–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
VMM Editor

OXFORD, Maine – Scott Payea came out on top of a thrilling three-way battle for the win on Saturday night at Oxford Plains Speedway.

The Milton, Vt. driver topped Brad Babb and Eddie MacDonald as the three vied for the lead for much of the Dave’s Small Engine Repair/Ferris Mowers 100.

“It’s awesome,” Payea said. “We had a fast car when we were here earlier in the year, but it didn’t work out for us. I think Oxford owed us one. It’s not historically one of my best tracks so to get the win is pretty huge.”

Payea started fourth and quickly asserted himself as a contender and into the top-three. As Payea rode in third in the early stages, Bobby Therrien and Rich Dubeau would battle for the top spot following an early race restart until Dubeau moved ahead for keeps on lap 10.

As Dubeau raced ahead, Brad Babb worked his way from a tenth place starting spot and had moved into fifth. The Windham, Maine driver would continue his march and would work around the outside of Dubeau for the lead on lap 18.

Babb would pace the field unchallenged until a lap 29 caution, which would see Payea on Babb’s outside. Payea would sneak ahead on the restart, but Babb fought back on the inside. The two would lean on each other on the exit of the corners multiple times before Babb moved ahead again to lead lap 35.

Payea would make another bid for the lead as he moved to Babb’s inside on lap 51 and would be the leader of record on lap 52. However, Babb would trap Payea behind lapped traffic and slip back to into the lead.

As Babb continued to lead, Eddie MacDonald would move around Payea and into second and set his sights on Babb. MacDonald attempted to go around the outside of Babb, but Babb would move up to slow MacDonald’s progress on the outside. That would allow Payea to move back to Babb’s inside and take the lead back on lap 69.

Babb fought back on the inside one more time and would regain the lead again on lap 75. However, a lap 79 caution flag would put Payea back to Babb’s outside on the ensuing restart. The two would trade the lead back-and-forth one more time before Payea pulled away for keeps.

Two more late race caution flags would put MacDonald to Payea’s outside on restarts, but Payea would power away for his third ACT Late Model Tour win of the season.

“It was awesome,” Payea said of the battle for the lead through the midstage race. “Brad (Babb) got by us early and then we followed him for a while. He was good on the outside and I was good on the bottom. That obviously made for some good racing.

“Mixing it up, cross over. Those restarts at the end had me really nervous. Especially with Eddie (MacDonald) as he’s really good at restarts. But we just had a great car.”

The win for Payea was the eighth of his career and his first at Oxford, a track he has typically struggled at despite a third place finish in the 2007 Oxford 250. The win was also a first as a car owner for Rick Paya, the owner and crew chief of Payea’s No. 37. Paya did win score a win as a crew chief with Jean-Paul Cyr in 2005.

MacDonald, of Rowley, Mass., finished second after his bid for the lead on the race’s final restart fell short. Dillon Moltz of Waterford, Conn. moved up 16 spots from the start of the race to finish third after he started 19th. Babb, who drove a borrowed car after his primary car was damaged following a crash during the test session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Wednesday, fell back to fourth at the checkered flag while point leader Nick Sweet of Barre, Vt. completed the top-five finishers.

Ryan Olsen posted a career best finish with a sixth place finish while Rowland Robinson Jr. battled back from an early race pit stop to finish seventh. Emily Packard rebounded from a late race spin to finish eighth while Thunder Road Late Model point leader Scott Dragon rallied late to finish ninth. Dubeau had faded to tenth at the checkered flag.

The RPM Motorsports team has a Super Late Model in their racing stable and debated whether to bring it to the Oxford 250 weekend. The team left the car at home, which ended up paying huge as the team races for a championship on the ACT Late Model Tour.

“This was directly our focus,” Payea said. “We got the Super (Late Model) at home and decided to leave it at home and focus on (the Late Model) seeing we’re in a tight battle.”

With the win, Payea unofficially slashed Sweet’s point lead to just two after Sweet had opened the gap up following the heat races. MacDonald also trimmed his deficit to Sweet, which now stands at 16 points with just two point counting events remaining on the ACT Late Model Tour schedule.

“We have a couple weeks to wait and anticipate these next two races,” Payea said. “We go back to Beech Ridge and we ran pretty good there. We’re excited to finish this year out.

“If we had finished one spot behind with Eddie or Nick, it would be a different story. But we can’t seem to put much distance between either of those two guys. We’ll just go back to the shop and continue to do our homework.”

The ACT Late Model Tour will race at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway as part of another huge weekend of racing on Saturday and Sunday, September 17 and 18 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway with the PASS North Super Late Models and the Valenti Modified Racing Series.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS – Dave’s Small Engine Repair/Ferris Mowers 100
ACT Late Model Tour
Oxford Plains Speedway, Oxford, Maine
Saturday, August 27, 2016

(# — denotes rookie)

1. (4) Scott Payea, Milton, Vt.
2. (6) Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass.
3. (19) Dillon Moltz, Waterford, Conn.
4. (10) Brad Babb, Windham, Maine
5. (9) Nick Sweet, Barre, Vt.
6. (5) # Ryan Olsen, North Haverhill, N.H.
7. (15) Rowland Robinson Jr., Steuben, Maine
8. (12) Emily Packard, East Montpelier, Vt.
9. (22) Scott Dragon, Milton, Vt.
10. (3) Rich Dubeau, Plainfield, N.H.
11. (7) # Devin O’Connell, Madison, Conn.
12. (16) Dave Farrington Jr., Jay, Maine
13. (14) Shawn Swallow, Stark, N.H.
14. (8) Mike Ziter, Williamstown, Vt.
15. (1) Bobby Therrien, Hinesburg, Vt.
16. (20) Spencer Morse, Waterboro, Maine
17. (26) # Mark Jenison, Warwick, R.I.
18. (23) Claude Leclerc, Lanoarie, Que.
19. (2) Brandon Atkins, AuSable Forks, N.Y.
20. (21) Ray Christian, Norwich, Conn.
21. (11) Corey Mason, Groveton, N.H.
22. (13) Bryan Mason, Stark, N.H.
23. (17) Mike Kenison, Lancaster, N.H.
24. (18) Mark Hudson, Norton, Mass.
25. (25) Walter J. Hammond, Canaan, N.H.
26. (24) Jimmy Linardy, Somerville, Mass.

PHOTO: Scott Payea celebrates his third ACT Late Model Tour win of the season on Saturday night at Oxford Plains Speedway. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)