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Tom Herzig's Trackside: Helliwell hopes for a repeat at Oxford Plains

By TOM HERZIG
August 23. 2017 9:42PM

On Track This Weekend
Thunder Road (Vt.): Thursday, 7 p.m.

Lee USA: Friday, 6 p.m.

Legion Speedway: Friday, 7 p.m.

Claremont Speedway: Friday, 7 p.m.

Oxford Plains (Maine): Saturday, 5 p.m.

Monadnock: Saturday, 6 p.m.

White Mountain: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Bear Ridge (Vt.): Saturday, 6 p.m.

Speedway 51: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Star Speedway: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Oxford Plains (Maine): Sunday, 1:30 p.m.

Hudson Speedway: Sunday, 5 p.m.

The 44TH annual Scott’s Recreation Oxford 250 presented by Fastway Trailer Products takes place at Oxford Plains Speedway Sunday and Wayne Helliwell Jr. hopes it unfolds just the way it did a year ago.

Helliwell prevailed over two-time Oxford 250 winner Travis Benjamin in a race for the ages in last year’s event. The pair were never more than a few feet apart over the final 40 laps. Benjamin led over 160 laps, but Helliwell crossed the finish line first to earn the $25,000 first prize for the biggest win of his storied short-rack career.

“This is huge,” Helliwell said afterward. “It’s a big thing for Bruce (car owner Bernhardt) and for me as well. He has a lot of history coming up with the Dions.” New England Auto Racing Hall-of-Famer Dave Dion of Hudson won the Oxford 250 in ’75, ’85 and ’92. He earned more than $25,000 for his 1985 win, which equates to over $50,000 today.

Other New Hampshire racers who will strap into Super Late Models and attempt to win the 250 this weekend include DJ Shaw, Joey Polewarczyk Jr., Derek Griffith, Joe Squeglia, John Salemi and Bryan Kruczek.

If needed, Helliwell has a provisional spot waiting for him as last year’s winner. That won’t likely be necessary, although a bad draw can put one at the rear of a star-studded qualifying heat.

“We tested at Oxford last Wednesday and the car was really good,” Bernhardt said. “I’m excited.”

Anthony Nocella of Woburn, Mass., won the Valenti Modified Series race at Beech Ridge Saturday. It was Nocella’s fourth win in 2017 and it expanded his point lead over Donnie Lashua of Canaan to 76 points. Troy Talman of Oxford, Mass., the 2015 NASAR Whelen Modified Rookie of the Year, finished second ahead of Tony Ricci of Westbrook, Maine.

Feature wins in the Valenti Series are worth 50 points. The next Valenti Modified Series event is at Stafford Motor Speedway Friday, Sept. 1.

Nocella was entered in the Tri-Track Modified Series Flamingo Motorsports 100 on Wednesday at Star Speedway and was a fast-closing fourth in a Tri-Track Modified Series race in July won by Matt Hirschman.

Rowan Pennink won the Exit Realty Modified Touring Series event at Monadnock. Pennink passed Eric Goodale for the lead with nine to go. Woody Pitkat did the same soon afterward to become the runner-up. Fifteen cars started the race.

The R&R Tool Store Late Model Sportsmen get top billing Friday at Lee USA for the Lance Davis Memorial 50. Bryan Kruczek leads Frankie Eldredge in the divisional championship point standings 555-550. Kris Miller of Bedford is third with 547 points.

Dillon Moltz of Waterford, Conn., dominated the American Canadian Tour (ACT) Foley Propane & Oil 150 Saturday at White Mountain Motorsports Park. It was Moltz’s second win and it got him back in the title hunt to within 28 points of frontrunner Scott Payea.

Two drivers who cut their teeth at Thunder Road — Jason Corliss and Jimmy Hebert — swapped a lot of paint while racing hard, but clean, for second. Corliss prevailed in the Burnett Scrap Metals No. 66. Jesse Switzer of Lyndonville, Vt., earned a $1,000 bonus from Foley Oil & Propane for having the best finish (fourth) by a White Mountain Late Model regular. Josh Masterson finished fifth for his third top-5 of the season.

Richie Simmons outdueled Adam Pierson to take the Sabil & Sons Sportsman Modified feature at Bear Ridge. Earl “The Squirrel” Maxham won the Sportsman Coupe main.

Both the Modifieds and the Coupes have tight points battles going on. Terry Williams, Derek Graham and Simmons are within seven points of each other in the Modifieds. Jason Colbeth of Newbury, Vt., leads Brian Chaffee and Todd Hayward by eight and 22 points respectively.

Claremont Speedway got the wet shoulder from Mother Nature last Friday for the umpteenth time — on a night when they were planning some extra make-up features! This Friday it’s Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Benefit Night. Drivers are assigned starting spots in four divisional features based on their fundraising contributions. Last year the track and its racers came up just shy of $30,000 in donations.

Jim Chambers of Atkinson won the New England Midget Association (NEMA) feature at Star Speedway. He was also a close second to Anthony Payne in the NEMA Lite feature. Bobbo Williams of Dracut, Mass., outfought Jimmy Renfrew for the Brickyard Roadrunner win. Chris Howard of Epping was a first-time winner in the Six-Shooter class.

This Saturday at Star it’s the “Two 2 Go Show Topless Night” for the 350 Supers, which will race without their top wings.

Tom Herzig’s column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email him at tomherzig@hotmail.com.




Trackside

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