With the Oxford 250 looming in just over a month, the midsummer Pro All Stars Series events at Oxford Plains Speedway take on a new significance, in which the struggles and strife of the early season can quickly be reversed with a trip to victory lane.
Over the last three years, no driver has capitalized on that significance like Curtis Gerry.
The 2017 Oxford 250 champion put on a clinic Saturday night, leading every lap en route to his eighth career PASS North victory in the Coastal Auto Parts 150.
And in doing so, the Waterboro, Maine veteran has once again established himself as one of the local favorites to contend for the win in New England’s richest one-day short track event.
With Gerry’s local stomping grounds shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the former PASS regular had a greater-than-normal presence on the touring circuit this year, racing in the first three events of the young season. But despite some strong performances early on, misfortune kept Gerry well out of the top ten in the finishing order.
That was all past tense Saturday. Starting alongside Derek Ramstrom, Gerry took the lead from the drop of the green flag and never looked back. And while Ramstrom, Dave Farrington, Jr. and even Travis Benjamin pursued the leader, no one had anything for Gerry.
But for those familiar with Maine’s Super Late Model scene, it was a familiar sequence of events.
The PASS veteran and 2016 Beech Ridge Motor Speedway Pro Series champion earned national attention with his 2017 Oxford 250 win, leading 102 laps and pocketing $35,000. The big win propelled Gerry from weekly success to a streak that saw him win five of his next seven PASS starts, establishing him as a regional favorite against the better-funded touring teams.
While Gerry’s touring success has waned since his winning streak, he has remained a force at the local level, claiming a second Pro Series title at Beech Ridge in 2018 and taking top honors in Oxford’s weekly Super Late Model series last year with four feature wins. Gerry already has a feature win at Oxford, leading the weekly point standings after a late start to the year.
Saturday’s win, Gerry’s first touring win since last year’s July visit to Oxford, is his seventh PASS win at the legendary speedway, with the other victory coming at Beech Ridge, his former home track.
Farrington gave chase in the closing laps, but came up short as he crossed the line second. The runner-up finish is Farrington’s first top-five in PASS since 2016, matching a career-best second-place finish to Mike Hopkins at Star Speedway that year. Farrington, who has only raced sporadically in PASS since a full-season effort in 2017, earned his second track championship at Beech Ridge last year.
Travis Benjamin made a late pass to take third, matching his best run of the season. After struggling through most of last year and only finding momentum in the weeks leading up to the Oxford 250, Benjamin has righted course, with an eleventh-place finish at White Mountain Motorsports Park his only finish outside the top five.
Ramstrom, racing for NASCAR Cup Series team owner Archie St. Hilaire, and fellow Bay State native Jake Johnson rounded out the top five.
Nick Sweet, the winner the last time out at Oxford, finished sixth, with veterans Gary Smith and Alan Wilson the only other drivers to finish on the lead lap. Reigning Granite State Pro Stock Series champion Joey Doiron and Oxford regular Ryan Robbins rounded out the top ten.
Struggles abounded for Sweet’s title rivals, with Alan Tardiff 13th and defending champion DJ Shaw 16th after suffering tire troubles during the race. Four-time PASS North champion Ben Rowe was scored four laps back in 27th.
Travis Benjamin’s steady season has him atop the points standings leaving Oxford, with Sweet only two markers behind thanks to his three wins. DJ Shaw and Alan Tardiff are not far behind, while six-time champion Johnny Clark sits fifth in the standings despite some strong performances to start the season.
The Pro All Stars Series North Super Late Models are back in action Friday night at the recently-renamed Riverside Speedway in Groveton, N.H. DJ Shaw won the last PASS appearance at the quarter-mile oval in 2018.
Official Results, PASS North Coastal Auto Parts 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway:
1. (7G) Curtis Gerry
2. (23) Dave Farrington, Jr.
3. (7) Travis Benjamin
4. (32) Derek Ramstrom
5. (15MA) Jake Johnson
6. (40) Nick Sweet
7. (75) Gary Smith
8. (53) Alan Wilson
9. (21) Joey Doiron
10. (36) Ryan Robbins
11. (24) Mike Rowe
12. (12G) Derek Griffith
13. (9T) Alan Tardiff
14. (90) Craig Weinstein
15. (10) Kate Re
16. (60) DJ Shaw
17. (94) Garrett Hall
18. (17MA) Eddie MacDonald
19. (M3) Brandon Barker
20. (81) Dan Winter
21. (72) Scott Robbins
22. (50) Jeff White
23. (14) Scott McDaniel
24. (47) Gabe Brown
25. (1VT) Evan Hallstrom
26. (54) Johnny Clark
27. (4) Ben Rowe
28. (18) Mike Scorzelli
29. (99) Ben Ashline
30. (74) Kelly Moore
31. (8) Calvin Rose, Jr.
32. (29) Austin Teras
33. (60B) Tim Brackett
34. (72X) Ryan Kuhn
35. (1) Kyle DeSouza