Key Players For The 37th Annual TD Bank 250
Oxford Plains Speedway Classic is Set For July 18th
By Mike Twist & Elgin Traylor
There’s no telling just how many cars will show up for the 37th Annual Oxford 250, formally known now as the TD Bank 250, at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) this coming weekend.  It’s the biggest single sporting event in all of Maine – even topping attendance of an University of Maine Black Bears hockey game – and it is billed as the richest one-day short track stock car race on asphalt in the country.  You can expect anywhere from 80-100 cars this weekend .

We’d love to write about all of those entrants, but part of the 250 magic is that until the gates open on Saturday, you just don’t know who will show up.  Weekly Series runners from Oxford, Lee, Wiscasset, Waterford, Thunder Road, White Mountain, Riverside, Twin State, Seekonk and a number of Canadian tracks are legal to compete.  Cars from the ACT Late Model and ACT Quebec Series are legal.  There is a great pool of entrants to draw from and that means a high car count.

In honor of the 37th running of the race, we’ve decided to look at 37 different probably entries and tell you a little but more about them.  Now we aren’t even 100% sure all of these teams will show up and we know darn well that not all of them will make the race.  But the legendary heat races are part of the fun at Oxford, so even just competing in one of those is a big honor.  So without any more talk, here are some of the players of the 2010 TD Bank 250:

The Players

#0 - Bill Whorff Jr
Career Starts – 5
Best Finish – 2nd in 2006
Top 5’s - 1
Top 10’s -1

While his son took the win in 2006, Bill Whorff Jr. watched from just one step down on the podium.  Now he’s looking to return to Oxford to capture another win.  A multi-time winner in the old Pro Stocks division, including the final leg of the triple-crown in 2003, Whorff Jr. is a man to be reckoned with if all the cards fall his way.

#00 – Jeremie Whorff
Career Starts - 3
Best Finish – 2006 Winner
Top 5’s - 1
Top 10’s - 1

Jeremie Whorff still has a chance to be considered one of the better drivers to race in the 250.  Whorff scored an upset win in 2006 which has been the highlight of his career.  Since then, the car has changed and Whorff in no longer a regular at OPS.  That might play into his hands just like 2006 when nothing was expected as the driver who shocked the world in 2006.

#1 – Al Hammond
Career Starts - 9
Best Finish - 9th in 1979
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0

An OPS winner in five different decades, Hammond is a staple to the Oxford 250.  Although he’s never had a ton of success in the big race, he’s still looking for that solid finish or even a win in the summer classic.  A win for Hammond would likely be his final race if the stars were to line up just right on Sunday night. It would be a pretty popular win too.  

#03E – Travis Adams
Career Starts - 4
Best Finish – 11th in 2009
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0

Many look at Travis Adams as the modern day Jeff Taylor of Oxford Plains Speedway. Both are very dominant and both have struggled in the big race.  Taylor never won the 250 after nine track titles, so Adams still has time to make his mark.  In 2009, he had his best run, but was not satisfied.  This year, Adams has been on the road with the ACT Tour maybe that is what he’ll need to park his ride in victory lane.

#3 – Dennis Spencer, Jr.
Career Starts - 3
Best Finish – 5th in 2007
Top 5’s - 1
Top 10’s - 2

We’ve seen Dennis Spencer, Jr. win in everything from PASS Sportsman cars to Late Models.  This year, he’s getting the job done in the Late Model division at Oxford and could be a contender in the 250 as well.

#6 – Tommy Ricker
Career Starts - 3
Best Finish – 32nd in 2007
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0

The good news for Tommy Ricker is that he is leading the OPS points heading into the 250, which will get him in the show no matter what.  The bad news is that local standouts have had rough runs of it in the last few seasons.  Not since 2006, has a Maine driver gone to victory lane.  If Ricker gets through the crazy qualifying and ends up in the hunt for the win, he’ll be happy.  However, a trip to victory lane would create a very emotional scene.  Just a few years back Ricker was nearly in tears when he merely qualified for the race.  

#6VT Cris Michuad
Career Starts – 3
Best Finish – 8th in 2009
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 1

He’s kissed the cow in Vermont.  He’s been the King of the Road, but what about the 250?  Can he follow in the footsteps of Joey Kourafas or Dave Dion and win the 250?  He’s got the talent and last year’s top 10 can go a long way to learning how to win the 250.  Michaud may not be on anyone’s “A” list, but he should not be overlooked.  He even won a 250 heat race last time around. 


#7ME – Glen Luce
Career Starts - 4
Best Finish – 2nd in 2008
Top 5’s - 1
Top 10’s - 1

If not for Kevin Harvick, Glen Luce would be a winner in the Oxford 250.  Luce long carried the touch for the state of Maine on the ACT Tour and now he’s looking to be a part of history and win the $25,000 first-place prize.  Luce is in a good spot to fly under the radar as history shows favorites tend not to pay off in this race. 

#7VT – Eric Williams
Career Starts - 3
Best Finish – 17th in 2008
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0

If the ultimate low-buck racer could win the richest one-day asphalt short track race in the land, what a story it would be.  This is the kind of racer that the Oxford 250 was created for and the move back to Late Models a few years back ensured Williams a chance to chase 250 glory.  With his teenaged son as his crew chief, Williams can do more with less than most anyone.  Last season, he took a car that had little prep work done to it and charged from the back to dogging eventual race winner Brian Hoar at the Beech Ridge ACT race.  Beech Ridge and Oxford aren’t too different either. 

#8  Jeffrey Earnhardt
Career Starts – None
Best Finish – Rookie
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0

The late Dale Earnhardt did a lot of amazing things in his career, but coming to the Oxford 250 wasn’t one of them.  However, his grandson will now try to put the family name into the record books in his first appearance at the track.  Earnhardt, a former regular in what is now known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, will be driving in the 250 for Archie St. Hilaire’s Go Green Racing outfit.  This team fields entries in the East Series for Alan Tardiff and has put out NASCAR Nationwide Series entries for guys like Eddie MacDonald, Charles Lewandoski, Danny O’Quinn and others.  Their Late Model is a former Super Late Model that Tardiff won multiple races with at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway.  Kevin Lepage drove the car last year.  We’re also pretty sure that with a name like Earnhardt, a promoter’s option will be available so Jeffrey won‘t have to worry too much about the heat races.  Quite honestly, winning would be a major upset but maybe Earnhardt can ride to the finish and show well in his first Oxford experience.

#10 - Ben Rowe
Career Starts – 12
Best Finish – 1st - 2003,2004
Top 5’s - 5
Top 10’s - 7

Ben Rowe was born to race the Oxford 250.  Even with the change from Super Late Models to Crate Motored, ACT-spec Late Models cars, Rowe is still a factor.  The two-time 250 winner has five career top five finishes that include two runner-up finishes to go along with his 2003 and 2004 wins.  Rowe went from 32nd to seventh last season to score his seventh top-10 finish in his career.  Rowe is due for another win and it could come with the last minute decision to run the David Avery car again.

#11RI - Ryan Vanasse
Career Starts – None
Best Finish – Rookie
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0

Carrying the torch for Southern New England will be 2009 Seekonk Speedway (MA) Late Model champion Ryan Vanasse.  This personable young driver is a former regular on the ACT Late Model Tour, so he knows all
about going to different tracks.  He's fresh off his first PASS North start of the season earlier this week at Lee USA Speedway (NH) - where mechanical problems ended his night early.  The cool thing about the 250
is how guys from different tracks can come together and represent their home facilities.  We know that Vanasse will make his Seekonkers proud.

#12 Nick Brown
Career Starts - None
Best Finish – Rookie
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0

Nick Brown has stood in victory lane for the TD Bank 250 before.  He was a crew member for Jeremie Whorff’s winning effort in 2006.  The young driver is a student at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte for most of the year, but he returned home to Maine this summer to run a Late Model at Oxford with the 250 being the biggest highlight of his summer schedule.  Brown didn’t qualify for the recent ACT show at the track, but is hoping to avenge that disappointed with a good day in the 250.

#15VT - Joey Laquerre
Career Starts – 2
Best Finish – 13th in 2009
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0

He’s got over a dozen wins at Thunder Road and four on the ACT Tour so why not Oxford?  He been at this Late Model game for a while and that’s ok.  Dale Verrill was an unlikely runner-up a few years back and he would have won if there were three more laps.  Never count anyone out at Oxford, not even a craft veteran like Laquerre.

#17 – Eddie MacDonald
Career Starts - 3
Best Finish – 2009 Winner
Top 5’s - 1
Top 10’s - 2

On paper, Eddie MacDonald might be unbeatable.  He’s the defending 250 winner and has won both of the ACT Late Model races at Oxford so far this year.  But races aren’t run on paper.  MacDonald has had his bad days in a Late Model at Oxford before.  Just last fall, he struggled and fell off the lead lap of an ACT race there when a set-up that his team tried didn’t work.  On the other hand, Eddie Mac has two really big things going for him that could win him the race.  The first is his calm demeanor that allows him to focus through the extra-distance race.  The second is an amazing chemistry between himself and crew chief Rollie Lachance.  As the track changes, these two usually know exactly how to adjust their car for it.

#26 (?) – Brad Keselowski
Career Starts - None
Best Finish – Rookie
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0

There aren’t a lot of drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series these days who start their careers in a stock-framed racecar, but that’s what Brad Keselowski did in the Factory Stock divisions at Dixie Motor Speedway and Auto City Speedway in Michigan.  No, the ACT-spec Late Models aren't stock-framed these days, but they are the type of momentum racecars that Keselowski ran early in his career.  He might be the current “bad boy” of the big leagues, but Keselowski did come out of a racing family and knows what a big short track race is all about.  He’s coming to win, not just show, at the 250 and that will likely mean that he’ll finish his night near the front or on the back of a wrecker.  Don’t expect a 19th-place finish out of him.

#26VT – John Donahue
Career Starts -3
Best Finish – 3rd in 2009
Top 5’s - 1
Top 10’s - 1

Donahue is chasing history - looking to become only the fourth driver to win the Milk Bowl and the Oxford 250.  The others were Dave Dion, Butch Lindley, and Dick McCabe.  Having Crew Chief Dale Shaw in his corner it has been a very good combination in ACT Late Models.  Donahue has to be an “A” list driver going into this year’s race.  Does he have the luck?    

#26ME – Corey Morgan
Career Starts -3
Best Finish – 26th in 2009
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0

Morgan may be an unlikely pick to win the race, but we have seen upsets in the past.  Whorff, Robbins, Drew, Gelinas were all long shots, but they all won.  Morgan has won half dozen races at OPS and always finds his way into the event.    Once you get into the show any can happen.  Look at 1997 when they had 22 yellow flags.  Morgan can be a factor one way or another.  He placed well in the recent ACT Late Model race there too, so don’t count him out.

#27 – Wayne Helliwell, Jr. -
Career Starts - 2
Best Finish – 25th in 2005
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0

Carrying the banner of the 2009 track champion of Lee USA Speedway into the Oxford 250 is Wayne Helliwell, Jr.  The New Hampshire native has won multiple times at Lee this year and is used to taking his show on the road with starts at Waterford, Thunder Road and even Wall Stadium in the past 12 months.  He’s quick to adapt to new surroundings, but a pair of 250 starts in his past gives him some experience to draw front.  We think he can make the big show and if he does, expect for his best finish of 25th in the race to change to a much lower number.

#37 - Brian Hoar
Career Starts - 1
Best Finish – 4th in 2009
Top 5’s - 1
Top 10’s - 1

Hoar comes into the 250 on the heels of two straight ACT Late Model victories.  Last year was his first appearance in the 250 and he finished fourth.  We think that makes him a quick learner as a roo….well, we hesitate to call one of the most accomplished drivers in ACT Late Model history a rookie, even if he made his first 250 start last year.  We will say that Hoar is a contender anywhere he goes, so this year’s 250 ought to be no different.

#48 – Karl Allard
Career Starts - 3
Best Finish – 14th in 2007
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0

Karl Allard went three in a row in the ACT Quebec Series not too long ago this season and the last we knew, he owns the car that Kevin Harvick drove to victory lane in the race two years ago.  So he’s a proven winner with proven equipment.  That might equal into a solid run. 

#51 – Ricky Rolfe
Career Starts – 7
Best Finish – 2nd in 2004
Top 5’s - 1
Top 10’s - 1

Rolfe is a crafty veteran who could be a “B” list pick to win the 250.  When it’s your day in the big race everything has to line up just right, but that was not the case for Rolfe in 2009 as he was the first driver out of the race.  Perhaps this year will be the turn around and he can go to the top of the chart.  He was the runner up to Ben Rowe in the 2004 running of the event.  He beat out Matt Kenseth for the that spot. 

#52 - Miles Chipman
Career Starts – None
Best Finish – Rookie
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0

He may be a 250 rookie, but he heads to Oxford with a lot of momentum after scoring a win on the ACT Tour.  Chipman made his name know at Lee in the Late Models and now looks to head to Oxford as a dark horse contender.


#55ME – Kurt Hewins
Career Starts - 2
Best Finish – 28th 2007
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0

We aren’t sure if Kurt Hewins will even enter the Oxford 250 this year, but if he does watch out.  Hewins is known as being a full throttle driver who occasionally raises the ire of race officials and a few fellow competitors.  He’s led the 250 before and currently leads the point standings in Oxford’s Strictly Stock division.

#55VT – Brent Dragon
Career Starts - 3
Best Finish – 6th in 2009
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 3

Brent Dragon has never finished in the top five at the Oxford 250.  Think that stat works against him?  Well consider this – he’s never finished outside the top ten in any of his three 250 starts either.  Dragon already knows how to get into the show at Oxford and how to finish 250 laps with his car still under him.  Could 2010 be the year that he takes the next step and contends for the victory in the final stretch of the race?  We wouldn’t bet against him.

#57 – Austin Theriault 
Career Starts - None
Best Finish – Rookie
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0

A few years back, Ryan Moore copped a podium finish as an Oxford 250 rookie.  Well, there is now another Maine driver who could possibly equal that fete.  Austin Theriault is from so far up in Maine (Fort Kent) that he is practically a Canadian, but he’ll be towing down to Oxford County this weekend with plenty of talent in tow.  This teen has run strong and led laps at Oxford in ACT races and also shown well in a few PASS North starts as well.  We think he’s the real deal and he might just prove that by doing well in the 250.

#60 and #61 – The Brackett Family
Career Starts – 14 ( Tim 13)
Best Finish – 5th in 1999
Top 5’s - 1
Top 10’s - 1

We’ve grouped father Tim Brackett and son T.J. Brackett together for the purposes of this exercise.  Tim is one of the most accomplished drivers in Oxford history.  He was a standout in the Pro Stock days, placing fifth in the 1999 Oxford 250, and has adapted quite well to the Late Models.  Son T.J. had been racing down at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) in a Pro Series (Super Late Model) machine, but returned to Oxford this year for a limited Late Model schedule.  T.J. was one of the few drivers who could run strong in the bottom groove in the recent Oxford ACT race and he’s a set-up wizard thanks to mentor Seth Holbrook. 

#63 Don Wentworth
Career Starts – 2
Best Finish – 28th in 2009
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0

The best way to describe Don Wentworth is as a Ricky Rudd type driver.  Wentworth hasn’t visited victory lane at Oxford since 2007.  He won at least one race in seven of eight season at Oxford during the last decade.  He enters 250 weekend fourth in the Late Model points and has a ton of confidence.  A solid finish is very possible for Wentworth. 

#78 - Quinney Welch
Career Starts – 2
Best Finish – 31st in 2008
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0

Welch is a standout Late Model driver from White Mt. Motorsports Park looking to cash in on the big Late Model prize at Oxford.  In two starts he’s had very little success in the big race, but maybe this is his year.  New Hampshire drivers have visited victory lane with only two other names, Roger Brown and Dave Dion.


#80VT Donald Theetge
Career Starts – 1
Best Finish – 37th in 2009
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0

Canadians have always run well at the 250, but it’s not been pretty for many years for the boys from the north.  Patrick Laperle’s runner-up finish was a step in the right direction.  Theetge hopes to be that guy as he comes in with three top five finishes in four starts in 2010.  The two-time ACT Castrol Champion hopes that the 250 will be his big breakthrough.  Last year’s experience can only take him so far.  A good draw will be needed to make him a contender.

#88ME - Jeff Taylor
Career Starts – 12
Best Finish – 2nd in 1995
Top 5’s - 1
Top 10’s - 8

Nine-time track champion Jeff Taylor will go down in history as one of the best to ever run at Oxford Plains Speedway.  One thing that is not on his list of achievements is the 250.  He was always in the hunt, but never landed in victory lane.  1995 was the closest he ever came to scoring win when he was the bridesmaid  to Dave Whitlock.  Rumors have surfaced that Taylor will be there on Sunday.  Maybe after all these years he can score that big win.

#88VT – Nick Sweet
Career Starts - 1
Best Finish – 16th in 2009
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0

Nick Sweet finished 16th in last year’s 250, but that result was misleading because he was very strong in the race.  This year, he’s coming with even more ammo.  Sweet has been on a tear in the Late Model division at his hometrack of Thunder Road Speedbowl (VT) and won his first ACT race there earlier this year.  He seems to have learned Oxford pretty well too and could be a threat this year.

#89 - Derek Kneeland
Career Starts – None
Best Finish – Rookie
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s -0

You can go home again.  At least if you are Derek Kneeland.  The former Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) regular has made a career in big time racing down south as a spotter for outfits like Turner Motorsports and
Joe Gibbs Racing.  But as a Maine driver, there is one race that he's always dreamed about - the 250.  With the help of NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Brian Scott, Kneeland built a brand new car to attempt to get into this year's show.  He tried it out at the recent ACT race at OPS, but still had to dial it in and didn't qualify. He's worked hard since then and successfully qualifying for the 250 would be a dream come true for him.  We wish him the best too because what's better than witnessing a dream realized?

#91 – Patrick Laperle
Career Starts - 6
Best Finish – 2nd in 2009
Top 5’s - 1
Top 10’s - 2

If sheer desire is the only thing needed to win the TD Bank Oxford 250 then you might as well engrave Patrick Laperle’s name on this year’s trophy right now.  Laperle wants to win this race so damn bad and you can tell it every time that you talk to him.  He drove the wheels off his car trying to catch winner Eddie MacDonald in last year’s race.  Did he learn anything there that can help him finish one spot higher this time around?  Ask us on Monday.

#94 – Shawn Martin
Career Starts -5
Best Finish – 4th in 2008
Top 5’s - 2
Top 10’s - 2

Sleeper?  Shawn Martin has told Speed51.com on several occasions that he enjoys the extra distance races and OPS has always been his home.  He heads into the 250 weekend sixth in the track point standings hoping to pull that luck pill a year ago.  He recovered from a flat tire in his heat race last year to finish fifth in the 250.  Keep him in your mind when you make your picks in the parking lot prior to the race.  Martin will be there and with any luck will take the trophy back to Turner, Maine a place where it has been five times with the likes of Mike and Ben Rowe.

#97 – Joey Pole
Career Starts - 2
Best Finish – 3rd in 2008
Top 5’s - 1
Top 10’s - 1

Ok, maybe this is what Joey Pole needs to be in the mix and not the hands down favorite.  Last year he was riding in the hunt when he got run off the track in turn four ending his bid at a 250 win.  Pole has been trying his hand in NASCAR’s East series and has only been in his black #97 a few times this season.  Despite missing a race, Pole is fourth in ACT points as he heads to OPS.

At Large (Field)
Career Starts – Many
Best Finish – A few
Top 5’s - ?
Top 10’s -?

We will admit that we are not experts here at Speed51.com and handicapping a big event like the Oxford 250 is much harder than a horse race.  We left one spot open to handle the rest of the field or the at large.  Every so often the shockers make their names know on 250 Sunday.  Guys like Nick Nichols, Dale Verrill, Larry Gelinas and so one make their mark in historic runs.  Will there be a big sleeper in 2010?  Could we have an upset?  Head to Oxford to find out. 





Jeremie Whorff won the 2006 Oxford 250.
Travis Adams has won several track titles at Oxford.
"Two Lap" Tommy Ricker leads the OPS points heading into the 250. 
Eddie MacDonald won last year's TD Bank 250 and is the heavy favorite to win again in 2010.
Cris Michaud hopes to transfer past sucess at Thunder Road a few hours East to Oxford, Maine.
Maybe Eric Williams will win this year's 250.
Jeffrey Earnhardt will be a 250 rookie.
Ben Rowe won back in 2003 and 2004.
Eddie Mac won in 2009.
Brad Keselowski will be the lone NASCAR star this weekend at Oxford. 
John Donahue is a worthy pick after winning last year's Milk Bowl.
Brian Hoar will look to make the 250 for only the second time after finishing fourth a year ago.
Ricky Rolfe will be looking for his 8th 250 start. 
Miles Chipman could be a big sleeper like he was at Lee. 
Brent Dragon was sixth in 2009.
Austin Theriault will be a 250 rookie this year.
Tim Brackett has the laps, but it might be TJ Brackett's year.
Quinney Welch will look to make the show again at the 250.
Nick Sweet hopes to make his second Oxford 250.
Joey Pole will be back to try and get the 250 this year.
Patrick Laperle was second a year ago, can he finally win it?
Shawn Martin already has two top five runs in the 250.