If there were any track Gabe Brown could pick for his first Pro All Stars Series Super Late Model win, Oxford Plains Speedway would have to be it.
Sunday night, Brown got his wish.
The Center Conway, N.H. youngster held off a last-lap charge by Joey Doiron to nab his first-ever PASS North checkered flag in the Honey Badger Bar & Grill 150.
OXFORD DOUBLEHEADER: Gravel Grabs ACT Oxford Checkers
“We came back this year with a whole different mindset,” Brown said of his return to a track where his stock car career took shape, but where success in touring competition proved to be a tough hurdle to clear.
But clear it, he did. Starting from the pole, the 2018 Oxford Super Late Model champion led every circuit, watching his rear-view mirror as calamity claimed his competition deeper in the field.
The mayhem started only five laps in, when a multi-car incident dealt damage to veteran Gary Drew and PASS North points leader Eddie MacDonald. MacDonald ducked into the pits under caution for his crew to remove a ruined fender, but once back up to speed, the rest of the bodywork on MacDonald’s car started to give way.
“The Outlaw” caught a lucky break as Scott McDaniel skidded off the track in turn three. Seconds later, another multi-car melee broke out, with Ben Rowe launching over rookie Max Cookson and pile-driving a lamppost in turn one. A red flag was thrown to clear the track of debris, while multi-time Oxford PASS winner Curtis Gerry was among those forced to retire early.
On the restart, DJ Shaw lost pace in the outside line, dropping to the tail of the pack before spinning down the frontstretch. As the field slowed for the caution flag, Tim Brackett spun from the top five into Shaw’s path, with the two cars bumping noses on the turn-one apron. Shaw, too, was done for the day.
With many heavy hitters sidelined only ten laps into the race, Brown settled into a rhythm, distancing himself from second-place Corey Bubar as Jeremie Whorff climbed to third. Brown’s advantage evaporated on lap 63 when Joe Pastore sent Rusty Poland around in turn four, bringing out the fourth caution of the race.
Brown took off on the restart, leaving Bubar to battle Whorff and Joey Doiron for second. Whorff, the 2006 Oxford 250 winner, slipped by Bubar to take the runner-up spot, with Doiron falling into line behind Bubar. A spin for Pastore on lap 93 slowed the field once again, with Whorff lining up alongside Brown for the restart.
Brown quickly cleared Whorff, but Joey Polewarczyk skated off the track three laps later, spraying dirt on the turn-two banking as he fought for grip. The track was cleaned and the field re-racked for another restart, but a turn-four pileup after the green flag slowed the pace again, with Gary Drew and rookie Isaac Bevin pulling into the pits for good.
Once again, Brown outdueled Whorff at the drop of the green, with Bubar and Doiron pressuring the veteran for second. Bubar’s strong run unraveled with 40 laps to go as he looped his car in turn two, bringing out the last caution of the evening.
On the final restart, Brown escaped with the lead, but Doiron worked his way past Whorff and set his sights on the win. Brown wove his way through slower traffic, but Doiron chipped away at his advantage, closing on Brown’s rear bumper with only a few laps to go. With clear track ahead, Doiron took to the high line, testing Brown as Whorff closed in to make his own bid for the lead.
But Brown had the preferred line, and while Doiron could get to his door, he could get no further, with Brown pulling ahead by a car length to score his first PASS North victory.
“Best car I’ve ever, ever had here,” Brown said of his winning mount.
Doiron was the first one to Brown’s car to congratulate him on the frontstretch. The winner of PASS’ previous visit to Oxford in June, Doiron kept it clean in the closing laps to come home with his second top-two finish in two PASS starts this year.
Whorff, who destroyed a brand-new car in a grinding wreck at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in April, shook his new car down in Saturday night’s weekly Super Late Model feature, then drove to a third-place finish. The podium was Whorff’s best PASS performance at Oxford since a second-place finish in 2007.
Ryan Kuhn had an uneventful evening but came home a strong fourth, his best run of the year. Two-time Oxford track champion Dave Farrington, Jr. spun trying to avoid an early incident, but drove back to a fifth-place finish.
Reigning PASS North champion Johnny Clark was sixth at the finish, edging out Trevor Sanborn and Brandon Barker. TJ Brackett was ninth across the line, while Bubar drove back from his late spin to finish tenth.
Polewarczyk, who was caught up in the lap-eight melee, rebounded from body damage and his off-track excursion to finish 11th. Ben Ashline was 21st, best among the three drivers who ran both the PASS and ACT features on a hot doubleheader afternoon.
Eddie MacDonald soldiered on from his early damage, finishing four laps back in 22nd. Unofficially, MacDonald will cling to the points lead despite his challenging evening.
Brown’s victory will help him in the championship standings as well. But more importantly, it brought the young racer’s career full-circle. Under the tutelage of car builder Dale Shaw, Brown made the big leap from go-karts to Super Late Models in the summer of 2017. The fourteen-year-old finished tenth in his first two starts before placing second to Garrett Hall. A couple weeks later, in the Granite State Pro Stock Series’ prelude to the Oxford 250, Brown again finished second to Hall in his first touring start.
Brown went full-time at Oxford in 2018, becoming the youngest-ever Super Late Model track champion days before his sixteenth birthday. He also ran ten PASS races to prepare for a full touring run in 2019. But Brown’s title came without a feature win. And after two and a half seasons in PASS, Brown was winless there, too.
A different path emerged for Brown and the family operation in 2021, with the team running the full GSPSS schedule along with select PASS events. Brown broke into the winner’s circle at last, winning a 150-lap, $10,000-to-win GSPSS show in July. Two more wins in the last two races of the season clinched Brown’s first touring championship.
Buoyed by confidence, Brown made plans for a full-time PASS campaign in 2022. While attempting to qualify at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, though, Brown was crashed out of his heat race, leaving him on the sidelines when the green flag flew. Brown and his team thrashed to repair the car, placing third at Stafford Motor Speedway the next Saturday and winning a one-off appearance with GSPSS that Sunday.
Indeed, in five PASS starts and two GSPSS events leading into Sunday’s Oxford contest, Brown had yet to finish worse than ninth. That included two top ten finishes at Oxford, a track that has not been the kindest to Brown in touring competition. In sixteen PASS starts at Oxford entering this season, Brown had only managed four top-ten finishes, even failing to qualify in his first two PASS attempts in 2017.
Brown’s win comes with another advantage, a clean race car. With back-to-back PASS features this Friday and Saturday at White Mountain Motorsports Park, many touring regulars have a lot of work to do to get their cars ready to race again.
Brown, on the other hand, is ready to go for another win.
Unofficial Results, PASS North Honey Badger Bar & Grill 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway:
1. (50) Gabe Brown
2. (21) Joey Doiron
3. (00) Jeremie Whorff
4. (72MA) Ryan Kuhn
5. (23) Dave Farrington, Jr.
6. (54) Johnny Clark
7. (29S) Trevor Sanborn
8. (88) Brandon Barker
9. (61) TJ Brackett
10. (12X) Corey Bubar
11. (4NH) Joey Polewarczyk
12. (18S) Mike Scorzelli
13. (94) Garrett Hall
14. (1) Kyle DeSouza
15. (44) Rusty Poland
16. (56) Evan Beaulieu
17. (81) Dan Winter
18. (72X) Scott Robbins
19. (20P) Joe Pastore
20. (14) Scott McDaniel
21. (99) Ben Ashline
22. (17MA) Eddie MacDonald
23. (20) JR Robinson
24. (12) Dennis Spencer
25. (53) Cole Butcher
26. (7B) Isaac Bevin
27. (71) Gary Drew
28. (01) Steven Chicoine
29. (04) TJ Watson
30. (60B) Tim Brackett
31. (60) DJ Shaw
32. (7G) Curtis Gerry
33. (36) Ryan Robbins
34. (63) Kyle Salemi
35. (39) Max Cookson
36. (4) Ben Rowe
37. (5M) Dillon Moltz
DNS (88MA) Kevin Casper
DNS (78) Ivan Kaffel
DNS (50GRIT) Jeff White