Despite the wealth of experience among the Pro All Stars Series touring regulars, the spoils of the series’ home bouts at Oxford Plains Speedway often fall to the track’s local stars. And Dave Farrington, Jr. is enjoying his turn at the top.
The reigning Oxford Super Late Model champion took the lead just before halfway in Sunday’s Honey Badger Bar & Grill 150, avoiding trouble to take his second career PASS North win at the legendary oval on opening weekend.
Meanwhile, a notable absence in the pit area opened up the championship battle for New England’s premier Super Late Model touring organization.
Farrington is not part of the PASS North title discussion. The Sabattus, Maine racer, a former Kulwicki Driver Development Program participant, ran full-time in 2017 but returned to weekly competition the next year. Sunday, the third race of the young PASS North season, was Farrington’s first start of 2021.
Starting third, Farrington pursued early leaders Joey Doiron and Travis Benjamin as they swapped the top spot back and forth. Farrington first dispatched Doiron, then made quick work of Benjamin on a lap-74 restart. He then broke free from the pack, leaving Benjamin to battle Doiron and Nick Sweet, who won Saturday’s Oxford weekly SLM season opener.
Farrington was well in control when the running order was scrambled behind him with only eighteen laps remaining. An incident while working lapped traffic collected Sweet, while Benjamin was forced to pit lane from the second position. Doiron assumed second and Northeast Classic winner Johnny Clark took over third.
Clark was able to get around Doiron in the closing laps, but he was still over two seconds back from Farrington when the checkered flag flew.
Trevor Sanborn, who was sidelined late in 2020 with a health scare, drove from the rear of the field to finish third. Sanborn’s podium was his best finish since a third-place at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in 2018.
Multi-time PASS feature winner Curtis Gerry nursed his car home in fourth with a failing clutch, while Doiron faded to fifth at the finish.
Scott McDaniel was sixth, with Jeff White rebounding from an early crash to finish seventh. Oxford regular Calvin Rose, Jr. was eighth, a career best in PASS competition. Ryan Robbins and 2020 Snowflake 100 winner Jake Johnson rounded out the top ten.
Thirty-one cars gridded for the feature, but missing from the pack was reigning PASS North champion DJ Shaw. Shaw, who finished seventh in Saturday night’s Granite State Pro Stock Series season opener at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway, opted out of the weekend double. In skipping his first PASS North event since the end of the 2015 season, the five-time champion bowed out of a battle for a fourth-straight and sixth-career title.
With early-season sensation Derek Griffith also absent at Oxford, and Benjamin and Sweet among several drivers reducing their schedules, only six drivers have taken the green in all three PASS North events. The stage has quickly been set for a likely championship duel between six-time champ Johnny Clark, last crowned in 2011, and Ben Rowe, who won his fourth title in 2007.
How this plays out throughout the season, especially in the wake of PASS’ new-for-2021 loyalty programs geared toward rewarding teams with a more regional focus, remains to be seen. In the short term, it appears that many of New England’s Super Late Model heavy-hitters will be chasing trophies, not points, this year.
To an extent, Farrington falls into that category. Sunday’s win was Farrington’s fifth Oxford victory in eleven starts dating back to last August. Farrington, a two-time Beech Ridge Motor Speedway track champion, opted to run weekly at Oxford in 2020 after Beech Ridge elected not to award points for its shortened schedule. Farrington opened August with three straight weekly feature wins at Oxford, then earned his first career PASS win to give him four straight victories heading into the Oxford 250. A fourth-place finish in the 250 added to the momentum that propelled Farrington to the Oxford track championship.
Farrington’s rival for the Oxford weekly title was none other than Curtis Gerry, the 2019 Oxford champion and also a two-time Beech Ridge weekly champ. Gerry, who earned national attention with his 2017 Oxford 250 victory, has nine more PASS wins since his 250 triumph, all but one coming at Oxford. Gerry won three PASS features at the track last year, including the final two events of the season.
With five more PASS events at Oxford in 2021, Farrington will be looking to follow Gerry’s path.
Unofficial Results, PASS Honey Badger Bar & Grill 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway:
1. (23) Dave Farrington, Jr.
2. (54) Johnny Clark
3. (29S) Trevor Sanborn
4. (7G) Curtis Gerry
5. (21) Joey Doiron
6. (14) Scott McDaniel
7. (50) Jeff White
8. (8) Calvin Rose, Jr.
9. (36) Ryan Robbins
10. (15MA) Jake Johnson
11. (10) Kate Re
12. (40) Nick Sweet
13. (1) Kyle DeSouza
14. (81) Dan Winter
15. (18) Justin Larsen
16. (24) Mike Rowe
17. (20) JR Robinson
18. (56) Evan Beaulieu
19. (41) Logan Melcher
20. (61) TJ Brackett
21. (4) Ben Rowe
22. (20P) Joey Pastore
23. (14ME) Anthony Constantino
24. (38) Joey Doyon
25. (94) Garrett Hall
26. (7) Travis Benjamin
27. (72) Scott Robbins
28. (21C) Shane Clark
29. (53) Alan Wilson
30. (60B) Tim Brackett
31. (12) Dennis Spencer