Morrill driver Travis Benjamin notches first-ever victory in a season-opener

Travis Benjamin of Morrill shows off his trophy after winning the 40th annual TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway in June 2013.
Alex Barber | BDN
Travis Benjamin of Morrill shows off his trophy after winning the 40th annual TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway in June 2013. Buy Photo
Posted April 28, 2014, at 4:10 p.m.

In 21 years of racing, Morrill’s Travis Benjamin had never won a season-opening feature.

Until Sunday night, that is.

Benjamin’s string of success at Oxford Plains Speedway continued as the 2013 TD Bank (Oxford) 250 winner captured the Ripley and Fletcher Ford 150 Pro All-Stars Series North race.

The race had been pushed back from Saturday to Sunday due to rain and it also rained on Sunday which bumped the race from a Sunday afternoon to a Sunday night race.

Benjamin started 13th in an impressive 35-car field, passed Hollis’ Richie Dearborn with some help from a lapped car on lap 138 and cruised to his third win at Oxford in his last four races there. In his last six races, he hasn’t finished any lower than fourth.

“There’s no better feeling [than to win the opener],” said the 35-year-old former Belfast High School standout point guard. “That was very special for me, my family and the whole team.

“It was a long day but it was worth it,” added Benjamin. “Everybody is excited to keep going. We’re all pumped up.”

He mentioned that since he has races scheduled on the first five weekends, “if you struggled in the first race, you may not be as excited to go to the second race.

“But now we’re excited to keep going. We’re all pumped up,” said Benjamin.

The second race is Saturday’s SouthernMaineChryslerDodgeJeep.com 150 at Scarborough’s Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. The green flag drops at 3 p.m.

Benjamin, the PASS points champion two years ago, said his Ford Fusion was fast all day and the inside groove was the preferred one for him.

He said when he passed Dearborn, he noticed that Dearborn’s car was tight.

“His car was pushing up the track. That gave me an opening. So I drove underneath him,” said Benjamin. “I cleared him before he got to the lapped car.”

Benjamin said Dearborn had to move up a little higher on the track to get around the lapped car, which made the pass easier.

“I knew I had a better car [than Dearborn]. But it’s so hard to pass, and he likes the outside, so I knew wasn’t going to be able to get around him on the outside. I finally tucked in behind him and let my tires cool until I was able to pass him,” said Benjamin.

Benjamin said Beech Ridge is similar to Oxford “and it has been a very good track for me” so he is looking for another strong showing.

Dearborn wound up second and completing the top 10 were D.J. Shaw, Johnny Clark, Scott Mulkern, Austin Theriault, Mike Rowe, Joey Doiron, Trevor Sanborn and Brent Dragon. Ben Rowe was 11th and defending points champ Cassius Clark was 14th.

Speedway 95 opens Saturday

Kim Baker Allen, head scorer and office manager at Hermon’s Speedway 95, said everything looks good for Saturday’s 7 p.m. season-opening race card.

“We’ve patched the track and we have some renovations,” said Allen. “We’re rebuilding the ticket office and improving the sound system on both sides of the track. We want to make it more consumer friendly.”

There will be a 50-lap Late Model feature Saturday night and there will be three other classes of racing: Sportsman, Sport-Fours and Street Stocks.

Due to low car counts, the bomber class has been moved from Saturday nights to Wacky Wednesday where it will be combined with the big and small enduro classes.

Allen said due to the low car counts for the entry level Wacky Wednesday racing, owner Del Merritt decided to limit it to 10 Wednesdays this summer which means a later start. The first Wacky Wednesday races will be on June 25.

 

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