June 17, 2018
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Morrill driver eager to race with new team on PASS SLM North circuit

Amber Waterman | Sun Journal
Amber Waterman | Sun Journal
Austin Theriault (center) and Travis Benjamin battle (17) it out for the lead in lap 150 of the Oxford 250 on July 20, 2014. Benjamin went on to claim his second straight Oxford 250 victory.
By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff
Updated:

Morrill’s Travis Benjamin wanted to spend more time with his 8-year-old son Kaiden at the go-kart track.

Kaiden had only raced 17 times in three years of go-kart racing because of his father’s busy schedule racing on the Pro All-Stars Series Super Late Model North tour in his Benjamin Motorsports Ford Fusion.

So when Turner’s Mike Rowe left the Petit Motorsports team after winning the PASS SLM North points championship last season, Benjamin took over the ride for this year.

“Kaiden told me he wanted to race more and he isn’t getting any younger,” said Benjamin, a two-time Oxford 250 winner. “And he could get so much better if he raced more.”

Benjamin said “there have been very few father-sons who have won the Oxford 250” and would love to see Kaiden someday duplicate his feat.

Benjamin said he “took a lot of pride” in working on his own car with his crew and having success, but pointed out that it was extremely time-consuming.

“You’d work all day and then go and go to work on the car afterwards. This way, I just have to show up and drive, although I’ll definitely try to get down to the race shop [in Biddeford] once a week to work on the car with the guys,” said the 37-year-old Benjamin, who won the PASS SLM North title in 2012. “This will also save me a ton of money.”

Petit has two full-time employees in Mark Lyden and Todd Graffam while Benjamin’s team was composed of volunteers who had full-time jobs.

“That will be a huge advantage,” said Benjamin.

Benjamin said Lyden will probably be his crew chief, although his long-time crew chief Ryan Leadbetter is also in the picture.

Petit Motorsports owner Peter Petit said Rowe left because one of his sponsors pulled out.

“We didn’t want to lose Mike but circumstances happened. We had to make a move and Travis was willing to help out [financially],” said Petit. “We’re very excited. We’ve raced against Travis and he has always been a gentleman at the track. He’s from a good family. It will be a good mix. With him, my crew and his crew, we’ll be a force.”

Benjamin is bringing his sponsors with him.

Benjamin, who won back-to-back Oxford 250s in 2013 and 2014, said he consulted his team to “make sure the move didn’t bother them too much.

“I’ll bring some of the guys with me. It’s a good deal for them, too,” said Benjamin, noting that he and his crew got “burned out” three-quarters of the way through last season.

Benjamin wound up fifth last season after a fourth-place finish in 2013 and a fifth in 2011. He was eighth in 2014, when he ran just 12 of the 14 races.

“We want to win another championship,” said Petit.

The opening race is April 9 at Thompson (Connecticut) Speedway Motorsports Park.

 


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