OXFORD, Maine — Frenchville native Shawn Martin won the Oxford Plains Speedway’s Late Model points championship a year ago, the second title of his career.
Martin will not defend his points title this season, opting to race for victories instead at OPS and other tracks in the Pro Late Models (Pro Stocks) as well as the Late Models.
“And I’ve got some other stuff going on, some family events [in Frenchville],” said Martin.
Under the direction of new owner Tom Mayberry, Oxford Plains Speedway has returned to having Pro Late Models as its top class, replacing the less-expensive Late Models.
Martin’s 2013 Pro Late Model debut couldn’t have gone any better, as he won the 40-lap race at OPS last Sunday, taking the lead from Peru’s Gary Chiasson with seven laps remaining.
It was just the second time he had raced his Chevy Impala in the Pro Late Model class and only his “fourth or fifth time” in a Pro Late Model car altogether.
“It was awesome,” said Martin, who started 12th in the 14-car field because he had missed the previous weekend’s race.
As a result, under track guidelines, he had to start behind the cars that did run in the previous race.
“The car was great. It was almost perfect,” said Martin.
Martin had run a Late Model race last month, finishing 15th at the New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 150 at Lee USA Speedway (N.H.).
Martin said it is a huge adjustment going from Late Model cars to Pro Late Models (Pro Stocks).
“The cars are set up differently and they drive differently,” said Martin. “With the Late Model tires, you’re always on the hairy edge of spinning out. But the Pro Stock tires are much wider so you have so much more grip. You can really get up on the wheel and drive the thing.”
He said converting a Late Model car into a Pro Stock car requires a minimum investment in the $3,000-$4,000 range.
“[The cost] depends on how far you want to go. You have to change your shocks and the weights. You have to add a four-barrel carburetor. The Late Model has a two-barrel carburetor,” he said.
Martin said it takes “two or three nights in the shop” to switch the car back and forth depending upon which class he is going to race in that weekend.
“But I’ve got everything I need to do it,” said the 34-year-old Martin, who began his race career at Caribou’s Spud Speedway.
Martin feels he will run the same number of races as he did a year ago but he will spread it out.
“We’ll run some ACT races, we’ll run [Pro Stock] races at Oxford and Beech Ridge Motor Speedway [in Scarborough] and we’ll do some [Pro All-Stars Series North Super Late Model] races.”
95 hosting series race
The first Pepsi Beverage Company feature in a three-race series for the Keystone Automotive Street Stock class will highlight Saturday’s race card at Hermon’s Speedway 95. It will be a 35-lap race.
Racing begins at 5 p.m.
There also will be a Dysart’s 40-lap Late Model race, a 25-lap Darling’s Ford Sportsman 25-lapper, a Sport-4 25-lapper and a 20-lap Bomber feature.
Through the first two races, four of the classes have three drivers within 12 points of the lead in the points standings in their respective classes.
There are just eight points separating Winslow’s Andy Turbovchy (310 points), Cornville’s Shelby Kimball (304) and Harrington’s Alex Berry (302) in the Street Stocks; 10 separating Orrington’s J.R. Gray (294), Hermon’s Kevin Hartley (292) and Carmel’s Ted Ryder (284) in the Sport-4s; 11 separating Carmel’s Dennis Burns (309), Alton’s Chris Carroll (308) and Skowhegan’s Edward Archer Jr. (298) in the Bombers, and 12 points between Milford’s Joe Legere (318), Skowhegan’s Kris Matchett (316) and Hermon’s Kris Watson (306) in the Sportsman class.
Ellsworth’s Andy Saunders has built an early 16-point lead over Harrington’s Andrew McLaughlin in the Late Models with Winterport’s Ryan Deane five points behind McLaughlin.