OXFORD, Maine – Looks like I'm not the only one here at Oxford Plains Speedway today. Word from track officials is that there are 82 Late Models entered in the 38th running of the TD Bank Oxford 250.
Roughly half that many will actually make tonight's main event, and then the winner will hoist a check for $25,000, plus lap leader bonuses.
It's a pretty impressive entry list once again, as it is every year, and it's bigger than last year's entry list that didn't hit 80. Topping that entry list, of course, is NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch, who is making his third Oxford 250 appearance.
Some of the other notables in this field include Eddie MacDonald, who has won the last two Oxford 250s, a pair of 7-time ACT Late Model Tour champions in Jean Paul Cyr and Brian Hoar, reigning NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion Keith Rocco, 9-time Oxford Plains Speedway track champion Jeff Taylor, Thunder Road champion Nick Sweet, White Mountain Motorsports Park champion Quinny Welch and on and on and on....
Some notes from the pit area this morning:
IN CASE YOU weren't here last night, a huge crowd was on hand for the return of PASS-sanctioned Super Late Model racing at Oxford. Busch started on the pole for the Brackett Mechanical 150, had a great battle with Patrick Laperle and ultimately posted his first career win at the track. Also not surprising, he was roundly booed during pre-race introductions.
He handled that with a shrug and a chuckle, then promptly bowed with the checkered flag in Victory Lane.
SOUNDS LIKE THE biggest key to today for any team is going to be being able to run the bottom groove on this notoriously one-groove race track. In recent years, Oxford had become the domain of those drivers both willing and able to run either the second or third grooves (read: MacDonald, Joey Polewarczyk).
All day during Saturday practice, Late Models were running that second groove. Heck, they still have been this morning. But drivers like Polewarczyk have said that if you're going to win, you're going to have have to be able to pass guys on the bottom.
Jeff White did that the last time the ACT Late Model Tour was here, and he won.
MACDONALD RACED IN the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East inaugural event at Columbus, Ohio, last night and got to Oxford this morning just in time to take a few laps during the second practice session.
The team started the season with a brand new Late Model, hated it, and have gone back to the old faithful No. 17. It hasn't gotten a lot of work this season, so we'll have to see if that's good or bad for the Grimm Racing folks.
Qualifying begins at 2 p.m. with six heat races.