On Sunday morning, it had been four years since a chassis from the Dale Shaw Race Cars shop took a checkered flag in a Pro All Stars Series Super Late Model race at Oxford Plains Speedway.
On Sunday afternoon, DJ Shaw reset the clock.
The five-time and reigning PASS North champion led every lap of the Honey Badger Bar & Grill 150 to claim his first PASS win of the season, the 21st PASS North win of his career, and his first points-paying win at the Maine oval since 2013.
Shaw, who is not chasing a sixth PASS championship this year, was absent from the grid in PASS’ April visit to Oxford. The legendary oval, PASS’ home venue, has not been Shaw’s strongest speedway in the past.
But the Center Conway, N.H. veteran was undeterred, unloading fast and taking a heat victory to secure his spot at the front of the field. And from the drop of the green, Shaw was in complete control.
Not that Shaw’s win came without challenge. Curtis Gerry, the 2019 Oxford track champion with nine PASS wins at the speedway, made a late move on the outside to test Shaw’s superiority. Shaw kept the lead, and Gerry slipped back to settle for second.
Nick Sweet, Shaw’s chief title rival for most of the 2020 season, rebounded from a late incident in April’s race to finish a solid third. Sweet, like Shaw, reduced his touring schedule this season, with Sunday’s race only his second PASS attempt in 2021.
JR Robinson, a veteran of the American-Canadian Tour, crossed the line fourth but was moved to the tail of the field following the race. Kyle DeSouza, a former PASS regular now running full-time at Oxford, was instead credited with fourth, his best finish since 2012. Johnny Clark moved up into the top five as well, helping his pursuit of a record seventh PASS North championship.
Trevor Sanborn was sixth in the final rundown. Jake Johnson, the 2020 Snowflake 100 winner, finished seventh. Scott McDaniel and Ryan Robbins were eighth and ninth, with Dan Winter rounding out the top ten.
PASS full-timers Anthony Constantino and Kate Re were 12th and 14th. Title challenger and four-time series champion Ben Rowe struggled to a 22rd-place result. Thirty-two cars started the feature, but only half finished within a few laps of the leader. Extreme heat played a role in the afternoon’s heavy attrition, with early-season winners Joey Doiron and Dave Farrington, Jr. among those who failed to see the finish.
Sunday’s race was both a personal and business milestone for Shaw. In 42 PASS-sanctioned starts at Oxford dating back to 2007, Shaw had won only twice. Shaw’s first Oxford win came in the 2013 season finale, the first season PASS called Oxford home. His only other win at the track was in 2017’s Oxford Open, a non-points event staged as a qualifier for the Oxford 250.
Shaw’s Oxford Open win was also the last PASS victory at the track for his father’s chassis shop, Dale Shaw Race Cars. Joey Doiron had picked up a PASS win at Oxford earlier that season in his own Dale Shaw car.
But since then, cars from either Shaw’s own stable or his network of customers have been shut out of PASS winner’s circles at Oxford. Most of the wins have fallen to cars built by Distance Racing Products, headed up by Oxford veteran Jeff Taylor, with a few wins for Port City, Fury and even Senneker cars along the way.
Shaw’s cars have not exactly struggled at the track; Jimmy Hebert and Bryan Kruczek nabbed Oxford wins in American-Canadian Tour competition in Shaw-built cars, and Shaw has six of his own podium performances in PASS events since the 2017 Oxford Open. But with plenty of Distance cars in each field, and many of the Oxford weekly regulars opting for Distance chassis, the numbers have not been in Shaw’s favor.
That is, until Sunday.
This season has been atypical so far for Shaw, who opted not to commit to a title defense after winning five PASS North championships since 2014. Shaw has run all but one PASS race so far, while competing full-time on the ACT Late Model Tour. He opened the Tour season in victory lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, only to have that win rescinded at the tech shed. Two races later, he picked up his first career Tour win in the same fashion at Lee USA Speedway.
But in a limited schedule, certain wins carry a higher weight than others. And in PASS competition, a win at Oxford is a step toward preparation for August’s Oxford 250, the biggest event on the series schedule. It is an event in which Shaw has finished no better than third.
Sunday’s win will have Shaw and his team optimistic for August, yet digging deeper for more.
Editor’s Note: This report has been updated to reflect a mid-week change to the race results.
Unofficial Results, PASS North Honey Badger Bar & Grill 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway:
1. (60) DJ Shaw
2. (7G) Curtis Gerry
3. (40) Nick Sweet
4. (1) Kyle DeSouza
5. (54) Johnny Clark
6. (29S) Trevor Sanborn
7. (15MA) Jake Johnson
8. (14) Scott McDaniel
9. (36) Ryan Robbins
10. (81) Dan Winter
11. (02) Brian Whalley
12. (14ME) Anthony Constantino
13. (53X) Isaac Bevin
14. (10) Kate Re
15. (56) Evan Beaulieu
16. (94) Garrett Hall
17. (7) Travis Benjamin
18. (23) Dave Farrington, Jr.
19. (43) Devin O’Connell
20. (12) Dennis Spencer
21. (32X) Nick Jenkins
22. (4) Ben Rowe
23. (8) Calvin Rose, Jr.
24. (73ME) Adam Polvinen
25. (21) Joey Doiron
26. (63) John Salemi
27. (52NH) Jake Matheson
28. (18) Justin Larsen
29. (61) TJ Brackett
30. (60B) Tim Brackett
31. (53) Alan Wilson
32. (20) JR Robinson