Reid Lanpher of Manchester, pictured during a 2016 event at Oxford Plains Speedway, finished third in Sunday night’s 45th Oxford 250 at the same racetrack. Credit: Contributed photo

The oval at Oxford Plains Speedway has its share of challenges as does the track’s biggest race, the Oxford 250.

That didn’t deter 31-year-old Bubba Pollard of Senoia, Georgia, who was driving on the track for the first time, from taking the checkered flag at the 45th annual Clark’s Scrap Metal Oxford 250 Sunday night.

Pollard started 29th, took the lead from two-time winner Travis Benjamin of Morrill on lap 219 and withstood some late restarts to hold off 2012 winner Joey Polewarczyk Jr. of Hudson, New Hampshire.

“I’ve heard a lot of stories about this place. I’ve heard things people say about it,” Pollard told Autoweek. I have a lot of respect for this place and track, and I’ve got to give credit to Tom Mayberry [Pro All-Stars Series founder and owner and OPS owner] because this is incredible. The campers and all the fans. This is what short track racing is about and it’s a hell of a track to put on a show.”

Reid Lanpher of Manchester was third, pole-sitter Gary Hall of Scarborough was fourth and Berwick’s Joey Doiron rounded out the top five. D.J. Shaw of Center Conway, New Hampshire, was sixth and completing the top 10 were Benjamin, Mike Hopkins of Hermon, Brandon Barker of Windham and Turner’s Ben Rowe.

Among other notables were Wyatt Alexander of Ellsworth, who finished 12th; Frenchville native Shawn Martin, who now lives in Turner, was 20th; Farmingdale’s Johnny Clark was 22nd; three-time winner Mike Rowe of Turner was 29th; Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault, the 2017 ARCA Series titlist, wound up 30th; Fairfield’s Jeff Taylor was 32nd; and Farmington’s Cassius Clark was 36th in the 42-car field.

Hopkins turned in one of the race’s most noteworthy improvements, starting 32nd and getting as high as second before winding up a career-best eighth.

The 33-year-old Hopkins had finished 24th, 13th and 32nd, respectively, in his previous three 250s.

“I’ll take it. It was my best run, by far,” Hopkins said. “I think I passed the most cars in the race. I fell back to 38th early. I stayed on the outside for the first 100 laps and then I took on four new tires on lap 115, and that made all the difference. I was able to drive anywhere.”

Hopkins made his way up to second but when he said he took on two right side tires on lap 205, the car was never as good after that.

“It was too snug in the middle,” he said.

Hopkins praised Pollard, saying “he’s probably the best [short-track racer] in the country. He’s good. He’s a natural-born talent. He’s a professional race car driver, it’s what he does all the time.”

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