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Cookson Collects Another Oxford Trophy With Second Career PASS Win

The young Mainer has been on a roll at Oxford with four straight touring and weekly feature wins at the historic speedplant.

Max Cookson won Saturday's PASS Honey Badger Bar & Grill 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway, his first PASS North win of 2023 and his fourth straight at the Maine oval. (Photo courtesy O.L. Photos/Oriana Lovell)

Max Cookson has something figured out about Oxford Plains Speedway. Not that he hasn’t figured it out elsewhere, but the flat Maine oval is where the young racer is doing his winning so far.

The Pro All Stars Series rookie locked down his first touring win of 2023 and his second series triumph in Saturday’s PASS North Honey Badger Bar & Grill 150.

And just like that, last year’s Oxford track champion is this year’s threat to contend for the PASS North championship.

Saturday’s race, the fourth of the young season, had been twice postponed by inclement weather, allowing Oxford’s weekly racing to get rolling before the touring cars could fit in their first of six home games. And true to expectations, Cookson swept both weekly Super Late Model features leading into the PASS event.

To win his third-straight Oxford race of the year and his fourth dating back to last October, Cookson would have to come from ninth on the grid. The young racer worked patiently through traffic, but once Cookson got to the lead, he was not quite as humble. After a clean and fast 150-lap feature, Cookson crossed the line with a 2.117-second advantage over the rest of the field.

A champion in the PASS Modifieds in 2021 and in Oxford’s weekly Super Late Model class in 2022, Cookson is gunning for another touring championship with PASS this season. (Photo courtesy O.L. Photos/Oriana Lovell)

Brandon Barker, still looking for his first career PASS win, finished a strong second. The Beech Ridge Motor Speedway alumnus opened the season with back-to-back top tens at Thompson Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway before skipping Thunder Road to compete with the Granite State Pro Stock Series instead.

Former PASS regular Kyle DeSouza, now a weekly regular at Oxford, matched his career-best result in PASS competition by finishing third.

Fourth went to Ben Rowe, who scored his best finish in over a year while racing for his family team. Thompson Speedway winner Trevor Sanborn, in the Richard Moody Racing entry Rowe drove for many years, was fifth at the checkered flag.

Multi-time track champion Dave Farrington, Jr. was sixth at the line, ahead of DJ Shaw, who endured a late Friday night at Stafford Motor Speedway to win the American-Canadian Tour’s Spring Sizzler 75. Jeremie Whorff was eighth at the finish, with Gabe Brown and Shawn Knight rounding out the top ten.

Kyle DeSouza and Brandon Barker share the podium with the victorious Cookson after Saturday night’s feature. (Photo courtesy O.L. Photos/Oriana Lovell)

While Oxford’s weekly Super Late Model program usually inspires deeper fields in PASS’ home-track appearances, Saturday was a rare exception to the rule. Twenty-five cars took the green, a strong field at most regional Super Late Model features but a few entries shy of the high bar PASS has set over the last two years. Most of PASS’ touring regulars were on hand, with the exception of points leader and Thunder Road winner Derek Griffith, and seven of the top ten Oxford weekly racers in this year’s standings were in the field.

But with repeated reschedulings, and especially with Oxford’s weekly season now two weeks underway, the weekly competitors can be excused for taking a needed week to regroup for the summer stretch ahead.

Cookson fits into both groups of racers, for now. The nineteen-year-old from Pittsfield, Me. made the leap to Super Late Models in 2022 after handily winning PASS’ Modified championship as a rookie. Cookson adapted to the big cars in a hurry, winning his first time out and wrapping up the weekly grind with a championship. A limited PASS North schedule netted the youngster four top-five finishes in eight starts, one coming in the Oxford 250, and a year-ending first-career PASS win as he prepared to take another leap.

Foreshadowing that his late-season success was hardly a fluke, Cookson scored back-to-back second-place finishes in March’s preseason features at Hickory Motor Speedway to open the 2023 season. Three races into the PASS North season, Cookson had yet to finish worse than seventh, while scoring a runner-up performance at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in his first trip to the big track.

Saturday’s win also made Cookson the first of this year’s Kulwicki Driver Development Program finalists to earn a feature win in 2023, and one of four program participants to win on the same evening.

Cookson’s team now turns their attention to White Mountain Motorsports Park, a track where Cookson finished seventh last year and won a PASS Modified feature in 2021. Contending for the win shouldn’t be out of the question.

Though the same could go for any race coming up.

Unofficial Results
Pro All Stars Series North Honey Badger Bar & Grill 150
Oxford Plains Speedway

1. (39) Max Cookson
2. (88) Brandon Barker
3. (1) Kyle DeSouza
4. (5) Ben Rowe
5. (44) Trevor Sanborn
6. (23) Dave Farrington, Jr.
7. (60) DJ Shaw
8. (00) Jeremie Whorff
9. (47) Gabe Brown
10. (25) Shawn Knight
11. (73D) Joey Doiron
12. (14) Scott McDaniel
13. (54) Johnny Clark
14. (12) Dennis Spencer, Jr.
15. (81) Dan Winter
16. (38) Garrett Lamb
17. (36) Ryan Robbins
18. (24) Mike Rowe
19. (00R) Jimmy Renfrew, Jr.
20. (20) Joe Pastore
21. (10) Kate Re
22. (41) Tracy Gordon
23. (50) Andy Shaw
24. (9T) Alan Tardiff
25. (60B) Tim Brackett

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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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