WHORFFS ENJOY ULTIMATE PAYBACK WITH 250 SWEEP by Mike Twist
Father and Son "Nice Guy" Team Beat The Best in the Biz at Oxford
It could be argued that no competitors have worked harder to make that happen than the Whorff family. The father and son who race against each other every Saturday night at Oxford have volunteered to appear at countless press conferences to hype the track. They’ve provided cars for Cuppers Matt Kenseth and J.J. Yeley to drive. They have made show car appearances. For two years in a row, they’ve even rolled out their own back-up cars for fellow competitors who have had heat race or practice trouble. The Whorffs have been the nice guys in the pit area even when it has led to some sacrifices in their own racing operation.
Late Sunday night, in front of a crowd estimated at 15,000 people, the Whorffs were rewarded for their contributions. Jeremie and his father Bill, Jr. finished first and second in a year where a total of 86 cars signed into the pit area. Their good deeds did not go unnoticed this time.
“I think that being a racecar driver here at Oxford Plains Speedway, you have an obligation to promote racing,” said Jeremie Whorff after the race. “That is what this program is all about. Bill Ryan runs an excellent program at this track and we have a family deal here where we can all come and spend our weekends at the track. We have fun and get to
The Oxford 250 has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years. Under the watchful eye of Oxford Plains Speedway owner Bill Ryan, Jr., the July classic has seen NASCAR Cup drivers come and race, grandstands sell out, front page stories in newspapers across the state be written and corporate sponsorship from TD Banknorth become part of its name. Among the general population of Maine, the race has now become a legitimate major sporting event. In the short track community, the race has reclaimed its spot as being one of the country’s biggest races.
The NASCAR stars of the 250 - (From Left) J.J. Yeley, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Ricky Craven. (Leif Tillotson Photo)
failures. Ben Rowe was leading 20 laps in when he came upon a pack of out-of-control lapped traffic at the wrong time and left the race sailing airborne through the dirt off turn four. Patrick Laperle, Jeff Taylor and Ricky Rolfe were innocent victims who got wrecked out while running in the top five.
And those drivers were lucky compared to a number of strong entries who did not even qualify for the feature. A total of 83 cars attempted to qualify and that did not count any of the teams who withdrew after problems in practice.
PASS North drivers Johnny Clark, Alan Wilson, Travis Khiel, Rick Martin and Alan Tardiff didn’t make the show. Former Busch North champion Kelly Moore went home early. Oxford regulars Chris Kennison, Andy Shaw and T.J. Brackett couldn’t make the cut. Canadian Rollie MacDonald didn’t either. The father and son duo of Mike Miatta, Jr. and Sr., who have won Pro Stock features for decades in southern Maine, could not get into show.
Three of the four “marquee” drivers needed promoter’s options to make the field. Ricky Craven, J.J. Yeley and Denny Hamlin all failed to advance after the heat races. They started in the back of the feature and were never a factor.
do some racing. On this particular night, we even got to make some money. That doesn’t happen very often.”
“Usually a good deed comes back three times fold,” said Bill Whorff, Jr. “We’re just really excited to finish first and second. You dream about that.”
Jeremie Whoff’s good fortune began when the 250 entrants drew for their heat race starting positions. Jeremie drew the number-two pill that placed him on the pole position for his heat race. He then won his heat against the likes of former 250 winners Dave Dion and Ricky Craven to claim the outside pole for the feature.
“It was the first time in three attempts that the 22-year-old was able to even qualify for the 250. In fact, after feeling the pain of not making the show in years past, the young driver pretty much ruled out ever winning it.
“I dreamed about this and then thought that I passed it by,” said Jeremie. “I didn’t think it was possible. I think that anyone can win the Oxford 250, but to show up and win against all of these drivers is just unheard of, especially with the limited experience that I have.”
Whorff was quickly able to gain plenty of experience in the race. He learned by shadowing early leaders Dale Shaw, Ben Rowe and Mike Rowe. He stayed out of trouble and led on several different occasions. Most importantly, Whorff let the race come to him.
As usual, the 250 was downright cruel to a number of drivers who contended for the lead. Busch, Scott Chubbuck, Mike Rowe and Cassius Clark all had engine
As the cars lined up for the TD Banknorth 250, Jeremie Whorff was just happy to be in the show. Several hours later, he added his name to a select list of 250 winners. (51 Photo)
But the attrition, or absence, of anyone was not the sole reason why Whorff won the race. Busch, the Rowes, Chubbuck and Taylor all showed that they were capable of contending for the win and had they all been around at the end, Whorff probably would not have enjoyed the 2.967-second margin of victory that he had. Maybe he still would have won and maybe he wouldn’t have, but Whorff almost certainly would have been in the mix to decide the 2006 Oxford 250 champion. He had been just as quick as anyone all race long.
After 11 caution periods and one red flag, the final 90 circuits of the race ran caution-free. That allowed Jeremie Whorff to check out over his father as the laps clicked down. Son and father were able to finish first and second, the cross-generational battle for the victory never really materialized.
“I don’t think that he was quick enough to catch me,” said Jeremie. “I had a phenomenal racecar. It was flawless.”
“Halfway through the race, I thought that I might have had something for him but late in the race, I used my car up,” said Bill Whorff. “I was pretty much done when I got to second.”
So Bill Whorff, Jr. got the play the role of proud father and second-place Oxford 250 finisher instead of race winner. It’s not the first time lately that he’s done that.
“I’m proud of him,” said Bill. “We finished first and second like this two weeks ago as well. But I hope that this bridesmaid thing doesn’t keep going.”
Behind the Whorffs, there were other stories of triumph in the 250 as well.
Sam Sessions rolled out for his only race weekend of the year and blew an engine in practice. His team loaded up on Saturday and went home. Pit area observers thought that they were done for the weekend, but the #0 team pulled an all-nighter and returned with an old engine that was sitting around their shop under the hood for Sunday’s activities. While other engines were blowing left and right in the race, Sessions’ held together and he finished a strong third.
Scott Mulkern and Travis Benjamin, two of the nicest but most luckless guys in New England racing, finished
fourth and fifth. Trevor Sanborn, a teenager who races weekly at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, finished sixth in his first ever ride aboard a third Richard Moody Racing machine.
On the other end of the experience spectrum, three-time 250 winner Dave Dion drove a car that had not been raced for nearly a decade before this month to a seventh-place finish.
We’ll have all of their stories coming up later this week in our 51 leftovers and while all of their tales were great, when it was all over only Jeremie Whorff earned himself the right to a new title – Oxford 250 winner.
It is a badge that he will wear well, joining only 22 other drivers in the history of the race.
“That sounds excellent,” said Whorff. “It’s unheard of. I’m so excited. I don’t even know what to say.”
Speed51.com will have more TD Banknorth 250 recaps
The pre-race show and the crowd at the 250 make it seem more like a NASCAR event than a short track race. (Leif Tillotson Photo)
Whorff displays the checkered flag that he earned at Oxford. (Leif Tillotson Photo)
Jeremie (R) and Bill Whorff (L) celebrate their sweep of the 250. (Leif Tillotson Photo)