OXFORD, Me. — Brian Hoar entered Sunday’s TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway as a favorite to win and lived up to the billing with a runner-up finish, but the way he arrived to the podium was a bit unconventional.

The Williston racer started from the pole position and led the first dozen circuits before settling into a top-five position. When the field pitted under caution on lap 140, Hoar’s Rick Paya-led team chose to change only one tire, while every other team took two or four.

The results were a bit disastrous, as Hoar dropped through the field, running as low as 25th in on-track position, mired deep in lapped traffic and well behind leaders Brad Leighton and Eddie MacDonald. But that was all part of a master plan.

“It was part of the strategy,” said Hoar. “We only took one tire and then it would turn like a dump truck, but the plan was to get to the point where we could bolt on new tires that were a lot fresher there and the end to kick ass and take names.”

On paper, that’s exactly how the plan unfolded, but Hoar’s team was not expecting the race to run from lap 41 to lap 140 without a caution period. Hoar’s car began to fall off the pace of the cars that had two or four new tires, but still he chose not to pit during a caution on lap 184. When leader Leighton suffered a flat tire on lap 203 to bring out the caution flag, that’s when Hoar returned to pit road. With three fresh tires, Hoar then sliced through traffic to the runner-up spot and a $13,800 payday including lap leader bonuses.

“The sequence didn’t work out quite as we had hoped. We needed the first caution to come out around lap 80 and then [pit again later],” said Hoar. “Our goal at the end was to have the fastest car in the last 50 laps. I think we proved we had that, but we had a long way to go and a lot of cars to pass, and Eddie with [open] track up front and a great race car was able to pull away. Another caution or two would have helped close it up.”

The runner-up finish adds to an overall streak of seven races in 2010 in which Hoar has yet to finish worse than fifth; with six other starts on the American-Canadian Tour, he has two victories and a comfortable points lead.

“We’re after it. I’m out here to win a championship and run good and win races, and we’re definitely doing that,” Hoar said. “I would have loved to be in victory lane here at Oxford. That looks like a hell of a lot more fun than standing over here [in second place]. But we had a wonderful run and I owe it to the team. It was an awesome race car.”

PHOTO: Brian Hoar’s up-and-down day ended on the ‘up’ side at the TD Bank 250. (Alex Whitcomb/VMM photo)