On fast track …

Benjamin drives way to PASS Super Late Model Division points crown

'There are so many people who would love to be in my shoes … I’m very fortunate.'
By Mark Haskell | Nov 01, 2017
Courtesy of: Travis Benjamin Travis Benjamin and his crew, from left, Steve Farley, Ron Benjamin, Greg Cormier, Todd Graffam, Travis Benjamin, Kaiden Benjamin, Mark Lyden, Peter Petit, Mike Hurkes, Dalton Myers, Shawn Plowman, Scott Reed, Jim Hayes and Bruce Benjamin.

Oxford — Travis Benjamin may have come up short in his pursuit of his third first-place finish at the Oxford 250 in August, but the Morrill native did prove to be the most accomplished racer — bell to bell — on the race track this season in the Pro All-Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Model Division.

By virtue of his second-place finish in the final race of the season — a 150-lap race at Oxford Plains Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 14 — Benjamin held off Glen Luce of Turner to clinch his second career PASS North championship.

Now, the veteran driver has two points championships and two victories at the Oxford 250 under his belt.

Benjamin amassed 3,399 points on the season — a mere 40 points ahead of Luce (3,359). In 15 starts, Benjamin racked up two first-place finishes, 10 top-five finishes and 13 top-10s.

His two victories came in back-to-back midseason races at the Make-A-Wish 150 on Saturday, July 15 in Epping, N.H. and the Pass SLM 150 on Sunday, July 30 at Oxford Plains Speedway.

“It’s huge,” said Benjamin, a 1997 Belfast Area High School graduate. “It’s hard to do. I’ve been doing this a long time and that’s only the second one I got. It was pretty special. We started out the season a little slow, midseason we were pretty good then at the [Oxford] 250 we struggled. But then after that we had like three or four races where the worst we finished was fourth.”

In the final race, Benjamin finished only 1.58 seconds behind winner Curtis Gerry of Waterboro. Benjamin started 13th in the race and Gerry 12th, so both had plenty of work to do to move to the head of the pack.

Benjamin said Luce would have had to beat him by 12 spots to knock him out for the points championship.

“He’s very good at Oxford too," Benjamin said. "It wasn’t easy. There was 45 cars that last race, so one little slip-up [could cost you]. You get a flat tire on the last lap and finish 20th and he finishes sixth we would have lost [the points title]. It wasn’t an easy feat.”

And Benjamin was not underestimating Luce as he said Luce averaged roughly a top-three finish at Oxford Plains Speedway this season.

But Benjamin's crew countered with “probably our best race at Oxford all year” to help claim the points title.

Benjamin said after winning the points championship in 2012 and holding off Cassius Clark of Farmington in similar fashion, he drove a bit defensively in an effort to preserve the title.

Five years later, he was out to win his final race of the season — for the first 140 laps.

“I did kind of start to play defensive just so I didn’t do something stupid [with about 10 laps to go],” he said. “I just kind of rode around there making sure I didn’t spin out by myself or hit anybody.”

Benjamin said the points champion is honored at an end-of-year banquet in November along with a trophy and a cash prize.

“There are so many people who would love to be in my shoes right now,” he said. “I’m very fortunate.”

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Staff Profile

Mark Haskell
Associate Sports Director
594-4401, ext. 116
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Mark has been covering local sports throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln county since 2007. Haskell has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Maine and is also a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School. He has won multiple Maine Press Association awards for writing and photography.

Mark loves iced coffee, cargo shorts, spending time with friends and family and suffers no longer after his beloved Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn, his sons Beckett and Austin and daughter Lila.

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