The Wild Ones: Ben Rowe Wins Thrilling Pro All Stars Series Race At Oxford Plains Speedway

Ben Rowe celebrates his PASS win at Oxford Plains Speedway.

Ben Rowe celebrates his PASS win at Oxford Plains Speedway.

OXFORD, Maine — Words. Pictures. Video. None of them adequately tell the story of what took place in the final 300 feet of the Pro All Stars Series race on Sunday afternoon.

What will tell the story? The boisterous crowd reaction — a mix of hollers, boos, cheers and screams — which greeted Ben Rowe when he climbed out of his car waving the checkered flag high over his head in victory lane.

“I love it. As long as they’re making noise, I don’t care,” said Rowe, who won the Speedway Homes 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway, his first win in 12 years at the track synonymous with his last name. “We’ve struggled here for so long. To come back here and win, and have (father Mike Rowe) up there (in fifth), too… It’s phenomenal.”

The record will show that Rowe won at Oxford for the first time since winning the Oxford 250 at the track in 2004. It will also show that DJ Shaw finished second, and Johnny Clark charged from a provisional starting spot in 33rd to finish third.

But the race itself painted a much different picture — one of desperation, one of an act of calculated vengeance and one of one team’s struggle to turn itself back into championship form.

Lining up third behind Bryan Kruczek and Dane McKeage on a restart with three laps remaining, Rowe set a course for the inside lane once the green flag flew. He made contact with Kruczek, bouncing Kruczek of off McKeage and sending McKeage spinning in turn one. The accident ended up collecting Kruczek, too — and Kruczek showed his displeasure with the new race leader by approaching Rowe’s car while the field was circling under caution.

Rowe got away on the final green-white-checkered restart one lap later, but after taking the white flag, he had both Shaw and Clark mounting assaults on the lead.

Heading down the backstretch, Shaw moved to the inside, Clark set sail for the outside and Rowe kept his foot on the throttle through the middle of them both. As they exited the final turn, there was contact in abundance.

Nobody — not in the scorer’s tower, the grandstands or least of all the drivers’ own cockpits — knew immediately who had won. Even more telling, each driver had a different recollection of what took place where.

“It was wild,” said Rowe, of Turner, Maine. “I was all over the place just trying to get grip, and then once I came to the end, you do what you’ve got to do on a green-white-checkered. Johnny was setting inside, outside, and I just flat-footed it and hit the start finish line like I did about 10 years ago when I won the 250.”

Clark was convinced he’d had the lead at one point off the final corner.

“I thought I had it. I thought we were going to win it,” the six-time PASS champion said. “As far as (Rowe and Shaw) and us coming three-wide at the end, I hit the outside wall at the checkered. (Shaw) didn’t do anything I wouldn’t do, and (Rowe) didn’t do anything that I wouldn’t have done. (Rowe) is trying to keep it on the bottom, but he’s got a flat right front.”

Rowe said he didn’t have a flat tire, that his car simply got way too loose as the race neared the end.

“I was just protecting the bottom. DJ was good on short runs and he was pushing me, and he pushed me up into the second groove,” Rowe said. “When he did that, he had the run down the backstretch. Then Johnny shot to the outside, and I couldn’t do anything except hold it wide open and try and bounce off either one. I got into Johnny and tried to scrub his speed, but it had to be goddamn close with DJ at the end.

“I thought I was behind DJ off of four, and I could see Johnny out my window, so I knew I was ahead of him. I was just worried about DJ — he had a straight run off four, and I was just flat-footing it. I couldn’t get a straight run off four, but it doesn’t matter now. I don’t care.”

But for Shaw, he said he felt he owed it to Kruczek — a Dale Shaw Race Cars customer — to try and avenge Kruczek’s own misfortune.

“I could have hit (Rowe) harder. I should have, I guess,” Shaw said. “He doesn’t race me like that. I only did that because he raced a customer like that. That (finish) is what the fans came for, and that’s what they got. It was awesome. It was a great finish.”

As for the incident with Kruczek and Rowe, Rowe said it wasn’t intentional but that he knew the gloves were about to come off on a restart with only three laps remaining.

“I said, ‘If he leaves the bottom open, I’m going to fill the hole.’ It’s been forever since I won here,” said Rowe, who is the only PASS driver to post top-five finishes in each of the first two races this season. “(Kruczek) took off, he ran the second place guy up coming off four before we even got the green, and I just stayed in line and shifted up through the gears. My right front hit him right on the number, and he actually turned right into me. I don’t know why — well, I do know why he’s upset. He was leading at the green, but you’ve got to block the bottom like I did on the last one. That’s what I did to DJ. I was blocking the bottom and he got into me and pushed me, and that’s all fine. That’s probably what he should have done.”

The former Beech Ridge Motor Speedway track champion McKeage started on the pole and led virtually all of the first 133 laps before giving way to Kruczek, who passed him on the outside. That set the stage for the late-race dramatics, and for Rowe to finally earn a victory again at Oxford Plains.

Over the final two restarts, it was evident that Rowe wasn’t going to let an opportunity to do just that — an opportunity he hadn’t had in years — pass him by.

“For me to win here, you have no idea how big this is,” Rowe said. “We’d go down south and win races, and then we come back and we can’t win up here. We’ve struggled back and forth, but these guys dug in. I cannot thank them enough. This whole team — Rick (Moody), Mitch and Judy Green and everyone at Crazy Horse Racing, Mickey Green. These are all my same guys, but we’ve added Mickey and Dennis Spencer Jr., and they have helped me so much.”

Brent Dragon finished fourth.

Mike Hopkins, Adam Polvinen, Glen Luce, Dave Farrington and McKeage finished sixth through 10th, respectively.


  1. The other thing not evident from the results is that midway through the race, Kruczek jumped into the lead on a wild restart, then immediately got punted by TJ Brackett, sending the #00 around and back to about tenth. Brackett was moved to the rear of the field. Kruczek spent the rest of the race getting back into the lead battle before getting wrecked again. (And there was a little chatter on the radio asking why Brackett’s move was worth a penalty, yet Rowe’s was not.)

    Brackett’s team said the #00 “screwed him” on the radio, so I don’t know if they were trying to appease their driver or if they felt Kruczek brake-checked him at the end of the backstretch.

    I was sort of shocked by the boos, to be honest. It is the Rowes’ de facto home track, after all.

  2. It may be the Rowe’s home track, but Mike Rowe received quite a lot of boos when he was still running there weekly and winning championships.

  3. You don’t see Ben do that very often if ever. He is one of the cleanest drivers there is on the pass your. Bracket has a past of wrecking people to better himself.

  4. I believe his last win there was at the ’04 Oxford 250 because he won it 2 years in a row. Congratulations to Richard Moody, Ben Rowe, Mickey Green and the entire Crazy Horse Racing Shop

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