OXFORD, Maine (August 22, 2019) – It’s the big one in New England. It is the Super Late Model race that is discussed all season long. Its history and prominence are so great that racers all across North America simply refer to it as “The 250.” Entering this weekend’s 46th edition of the Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway, the race’s “prestige factor” continues to grow. Celebrating the victory after 250 laps on the 3/8ths-mile egg-shaped oval in Oxford, Maine, is more coveted than ever.
“I try to keep my emotions in check in everything I do, especially when I’m at the race track,” said Hudson, New Hampshire, racer Derek Griffith, a second-year member of the Kulwicki Driver Development Program. “But to tell you the truth, I know I’ll cry if I can win it. It would mean so much to me and my team. It would be a dream come true.
“I know the tears would come because that track has beat me up so much through the years,” continued Griffith. “Since I came over to the PASS Series (Pro All Stars Series) on a full-time basis, I’ve logged more laps on that track than anywhere, but I’ve had the worst luck there than any place we race.
“I must have raced there about 30 times overall, but this will be only my fourth 250,” Griffith added. “Through the years, we’ve had fast race cars there, but never had the luck we needed.”
For Griffith, the 22-year-old hard charger who has three PASS North SLM victories and is fourth in points, he feels like the timing couldn’t be better to pull out of his garage and make the 2½-hour haul up the road to Oxford.
“I’m really happy to be going back there this weekend with the way we’ve been running lately,” said Griffith, who is tied for third in the most recent 2019 Kulwicki Cup point standings, after finishing sixth in last year’s KDDP competition. “We have picked up so much and made so many gains over the last few times we’ve raced there.
“I honestly think that the best race we’ve ever run there was the last one back on August 11,” Griffith said of the makeup race held at Oxford from the July 30th Star Speedway postponement. “It was a race where we earned everything we got. It was as consistent as we’ve ever been at Oxford. The rundown shows that we finished sixth, but I think we had a car capable of maybe even taking a podium spot. There were 40 cars there and we made it all the way up to where we were battling it out with DJ Shaw for sixth. We were beating and banging so hard that it made the race highlights on Speed 51. We were on Eddie MacDonald’s bumper for fifth and could have muscled our way on by, but we settled for sixth.
“We were so happy with the way we ran that day,” said Griffith. “It gave us such a boost of confidence knowing that the next time we raced there would be in the 250. That was two weeks ago and we’re as pumped up as ever about going to race at Oxford.”
Although the most recent visit to Oxford Plains Speedway provided a huge boost to his psyche, Griffith knows exactly what to expect when he takes to the track again for Friday’s opening practice.
“It’s a finicky old race track, that’s for sure,” offered Griffith with a chuckle. “It’s the only place I know where you can bolt on a new set of tires and actually go slower. The sun can come out and the track changes drastically. You can wind up chasing yourself if you know what I mean. There really are no straightaways much to consider. You’re constantly sliding on edge, sometimes turning more with the throttle than the wheel. When you think about the history there, it’s like one driver can get a great handle on it for a couple of years, then he sorta falls totally out of the picture there.
“As for our team overall this season, we’re really happy with our Fury Race Cars chassis that we debuted at the (Snowball) Derby last December,” Griffith added. “We just seemed to get a really good feel for what it takes to go fast right from the start. We raced that same car at New Smyrna back during Speed Weeks in February and ran really well. We won the big feature there (February 16 Orange Blossom 100) and did so against ‘the man’ (SLM World Series Champion Bubba Pollard), so we’re pretty happy with the way our season has gone so far.
“But like I said, a win there on Sunday would definitely be the highlight of my career and I get teary-eyed just thinking about it,” Griffith said.
For 22-year-old Hantsport, Nova Scotia, driver Cole Butcher, a win in Sunday’s 250-lap battle would be “indescribable,” he says.
“When I think of the biggest Super Late Model races out there, I immediately think of the Snowball Derby and the Oxford 250,” said Butcher, a two-time Kulwicki competitor and the only driver to date to claim the prestigious KDDP “Wheelman” Award. “To win there on Sunday would be the biggest day in my career, for sure. I’d be the happiest guy on the planet.”
Butcher has spent the 2019 season racing part-time on the tough Parts for Trucks Maritime Pro Stock Tour where he won championships in 2016 and 2018. Much of his emphasis this year has been in coaching along younger brother, Jarrett, who is contending for the series points title.
Instead of competing in the July 13 Irving Oil 150 Pro Stock Tour race at Petty International Raceway in River Glade, New Brunswick, Butcher and his No. 53 Atlantic Tiltload Team could be found that weekend at Oxford Plains Speedway. They were shaking down a brand-new (Distance Chassis) race car the team has prepared for the Oxford 250.
Butcher and his new ride were fastest in practice, won their heat race and finished 10th in the 150-lap PASS Super Late Model feature. The team has been tweaking on their new car back at the race shop ever since in preparation for this weekend.
“I feel good about this week,” Butcher said. “We’ve always been fast there, but tire problems have bitten us so many times. This new car was really fast out of the box and we can’t wait to get back there. If we can have a problem-free race, I’m confident we can contend for the win. I’m really optimistic about this weekend’s 250 and our chances.”
Dave Farrington Jr. will be making his seventh career Oxford 250 start on Sunday. The 26-year-old Jay, Maine, driver has been focusing on winning another Pro Series points title at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway this season and is only eight points out of the lead with four races remaining.
“We’ve only ventured up to Oxford Plains Speedway one time this year and that trip really paid off for us,” said Farrington, who finished fifth in the inaugural 2015 Kulwicki Cup points and claimed the runner-up spot in 2016 after being voted in for a second consecutive season. “They held a race there on July 7 called the ‘Open 100’ that was supposed to be a non-winners Oxford 250 qualifier, but they opened it up and started around 30 cars. Curtis Gerry, who won the 250 in 2017 and is the man to beat in Super Late Models at the track, won the race, but we came home a strong second and earned a guaranteed starting spot for this weekend’s race.
“That was a real fun race and I was really proud of our performance in our new Distance Chassis car we brought out this season,” said Farrington, who was the Beech Ridge Pro Series and Maine State Champion in 2014. “We used a lot of patience and found an outside groove that really worked for us late in the race. We were able to pass several of the strongest cars and got around Eddie MacDonald for the runner-up position during the final laps.
“Just making the starting field for the 250 is an accomplishment in itself and this weekend’s race will be seven of the last eight races that we’ve made it,” Farrington said. “Our best finish to date was back in 2012 when we came home sixth. We’ve had cars capable of finishing in the top five several times, but innocently got caught up in crashes that spoiled our day.
“The 250 is somewhat of an endurance race and survival is so key,” said Farrington. “The only way you can win is by being the first guy to finish all the laps.
“Just look at what Bubba Pollard did in winning the race last year,” Farrington said. “It was truly inspirational. He never could get his car handling like he wanted during all the practice sessions, but he never gave up. They just kept on working on it. Then there’s the draw for the qualifying heat races. You can have fast cars and get a lousy draw. That was certainly the case with Bubba. He made the 250, but started way back in the pack. His car got better as the race went on and at the end of the day, he was the first guy to finish all 250 laps. He’s one of the greatest short-track racers ever and he definitely proved it there last year.
“For us to win the 250, it would take a perfect day…from the luck of the draw on,” Farrington concluded. “If I won, I honestly can’t put in words how emotional I’d be. It would be my career-defining moment at the race track, that’s for sure.”
Super Late Model action at Oxford kicks off with practice on Friday with six 20-minute sessions scheduled between noon and 6:05 p.m. Saturday’s SLM practice is scheduled for three 30-minute sessions between 10 a.m. till 3:00 p.m. Sunday’s first of three 20-minute practice sessions begins at 9 a.m. Heat races begin at 1:30 p.m. with SLM “consi” races and a “last chance” battle also on the docket. The 46th annual Oxford 250 is expected to get the green flag at 4 p.m. EDT on Sunday.
Six different divisions (including the American-Canadian Tour and the Tri-Track Open Modified Series) will be in action on Saturday during “The Night Before The 250.” The PASS Super Late Models and five other divisions will be battling it out on Sunday. The Oxford 250 drivers’ meeting is set for Sunday at 12:35 p.m. and the draw for qualifying heat race starting spots will take place immediately following. Race fans who can’t make the journey to Maine will be able to catch all of the action on both days via a live, pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.com. Live video tickets for the race can be purchased now by visiting the site & clicking on the link.
-KDDP Press Release
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/John A. Miller