OXFORD, Maine – We don't want to call Randy Potter's wire-to-wire victory in the New England Dodge Dealers 150 a major upset, but consider the facts.
Potter, a 40-year-old veteran of Riverside Speedway in his hometown of Groveton, N.H., had never won an ACT race. And the last time he turned a steering wheel around the notoriously tough Oxford Plains Speedway? Just after the beginning of Bill Clinton's second presidential term in 1995.

He was king for a day on this April afternoon, however, running away from six-time ACT champion Jean-Paul Cyr of Milton, Vt., and rising star Joey Polewarczyk of Hudson, N.H., for an authoritative victory that was slowed only twice by caution.
"I've led a few of these ACT races, but I never had the patience," Potter said. "I just turned 40 on Thursday, so I guess maybe I'm learning patience."
OPS competitor Doug Coombs finished fourth, while David Avery made it three New Hampshire drivers in the top five.
Cris Michaud (ACT), Mike Rowe (OPS legend), Travis Adams (2006 Oxford Networks Late Model champion), Roger Brown (ACT) and Ryan Nolin (ACT) rounded out the top 10.
Fifty-two drivers attempted to qualify, with 33 taking the green flag in the main event.
In accompanying feature action, Tommy Tompkins toughed out a 30-lap Allen's Coffee Flavored Brandy Strictly Stock victory, while Adam Polvinen edged defending track champion Jim Childs in the 30-lap Mini Stock encounter.
Potter won the third of four 12-lap qualifying heats. Courtesy of ACT’s plus-minus handicap system, he took the green flag from the outside of the front row in the feature and quickly forged ahead of pole-sitter Eric Williams.
Rowe, ACT standout Phil Scott and four-time OPS champion Dennis Spencer Jr. lurked in the early stages, but Potter maintained a healthy advantage until a multi-car spin involving Eric Chase, John Donahue and Glen Luce brought out the first caution flag on lap 39.
Using more than sixty caution-free laps to his advantage, Potter re-established his edge and proved that he was in it for the long haul. By lap 90, five drivers with eight OPS track titles and three TD Banknorth 250 championships between them (Ben Rowe, Scott Robbins, Ricky Rolfe, Shawn Martin and Tim Brackett) had fallen one lap down to the leader.
“It’s a new Race Basics chassis,” Potter said of his #02 machine. “I didn’t do a very good nut-and-bolt check, and in qualifying the driveshaft was just about ready to come out. So we were fortunate. I was able to make that first pass, and then track position was everything.”
Spencer and Scott dropped from contention with mechanical problems. Rowe and Cris Michaud each made a brief charge before their cars faded without a caution to cool the tires.
Cyr took over second on lap 104 and became the biggest threat to Potter’s rule. Still, by the time Steve Fisher’s stop on the front stretch necessitated the second and final stoppage with 25 circuits remaining, five lapped cars occupied the space between leader and runner-up on the restart grid.
Open track didn’t greet Cyr’s eyes until the waning moments. Potter already enjoyed a half-straightaway cushion.
“I didn’t need the last caution,” Cyr said. “My car tightened up quite a bit at the end. But to come to Oxford and finish second, I’ll take it. We just wanted to finish in the top 10. I’ve wrecked so many cars here.”
Cyr’s only previous podium finish at OPS was a victory in July 2005.
Saturday marked the second straight Oxford top-three for the young shoe known as “Joey Pole,” on the heels of his performance in the New England Dodge Dealers Little Guy 100 last October.
“We had a little trouble with the car earlier in the day,” said Polewarczyk, who started 24th in the field, “but we were able to get it back.”
Saturday's main event was the first of five in the lucrative L/A Harley-Davidson Late Model Challenge, an Oxford open competition series paying nearly $300,000 in purse and point fund money.
Tompkins built upon a family tradition with his impressive Strictly Stock victory.
His third Allen’s triumph in the last two seasons brought his career total in a 20-year career at OPS to 13 feature wins. That tied his father, late Charger champion Joey “The Jet” Tompkins, in the all-time tally.
“It’s pretty easy when you’re starting up front,” admitted Tompkins, who earned his spot on the pole by winning the first 10-lap heat race. “But you talk about doing your homework. The guy who made this happen was Jimmy Davis. He took every nut and bolt off this car this week.”
Davis steered the same machine to three feature wins in 2005 before handing the controls to Tompkins last spring.
Tompkins’ only obstacle was a green-white-checkered finish, created by a collision between Jeff Moon and Danny Smart that left Moon’s car sitting precariously over the edge of turn four on lap 28.
That put Sumner Sessions within striking distance. Like Potter later in the day, however, Tompkins had a pair of relatively fast lapped cars (three-time series champion Larry Emerson and B.J. Chapman) as a buffer zone.
Sessions settled for second in a car that immediately caught everyone’s eye. His new #0 “Screamin’ Eagle” is black instead of his traditional green.
“It’s not trying to change my luck as much as trying to have something new and straight,” Sessions said. “We had a pretty good run. When someone’s starting on the pole and they’re pretty fast, you aren’t going to get by ’em.”
Mike Short, the 1997 Allen’s Strictly champion, finished third, followed by Rick Thompson and Smart.
Polvinen also enjoyed the fruits of the luck-of-the-draw and straight-up lineups that often prevail on opening day, winning his preliminary and setting the pace for all 30 laps of the Allen’s Mini scramble.
“I ran up front pretty much all of last year, but I couldn’t seem to win any races,” said Polvinen, the 2006 Wal-Mart Rookie of the Year in Mini and 2005 MacDonald Motors Runnin’ Rebel champ in the Oxford Acceleration Series. “I got one because of somebody’s else’s disqualification, but that doesn’t cut it for me. It feels good to start off this season with a win.”
His caution-free drive didn’t come without a challenge. None other than reigning champ Childs filled Polvinen’s rear-view mirror over the final five laps. Polvinen got sideways in the first turn after the white flag, but Childs gave a courtesy lift off the accelerator and couldn’t regain enough momentum to make the pass on the outside.
Childs started last in the field after failing to make the green flag for his heat race due to a problem in the car’s rear end.
“We Permatexed it so I could get out here, but I knew it was probably leaking and they would send us in after about two or three laps,” said Childs. “I never saw the black flag, though, so I guess it was OK.”
In his initial start since making a lateral move in the off-season, 2006 Strictly Stock top rookie Justin Karkos picked up his first-ever Championship Series trophy.
Karkos passed Jeff Prindall on the final lap and won the sprint to the stripe by less than a car length to finish third. His car also weathered the typical opening-day gremlins, boiling over like Old Faithful in victory lane.
“I think I can afford the anti-freeze,” he said. “I have to thank Joe, Bonnie and Scott King. They make all this happen.”
Bob Guptill opened his Wal-Mart Rookie candidacy with a fifth-place finish.
OPS moves right into a summer-like schedule this week. The Acceleration Series gets the call to start its engines Wednesday, with all five divisions primed for a 6:30 p.m. start. Championship Series competition resumes at 6:30 p.m. next Saturday, May 5, with Sunoco Race Fuels Night. Highlights include the opening race for the elite Oxford Networks Late Model division, a 100-lap Allen’s Mini Stock marathon, and an appearance by the Acceleration Series Chimney Tech Outlaws.

NEW ENGLAND DODGE DEALERS 150: 1. Randy Potter, Groveton. N.H.; 2. Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton Vt.; 3. Joey Polewarczyk, Hudson, N.H.; 4. Doug Coombs, Livermore; 5. David Avery, North Woodstock, N.H.; 6. Cris Michaud, Williamstown, Vt.; 7. Mike Rowe, Turner; 8. Travis Adams, Canton; 9. Roger Brown, Lancaster, N.H.; 10. Ryan Nolin, Georgia, Vt.; 11. Ron Henry, New Gloucester; 12. Alexandre Gingras, Quebec City, Quebec; 13. Jamie Fisher, Shelburne, Vt.; 14. Eric Williams, Hyde Park, Vt.,; 15. Ryan Vanasse, Warwick, R.I.; 16. Shawn Martin, Turner; 17. Dave Pembroke, Montpelier, Vt.; 18. Ricky Rolfe, Albany Township; 19. Jamie Aube, Bow, N.H.; 20. Eric Chase, Milton, Vt.; 21. Gary Chiasson, Peru; 22. Scott Payea, Milton, Vt.; 23. Tim Brackett, Buckfield; 24. Mike Ferguson, Rangeley; 25. John Donahue, Graniteville, Vt.; 26. Scott Robbins, Dixfield; 27. Glen Luce, Turner; 28. Ben Rowe, Turner; 29. Phil Scott, Montpelier, Vt.; 30. Steve Fisher, Shelburne, Vt.; 31. Dennis Spencer Jr., Oxford; 32. Brian Hoar, Williston, Vt.; 33. Marc Curtis Jr., Worcester, Mass. Lap leaders: Potter 1-150. Time of race: 54 minutes. Cautions: 2 (laps 40, 126)

ALLEN'S COFFEE FLAVORED BRANDY STRICTLY STOCK FEATURE (30 laps): 1. Tommy Tompkins, Mexico; 2. Sumner Sessions, Norway; 3. Mike Short, Auburn; 4. Rick Thompson, Naples; 5. Danny Smart, Buxton; 6. Matt Williams, Brownfield; 7. Zach Emerson, Sabattus; 8. Billy Childs Jr., Leeds; 9. Kurt Hewins, Leeds; 10. Skip Tripp, Sabattus; 11. Larry Emerson, Durham; 12. B.J. Chapman, Naples; 13. Jeff Moon, Gray; 14. Jeff Merrill, Roxbury; 15. Nick Coates, Turner; 16. Kim Tripp, Oxford; 17. George Haskell, Casco.

ALLEN'S COFFEE FLAVORED BRANDY MINI STOCK FEATURE (30 laps): 1. Adam Polvinen, Oxford; 2. Jim Childs, Leeds; 3. Justin Karkos, Jay; 4. Jeff Prindall, Lisbon Falls; 5. Bob Guptill, Mechanic Falls; 6. Bill Irving, New Gloucester; 7. Don Frechette, Turner; 8. Shane Kaherl, Wilton; 9. Greg Watkins, Bridgton; 10. Dale Brackett, Norway; 11. Dale Durgin, Norway.