OXFORD, Maine – Jason Woodard put the capstone on a dream season by winning the inaugural American-Canadian Tour Flying Tiger Oxford Open at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway on Saturday.
Woodard held off charges by Cody LeBlanc and John Donahue to score his sixth Flying Tiger win of the season in the division’s first visit ever to the historic three-eighths-mile oval.
While Woodard started on the pole of the 75-lap event under ACT’s plus-minus qualifying system, his road to victory was anything but smooth. The veteran held a small gap over the field in the race’s early stages as Leblanc, Dave O’Blenis and Donahue duked it out for the second spot.
However, that lead evaporated once the leaders caught lapped traffic. As Woodard approached cars battling double-file for position in front of him, he attempted a three-wide move around the high side. LeBlanc saw an opportunity and went low, putting the nose of the Potter Racing machine out front on lap 34.
The two then went door-to-door in a thrilling battle over the next 10 circuits. Woodard was able to retake the lead on lap 37 before LeBlanc shot back out in front on lap 42. All the while, O’Blenis and Donahue were lurking just behind them. As the lead duo went into turn one on lap 45, Michael Potter got squirrely on the low side in front of them, and Woodard took advantage to shoot back in front.
Donahue and O’Blenis moved to second and third as LeBlanc was forced to lift to avoid an accident. Once Woodard got clear of the traffic, he pulled away from the field as Donahue did the same over second. With 19 laps to go, Colin Cornell spun on the backstretch to draw the race’s first caution, putting Donahue on Woodard’s outside for the restart.
Donahue would get that chance and three more over the next lap as a series of one- and two-car incidents slowed the pace, including one that took top-10 runner Sam Caron out of contention. Each time, Woodard held off Donahue. Once the field got settled down, the two gapped the field as Donahue looked time and again to the outside. However, he was unable to keep the momentum up long enough to draw alongside.
Donahue would get one more serious opportunity with four laps to go after his son Stephen came to a stop on the backstretch with a broken rear end. Once again, the inside lane was the place to be, as Woodard had enough to hold off Donahue and take the win. It capped a season for Woodard where he also won the Thunder Road Flying Tiger championship, Myers Container Service Triple Crown championship, White Mountain Motorsports Park Triple Crown title, and Flying Tiger Mini Milk Bowl.
LeBlanc was able to get back around O’Blenis and earn the final podium spot. O’Blenis finished fourth in his first time ever at the wheel of a Flying Tiger. Michael Martin made a late charge to take fifth.