Coombs lands Late Model win the hard way

OXFORD, Maine – Making a successful outside pass has been considered a risky proposition in recent years, particularly in the fast and competitive Oxford Networks Late Model division at Oxford Plains Speedway.

Doug Coombs seems to live for that challenge. Coombs staged another one of his clinics in the high groove Saturday night, passing the top six cars in succession and surviving a restart with three laps remaining to capture the 40-lap main event.
It was Coombs' second Late Model win at OPS and his fifth overall in a career dating back to the late 1970s. Coombs enjoyed several successful years on the regional Legends Car circuit before returning to his Sportsman roots with authority.
Travis Adams edged rookie Tommy Ricker in a photo finish for second before an appreciative crowd. After that show-stopper, spectators also were treated to a holiday weekend fireworks display courtesy of Central Maine Pyrotechnics.
In other feature action, Matt Williams fended off Tommy Tompkins early and Skip Tripp late to claim his first Allen's Coffee Flavored Brandy Strictly Stock feature win since 2003. Jim Childs captured his second straight Allen's Mini Stock victory, becoming the division's first repeat winner of the spring in the process. Rodney Englehaupt enjoyed his first career feature win in a splendid first Chimney Tech Outlaw encounter, with Richard Spaulding showing the way in round two.
Francis Bernard Jr. ruled a 15-lap race for the traveling Quirk Super Cup Series.
Charger challengers reunited in Late Model thriller
Doug Coombs started 12th in the 24-car Late Model grid, but he wasted little time surging to sixth by the completion of lap 9. Corey Morgan was first in Coombs’ clutch, surrendering the fifth spot next time around.
Zach Emerson yielded fourth position to Coombs three laps later, and lap 16 saw Jon Brill surrender his place on the leader board to the fastest car in the field. In another three-eighths of a mile, Coombs claimed second from Scott King.
Tommy Ricker’s two-second lead evaporated quickly, although the first-year Late Model competitor gave Coombs his sternest test on the way to the front. Coombs dropped the hammer and put a fender out front on lap 25. On the next circuit, Ricker maintained the preferred line along the rail and regained the upper hand in a rousing battle of two competitors from the heyday of the Charger division in the 1980s.
Coombs punctuated the battle with a burst of power on the backstretch on lap 27. Ricker’s car fishtailed slightly coming out of the fourth turn, and that was the difference in momentum Coombs needed to seize command.
“The car was fantastic again,” said Coombs, who has finished in the top 10 in each of his four appearances this spring. “Kevin McDaniel and my crew do a tremendous job. It’s all them, really. That car is a privilege to drive for me. I’m very happy tonight, and I know the crew’s really happy.“
Getting past Ricker didn’t mean Coombs’ night was over. Don Wentworth and King tangled while running in the top 10 with three laps remaining, necessitating a short sprint to the finish for the second straight week.
Ricker stood to lose the most from the exchange, because his perch in the outside lane left him vulnerable to defending track champion Travis Adams’ charge along the inside. Coombs claimed victory by a car length in the Construction Consultants/T&L Auto #57. The bright green cars diced it out door-to-door in his tire tracks, with Adams ruled the runner-up by a matter of inches.
“Doug was hooked up pretty well tonight. We had to come from deep in the field, so I’m more than happy with this run,” said Adams, who claimed his third straight top-three finish and assumed the series point lead in the Dacata Repair/River Valley Grill #03E. “I’m excited. This is fun.”
Ricker was exuberant in victory lane, as usual, basking in the best run of his ‘rookie’ campaign.
Together with team owners Rudy and Natalie Kyllonen and crew chief Freddie DiPompo, Ricker secured a new Late Model car from King Motorsports after the dissolution of the Limited Sportsman class last autumn. The Lakeside Auto Repair/Randy’s Auto Parts/Gendron & Gendron #6 was a consistent top-10 ride with little to show for it in the standings until this breakthrough run.
“And Doug had to show up tonight. I don’t know why,” Ricker said with a laugh. “It’s a new car. It’s a new division. We’ve had our ups and downs already, even though it’s only four weeks into it. Nights like this make it all worth it. We bought the car, but Freddie (DiPompo) did it all himself. He fabricated it. That car’s pretty much been built at our shop. I appreciate everything everybody’s done for me.”
Eddie MacDonald continued his run of productive long hauls from the New Hampshire-Massachusetts border, charging from 18th to fourth, while Jon Brill recovered from a late-race disappointment last week to finish fifth.
Williams quenches thirst for a Strictly win
Matt Williams hasn’t been a missing person for the last four racing seasons. He just never quite made it to the top step of the podium.
After a lengthy and successful run in the Allen’s Strictly Stock division, concluding with a victory in August 2003, Williams advanced his racing operation to Limited Sportsman. The move produced a handful of top-three finishes but never the ultimate result the R.W. Plumbing/G&S of Brownfield #63 team desired.
Back home in more affordable surroundings, Williams warded off two of the toughest competitors in the Strictly division during his departure to end that lengthy dry spell with a 30-lap conquest.
“It’s been forever,” said Williams, who is a teammate to five-time OPS champion and Late Model standout Carey Martin. “I’m just out in the garage all the time. I’ve got to thank Carey and everybody over there that helps. It’s just a ton of help.”
Williams helped himself with a brilliant drive under duress and in lapped traffic Saturday night.
After Tommy Tompkins roared from 10th to second in six laps, he pulled to the outside of the leader and camped out there for nearly 10 full circuits. With the exception of lap 10, when Tompkins stuck the nose of the Dave’s Janitorial/Austin’s Gym #113 out in front, Williams held the division’s second-ranked driver at bay.
Tompkins eventually tucked his car into single-file formation behind Williams, making a few approaches inside and outside but failing to complete the pass.
Skip Tripp reeled in the leaders and took his best shot at winning the caution-free clash over the final five laps. Tripp took over second with two laps to go but inched only as close as Williams’ rear fender.
“We made a few adjustments after the heat, and I think it went the wrong way,” said Tompkins, who confirmed Saturday that he will not attempt to field a Late Model team this summer in order to concentrate on winning the elusive Strictly championship. “Skip was coming on. I slid up with a couple of laps to go, let him go and see if he had anything for Matt. And Matt drove a hell of a race.”
Tripp also conceded that his post-qualifying adjustments to the R.P.M. Racing Engines/Waste Management #12 didn’t leave him with anything for Williams, who swept both his heat and feature. It matched the best run of the season for Tripp, who also snagged second in the Sunoco Race Fuels 100 two weeks ago.
Scott Belskis fell a few notches shy of his second win of the early season, settling for fourth, while Sumner Sessions’ two-race winning streak ended with a solid fifth.
Childs passes different test, nets same result
At least one rival driver dared to verbalize what most everyone else thought of Jim Childs’ victory in last week’s Allen’s Mini Stock main event. Sure, it was impressive, but starting on the pole didn’t demand much of the defending track champion.
Hey, Childs would rather pass cars like they’re standing still, too. He did that quite literally Saturday night.
Childs needed only six laps to screech from 12th to third. When early leaders Ashley Marshall and Chris Varney bounced off the front stretch wall in an effort to avoid the disabled car of rookie Al Roberti, Childs inherited the top spot and paraded to his second straight victory.
Rival Adam Polvinen, Childs’ cousin Rich Sirois and point leader Justin Karkos (the guy who wished aloud that he could have started alongside Childs last time out) stayed within shouting distance but couldn’t deny Childs his 25th career win in the Wolf Den #10.
“It was a good race. It was kind of fun starting out behind Justin there. I know he’s been wanting to race me pretty hard, so I hope he liked that one,” Childs jabbed, quickly adding, “He’s a good guy. There’s a lot of good drivers. I’m glad to see more cars. It’s a lot more fun.”
Twenty-four cars shuffled through the pit gate for Saturday’s race, with all but one making the starting grid for the finale. Roberti, Jim Robbins, Joe Treadwell, Dwayne White and Rick Giguere all made their first starts of the campaign. Giguere, who raced in the Acceleration Series as recently as Wednesday night, debuted the 2005 championship car he purchased from Dan Morris.
That group and anybody wanting to catch a red-hot Childs had better arrive early. That wasn’t the case this time out for Polvinen, who missed two of the three practice sessions in order to attend a wedding.
Acceleration Series driver and teammate Tyson Jordan shook down the Farrell Enterprise/Al’s Auto and Truck #73 in the midday heat.
“We’ve been a little trouble lately. We’ve had running issues, and now that we’ve got that straightened out, we’re got handling issues. It’s just typical racing,” said Polvinen. “I’ve got to thank Tyson for helping me out, because I really didn’t have the time today.”
Karkos maintained the point lead with a fourth-place performance. It’s the first time he has been denied a trophy this season. Former champion Butch Keene continued his steady start in fifth.
Marshall won his heat race and set the pace for four laps before yielding to Varney. They continued to shadow each other until hitting the fateful fourth corner at the wrong time. Varney walked to a waiting ambulance under his own power after the front-end impact with the concrete.
Bob Guptill’s car stalled to bring out the second and final caution on lap 13, but Childs escaped the ensuing restart relatively unchallenged.
Thrilling breakthrough for Englehaupt; Spaulding shows stuff
Leave it to the ‘low-point’ Chimney Tech Outlaw feature to steal the show on a Saturday night.
No fewer than eight drivers had a chance to win the first of twin 20-lap features on the final lap. Rodney Englehaupt led on two separate occasions for a total of 14 laps, never by more than a car length. And although there were moments when Steve Brill, Tom Averill, John Spencer and Addison Bowie all appeared a blink of an eye faster, Englehaupt wasn’t about to let anybody steal away his first career victory in the Maschino Lumber #43.
Englehaupt carried the checkers after at least five full seasons of close calls. The top seven cars crossed the start-finish line within one second of one another.
“Oh, this is awesome,” said an admittedly speechless Englehaupt. “I can’t believe it. I’ve been working so hard.”
Brill had the best look at the lead out of everyone else. His ever-increasing loss of grip in turns one and four booted him out the top three entirely, however.
John Spencer saw a hint of daylight to the inside in the final two corners, but last year’s Wal-Mart Rookie of the Year used his front fender judiciously and settled for a hard-fought second. As it turned out, turning left was the easiest part of Spencer’s day.
“We just put a junkyard motor in it, finished up at 5:30 and came on up here. The car went great. We had a good run,” Spencer said. “I’d like to thank Bill Kiley for giving the motor out of his plow truck to put in so I could race tonight.”
Averill nudged out Jacob Hethcoat and Brill in a three-wide drag race for third.
“It must have been a photo finish,“ Averill said. “That makes it fun, and that’s what we’re doing here.“
Hethcoat’s car failed the post-race inspection, vaulting Brill to fourth, Bowie to fifth and Gordon Bell to sixth.
Spaulding’s win was a smidge less dramatic but similarly caution-free. After ditching early leader Tyler Belanger on lap 10, Spaulding saw the objects grow increasingly smaller in the rear view mirror of his Field Signs/Lewiston Redemption #36.
“I love being here,” Spaulding said. “It’s my first time on the podium.”
Kevin Lawrence backed up his Wednesday night win with a second-place finish ahead of Steve Moon and David Childs.
“It’s hooked up right now,” said Lawrence. “I don’t know why, but it is.”
Ron Abbott Jr. recovered from an early off-course excursion to post fifth.
In the first appearance of the season by the Quirk Super Cup touring series, Bernard led all but the first four circuits of the 15-lap battle ahead of Wes Perry and Scott Genthner.
Three big events are scheduled at OPS for the week ahead. The Acceleration Series resumes Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Championship Series competition, featuring a 100-lap Mini Stock main event, gets the green flag Saturday at 6:30 p.m. And Motor Mayhem hits the speedway Sunday, June 3 at 1 p.m., headlined by Twin Enduro 100s.

OXFORD NETWORKS LATE MODEL (40 laps): 1. Doug Coombs, Livermore; 2. Travis Adams, Canton; 3. Tommy Ricker, Poland; 4. Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass.; 5. Jon Brill, Bridgton; 6. Zach Emerson, Sabattus; 7. Carey Martin, Denmark; 8. Glen Luce, Turner; 9. Ricky Rolfe, Albany Township; 10. Shawn Martin, Turner; 11. Dennis Spencer Jr., Oxford; 12. Brad Hammond, Sabattus; 13. T.J. Watson, Harpswell; 14. Gary Chiasson, Peru; 15. Corey Morgan, Lewiston; 16. Dave MacDonald, New Gloucester; 17. Mark Anzalone, Malden, Mass.; 18. Don Wentworth, Otisfield; 19. Travis Stearns, Gray; 20. Thore Foss, Ronkonkoma, N.Y.; 21. Scott King, Livermore Falls; 22. Mike Ferguson, Rangeley; 23. Rick Valentine, Greene; 24. Ben Ashline, Pittston.

ALLEN'S COFFEE FLAVORED BRANDY STRICTLY STOCK (30 laps): 1. Matt Williams, Brownfield; 2. Skip Tripp, Sabattus; 3. Tommy Tompkins, Mexico; 4. Scott Belskis, Dixfield; 5. Sumner Sessions, Norway; 6. Kim Tripp, Oxford; 7. Rick Thompson, Naples; 8. Larry Emerson, Durham; 9. B.J. Chapman, Bridgton; 10. Greg Sessions, Oxford; 11. Mike Short, Auburn; 12. Glen Henderson, Sabattus; 13. Zach Emerson, Sabattus; 14. Bob DiPompo, Jay; 15. Todd Hall, Auburn; 16. Nick Coates, Turner; 17. Chris Mosher, Litchfield; 18. Ben Krauter, Raymond; 19. Danny Smart, Buxton; 20. Mark Bowie, Poland; 21. Chris Burgess, Lewiston.
ALLEN'S COFFEE FLAVORED BRANDY MINI STOCK (30 laps): 1. Jim Childs, Leeds; 2. Adam Polvinen, Oxford; 3. Rich Sirois, Leeds; 4. Justin Karkos, Jay; 5. Butch Keene, Turner; 6. Jeff Prindall, Lisbon Falls; 7. Bill Irving, New Gloucester; 8. Dabe Mooney, Wales; 9. Greg Watkins, Bridgton; 10. Jim Robbins, Dixfield; 11. Dale Brackett, Oxford; 12. Kevin Bishop, South Paris; 13. Shane Kaherl, Jay; 14. Rick Giguere, Auburn; 15. Dale Durgin, Norway; 16. Ben Audet, Chesterville; 17. Ashley Marshall, Jay; 18. Bob Guptill, Mechanic Falls; 19. Chris Varney, Scarborough; 20. Dwayne White, Livermore; 21. Al Roberti, South Paris; 22. Darick Barker, Jay; 23. Joe Treadwell, Auburn.
CHIMNEY TECH OUTLAW #1 (20 laps): 1. Rodney Englehaupt, Oxford; 2. John Spencer Jr., Auburn; 3. Tom Averill, Peru; 4. Steve Brill, Bridgton; 5. Addison Bowie, Auburn; 6. Gordon Bell, Auburn; 7. Ralph Felker, Poland; 8. Kevin Plummer, Oxford; 9. Dan Brown, Carthage; 10. Zach Robitaille, Norway; 11. Scott Ellis, Lewiston; 12. Leo Hatch-Auger, Norway; 13. Joe Hennessey, Oxford; 14. Josh Morang, Norway; 15. Michael Auger, West Paris; 16. Dillon Coburn, Auburn; 17. Kimberly Sessions, Auburn; 18. Jonathan Baldwin, Auburn; 19. Dan Bryan, Center Conway, N.H.; 20. Scott Veinott, Greene; 21. Donnie Wright, Kittery.
CHIMNEY TECH OUTLAW #2 (20 laps): 1. Richard Spaulding, Lewiston; 2. Kevin Lawrence, South Paris; 3. Steve Moon, Gray; 4. David Childs, Oxford; 5. Ron Abbott Jr., Lewiston; 6. Shannon Judd, Jay; 7. Bob Ferguson, New Gloucester; 8. Mike Rainville, Littleton, N.H.; 9. Gerry Richard, Leeds; 10. Mark MacDonald, Center Conway, N.H.; 11. Jerry Freve, Buckfield; 12. Thom Bell, Minot; 13. Bubba Collins, Lewiston; 14. Jim Archer, Chesterville; 15. Dennis Morang, South Paris; 16. David Brown, Gray; 17. Tyler Belanger, Sumner; 18. Keith Landry, Oxford; 19. Mike St. Germain, Auburn; 20. Zach Bowie, Lisbon Falls; 21. Gerald Parlin, South Paris.
QUIRK NEW ENGLAND SUPER CUP (15 laps): 1. Francis Bernard Jr., Howland; 2. Wes Perry, East Millinocket; 3. Scott Genthner, Milo; 4. Rich Hall, Mechanic Falls; 5. Ed Trask, Augusta; 6. R.J. Pinkham, North Anson; 7. Fred Ireland, Howland; 8. Vickie Hollobaugh, Hermon; 9. Jeff Littlefield, Winslow.