NAIL BITER HEAT RACES MAKE 250 STAND OUT by Mike Twist
Forget Time Trials, You Need to Race Your Way Into This Show
There are no time trials for the 250. A blind draw is used to set the field for a series of heat races. The top four finishers in each heat race make it to the big show, then the top four finishers from a pair of consolation events and the winner of a last chance race make it in. The winner of Saturday night’s ACT Late Model event has an automatic starting spot, as does the highest point Oxford Pro Stock regular not in the field and the most recent non-qualifying former 250 winner.
If you don’t fall into one of those categories you are going home early. Turning a fast lap doesn’t matter. Racing well under pressure does. Fans love it, competitors hate it but that’s the way that the 250 has always been.
“You have to draw the pill for your heat race, and yeah, it sucks, but it's the 250,” said Cassius Clark. “You just take what you get and go for it."
One of the most unique aspects of the TD Banknorth 250 is the way that the starting field is determined. Nearly as many cars will go home as will race in the feature event and not a single stopwatch will be needed to set the field.
Making it to the starting field for the TD Banknorth 250 is no easy task.
Therefore, to win the 250-lap feature, you have to first endure the heat races which is not an easy task.
“It’s all about the heat races,” said PASS North point leader Scott Chubbuck. “The one thing about the 250 is that you don’t know if you are going to qualify and one of these days, I’m not going to.”
“I’m not even saying it will be easy to get in,” said NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Kyle Busch, who is racing in the 250 this year. “There’s the luck of the pill draw for the heat race line-ups and then there’s passing in the heat races. If the outside is good, we’ll have to run up there and do it. We’ll have to stay out of trouble in the heat races.”
“The heat races are full of pressure,” said PASS regular Cassius Clark. “It’s a good qualifying procedure and great for the fans to watch, but it is a stressful day for the competitors. People pull some crazy stuff to get into the field and just having one person get into the back of you can keep you from making the race.”
It also makes just getting into the 250 quite an accomplishment.
“Just to make that race is big,” said Joey Polewarczyk, who is a young driver looking to qualify for his first 250 this year. “I know guys who have tried to make that race for years and years. To just make it would be an accomplishment in itself. If we could do well and finish, that would be a bonus.”
Tickets for the TD Banknorth 250 are available but going quickly. Call the Speedway box office now at (207) 539-8865 to reserve your seat. Qualifying begins Sunday at 2 p.m.
The TD Banknorth 250 is the final installment of a three-day race weekend, all presented by New England Dodge Dealers. Friday and Saturday night action begins at 6:30 pm.