In one the major epicenters for Late Model racing in New England, Oxford Plains Speedway and the State of Maine are two locations you seldom connect with Tour-type Modified racing. But, there is some history, most recently with the Valenti Modified Racing Series, which made seven appearances at the track from 2007 to 2016.
Now in 2019 and on one of the greatest weekends in all of short track racing, the “Mighty Modifieds” are coming back to Oxford on “The Night Before the Oxford 250” this Saturday, August 24. This time around, it will be the Tri-Track Open Modified Series which will be presenting the 100-lap show and paying a healthy $6,000 to the race winner.
Many of the more than 30 expected drivers have never competed at Oxford, including the three Tri-Track winners in 2019: Matt Hirschman, Ronnie Williams, and Ron Silk. But there are those who have logged their fair share of laps in those previous MRS sanctioned races.
One of which is MRS great Kirk Alexander, who won on the night before the 2007 Oxford 250 in his Modified. He even has experience in the 250 itself back in his full-bodied racing days, although that was even longer ago.
“It’s been quite a while, so I’m looking forward to racing up there again. It’s good fun,” Alexander said. “I actually ran the Oxford 250 itself back in the Pro Stock days back in 1997. It’s a good time, I enjoy the track. Not a lot of straightaway, it’s just a circle, which is different than everybody is used to racing on. Always nice going somewhere different.”
For the 2019 Tri-Track campaign, Alexander broke new ground, teaming with the Perry family to race their No. 76 Modified. While the results have not shown in the first half of the year, Alexander is confident that the potential is there for success, and that this weekend may be just the opportunity he and the team have been looking to seize.
“They are a great bunch of people,” he stated. “I enjoy racing with them; the cars have been really good. It has been getting better and better every time we go out. I’m getting more used to it. It’s going well.”
At the same time, the West Swanzey, New Hampshire champion also sees Saturday’s 100-lap contest as a great opportunity for both the Tri-Track Series and Oxford Plains Speedway to showcase the talent of Modified racing once again to a different part of New England, while helping to raise the bar of the entire 250 weekend once again.
“I think it is a good move because I honestly think the Tri-Track Modified shows are as some of the best going right now,” Alexander said. “They got a lot of talent in there, there are plenty of teams that are capable of winning. A win this weekend at Oxford, it would be off the charts, I would say. It would be great.”
Another driver looking for a great opportunity to take his first Tri-Track Modified victory on Saturday is another former MRS champion and Oxford winner, Anthony Nocella. The Woburn, Massachusetts driver won the last two MRS races run at Oxford, both during the 2016 season, with the last on 250 weekend.
Nocella returns to Oxford knowing that it is a track that he knows well and enjoys driving on.
“We’ve won the last two times we’ve been up there, but it has been a few years since MRS was there,” Nocella said. “I’m hoping that plays into our favor so we can unload quick. The first time we went there way back we were also pretty quick. I don’t know if I like the style of the track, or if it’s just different. But, you really got to drive the place, be smooth, patient, and be able to move around on the track.”
Winning on the “Night Before the 250” once was something that Nocella will remember in his career. This time around, with a big field of cars and $5,000-to-win, a win this weekend will be just as memorable.
“The last time we won up there was during the Oxford 250 weekend, and it was pretty awesome. You get a great crowd, but a different set of eyes. I think being able to win this Tri-Track race would be even bigger, hopefully a bigger crowd than last time, probably get more Modified fans to travel. Got a big purse and some tough competition.”
He is also confident that those in attendance, including the home state fans who are accustomed to seeing fantastic Pro All Stars Series Super Late Model racing will be in for one great treat from the “Mod Squad.”
“With this field of cars, it should be a great show for the fans. It’s a real racy track for any kind of car, including Modifieds. We can easily run two and three wide. I think we got what it takes to bring the checkered flag back home.”
Race fans from all across the land can see all of the racing Saturday on “The Night Before the 250” including the Tri-Track Open Modified Series, American-Canadian Tour Late Models and more live on Speed51’s two-day pay-per-view broadcast, which will take you right into the 46th Annual Oxford 250 on Sunday, August 25.
Click here to order your pay-per-view video tickets today.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / Derrick Canfield
Tri-Track Open Modified Series Expected Entries
02 - Geoff Rollins
04 - Joey Jarvis
05 - Jacob Dore
3 - Matt Swanson
3 - Matt Galko
4 - Jeff Gallup
6 - Woody Pitkat
7 - Andrew Charron
7 - Kurt Vigeant
9 - Tommy Barrett
12 - Steven Dickey
16 - Colbey Fournier
21 - Les Hinckley
25 - Brian Robie
25 - Calvin Carroll
25 - Ronnie Williams
27 - Anthony Sesely
27 - Derek Robbie
33 - Bill Dixon
35 - Kris Watson
48 - Jon Kievman
50S - Ron Silk
50 - Carl Medeiros Jr.
60 - Matt Hirschman
63 - CJ Bolton
66 - Andy Shaw
71 - Brad Babb
76 - Kirk Alexander
82 - Larry Barnett
88 - Russ Hersey
92 - Anthony Nocella
99 - Richard Savary
573 - Andy Jankowiak