As race fans and crew members walked through the pit area at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) on Friday afternoon, one car seemed to stick out like a sore thumb. Maybe it was because not many expected the car or the driver to be there. Maybe it was because the driver is a legend at the famed 3/8-mile Oxford, Maine oval. Maybe it was both. Either way, seeing nine-time track champion Jeff Taylor back in a Super Late Model was a pleasant surprise for many.
Taylor, who owns and operates Distance Racing Products in Fairfield, Maine, was behind the wheel of his signature green No. 88 on Friday for the first time since 2012. The 48-year-old will be piloting a brand new Super Late Model during the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) North season-opening event, which will see the green flag at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday.
On the track, not much is different for Oxford’s fifth most-winningest driver of all-time. Getting back in a race car for the first time in nearly three years didn’t appear to be a challenge for Taylor. With all of his laps around Oxford Plains Speedway throughout his career, one might say he could make his way around the track blindfolded.
Making an appearance on Speed51.com’s Periscope broadcast from the track on Friday, Taylor told fans that the biggest challenge for him wasn’t behind the wheel, but instead shaking down and preparing a new car for Sunday’s race.
Taylor’s last start, according to 51’s The Third Turn, came during an American-Canadian Tour event at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) on July 28, 2012. He finished second that race.
One week before that, the native of Farmington, Maine finished second in the Oxford 250, a race that he’s qualified for 15 times without recording a win. With nine track championships and 74 career wins at Oxford Plains Speedway on his resume, a win in the prestigious $25,000-to-win event seems to be all that he is missing.
Taylor considered this weekend’s event at Oxford as a good tune up for the Oxford 250. He told Speed51.com powered by JEGS that he’s not sure exactly how much racing he’ll be able to do this year, but the Oxford 250 is one that he knows he’ll be in attendance for.
BRACKETT STAYS BUSY ON THE TRACK AND OFF
2014 Oxford Plains Speedway Pro Late Model champion T.J. Brackett didn’t have a whole lot of extra time to spare on Friday afternoon at Oxford Plains Speedway. Brackett, who owns and operates TJ Brackett Motorsports, not only had his own car to take care of, but also five additional cars requiring his chassis and setup expertise.
After taking his car out during the first practice session of the day, the Buckfield, Maine native stepped away from his car for a session or two in order to assist his customers at the track. Father Tim Brackett (PASS), Shawn Knight (PASS), Boomer Morris (ACT), Kyle DeSouza (PASS) and Reid Lanpher (PASS) were some of the drivers that Brackett was lending some sort of assistance to throughout the six-hour long practice day at the 3/8-mile oval.
POLEWARCZYK, STEARNS STAY BUSY WITH DOUBLE-DUTY EFFORT
Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. and Travis Stearns were two of the busiest drivers on the track during Friday’s practice day at Oxford Plains Speedway. The two are currently the only two drivers on the grounds who will attempt to race a combined 300 laps (150-lap PASS feature and 150-lap ACT feature) on Sunday afternoon.
Despite both being near the top of the ACT speed charts throughout the day, both drivers were actually happier with the speed displayed by their Super Late Model. This comes as a surprise, as both drivers have competed regularly with ACT Late Models and part-time with Super Late Models.
Coincidentally, Polewarczyk’s brother-in-law and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Austin Theriault was in the pit area lending a hand and turning wrenches for the Stearns team on Friday.
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
The sight of American-Canadian Tour Late Models and Pro All Stars Series Super Late Models in the same pit area is still somewhat of an unbelievable sight. Nobody ever expected it to happen and until fans actually see the product on the track, many may still consider it a dream.
When Tom Mayberry and Tom Curley came together this offseason to announce a working relationship between the two rival touring series, it served as a breath of fresh air for Late Model racing in the region.
Now, after rebounding from a harsh winter, the time has finally come to see both of these touring series at the same track on the same day. History will be made at Oxford Plains Speedway on Sunday and we at Speed51.com encourage short track racing fans everywhere to make their way out for this one-of-a-kind event.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com