51 Leftovers: TD Banknorth Oxford 250
Pole, Rolfe, Sweet, Martin, Hoar and Many More...Plus a Police Report
By Elgin Traylor and Mike Twist
Joey Pole's Quest for 250 Win Ends in the High Lane

ACT regular Joey Pole has gained great notability by using the high lane at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) in the past.   Pole won the ACT race earlier this season at Oxford and was a heavy favorite for the TD Banknorth 250 win.  But after making a patient charge to the front, Pole found himself sliding off the track in turn four with less then 100 laps to go.  Pole wound up losing a lap and a chance at the victory.

“They laid a lot of it down (speedy dry) and Brian Hoar wasn't giving me a lot of room,” said Pole.  “We kind of got into it with him earlier in the race.  He was running me high and there was nothing I could do.  I should have backed off.   I got off the track just a little bit and that was it.”

Hoar said he felt bad for Pole after the race.

“I feel bad for Joey Pole,” said Hoar. “He went off after that nasty caution with all the speedy dry was put down.  Unfortunately, he went back to that high groove a little too early.” 

Still, Pole found the positive aspect in his 250 weekend.

“It was great going into the day with everyone watching us because we were the favorites,” added Pole.   “We didn't win, but we made the 250 and that's a big feat in itself.  We were having a great run.  We got up to second, I was just trying to save the car, and our luck ran out.  It happens, it's racing.  At least we can say we were competitive tonight.  Luck just didn't fall our way.”  

Hoar Praises Track and First 250 Run

Brian Hoar had been to Oxford several times in the past, but he had never made the TD Banknorth 250.  After the 2009 running of the race, Hoar finished fourth and had nothing but good things to say after one of the most competitive races in recent memory.

“I have to hand it to the staff here at Oxford,” said Hoar.  “It was a pretty awesome weekend. We didn't win, but the racing was great.  As soon as my heat race was done, I was up watching the rest of the races because they were so good.  All the three wide stuff was just so cool.”

Hoar himself admitted that he was impressed by watching the eventual race winner during his heat race. 

“I was rooting Eddie (MacDonald) on when he was making three wide passes in his heat.  At the same time I was going 'Holy Crap!', because of how close it was on the track.”

Sweet Flies, But Gets a Lap Down Early

Nick Sweet had one of the quickest cars out there for this year's TD Banknorth Oxford 250.  However, he lost a lap somewhat early after getting caught in the pits for slightly too long during a yellow flag pit stop consisting of a four-tire change.  Even after that point, he didn't give up.

“The guys on the radio told me to just keep my head up,” said Sweet.  “I couldn't ask for a better group of guys.  I just messed up.  There's a learning curve here [when it comes to making live pit stops].  Last year, we had a competition yellow.  This year, I missed up by just not pulling up to the pace car enough.  I lost my guys probably ten seconds and those ten seconds cost us a lap.”

Sweet worked his tail off to try and make his lap.  He almost did that too, but spun late in the race and dropped to an eventual 16th-place finish.

“ We had an excellent car tonight.  The guys just gave me such a good car.  I overdrove it going into the corner - and you don't want to be that guy who takes the leader out.  I wasn't going to over-correct and shoot up into Brian.  He's a great driver and if you over-correct, you usually shoot up a lane.  I didn't want to do that and take the leader out of the Oxford 250.  So we didn't have the finish that we wanted, but we had a great car and we'll be back next year.”

Weekend of Work Proves Worthless for Rolfe

Ricky Rolfe was a busy man during the TD Banknorth Oxford 250 weekend.  On Saturday's practice sessions, he hopped back and forth between the red #51MO for weekend teammate Kenny Wallace and the blue #51ME that he drove himself in the 250.  He got both cars pretty close to equal at the time.

But in Sunday's races, things didn't pan out well for either entry.  Rolfe's own car struggled all day on the way to a finish of 19th.  Wallace stayed on the lead lap for most of the race, but an electrical connector on the alternator failed and he dropped out with a credited finish of 33rd.

Wallace was long gone after the race was finished, but Rolfe stuck around to load up the cars and reflect on a lost weekend.

“We're beat,” said Rolfe.  “We're kind of disappointed in the finishes.  I wish that Kenny could have gotten more practice time.  They had a pretty good car.”

Rolfe does not blame the fact that he was involved with two entries for his own struggles though.

“No…no…we had two separate crews when they got here, so it wasn't a distraction at all.”

Law and Order…and How You Don't Want to Get Your Name Into 51 Leftovers

The 250 is he largest sporting event in Maine and with lots of people come a few problems here and there. 

The Lewiston Sun Journal reported after the race weekend was finished the following interesting news a few days after the race took place:

“A total of 17 people were arrested or issued summonses during the TD Banknorth 250, including a man accused of assaulting a police officer.

“Chief Jon Tibbetts, of the Oxford Police Department, said officers from Norway, Paris and Oxford worked the event in 12-hour shifts. He said the Oxford Plains Speedway did not have private security this year.
“Police arrested 28-year-old Ryan M. Crump of Raymond early Sunday on charges of disorderly conduct and assault on an officer. Tibbetts said Crump struck Sgt. James Ventresca, of the Norway Police Department, three or four times in the head as Ventresca and other officers broke up a fight.

“Lt. Michael Dailey, of the Paris Police Department, said Ventresca was taken to Stephens Memorial Hospital for evaluation, but returned to work the same day. Crump remained at the Oxford County Jail on Monday.

“Police also charged 23-year-old Anthony Joseph Redfield of Norway as a fugitive from justice out of New Hampshire. Tibbetts said Redfield was arrested on a charge of operating under the influence when officers discovered that he had a warrant out for his arrest. According to an employee at the Rockingham County Superior Court (N.H.), Redfield had been charged in New Hampshire with possession of heroin and cocaine.

“The Oxford County Jail recorded 14 arrests at the Speedway between Friday and Sunday. Charges included disorderly conduct, warrants for operating after suspension and failure to appear in court, criminal threatening and violations of bail conditions.

“Last year, police arrested 12 people at the event and issued 16 summonses. In 2007, police made 17 arrests and issued 16 summonses.

“Tibbetts said the number of incidents at the event were low, considering 12,000 to 14,000 people came to see the weekend's races.

"It went very well," he said. "I'm very pleased with how it came out."

(The preceding passage that was quoted was written by M. Dirk Langeveld, Staff Writer for the Lewiston Sun Journal)

Eddie Mac's Attack on the 250 

Although Eddie MacDonald didn't win the 250 in 2008, he did lead 120 laps and pocketed $15,000 for his efforts.  This year's victory gave him $35,300 for a grand total of $50,300 after two TD Banknorth 250s.  He also has led 223 of the last 500 laps in the 250.

Shawn Martin Overcomes Flat in Heat Race to Post Top Five

After drawing outside pole for the second heat race, Shawn Martin thought his day was going pretty good.  His day then went from good to bad in the first few hundred feet of the opening lap of his heat - as he made contact with pole sitter Daniel Decoste, cutting his left rear tire sending him for a spin.  Martin managed to return to the race and qualified into the show during his consi.

“I was so upset after the heat race,” said Martin.  “There was no need for it.  The guy (Decoste) took me out right after we went green.  The guys kept me cool and kept me calm on the radio.  We rebounded, but the car wasn't very good with that left rear tire.  It didn't match up and the car was horrible.  We made some adjustments and got it in the show.”

Martin was fine once the feature event started.  He moved from the back of the pack to post a top five finish for the second straight year. It was the first time since Johnny Clark finished fourth and second in 2004 and 2005 that a driver had scored back-to-back top fives finishes in the 250. 

“We love this long distance racing stuff,” said Martin.  “The 40-lap stuff we are alright at, but we like doing the longer races.  I think I am a little too patient as a driver sometimes.  That tends to hurt me on the Saturday night shows.  It was a blast to have another top five after coming from deep in the field.” 

Ben Rowe and Others Test Oxford's Highest Groove

Ben Rowe knows all the way to get around Oxford.  The two-time 250 champion is always a contender in Maine's summer classic.  This year was different as the track was very racy with drivers using the entire racetrack thanks to track treatment substance that was sprayed to add grip.

“The third groove, the fourth groove you could run all the way up to the dirt tonight,” said Rowe who finished seventh.  “I was talking to Brent Dragon and he said he was so high could hear the rocks coming inside the car.”

Brian Hoar had an adventure in the high lane as well.

The third groove is not scary, but you do not want to overdo it,” said Hoar.  “I overdrove [turn] three late in the race and I was doing all I could to keep the car on the track in the closing laps of the race.” 
Local Favorite Has Short Day

Tim Brackett was hoping a return trip to Oxford would result in his first ever TD Banknorth 250 win.  When the dust settled after an early caution, he actually made the call to park the car early after problems left them several laps down and out of contention.  The 2005 Oxford Pro Stock champion ended up finishing dead last in the 43rd position

“The brake caliper broke,” said Brackett.  “We pinched off all the lines and tried to three-wheel it for a while.  It wasn't that bad for a while, but we were taking a chance out there.  We can still use the tires for another race se we decided to come in. It's not worth tearing up your car if you're going to finish way back.”

Wet Finish for Former Champion

Larry Gelinas had all the cards play in his favor in 1996 when he won the TD Banknorth 250.  Since then, things have been anything but pleasant.  2009 was no different as Gelinas was working his way through the pack when a trip off the top of the third turn ended up in the water hole.

“I just got too high there trying to go three wide around some cars,” said Gelinas.  “I got in the marbles and I went off the track.  We went off the edge and we didn't realize that there was a pond over there. Sometimes we can't get any luck.” 

Outside of his 1996 win, Gelinas has also posted a pair of top fives and total of five top 10 finishes in the TD Banknorth 250.

Harvick a No Show

2008 TD Banknorth 250 champion Kevin Harvick was a no show for this year's running of the 250.  It marked only the second time that the defending champion did not run the race the following season.  The first time was back in 1984, when Tommy Ellis did not return after his 1983 victory.

Welch Ends Up in the Heat

New Hampshire driver Quinney Welch came over from the Granite State looking for a good run at Oxford.  He left with a positive attitude and some stories of how everything seemed to go up in smoke in the feature. That left him 42nd in the final rundown. 

“We had an electrical fire go on underneath the hood,” said Welch.  “It burned up some spark plug wires and melted the oil breathers off.  Then we were running it with no throttle springs on it so I had to pull the throttle back with my foot. We came in, got new springs on it, went back out, and it caught on fire again.  That ended our day, but we had a good car.  It would have been a lot of fun to stay out there and race with them.  I think we had a top 10 car.  There is always next year.”

Donahue Rides to Third With the Aid of Veteran Dale Shaw

Dale Shaw may have never won the TD Banknorth 250, but it wasn't because of a lack of effort.  Shaw had four top 10 finishes at Oxford, including a second-place finish in 1992.  With his impressive numbers ACT driver John Donahue called upon Shaw to help call the shots at the top of his pit box during the race.  The combination proved to be profitable as they posted a podium finish in the 250.

“He (Shaw) doesn't like that job, but he's pretty good at it,” said Donahue. “He keeps me calm when he's up on the pit box.  We have been running Dale Shaw chases for two or the years now and Dale has just recently started helping us. I really don't want to go to the race track without him.  He's that big of a help.” 

Speed Shots

71 Cars attempted to Qualify, 43 made the race.

Eddie MacDonald became only the third driver from the state of Massachusetts to win the TD Banknorth 250.  Joey Kourafas (74) and Tom Rosati (79) were the two previous Massachusetts winners. 

Vermont drivers took four of the top 10 spots in this years TD Banknorth 250.

Patrick Laperle and Brian Hoar both finished in the top five after failing to qualify in 2006. For Hoar it was his first ever start.

Brent Dragon won $12,100 for finishing sixth after he started on the pole and led the first part of the race.  In all Dragon led 81 laps of this years TD Banknorth 250.

Canadian Patrick Laperle finished second making him the highest finish for a driver from north of the border since Dave Gorveatt finished sixth back in 2004. 

Joey Pole comes in for service at the 250.  (Eric LaFleche/VLFPhotos.com Photo)
Nick Sweet is pointed in the right direction, and the wrong one, in the 250.  (Leif Tillotson Photos)
Jpey Pole on track
Kenny Wallace  (Top - Leif Tillotson Photo) drove Ricky Rolfe's "Red" #51
Oxford Plains Speedway was a like a mid-sized city for 250 weekend.  (51 Photo)
Eddie MacDonald comes in to pit.   (51 Photo)
Shawn Martin's #94.   (51 Photo)
Larry Gelinas' hood goes up at Oxford.   (51 Photo)
"Crew chief" Dale Shaw   (51 Photo)
Patrick Laperle  (51 Photo)