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Brown Breaks Through At Oxford For First ACT Tour Win

The New Hampshire youngster has wins in all three major fendered touring divisions in New England, with his first wins coming at Oxford in two of them.

Gabe Brown burns down the tires after a convincing first career ACT Tour win in Saturday night's Oxford Plains 125. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Gabe Brown’s stock car career started off at Oxford Plains Speedway. It’s only fitting, then, that his path to touring success has crossed through Oxford as well.

And on Saturday night, Brown earned a long-overdue American-Canadian Tour victory at the track the New Hampshire racer calls home.

Gabe Brown’s enthusiasm was on full display after climbing from the car in the winner’s circle. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Brown kept D.J. Shaw at bay in the closing laps to win the Oxford Plains 125, the ACT Late Model Tour’s prelude to Sunday’s Pro All Stars Series-sanctioned Oxford 250.

As grateful as he was for the win, though, the Center Conway, N.H. driver couldn’t help but dwell on a frustrating statistic.

“It’s pretty bad that I raced weekly here for two years and I didn’t get a win,” he said. “It should be way easier, right?”

Not that Saturday’s showdown was a walk in the park. Starting fourth, Brown settled into a rhythm early as Alexendre Tardif led from the pole. Rookie Andrew Molleur, fresh off a top-five performance at Seekonk Speedway, followed in Tardif’s tire tracks.

The driver on the move early, though, was defending race winner Derek Gluchacki. Handicapped to an eleventh-place start, Gluchacki diced his way through the top ten, running down Molleur in traffic. As Gluchacki made the move for second, Brown followed through to take third.

Ten laps later, Gluchacki caught Tardif for the lead, using lapped traffic to get past the quick Quebecer. Brown used the same slower car to slip past Tardif for second.

Brooks Clark (#68VT) goes for a slide after a nudge from Jimmy Renfrew, Jr. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Troubles for sisters Peyton and Reilly Lanphear slowed the field for consecutive yellow flags, keeping Gluchacki from driving away. A third yellow was thrown two laps later when Jimmy Renfrew, Jr. sent Brooks Clark for a slide through turn two, stacking up a few cars at the tail of the field.

Brown went to work on Gluchacki on the restart, taking the lead and leaving the door open for Tardif to steal second. Gluchacki drove back around Tardif, with Shaw joining the top-four battle as well. A caution flag on lap 74 kept the pack tight, but Brown was able to open up a slight margin over the competition on the restart.

Shaw was running second when David MacDonald’s turn-three spin brought out another yellow flag with fifteen laps to go. Brown took the outside line for the restart, with Gluchacki lining up behind Shaw on the inside. Shaw struggled to come up to speed on the start, stacking up Gluchacki and the inside line while Brown escaped out front. Gluchacki’s crew was visibly frustrated as their driver sank through the top five.

The outside line was a boon for Tardif, who shot into second and went to work on Brown’s rear bumper trying to unsettle him for the top spot. A multi-car spin five laps later broke up the lead battle, reracking the top five and giving Brown the inside line back. The green waved, but officials reached for the yellow two laps later when contact between MacDonald and Rémi Perreault slowed the race with eight laps left on the scoreboard.

Gabe Brown’s greatest threat in the final laps came from Alexendre “Fireball” Tardif, hungry for his own first ACT Tour win after finding success this season with the Quebec-based Série ACT LMS. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Brown took off with the lead on the restart, while Shaw kept Tardif occupied in second. And while Shaw got around the young Canadian for second, he was unable to put the same pressure on Brown.

In his sixteenth ACT Tour start, Brown finally put his Dale Shaw-themed throwback car in the winner’s circle.

Shaw works over Tardif in the closing laps to take second. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Brown, who fields his own equipment full-time in ACT as well as PASS, was pleased to see his team’s efforts realized at last. “I’m proud of my guys and thankful for what they did for me,” he said. “I’m glad we have a hot rod.”

Shaw, the defending ACT Tour champ, finished second, keeping his top-ten record unblemished after some recent close calls.

Joey Polewarczyk charged to third in the final sprint to the checkers, overcoming a 20th-place start. Ryan Olsen drove to fourth, while Gluchacki was forced to settle for fifth.

Tardif slipped back to sixth in the closing laps. Renfrew raced back to seventh after his early incident. Molleur, the rookie who ran second in the early laps, held on for eighth in the final rundown. Erick Sands and Lee USA Speedway winner Brandon Barker rounded out the top ten.

Joey Polewarczyk started deep in the field, but slipped past a frustrated Derek Gluchacki in the final laps to finish third. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Thirty-eight teams, including six from Quebec, were on hand to qualify for the feature. With Friday’s racing shoehorned into the Saturday schedule due to rain, the usual consi was scrapped and all teams in attendance were able to start. Among the Canadian visitors was “Ironman” Claude Leclerc, who made his third start of the season and his first in the United States at the age of 81.

Brown celebrates his first ACT Tour win with veterans Polewarczyk and Shaw sharing the podium. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Shaw’s runner-up finish cost him some ground to Brown in the points race, but allowed him to gain breathing room on Gluchacki and Renfrew in the standings. With a worst finish this year of tenth, the reigning champion is well on track to go back-to-back.

Three races remain, though, and either Brown or Gluchacki could make up some ground in a hurry if misfortune strikes. After opening the year with three straight seventh-place finishes, Brown has top-five finishes in five of his last seven starts, including two second-place finishes and Saturday’s win. A June victory at White Mountain Motorsports Park came in a special event, but hinted at the car’s winning potential. In his first full season, the young racer is figuring out the ACT Tour platform at last.

Saturday’s win, indeed, gives him victories in all three major New England touring series. Brown has four Granite State Pro Stock Series wins and the 2021 championship, and won his first PASS race at Oxford last July.

The real test for Brown, of course, will be Sunday’s Oxford 250. Brown finished third in last year’s race, his best finish by far in four starts.

But no matter how Sunday’s race goes, Brown already has a trophy to bring back to New Hampshire.

Unofficial Results
American-Canadian Tour Oxford Plains 125
Oxford Plains Speedway

1. (60ME) Gabe Brown
2. (04VT) D.J. Shaw
3. (97NH) Joey Polewarczyk
4. (61NH) Ryan Olsen
5. (03MA) Derek Gluchacki
6. (21QC) Alexendre Tardif
7. (00NH) Jimmy Renfrew, Jr.
8. (31CT) Andrew Molleur
9. (36NH) Erick Sands
10. (0NH) Brandon Barker
11. (68NH) Tanner Woodard
12. (74ME) Justin Eldridge
13. (5ME) Dominic Curit
14. (22VT) Peyton Lanphear
15. (49CT) Anthony Bello
16. (41QC) Jonathan Bouvrette
17. (21TN) Jean-François Déry
18. (27NH) Cam Huntress
19. (8NH) Connor McDougal
20. (77NH) Bryan Wall, Jr.
21. (68VT) Brooks Clark
22. (92VT) Jaden Perry
23. (12NH) Jeffrey Labrecque, Jr.
24. (5CT) Jet Decker
25. (7NC) Davey Riendeau
26. (02NH) Geoff Rollins
27. (38ME) Garrett Lamb
28. (48NY) Taylor Hoar
29. (21VT) Reilly Lanphear
30. (28NH) Ricky Bly
31. (11QC) Claude Leclerc
32. (72QC) Louis-Philippe Lauzier
33. (33QC) Rémi Perreault
34. (69ME) David MacDonald
35. (25ME) Jason Gammon
36. (7NH) Cody LeBlanc
37. (77MA) Jimmy Linardy
38. (22WC) Mike Clark

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Jeff Brown is a contributor to Short Track Scene. A native of New Hampshire and a long-time fan of New England racing, Brown provides a fan's perspective as he follows New England's regional Late Model touring series.

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