On the fast track …

Benjamin eyes potential three-peat at Oxford 250

Morrill native would be fourth driver to win Northeast's most historic race three times
By Mark Haskell | Aug 11, 2017
Courtesy of: Norm Marx Travis Benjamin of Morrill.

Oxford — Travis Benjamin of Morrill made no bones about it. A win in his next race — the 44th running of the Oxford 250 on Sunday, Aug. 27 — would be the most significant of his storied career.

The 38-year-old Benjamin, a 1997 Belfast Area High School graduate, has raced professionally for nearly 20 years. In that time, he has amassed “10 to 20” career victories, most of which have come as part of the Pro All-Stars Series Super Late Model.

Two of those victories have come in his past three races, including victories 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.

Factor in Benjamin’s second-place finish on Friday, Aug. 4 in the PASS 150 at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, N.H., and this is the best three-race stretch of his career.

But a win at the Oxford 250 for Benjamin, whose recent stretch pushed him atop the points series, would put him in elite company.

For Benjamin, who won the Oxford 250 in back-to-back years in 2013-14, a victory would make him a three-time winner of the high-profile race, joining the ranks of Mike Rowe (1997, 2004, 2005), Dave Dion (1975, 1985, 1992) and Ralph Nason (1998, 1999, 2000).

The winner of the Oxford 250 collects a cool $25,000.

“Just to win it once or twice is a dream come true,” Benjamin said. “I remember growing up as a kid watching that race and watching Ralph be so good at that place.”

And considering the way Benjamin's season began, it makes his late-season surge all the more impressive.

“We started off the season not bad, but not great,” he said. “At the end of last season we were really good. The last eight weeks I think the worst we finished was like fourth or fifth. So we were expecting to really start off good this year and we kind of struggled a little bit.”

Benjamin, who is in his second season racing for Petit Motorsports out of Biddeford, is also now in position to win the points championship for only the second time in his career — the other coming in 2012.

But, given the option, he would rather take the checkered flag in the Northeast’s most historic race.

‘We won a [points] championship back in 2012 and yeah you get recognition for it, but there’s nothing like winning the Oxford 250,” Benjamin said. “It’s the biggest one-day race in the country. There are guys coming from Washington, Florida, North Carolina they come from all around the country to race this race.”

Benjamin said there will be “70 or 80 cars” trying to qualify to be one of the 40 cars to participate in the race.

There are six 20-lap qualifying races and a driver must finish among the top four to qualify (24). After that, there are three consolation races where the top three are taken (9) and a 50-lap “last-chance” race where the winner is selected (1) and a handful of provisional qualifiers that will comprise the 40-car field.

In 12 races this season, Benjamin has amassed 10 top-10 finishes and seven top-five finishes to go along with his two victories.

While Nason and Dion no longer compete, Rowe “still races and he still wins” and Benjamin said Rowe winning his fourth Oxford 250 would not be out of the question.

Benjamin was a three-year starter for the Lion boys basketball team and led them to their last playoff win in 1997 over Houlton before falling to Camden-Rockport 66-63 in double-overtime in the semifinals (he scored 19 points to go along with nine rebounds, six assists and three steals in his final game).

Now, Benjamin has a bigger dream. With thoughts of celebrating in victory lane dancing in his head.

“Kevin Harvick’s won that race, Kyle Busch has won that race, [Ricky] Craven, Jeff Bodine,” Benjamin said. “A lot of big names have won that race. And to do it again would be pretty special.

“We’ve been really good there the last four years and I don’t think this year will be any different.”

Travis Benjamin of Morrill. (Courtesy of: Speed51.com)
Travis Benjamin of Morrill, right, and his son, Kaiden. (Courtesy of: Norm Marx)
Travis Benjamin of Morrill, fourth from right, and his crew, which includes, from left, Peter Petit, Bruce Benjamin, Ron Benjamin, Scott Reed, Mark Lyden, Todd Graffam, Dalton Myers, Mike Hurkes. Bruce is Travis' uncle and Ron is Travis' father. (Courtesy of: Norm Marx)
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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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