LEFTOVERS: TD BANKNORTH 250 by Mike Twist and Justin St. Louis
So Many Stories That We Don't Know Where to Begin...
But somehow the Sessions team managed to do the impossible in their only scheduled race of the year.  They finished third in the 250 after a pretty big obstacle was placed in their path.

Sessions’ #0 car suffered an engine failure in practice on Saturday.  His team loaded up and left the track, but did not withdraw from the event.

“We were pretty discouraged and it wasn’t looking good,” said Sessions.

But giving up wasn’t the option that the “Zilch” team decided to take.
ALL-NIGHTER PAYS OFF FOR ZILCH TEAM

Late on Saturday afternoon, Sam Sessions’ chances of even taking the green flag for the TD Banknorth heat races the next afternoon looked pretty slim.  Seeing the checkers wave for Sunday night’s feature looked to be pretty impossible.

Johnny Clark (#54) chases Denny Hamlin (#11) in their heat race.  Neither advanced - Hamlin got a promoter's option while Clark did not qualify.  (Glen Davis Photo)
“I thought real seriously about not coming back,” said Sessions.  It was definitely an uphill battle for us at the shop.  We don’t know what was wrong with the engine.  We didn’t even stop to take a look at it.  We changed our motor exactly two years ago on the night before the 250.  That motor had been in the corner and this week we bought bearing for it just in case.  We pulled it out and put bearing in it.  We pulled the oil pan off the engine that blew.  It was filled with holes.  We pounded it all out and fixed the insides – the windage trays were destroyed.  We welded it together and put some JB Weld in there to my welds.”

Speed51.com asked Session what time the repairs were finished and got an interesting answer.

“We’re still working,” Sessions laughed, while rolling their car through post-race tech.  “Work hasn’t stopped on this car.  They worked all night.  I went home at 11 until 2:30.  They called me when it got running, I ran over and scaled it and by that time it was time to come back down to the track because the sun was up.”

2005 RUNNER-UP JOHNNY CLARK FAILS TO QUALIFY

One of the big topics of discussion was who didn’t make the field for the TD Banknorth 250.  Heading the long list was Johnny Clark, who led last year’s race with 10 laps remaining before ultimately finishing second.
After apparently finishing second in his heat race, Clark was disqualified in the tech line.  With 84 cars on hand looking for 40 starting spots, Clark’s molehill battle turned into a Mt. Everest-scale adventure. 

“It’s the Oxford 250 and it’s special, but the rules didn’t help the race this year,” said a disappointed Clark after not making the main event.  “I think an awful lot of good cars sat out.  Travis Khiel is one.  We should have been in, Alan Wilson, guys that have all been in contention before.”

Khiel finished second in a PASS North event at Oxfordin early July, and OPS veteran Wilson nearly
would do that.  I’m pretty happy.”

Sanborn now goes back to racing weekly at Beech Ridge, but he hopes that his 250 experience might help open some doors for him in the near future.

“I want to go on to the PASS Tour and race weekly.  I hope that this leads to that happening.”

JEREMIE WHORFF JUST HAPPY TO BE THERE

Oxford Plains Speedway Pro Stock regular Jeremie Whorff pulled off a major upset – not by winning, but simply by qualifying for the outside pole.  In four years of trying, 2006 was the second-generation racer’s first successful attempt at qualifying for the TD Banknorth 250.

Whorff was overwhelmed just to be there.

“It’s unreal,” he said before the race.  “I’ve been trying for the last three years to get into it and we never actually made it because of some unfortunate deals that happened in the heats.  This year the crew really made it happen for me.  My crew chief Matt Green, my tire guy Jason Simkins, they really stepped it up this week and gave me a pretty good car.  They worked all week and really put the car here, I just drove the thing.  We’ve had some good luck, we ended up drawing pretty well, which is most of the race right there.  To be on the outside pole, I’m happy with just being here.  Hopefully we just finish the race and bring it home.  We should be pretty good.”

CRAVEN HAS A GOOD TIME, TALKS ABOUT HEAT RACE TROUBLES

Ricky Craven has won in all three of NASCAR’s national touring divisions, has driven for high-profile owners Larry Hedrick, Rick Hendrick, and Jack Roush, and has been a popular NASCAR figure for more than a decade.
Sam Sessions rolls to his third place finish in his #0x.  Getting there wasn't easy for him and his team. (Glen Davis Photo)

won the 250 in 2004.  Other high-profile drivers joining them on the sidelines this year included former Busch East (North at the time) Series champion Kelly Moore, Canadian Maritime pro stock champion Rollie MacDonald, ageless Oxford veteran Al Hammond, OPS young gun Chris Kennison, and Beech Ridge (ME) Motor Speedway champion Mike Maietta, Sr., among others.
 
Clark was disappointed with not only the high attrition rate, but the quality of some the cars that made the show.

“I think this has probably got to be the worst race I’ve ever witnessed, attrition-wise.  Horrible.  It just really stinks to look down pit road and say ‘Man, I can’t believe he made it in,’ when you know they just threw something together two weeks ago while we’ve been busting our butts for months to prepare for this race.  The qualifying packs the stands, they must like, it’s just not my favorite format. 

“It’s Oxford.  It’s the 250 man.  This is what makes it so great.  No time trials.  People like seeing torn up racecars, so the grandstands are packed.  That’s what it is all about.  I’m just bitter right now I guess.”

SANBORN MAKES HIS FIRST 250 COUNT

Any newbie to the TD Banknorth 250 has their work cut out for them.  Getting into the show isn’t easy – this year more cars went home than raced.  Even if you do get into the show, surviving the 250 green flag laps is a tall order.
But Craven got his start in Maine, and returned to his roots at the TD Banknorth 250.  Driving for PASS North superstar Johnny Clark, Craven looked to defend his 1991 victory in the mid-summer classic.

After charging from the back in heat #2, Craven was looking for a transfer spot behind fellow Unity Raceway homeboy John Phippen and Oxford regular Dennis Spencer before all three ran into trouble.  On successive laps, Phippen and Spencer spun off of Craven’s front bumper.  When Spencer spun around, Craven went with him off the top of Turn 2.

“We drew a tough number for the heat race,” explained Craven.  “We got caught up and it bent the car a little bit.
But the right combination helps.  It definitely worked for teenager Trevor Sanborn this year.  The Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) regular hooked up with the Richard Moody Racing team for the 250 and came away with a solid sixth place finish.

The result could have been even better too.  If not for a pit miscue, Sanborn just may have been a rookie winner of the big short track race.

“This is great,” said Sanborn.  “I’m glad to be here and driving for Richard Moody.  We had an excellent, excellent car tonight.  We just had a bad pit stop.  The lugnuts fell off the wheel and the pacecar got ahead of us.  I tried to unlap myself, but the car just didn’t have it in it.  The tires were worn out and had 100 laps on them.  I wanted to get ahead of him, fire four new ones on and go for the win.  That would have been nice.

“We got sixth and were a lap down.  That was good.  All that I asked for tonight was a top 10 and I wasn’t sure if we
I really don’t think we ever recovered from that.  I had raced with Phippen and the 81 car (Spencer) was on the outside of Phippen, and I ran along very patient, patient, patient.  As soon as John cleared the 81, I drove underneath John and apparently he didn’t know I was there.  A lap later, the 81 car hugged the bottom in Turn 1 and I got in the back of him.  That was absolutely my fault.  John Phippen is a good guy and a good friend.  (The incidents were) unintentional, I can’t imagine somebody coming in here to wipe somebody out, although I did see some that when I was standing here.  This is the most important race of the year for 80 drivers, and they were all driving like it.”

After starting from the rear of the TD Banknorth 250 on a promoter’s option, Craven retired with a battered car.  Nonetheless, he had fun.

“We found speed and had speed all week.  Saturday we were very good.  I had a great time all week, and Johnny did a great job building the car, we were running 10s and 20s.  It’s no different than any other type of racing, you need to have a nearly perfect day.  You look at the Whorffs, and it all came together for them.  I’m actually really happy for them, it’s cool.  I felt like we were in the game, but we lost our momentum in the heat race and never got it back.  We had potential to have a good race and even challenge for a win, and we just never really got to show it.”

IT’S A 250 TOP-FIVE FOR BENJAMIN

Last year’s TD Banknorth 250 was a heart-breaker for Travis Benjamin and his team.  Their #17 was one of the quickest cars on the track and possibly the best of them all in the outside groove.  Benjamin made it up to second in the race and was reeling in the lead when an engine fire dropped him out early.
Trevor Sanborn  (51 Photo)
the side of his car and Sam Session finished third with the #0x.

DION: A GREAT SHOW FOR THE FANS

If Dave Dion wasn’t racing in the 250, he would probably be sitting in the grandstands somewhere.  He’s that big a fan of the event.
   
“Just driving in and seeing the people who are half crazy is great,” said Dion.  “To pay whatever it costs to get into the race out of your pocket, you really have to want to come here.  I think that entertainment-wise, you are going to get your money’s worth here.  You’ll see the people, the heat races and everything.  It might be the highest ticker price in New England, but it’s worth it.”   

YOUR CHANCE TO SEE IT ALL AGAIN

If you missed the TD Banknorth 250 and want to see firsthand everything that you just read about, or if you'd like to experience the action of the race from someplace other than the grandstand, you can buy a DVD of the race from Channell 1 Video.  Click here to visit their website.



CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL SPEED51.COM 2006 TD BANKNORTH 250 STORY INDEX






Ricky Craven fell out of the 250 early.  (Jamie Williams Photo)
This year, Benjamin wasn’t on fire either literally or figuratively.  Using a low-key approach all weekend, Benjamin just kept moving up steadily though the field to finish a strong fifth.

“That’s exciting and it will help everybody with some confidence,” said Benjamin.  “It will boost our sprits I’m sure.  We didn’t have that good of a car really.  We just rode it out and that worked out pretty good.

“It’s weird.  Last year, the car was so good and we didn’t finish in the top five for any of our races.  This year, it hasn’t been good at all and in two of the three races, we finished with top fives.”
DAVE DION COMES BACK TO THE 250

“Dynamite” Dave Dion is a New England legend.  He has won races everywhere in every format of Late Model-style racing, including three TD Banknorth 250s.  Dion came back in 2006 to run perhaps the final 250 of his career, and ran among the leaders before a bad set of tires decided his seventh-place fate.
“We put the four tires on and that was it,” he said.  “We borrowed two from the 29 (Scott Chubbuck) when he blew up his motor.  The tires blew up like balloons and it killed the stagger, that was the end of our day.  Any other time during the day we could have gotten the tires off, but it ran green right to the end.

“The call (to change tires on lap 160) was the right call.  My crew said ‘If you want to win this thing, you go in and get four tires and go up and beat the 00 (Jeremie Whorff).  I didn’t want to hear them saying ‘Let’s take 3rd or 4th or 5th.’  They did what they needed to do to win it, and it totally bit us, it just killed the car.  If we could have got a caution after that, they would have just took them off, but
that did it.  Once your stagger goes on this track, it’s over.  It was a great call, we just didn’t have the luck to go with it.  We’d do it again, though.  We’d do exactly the same thing.  If we had the right tires there, we would have looked like Superman.”

The Dion Brothers Racing Team, nearing the end of a wildly successful 40-year run, decided to pull a 10 year-old chassis out of moth balls to run the 250 this year, even if it meant sacrificing their NASCAR Busch East Series season.

“We had to cut our schedule right down to build this car and to put the money in it.  We’re only going to run Loudon and maybe Waterford for the rest of the year.  I enjoy this type of racing a lot and I wanted to run another 250 in my lifetime.  I was pretty happy overall, they gave me a good car most of the day, but it came out lousy.  You hate to finish limping around helplessly, but the timing was wrong.”

Always the most popular driver at nearly every track he visits, Dion says this one was for his fans.

“I’m glad we came, we had fun.  We worked hard all day and our fans have always said ‘As long as you give one hundred percent, you’ll always be our driver.’  But sometimes I don’t do well.  They say ‘We don’t care – it’s one hundred percent.  When you run lousy, we can feel your pain.  We never stop watching you.’

“It’s why I come back.  I come for the people.  They have a little story, they come with their children or their grandchildren.  It’s kind of neat for somebody my age.  (ACT promoter) Tom Curley once said ‘He’s the only driver I know that bridges every generation gap.’  You don’t need just 50 or 60 year-olds to like you.  You get 40 year-olds, 30 year-olds, even some teeny-boppers that come along and say ‘Hey, that’s cool, I like the way they do things,’ or you see a bunch of kids coming over looking for your autograph.  It makes you feel good.  It means a lot, really, when I’m riding home alone and I think back about people that say some things, you know, you didn’t win but you made an impact.  It’s pretty neat.”

TODAY THE 250, TOMORROW THE GOVERNOR'S MANSION?

There were an estimated 15,000 fans at this year’s
running of the 250.  Among them was Maine Gubernatorial
candidate Chandler Woodcock, who passed up a chance
at watching the event from one of the luxury boxes and
instead choose to sit in the pit stands during the race
with his wife and son.  Before the race, he got to meet
several drivers including Mike Rowe, Cassius Clark and
Corey Williams.

Woodcock is not stranger to racing.  His brother Steve
raced at Oxford and recorded three career victories there
between 1972 and 1983.  Ironically, one of the drivers
who Steve Woodcock raced against during the time was
Cassius’ father and crew chief Billy Clark.

WINGING IT WORKS FOR MULKERN

Guys can go crazy planning and plotting their 250 strategies.  But this year, Scott Mulkern took a different approach.  He tried not to stress himself out in preparing for the feature race.  He also took a conservative approach in the race itself.  It worked.  Mulkern ended up finishing fourth.

“That wasn’t bad, I was trying to be really patient and I guess it paid off,” said Mulkern.  “I never got frustrated even though I got shuffled around a few times.  Everything worked as far as strategy.  We didn’t know when we were going to pit.  We talked before the race and couldn’t decide, so we went when Jay Cushman’s car went [with driver Scott Chubbuck].”

BENJI FLIES OUT OF CONTENTION FOR 250 VICTORY

With only 20 laps in the books for the 250, nobody could catch Ben Rowe.  His Richard Moody Racing #4 car was solidly in the lead and already lapping other competitors.  But while Rowe didn’t have to worry about the guys behind him, he did have to worry about the guys in front of him. 

A gaggle of lapped cars got together and Rowe ran into the mess.  He was launched into the air and off the fourth turn banking, his night finished.
After the race, Speed51.com caught Rowe munching a snack in his hauler. 

“I’m eating a cookie, I’m not mad,” were Rowe’s first words.

But Rowe wasn’t happy about what happened to him in the race either.  He believes that his incident was entirely preventable and he blames Cup invader J.J. Yeley for being the one who didn’t prevent it.

“The Cup guys were staying down the bottom.  This track worked for three days to make the outside groove raceable and there were two grooves there.  I don’t know why they needed to pound on the bottom to get by people.  You saw it all day from the heat races on.  I saw the guy [Yeley] dive down low to make it three-wide.  He
jumped the curb and hit somebody.  When I checked up, he just shot out in front of me.  It just went airborne from there.

“When you get lapped in 25 laps after taking a provisional, I mean come on!  They need to respect us more.  They want us to respect them, so they ought to be doing something to earn it.  They call us dummies and idiots, but look what they do.  I mean they bring in fans when they come here, so you can’t say much about that.  I just wish that they raced us better.”

Rowe believes that he had a car that could have won him his third 250 if he had been around at the end.

“That thing was awesome.  We got what we needed.  The crew did what they had to do.  They gave me a car to win the race and you can’t say anything bad about that.  The guys were holding me up and I just wanted to run third or fourth, but we got into the lead and just drove away.  We could drive away easily from the #00 that won it and to know that we could have beaten him makes it more discouraging.  There’s two grooves of racing.  I took the lead from the outside and that was working.  I maybe should have been more cautious, but I backed off a lap before that because they were all squirrelly.” 

ANOTHER HEARTBREAKER FOR CHUBBUCK AND CUSHMAN

The 250 has been cruel to Scott Chubbuck and his car owner Jay Cushman over the years.  In 2004, Chubbuck looked to be headed to a certain victory when he got into an incident with Dale Shaw.  Last year, a strong finish was wiped out by another competitor at the end.
This year, they were also fast again, but the engine in the #29 failed.  Was the car good enough to win the race if it held together?  There’s no doubt that it was in Chubbuck’s mind.

“If anybody watched the first 150 laps and didn’t think so, I’d call them an idiot,” said Chubbuck.  “It was good, really good.   drove on the outside of the #0 after we pitted.  I drove it turn one and it just started clanging, clunking and thunking.  But what can you do?  I just kept it on top of the track and drove it to the pits.”

PREDICTIONS COME UP SHORT

It turned out that when it came to predicting this year’s TD Banknorth 250 winner, nobody could see very well into the future.

14 competitors and six so-called “experts” made their 250 picks and nobody picked Jeremie Whorff.  In fact, only two of the 20 who were polled picked anyone who even finished in the top 20 of the race this year.

Who did the best at predicting the future?  Competitor Tony Ricci picked Scott Mulkern, who finished fourth, and Speed51.com/SPEED TV’s Bob Dillner picked Travis Benjamin who finished a strong fifth.

“We were trying to make Bob proud, but we didn’t quite get there,” laughed Benjamin after the race.

TAYLOR DENIED AGAIN

Jeff Taylor is an eight-time Pro Stock champion at Oxford Plains Speedway, and is in the hunt for his ninth title his season.  With a resume like that, one would think he’d have won a TD Banknorth 250 by now.  No such luck for the veteran.
While running in second place, Rowe and fellow former Pro Stock champion Ricky Rolfe came together in lapped traffic.  Rolfe’s car took a terrifying head-on shot into the wall at full speed, while Taylor’s car bounced down the front stretch.  While both drivers were miraculously uninjured, their races were over.

“Another good run gone way bad,” said Taylor, a reputable chassis builder.  “When I got hit it broke the tie rod end and all the brake lines.  We had a good car, but that’s pretty typical of my 250s.  I unload a car that’s so good it seems like a beginner could drive it, and we just never get it done.”

The cliché phrase “there’s always next year” doesn’t help ease the disappointment for Taylor.
“We’re running out of years,” he said.  “We’re going for our ninth (track title), and honestly we weren’t even going to do that, but the deal changed.  All we do is race and the weekly series was the only thing we had time for.  We’d like to race with PASS or something, but we just can’t do it.”

“(The 250) is our big hurrah,” Taylor chuckled, “but obviously we’ve got to start doing something else.”

LAPERLE HAS A FORGETTABLE WEEKEND

Entering 250 weekend, Quebec’s Patrick Laperle was highly favored to win the TD Banknorth 250, as well as the ACT Late Model Tour event on Saturday night.  What he ended up with was a wrecked ACT car on Saturday, and a pile of problems on Sunday.
In early Sunday morning practice, the rear end broke on Laperle’s Precision JLM Chevrolet, forcing the team to put in their only replacement – a Detroit locker.  The rear end threw the setup off, and to make matters worse, practice sessions ended before the new rear end was tested.

“The stagger was off tonight.  I lost the stagger in the front, so I had less wedge and the car was loose, loose, loose.  So we came in and changed four tires, but because of the rear end I didn’t have enough stagger in the rear.”

Despite the setup issues, Laperle ran solidly in the Top 5 all race long until…
“Then something broke on the sway bar, and the car started to push, push, push.  We fixed it and came back on the race track and I was passing a lapped car, but he got sideways, turned into me and broke the sway bar again.”

Laperle’s crew fixed the sway bar a second and sent its driver back on the track late in the going.  Although he was many laps down, Laperle blew by everyone.

“We came back on the race track and I think I was the fastest car at the end of the race,” he said with a laugh.  “I went by Dave Dion twice, that was fun.”

OXFORD OWNER RYAN HAPPY WITH 250

Oxford Plains Speedway owner Bill Ryan’s thoughts on the 33rd annual TD Banknorth 250:

“I thought it was a pretty cool event in that I don’t think anybody would have predicted that Jeremie Whorff would win.  He had never qualified before, we just had that conversation on Wednesday, and I was just asking some of the people that have been here for a long time if anyone had ever won in their first race.  Nobody knew, but I think it might be a first.”

“I think the big story was all of the problems that all the top guns had.  Blown motors, wrecks, tires.  Dale Shaw was great, he was leading a ton of laps and a tire went down.  Dion was coming at one point and then he spun.  The so-called “big guns”, whether they be the Mike Rowes or the Ben Rowes or the Cassius Clarks or the Kyle Busches or Yeley or Hamlin, all those guys had problems.  Hamlin was out quick.  Yeley had problems all day, they had to replace the nose on that thing three times.”

“Kyle Busch was going to win but he blew up.  I think he was would have won hands down, he came through that consi field like a knife through butter.”

“It was a great race, it was interesting, but different than anyone would have predicted.  I don’t know if we sold out officially, but if we didn’t there was only enough room for one two year-old child.  It was a great day.”

CRATE MOTOR KO’s MIKE ROWE FROM 250

Running a crate motor in the 250 this year was a risky move.  The weight breaks that came with the engines made it a winning package.  The Whorffs swept the top two spots with theirs and Scott Mulkern finished fourth with his.  But a number of crate engines didn’t survive the night.  Among them was Mike Rowe’s, which let go around the halfway mark and dropped him out of the race.
“It started to hitch up down the back shoot.  Jeremie got into me, but the motor was seizing up on me.  It’s racing.  I’ve run Butler and MacMaster engines for a long time and they’ve held together.  This is just racing.”

The rash of engine failure at the 250 was just the latest volley in a war that has been taking place all season long.  PASS North and Oxford Plains rulemakers gave a weight break for certain types of powerplants, including crate engines, in an effort to help low-buck teams get into the series.  Several top teams have gone this way as well to keep up on the racetrack.  It has led to plenty of controversy from all sides through the first half of the season.

“This bullshit here with what they are doing with the crate
engines isn’t working,” said Rowe.  “They ought to go back to what we had with the dry sumps and make this a great race.  They got carried away and screwed the rules up.  It’s just terrible.”

BUSCH BACK TO THE 250 IN 2007?

NASCAR phenom Kyle Busch was serious about winning the TD Banknorth 250.  At first, he wasn’t planning on attending the race.  After a busy week where he was in his brother Kurt’s wedding in Virginia and then went out to Gateway International Raceway in Illinois for a Busch Series race, he wasn’t even planning to take part in the 250 this year.  It just didn’t look like his schedule would allow it.
But Busch had one of the fastest cars in last year’s 250 and finished sixth despite pit stop problems.  The lure of coming back was just too strong.  With the help of a private plane, Busch was able to make it to from the St. Louis area to Oxford on Sunday morning.

Because he knew that he would miss two days of practice for the race, Busch tested at Oxford two weeks before the race.  He was serious enough about the test that at the end of the day, when the session was scheduled to have been completed, his secretary called the track office looking for him.  She commented that he wasn’t answering his cell phone.  For that he had a good excuse, Busch was still out on the track in his SP2 Motorsports ride fine-tuning it for the race.

After all, he was there to win.
Well, Busch again had one of the fastest cars in the race this year, but while running in the lead, a flame appeared from the exhaust of his #5 car and he pulled off the track with a blown engine.  Now, like many other drivers, he’ll have to wait until next year.

But will there be a next year?  Early indications are that Busch will be back at the 250.  According to a report by NASCAR Scene, Busch told car owner Rick Hendrick that he would like to scale back his Busch Series schedule and he reportedly singled out this weekend as one that he would like to have off.

Would that be because the draw of the 250 is too strong to ignore?  Well, we’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

WILLIAMS COMES BACK TO FINISH IN TOP 10

For second-year 250 starter Corey Williams, the 2006 running of the event was an up and down affair.
The young driver won his heat race going away, then he had a flat tire early in the feature.  He capped the day fighting back into the top 10 and finished a solid ninth with his #47 machine.

“Anything is possible in the 250,” said Williams.  “The race started out well and then we had a flat tire.  We came back from that and charged to the front.  I thought that we’d have a better day than we didn’t, but to come back like that was pretty good.”

Even better was winning one of the prestigious heat races for the 250.  Williams beat guys like Scott Mulkern and Kyle Busch in heat #4 in a commanding fashion.  His margin of victory was a full straightaway.
“Winning a heat race for the 250 was awesome,” said Williams.  “It was such a good feeling.  It also took a lot of stress off me, knowing that we’d be in the show.”

HIT OR MISS SEASON CONTINUES FOR CASSIUS

Every race that Cassius Clark has finished up North in 2006 has resulted in a victory lane appearance.  He has four PASS North victories to his name already this season.

Unfortunately, there is a flip side to that coin.  The other three Northern starts for Clark have ended with engine-related DNFs.  The 250 fell into that category as Clark’s powerplant expired before the race was even to its’ one-quarter mark.

“The engine blew up.  I haven’t had much luck with them this year,” said Clark.  “It was pretty tight at the beginning, but we were running with the top guys.  About 20 laps in, I could start to feel the engine tightening up.  It wore down bad going into the turns and then finally, she just let go.”

WELCOME TO SUPER LATE MODELS, J.J. YELEY

J.J. Yeley  was making his first-ever start in a Super Late Model at Oxford.  The versatile driver has driven just about everything in his career and has raced in anything from the Indy 500 to the Daytona 500.  But the 250 was an entirely new experience for him.  He’s not sure quite what to make of it either.
“It hasn’t gone so good for me,” said Yeley.  “Every time that I go on to the racetrack they seem to need to put a new piece of fiberglass on the car when I come back.  It’s fun.  I got wrecked in my heat races and got up to sixth.”

“I was really loose in the B-Main.  While we were sitting in line, the guy next to me pleaded with me to give him a break.  So when I got loose, I let him go.  I had a starting spot in the feature, so there was no use wrecking.  But then some guy wrecks me for no damn reason.  I think that I’m going to go and find him later on.”

How does the 250 stack up again other types of racing?  Well, Yeley started his career on dirt and he still feels that there is no substitute for that racing surface.
“It’s still pavement racing, so it’s going to struggle on the fun meter.  But this race track is tricky.  It’s almost round, but it’s an oval.  The second groove almost works.  There are a lot of variables here.  It’s tough.  It’s a big race and there are a lot of good guys here who mean business.”

AN UNLIKELY CAUTION

On lap 143, the yellow flag flew over the Oxford Plains Speedway.  It wasn’t for debris, fluid on the track or a wrecked racecar.

It was because of three people walking around the track, just feet behind the racing surface in turns one and two.  The group was reportedly too busy eating French Fries to notice the pack of cars circling the track near them at high speeds.

The Oxford police department quickly apprehended the three trespassers, who were described as “Mental Midgets” over the PA system, and racing resumed without incident or injury.

A GOOD WEEK FOR THE SESSIONS

Not only did Sam Sessions finish third in the 250, but his brother Sumner won Saturday night’s Strictly Stock race at the track and his nephew Greg won in Wednesday night competition with his Outlaw division car.
KHIEL DNQs FOR THE 250

Travis Khiel didn’t make the starting grid for the 250.  He was disqualified from his heat race after having too much left side weight.  Then he came short in the consi and got spun in his last chance race.

“In this sport, things like this happen,” said Khiel.  “You have weekends where nothing goes your way at all.  It started off yesterday in practice.  We swapped a motor out Saturday night and it went downhill from there.  We never ran across the scale after changing it and there was a weight difference.  After we were in a qualified spot in the heat race, our left side was a little heavy.  That put us in the rear of the consi and when you get back there, it’s trouble.  We made it up to fourth [with three cars advancing].  In the final hooligan race, we just got turned around. 

ZEROES HAVE IT

The zeroes turned out to be heroes in the 250.  The winning racecar of Jeremie Whorff was numbered #00, the second place finisher, his father Bill Whorff, Jr. sported the #0 on
Travis Benjamin in his office.  (51 Photo)
Dave Dion in victory lane after winning the Last Chance race.  (Jamie Williams Photo)
Ben Rowe (R) gets interviewed for television by George Campbell.  (51 Photo)
Candidate Woodcock (R) talks with Corey Williams (L)  (51 Photo)
Scott Cubbuck exits the race with a puff of smoke.  (Jamie Williams Photo)
Jeff Taylor gets towed in after his night ended early. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Patrick Laperle (L) chats with Kyle Busch (R) before the race.  (Jamie Williams Photo)
Mike Rowe's #24 gets a push back into the pits after dropping out early.  (Jamie Williams Photo)
Patrick Laperle (L) chats with Kyle Busch (R) before the race.  (Jamie Williams Photo)
Kyle Busch was serious about the 250.  He even worked on his own car.  (51 Photo)
Corey Williams  (51 Photo)
J.J. Yeley (#17) races to the outside of Gary Smith in the heats.  (Justin St. Louis / 51 Photo)
Travis Khiel at work.  (51 Photo)