Cautions: None 
Time of race: 6 minutes, 40 seconds 

Fin. (Start) No., Driver, hometown, laps completed 

1. (5) #34 Dottie Patria, Turner, 20 
2. (7) #36 Christina Spaulding, Lewiston, 20 
3. (10) #139 Lisa Vining, Turner, 20 
4. (3) #2 Kimberly Sessions, Auburn, 20 
5. (6) #69 Cathy Manchester, Gray, 20 
6. (1) #30 Lisa Brooks, Auburn, 20 
7. (9) #29 Shannon Wheeler, Auburn, 20 
8. (2) #28 Sue Veinott, Sabattus, 17 
9. (4) #44 Annie Chartier, Mexico, 16 
10. (8) #137 Kristen Brown, Gray, 16 
Lap leaders: Veinott 1, Brooks 2, Spaulding 3-8, Patria 9-20. 
Cautions: 2 (laps 16, 17) 
Time of race: 20 minutes, 41 seconds.

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Oxford Networks
Late Model

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Allen's Coffee Flavored Brandy
Strictly and Mini Stock

Photos by
Trudy Marshall

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(207) 645-4571
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