TD BANKNORTH 250 FRIDAY NOTES by Mike Twist
Teams Settle in For Weekend of Racing
Some teams didn’t even unload their racecars.  Others took advantage of as much practice time as they could get.  Most competitors were somewhere in between the two extremes.  For example, Ben Rowe went out to shake down his #4 machine on two-year Goodyear tires that his team uses to push the car around the shop on.  Rowe reported that his car was skating around and that he didn’t dare to get on it, but the two-time 250 still laid down a 15.4-second lap.  Unofficially of course.

Among the drivers who have shown up for the race were former NASCAR Busch East champions Dave Dion and Kelly Moore, Canadian veteran Rollie MacDonald, Canaan Fair Speedway regular Bobby “Showstoppa” MacArthur, Mike Miatta, Jr. and Sr. (who are driving for the Dennison Builders team that Gary Drew recently parted ways with), semi-retired former PASS hotshoe Sam Sessions and Beech Ridge regular Trevor Sanborn in a third Richard Moody Racing car (more on that later).

Severe thunderstorms rolled over the track just as practice for the Pro Stocks was winding down.  The weather claimed about 15 minutes of practice and also delayed the start of a
The key word of the day on Friday at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) was unofficial.  The track was open for practice in advance of Sunday’s TD Banknorth 250 and approximately 60 teams that are planning to run the race settled into the pit area.  But the day was pretty much off the grid.  No official practice times were kept and technical inspection for the Pro Stocks (Super Late Models) was not even open.
Black and yellow are the colors of the weekend for SP2 Motorsports at Oxford.
pick-up basketball game between the teams of Corey Williams, Travis Benjamin and Dave Dion.  A makeshift court was set up using the tailgate of Dion’s hauler, which was raised to exactly 10 feet high for regulation play. 

Friday TD Banknorth 250 Notes:

DIFFERENT LOOK FOR THE DEFENDING CHAMPION

There were two cars in the SP2 Motorsports stable on Friday, but neither one had the team’s signature paint scheme.
Defending 250 winner Mike Rowe sported a yellow hue on his #24.  The car that Rowe is running this weekend is one race old and was purchased from the non-shuttered Hi-Tech Motorsports #00 team.  Rather than strip the perfectly good paint on their new car, SP2 kept the colors with Rowe’s regular graphics.

Meanwhile, the #5 that Kyle Busch will drive this weekend is an all-black car.

WHITE MOUNTAIN GHOSTS HAUNT WILSON

Alan Wilson had one of the fastest cars in the latest PASS North event at White Mountain Motorsports Park (NH) a few weeks back, but something broke on his #53 and Wilson clobbered the turn four wall.

The #53 was back in service Friday at Oxford, but the White Mountain wreck still haunted the car.

“We didn’t follow through on everything after our wreck at White Mountain,” said Wilson.  “It’s the same car and it’s all rebuilt, but we missed a couple of bolts that were too loose.  The rear end moved around and cleaned out the oil tank and the driveshaft right out of it.”
CASSIUS WANTS TO TAKE ONE HOME

Cassius Clark grew up in the shadows of the Oxford 250.  The 24-year-old is from the logging town of Farmington, Maine and bring the trophy home would be something that Clark would really like to do.

Clark isn’t the first one in the family to try that either.  His father, Billy earned the nickname “The Farmington Flyer” based on his 20 career Oxford victories.  But despite running up front of several of the 250s, Billy never won the race.  His best result came in 1989 when he finished fifth.

"I watched my Dad almost win it [the 250] a few times,” said Cassius Clark.  “In my eyes, I'd like to win it not just for him but for a lot of the great drivers in Franklin County who've never done it. I think of Jeff Taylor, Niles Gage, Tracy Gordon and my father. I'd like to take the trophy home to Franklin County

BENJAMIN GOES BACK TO BASICS

Travis Benjamin was possibly the fastest car in the outside groove during last year’s 250, but he made a fiery exit while running second in the race after an engine failure.  After struggling in the two PASS North events at Oxford this year, Benjamin is taking a page from his 2005 set-up book for this weekend.

“We ran well here last year,” said Benjamin.  “This year, we haven’t been as good at Oxford, so we’re going back with last year’s set-up.”

TINKER SHINES ON FRIDAY

On the Friday night of the 250 weekend, Oxford usually has a pretty impressive lineup of weekly features and a PASS Modified event.  However this year Mother Nature had different plans.

A two-hour rain delay pushed back the start of the Friday night races and just past halfway more rain forced track officials to pull the plug entirely.

Ben Tinker was awarded the Strictly Stock victory after becoming the fourth different leader in only 16 laps.  The feature race was 35 cars strong.

All other features from Friday night will be rescheduled for dates in August.  The PASS Modified race is tentatively slated for August 26th, pending final PASS approval.

EXTRA BUCKS IN LAST CHANCE RACE

The first racer not to make it into this year’s 250 will have a little bit extra for their ride home.

Race Tires America is sponsoring a special award in memory of Joe Jacobs, the longtime general manager of McCreary Tires and a major personality in the early years of New England's summer short track classic. The runner-up in Sunday’s last chance event for the 250 will receive a $1,000 bonus.  That's only a shade less than the $1,125 minimum share for starting the main event.

The last chance qualifier is one of the enduring attractions of the TD Banknorth 250 experience. It typically features a 20-to-30-car starting grid and a talent pool that would stand as a worthy Saturday night main event at any track in the country.


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Not all of the teams at Oxford even unloaded on Friday.  But tailgates can be used for other things too - like a basketball game.  (51 Photos)
Oxford is just a town or two over from Wilson’s homebase of Hebron, Maine, so after a trip back to the shop for parts, the team was almost back on track.

“We’ve got it back together now,” said Wilson at the end of the day.  “We’re just over the hill.  So we’ve been there.  I’ve got to go up to Jeff Taylor’s shop right now and get some other parts.”

All problems aside, Wilson was satisfied with the performance of his car on Friday.

“We’re decent, there are four or five guys who are faster than us right now, but I’m happy.”

THREE’S COMPANY: SANBORN GAINS RIDE WITH RMR TEAM

The Richard Moody Racing team fielded an extra car for the 250.  In addition to their normal line-up of Ben Rowe and Travis Khiel, another #4 car was also present on Friday.  Beech Ridge Motor Speedway standout and recent high school graduate Trevor Sanborn was in that car, which will probably run with the #41 on the side come Sunday.
“It’s definitely a good opportunity,” said Sanborn of his ride.  “I know that when I drive one of these Moody cars that Ben Rowe or Travis Khiel has been in, that it’s definitely good equipment.  I’m proud to be in it and I hope to be successful and finish well in the 250.  It means a lot to be here, especially to race against guys like Ben and Mike Rowe and the Nextel Cup drivers.”

Having a teammate in three-time PASS champion Ben Rowe is helping Sanborn’s learning curve flatten out.

“Benji is helping out a lot.  He’s given me tips on driving the car and he’s thrown a lot of new things at me.”
Richard Moody Racing is fielding three cars this weekend.