TD BANKNORTH 250 NEWS AND NOTES by Mike Twist
New Rides for Ricci and Drew, Qualifying Explained and Much More
RAIN MAKES SOME DRIVERS RUSTY

Because of Mother Nature, most of the competitors in this weekend’s TD Banknorth 250 will be coming off a weekend with no racing.  Last Saturday, both the PASS North Series race at Speedway 95 near Bangor, Maine and the weekly racing show at Oxford were rained out.

best plan of all.  They loaded up and headed for Wiscasset Speedway in coastal Maine.  The racing there was also rained out on Saturday, but not before practice was able to take place and Williams was able to shake down his #47 machine.

HERE’S YOUR SCORECARD

At least 60-70 entries are expected for the TD Banknorth 250 and maybe even more.  Since all of the qualifying and race events take place on one day, entries often roll in as late as race morning on Sunday. 

The track has put together a tentative entry list, however, based on teams who have filed entries, expressed their intent on going to the race or are just expected to attend.  The list is highly tentative and can be found by clicking here.
Travis Benjamin wasn't ready to settle for a rainout on Saturday.  He towed to two tracks, but ended up not getting a chance to run either place.  (51 Photo)
DREW LANDS ON HIS FEET

2001 TD Banknorth 250 winner Gary Drew won the Pro Stock feature at Oxford on July 3rd and within 48 hours parted ways with his then-car owner.  At the time, things looked bleak when it came to Drew landing a quality ride for the 250.

That has changed, however.  Drew is now set to drive Oxford regular Chris Kennison’s back-up car.  The car might be second-fiddle in Kennison’s hauler, but it’s no slouch.  It is the same car that Ben Rowe won the 2003 version of the 250 in.

250 ATTRACTS NATIONAL ATTENTION

There are a few drivers who probably won’t be at Oxford this weekend, but would love to be there.
Gary Drew in victory lane at Oxford earlier this season.  (Trudy Marshall/Jarracing Photography Photo)

The PASS race was the first event to be called off and that created some interesting back-up plans.  The teams of Travis Benjamin and Scott Chubbuck both turned around and headed to Oxford with hopes that the show there would take place and some extra practice for the 250 could be had.

“We headed southbound,” said Benjamin.  “We just wanted to race somewhere.”

But it was not to be, Oxford fell victim to the weather as did Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, also in Southern Maine.

Meanwhile, Corey Williams’ team might have had the
Kentucky driver Chuck Barnes and Texas native Ryan Lawler both worked hard on putting together deals to compete in this years 250, but just ran out of time.

“I really wanted to go up and race there,” said Barnes.  “But it was just going to cost us too much to do that one race.  I tried to find a ride, but nothing came together.  There aren’t too many people looking for other drivers for their cars.  I doubt that anything can come together this late, but if it can I’d be ready for it.”
“I considered going up with my own car, but we are racing in the PASS South race at Lanier [Georgia] the next weekend and couldn’t risk tearing it up,” said Lawler, who is ranked second in PASS South points.  “There was another possibility, but that just didn’t work out.  If I got an opportunity though, I would jump at the chance and take it in a heartbeat.”

However, Barnes and Lawler are both racers and with less than a week to go before the race, both drivers told Speed51.com that if a last minute deal became available, they would be more than eager to head on up to the 250.

RICCI’S NEW RIDE

True Value Modified Racing Series winner and Pro Stock part-timer Tony Ricci will drive a second entry for car owner Jay Cushman in this year’s TD Banknorth 250.

HEAT RACES 101

One of the most unique things about the TD Banknorth 250 is the series of heat races used to determine the starting field.  The system might be a little bit confusing for the fans, so straight from the horse mouth (actually the Oxford website), is this little primer:
Ryan Lawler (Top) and Chuck Barnes (Bottom) would both love to race in the 250.  (51 Photos)
The TD Banknorth 250 is without a doubt the highlight of New England Pro Stock racing. It is not often that the number of cars failing to make the race is higher than the number that do. This is why many say that qualifying alone is worth the price of admission.

The qualifying format for the TD Banknorth 250 consists of Heat Races, Consolation Races, a Last Chance Race and an LMS Qualifier. It is possible for a driver to qualify by virtue of placing in the top four of his 20 lap heat race, or, for the less fortunate, run 90 laps without ever making the show. Below is the qualifying procedure for the TD Banknorth 250.

THE DRAW - Determines starting position in Heat race

Each driver's name is added to a list when they roll their cars through pre-race inspection. That list is used to determine the order of "The Draw". A member from each team must plunge their digits into a bucket containing up to 100 numbered chips. A simple task that could mean the difference between sitting in the driver’s seat...or the grandstands.




HEAT RACES - Top 4 Qualify (positions 1-24)

Heat races are an intense and nerve-racking experience. One 20-lap race will set the tone for your day. Finish in the top-four and you have a couple of hours to prepare for one of the biggest races of your life. Fail to do so and chances are you'll be scrambling up until the main event.

CONSOLATION RACES - Top 3 Qualify (positions 25-33)

No driver wants to stare the Last Chance Qualifier in the face knowing they must win to get in. TD Banknorth 250 Consolations will put every bit of your driving ability through the ultimate test of skill and determination. Expect to see plenty of paint-swapping and torn sheet metal as these races are not intended for the faint of heart.
Johnny Clark's team celebrates after drawing #1 for their heat race two years ago.  (51 Photo)
The helmet raffle is an outreach of the Oxford Plains Speedway Charitable Foundation, which makes contributions to local non-profit organizations each year through the Speedway's 50-50 program. Proceeds from the raffle will go to the Ricky Craven Snowmobile Ride For Charity. Held each winter in Greenville, Maine, the ride has raised more than $1.1 million in its first nine years.

"We hope this announcement builds on the excitement of four elite drivers coming to the TD Banknorth 250," said Bill Ryan, president of OPS and founder of the Charitable Foundation. "Ricky is one the most popular drivers ever in Maine, and the work that his snowmobile
LAST CHANCE QUALIFIER - Winner Qualifies (starts 34th)

Talk about pressure. It's a race where second-place will earn you a seat in the grandstands. The winner is presented with a buyout option at the end: Take a $2,000 check and a seat in the stands or start at the rear of the field. And don't count out the winner of this race. Last year's winner, Mike Rowe, became the first driver to take full advantage and win the main event, earning $26,000. 2002 victor Alan Wilson placed 4th in the big show taking home $6,000. Ricky Craven and Tracy Gordon also have led the main event after winning the non-qualifiers' transfer spot.

CRAVEN HELMET UP FOR GRABS

Oxford Plains Speedway fans will have a special opportunity to take home a piece of Maine racing history and benefit a host of worthy charities in conjunction with the TD Banknorth 250 on Sunday, July 30.

Between now and the day of the 33rd annual race, raffle tickets will be sold at the speedway for $5 each. The winner of the drawing later this summer will receive the helmet that Craven wears during TD Banknorth 250 weekend presented by New England Dodge Dealers.
ride does is phenomenal. This is an opportunity for our fans to take a chance on winning a one-of-a-kind souvenir and support several important charities in the process."

A former NASCAR Nextel Cup Rookie of the Year and a two-time race winner  in stock car racing's premier series, Craven is one of four drivers with Cup ties entered in this year's TD Banknorth 250, joining Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and J.J. Yeley.

Craven captured the nation's richest single-day short track race in 1991. His bid for a second TD Banknorth 250 victory will take place behind the wheel of a car furnished by Johnny Clark Motorsports.  (OPS PR)

FOR MORE INFORMATION…

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 p.m.



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




Ricky Craven is giving away his helmet for a good cause.  ( Trudy Marshall/Jarracing Photography Photo)