OXFORD, Maine – It looked so easy for so long, until a fellow champion crashed Ricky Rolfe's party.
Rolfe dominated the early stages of Saturday's New England Dodge Dealers American-Canadian Tour 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway, but the two-time OPS champion was forced to withstand a late challenge from seven-time ACT king Jean-Paul Cyr to win a touring event at his home track for the first time since 2002.

The second and final caution flag of the race put Cyr to Rolfe's outside on a restart with 10 laps remaining. Cyr's charge was persistent enough to give him the lead by a fender on lap 146 and by a half-car length on lap 147 before Rolfe restored the advantage. Rolfe won the chase to the checkered flag by two car lengths.
"I love running these ACT races. I love all long races. But I wouldn't mind if this were the (TD Banknorth) 250," said Rolfe, referring to the $100 paid to the leader of each green-flag lap during the July summer classic at Oxford. "I'd have about $15,000 in the pocket, never mind if we would win that damn thing."
Rolfe, who has won feature races in six different divisions at OPS in a 20-year career, captured the 2002 Late Model and 2003 Pro Stock championships at Oxford. His career-best finish in the TD Banknorth 250 was second in 2005.
Starting on the pole gave Rolfe a chance to run and hide, but Cyr was one of several drivers to make a dramatic charge and shuffle his way to the front over the second half of a mostly caution-free event.
Cyr started 15th and survived early contact with John Donahue to run second. Brent Dragon rallied from 24th to third, with Eddie MacDonald blazing from 17th to fourth. Donahue rounded out the top five.
OPS 2004 champion Shawn Martin, Canadians Patrick Laperle and Donald Theetge, ACT veteran Cris Michaud and all-purpose touring standout Ben Rowe rounded out the top 10.
Rowe's spin brought out the caution flag that gave Cyr his last-ditch chance to overtake Rolfe.
"I saw him coming up the outside, and I thought if I could get up there too, he would have to go under me. He couldn't seem to get under me," Rolfe said. "Then the caution came out and said, 'Oh, no, here we go now.' I don't want to be rough with him. He's my customer. I figured if he went by me, he went by me. Second's better than crashing."
Rolfe, a fabricator at the Race Basics shop in nearby Andover, builds cars at his day job for Cyr and countless other Late Model drivers in New England.
His day wasn't perfect. After a run from eighth to third in his 12-lap heat afforded him the pole by virtue of a plus-five handicap in the ACT qualifying system, Rolfe and his crew discovered a problem
"We had a hole in the radiator and had to change it," Rolfe said. "This is the same car as last year. We put a new body on it, and that's it. Just a few little tweaks here and there. She was pretty good today."
Cyr caught a break on lap 50 when he was restored to his spot after he and Donahue spun out of the lead pack due to fluid on the track in turn four. ACT officials determined that the two tangled after the yellow flag appeared for the moisture.
Under the ensuing long run, Cyr was fastest among the several drivers in the mid-pack whose set-up seemed to click in the late-afternoon sunshine.
"I think we passed quite a few cars, some of them a couple of times," Cyr said. "A win would have been better, but I guess we'll settle for this again. Ricky ran a wonderful race. He knew what line I was running."
Cyr stormed past Rowe into the top five on lap 93. Over the next seven circuits, he picked off MacDonald, Donahue and Martin to snag second. Rolfe's advantage shrank significantly in that stretch, but he was able to maintain that margin in traffic until the Rowe spin.
Rolfe had a buffer zone of several lapped cars between himself and runner-up Shawn Martin on the lap 50 restart. There was no such luxury with Cyr to his outside and only 10 laps to go.
"On the restart I thought I had him if I could bring it in before the car got too tight. He raced me clean. I raced him clean. He does fix my car, and I don't want him messing up on that," Cyr said with a smile.
No telling what might have happened if Dragon had an extra 50 to 100 laps to work with. He won a lengthy duel with MacDonald during the extended green-flag session and found a place on the podium.
"Maybe I should have gone for it earlier, gotten past some of those lapped cars, and maybe I could have run with Jean and Ricky," Dragon said. "It still was a good day coming from 24th. I'm looking forward to the rest of the year."
Saturday's opener was the first event in the four-race L/A Harley-Davidson Late Model Challenge Series. In addition to the independent TD Banknorth 250, other ACT events are scheduled for June 21 and Sept. 13.
Other feature winners Saturday were Matt Williams (Allen's Coffee Flavored Brandy Strictly Stock), Dave Mooney (Allen's Mini Stock), David Childs (Chimney Tech Outlaw) and Cathy Manchester (Allen's Ladies).
Williams was another driver to earn the pole — in his case, by virtue of a heat-race win — and use the track position to his advantage while four drivers dueled for runner-up spot behind him.
B.J. Chapman, Skip Tripp and Mike Short diced it out side-by-side and fender-to-fender for the runner-up slot throughout. It was enough to give Williams a cushion of two to five car lengths for the duration of a 30-lap sprint that proceeded without a caution.
The win might have been good medicine for Williams. He picked up a victory early last season but admittedly grew weary of chasing points over the summer, even though it yielded him a fourth-place result for the season.
"I wasn't too enthused about racing this year. I don't know, I just have no ambition, I guess, Maybe I'll find some ambition now," Williams said.
Chapman jumped out to second early and staved off the charges of first Short, then Tripp, to match his career-best finish.
"My dad (four-time OPS Charger champion Blaine) is the one I have to thank, because without him there is no way I would be racing," said Chapman, who returns to Strictly Stock after a brief foray in Late Models last season. "We just finished the car last night. I'm impressed that we're even up here."
The car of apparent third-place finisher Short failed the post-race inspection, vaulting Sumner Sessions into the final trophy position. Sessions scooted into third when Tripp's ride drifted high in the final turn. Joe Hutter posted his best finish since 2005, taking fifth.
Mooney was the beneficiary of his brother Don's rough luck en route to his first Mini Stock victory in almost five years.
Don Mooney and Jimmy Childs ran one-two in a battle of two-time division champions throughout the first half of the race. That tussle ended when Childs made an inside bid for the lead on lap 16. Mooney went for the block and wound up spinning over Turn 3 and falling to the rear of the field.
Childs avoided veering off course but still yielded the lead to Dave Mooney, and that inside lane on the restart gave Dave the vantage point he needed to deny the 2006 and '07 division dominator.
"Last year it didn't want to run 30 laps at a time, so I'm lucky to get it to run 30 laps to start off with," Dave Mooney said. "That 10 (Childs) is always the fastest car here. It's a hard thing to do to hold him off. Hopefully I can have a few more good runs this year, I don't know."
In a surprise return, Childs tuned up for his full-time Late Model debut next week by hopping in the championship ride he turned over to dad Bill Sr. in the off-season.
True to form, Childs provided the entertainment value during and after the race.
"Dad put it together and he didn't want to drive it. He wasn't feeling so good, so he let me drive it. He's done so much for my family in racing," Childs said. "I'll be here with my Late Model next week. Good thing I won't have to run with the green machine (Don Mooney), because he thinks he owns the whole track. It was like last year with Adam Polvinen all over again."
Don Mooney rebounded from the incident to finish sixth.
Rookie Darrell Moore wound up an impressive third in only his second Mini Stock start since graduating after a half-season in the Acceleration Series. Shane Kaherl and Ashley Marshall completed the top five.
Two more members of the Childs family found their way to victory lane in the Chimney Tech Outlaw feature, where David opened defense of his Agren Appliance Saturday Showdown title with a wire-to-wire win.
David's uncle, Guy Childs Sr., settled for third, with Rick Spaulding sandwiched between the two at the end of the 20-lap dash.
"I'm not going to complain. Starting out front helps out a lot, but I'll take it any way I can get it," Childs said.
Manchester led the Ladies' 10-lap encounter throughout, narrowly ahead of reigning Showdown champion Dottie Patria.
"Dottie said she'd let me have first place on my birthday," joked Manchester.
Kimberly Sessions finished third in a ride borrowed from Outlaw driver Scott Veinott.
OPS roars to life again next Saturday, May 3, with five divisions of action on Sunoco Race Fuels Night beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Fin. (Start) No. Driver, hometown, laps completed
1. (1) #51 Ricky Rolfe, Albany Township, 150
2. (15) #32 Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton, Vt., 150
3. (24) #55 Brent Dragon, Milton, Vt., 150
4. (17) #17 Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass., 150
5. (3) #26 John Donahue, Graniteville, Vt., 150
6. (2) #94 Shawn Martin, Turner, 150
7. (12) #91 Patrick Laperle, St. Denis, Quebec, 150
8.(18) #80  Donald Theetge, Boischatel, Quebec, 150
9. (7) #6 Cris Michaud, Northfield, Vt., 150
10. (8) #10 Ben Rowe, Turner, 150
11. (9) #78 Ryan Nolin, Georgia, Vt., 150
12. (22) #11 Claude Leclerc, Lanoraie, Quebec, 150
13. (29) #7VT Eric Williams, Hyde Park, Vt., 149
14. (4) #70 Scott Dragon, Milton, Vt., 149
15. (5) #9 Jonathan Urlin, London, Ontario, 149
16. (21) #25 Shawn Knight, Oxford, 149
17. (30) #89 Scott Payea, Milton, Vt., 149
18. (25) #97 Joey Polewarczyk, Hudson, N.H., 149
19. (10) #05 Ron Henry, New Gloucester, 149
20. (27) #56 Dale Verrill, Paris, 149
21. (32) #02 Randy Potter, Groveton, N.H., 149
22. (16) #5 Leon Heckbert, Wilton, 149
23. (13) #07 Scott Luce, Strong, 148
24. (28) #85 Dennis Demers, Shelburne, Vt., 148
25. (20) #7ME Glen Luce, Turner, 148
26. (14) #16 Joey Becker, Jeffersonville, Vt., 148
27. (19) #41 Pete Potvin III, Graniteville, Vt., 147
28. (23) #61 Tommy Ricker, Poland, 132
29. (26) #83 Alan Tardiff, Lyman, 115
30. (31) #18 Jamie Fisher. Shelburne, Vt., 100
31. (11) #15 Ben Ashline, Pittston, 48
32. (33) Travis Stearns, Auburn, 26
33. (6) Travis Adams, Canton, 7
Lap leaders: Rolfe 1-145, Cyr 146-147, Rolfe 148-150.
Cautions: 2 (laps 50, 140)
Margin of victory: 2 car lengths

ALLEN'S COFFEE FLAVORED BRANDY STRICTLY STOCK (30 laps): 1. Matt Williams, Brownfield; 2. B.J. Chapman, Bridgton; 3. Sumner Sessions, Norway; 4. Skip Tripp, Sabattus; 5. Joe Hutter, Oxford; 6  Rick Thompson, Naples; 7. Dave MacDonald, New Gloucester; 8. Kim Tripp, Oxford; 9. Larry Emerson, Durham; 10. Perry Tucker, Sumner; 11. Mike St. Germain, Auburn; 12. Michael Roe, West Paris; 13. Glen Henderson, Sabattus. DQ – Mike Short, Auburn. DNS – Jeff Moon, Gray.

ALLEN'S COFFEE FLAVORED BRANDY MINI STOCK (30 laps): 1. Dave Mooney, Wales; 2. Jimmy Childs, Leeds; 3. Darrell Moore, Mechanic Falls; 4. Shane Kaherl, Jay; 5. Ashley Marshall, Jay; 6. Don Mooney, New Gloucester; 7. Curtis Fanjoy, Oxford; 8. Wayne Titus, Lisbon; 9. Craig Moore, Oxford; 10. Greg Watkins, Bridgton; 11. Randy Kimball, Mechanic Falls; 12. Kevin Bishop, Oxford; 13. Bob Guptill, Mechanic Falls; 14. Matt Moore, Harrison; 15. Dale Brackett, Oxford; 16. Ken Daigle Jr., Lisbon; 17. Bill Thibeault, Oxford. DNS – Don Frechette, Turner; Brad Dwinal, Freeport.

CHIMNEY TECH OUTLAW (20 laps): 1. David Childs, Oxford; 2. Rick Spaulding, Lewiston; 3. Guy Childs Sr., Turner; 4. Steve Moon, Gray; 5. Kevin Lawrence, South Paris; 6. Thom Bell, Turner; 7. Fred Clavet, Buckfield; 8. Zach Bowie, Lisbon; 9. Jay Wilkins, Gray; 10. Keith Landry, Oxford; 11. Nick Coates, Turner; 12. Walter Connell III, Norway; 13. Jonathan Baldwin, Auburn; 14. Dennis Morang, Norway; 15. Shannon Judd, Jay; 16. John Patria, Turner; 17. Tom Averill, Peru; 18. Bill Coolidge, Bryant Pond; 19. Scott Veinott, Greene; 20. Jerry Freve, Buckfield.

ALLEN'S COFFEE FLAVORED BRANDY LADIES (10 laps): 1. Cathy Manchester, Gray; 2. Dottie Patria, Turner; 3. Kimberly Sessions, Auburn; 4. Annie Chartier, Mexico; 5. Debbie Marston, Hartford.

The Racing Forum Index » Maine Race Tracks » Oxford Plains Speedway