Allen Lessels on Motor Sports: Oxford Plains gains national attention
Local son Eddie MacDonald squeezed out a couple of prestigious wins between the trophies pulled down by NASCAR Sprint Cup stars Kevin Harvick in 2008 and Kyle Busch last July.
MacDonald, who races out of Rowley Mass. and grew up at Lee USA Speedway that is owned by his parents, held off all challengers to triumph in the TD Bank Oxford 250 in 2009 and 2010.
Some 100 cars featuring the region's best stock car drivers will be back at it again this afternoon at Oxford Plains Speedway trying to qualify for tonight's main event in the 39th running of the 250.
“It's known nationwide, not just in New England,” said Joey “Joey Pole” Polewarczyk of Hudson. “Everyone knows about it and everyone wants to win. I don't know what winning would get me, but it definitely wouldn't hurt. And the payday is nice.”
The 250 pays $25,000 to win and lap payouts can conceivably double that.
Trevor Bayne, the winner of the 2011 Daytona 500, is in the field along with MacDonald, Pole and Wayne Helliwell Jr. of Dover and dozens of other contenders for the win.
Helliwell and Pole are running one-two in the American-Canadian Tour standings. The 250 is not a points event for the ACT.
MacDonald was fourth last year, Pole 15th and Helliwell 16th.
Hudson's Dave Dion won the second 250 in 1975 and added victories in 1985 and 1992 as well. Chuck Bown won a couple while he was racing out of Franconia and Jamie Aube, who has raced out of Manchester, won a pair, too. Roger Brown of Lancaster was the last New Hampshire winner in 2007.
Pole's best finish was a third in 2008 in the race win by Harvick.
“I really feel this could be our best shot at it this year,” Pole said. “We were second in an ACT race up there last month and the car was really good.”
He and his team went back to test a week and a half ago. “We learned a lot,” Pole said. “We weren't setting record times, but in the past we've been there and not had a real good feel for the car on the track. We're getting there.”
Pole was at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last weekend, helping out Steve Dickey of Londonderry, who was making his debut on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
Dickey started the race 33rd and finished 23rd.
It wasn't easy being at NHMS and not racing, said Pole, who is 23 and recently got engaged to be married.
He'll be back in September and plans to be on the track for at least one of the three races on Saturday, Sept. 22.
Pole will compete in the ACT Invitational that afternoon and hopes to land a deal that will let him race in the K&N Pro Series East race as well.
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The racing schedule at NHMS has been tweaked for September, similar to how it was for last week's event.
NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series, long a fixture at the fall Cup race, will not be making an appearance and instead is part of a doubleheader with the Nationwide Series at Kentucky Motor Speedway that weekend.
The three races at NHMS on Saturday will be the F.W. Webb Modified 100, the New Hampshire 100 K&N Pro Series East and the ACT Invitational.
“We feel pretty good about the schedule,” said Jerry Gappens, NHMS executive vice president and general manager. “Some people have asked about the trucks and they might come back next year. But this gives us an opportunity to showcase the regional series.”
Mike Stefanik held off Ron Silk in another wild Modified finish last weekend.
“That was outstanding and the Modified race will be more of a feature event,” Gappens said. “The ACT race last year was one of the best races of the weekend and the K&N has been developing a lot of talent and I like that they have a chance to run on Saturday instead of being kind of hidden on Friday and trying to race against the darkness.”
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Hampstead's Andy Seuss, who was seventh in the Modified race on Saturday, plans to be back in September to try again.
The seventh was his best finish at NHMS.
That was pretty cool,” Seuss said. “We needed that.”
Seuss was running in a seven-car pack at the end of the race
“We closed in on them while they were racing hard,” Seuss said. “I was looking for a spot to go, but at the same time I didn't want to get shuffled back.”
Seuss is a regular on the Southern Whelen Modified Tour and has had some tough luck this season and sits 13th in points with five races down and six to go. The series is off until Aug. 4.
Seuss also competes on the Sprint Cars of New England series and will race with that group on the dirt at Legion Speedway in Wentworth today.
Matt Robie of Hill was the seventh winner in seven races in the series in the last event at Bear Ridge in Bradford, Vt., on July 7. Dan Douville of Bridgewater leads the standings and Seuss is 12th in points.
Allen Lessels covers motor sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.