With the 2017 short track season just a few weeks from going green here in the Great State of Maine, it’s time to take a look at some details on who’s racing where and in which class.
There are a number of interesting new features to discuss, as well, like the Quad Crown program for Street Stock teams with two races each at Oxford and Beech Ridge. That promises to deliver plenty of great racing from the host of veteran teams this region has within its boundaries.
So how are plans coming together for 2017?
“We plan to run the PASS 150 in April at Oxford, and hopefully finish on the lead lap while fighting for a top-10 finish,” Auburn native Kyle Treadwell said. “We’re going to run weekly at Oxford, and the goal is to stay consistent with speed, and win multiple races, something we haven’t done since moving to Super Late Models.
“With consistent speed and multiple wins, we should put ourselves in position to fight for another championship and hopefully come out on top this time. Of course we’ll attempt to qualify for our fourth Oxford 250 in as many tries in late August. If everything goes well, we will be traveling to Hickory in November to race in the Mason Dixon Meltdown 300.”
Treadwell will have another former Street Stock warrior to contend with this year in the headline class. Calvin Rose Jr. is stepping up to a Super Late Model this year after earning the 2016 Street Stock title.
“We’re pretty excited to get started,” Rose said. “There will be a learning curve ahead, but we have some guys who will point us in the right direction. Our goal is to earn a top-5 finish, maybe even a top-3 would be nice. We’d also love to qualify for the 250, our other main goal for the season.”
Travis Dunbar will drive the No. 6 Autism Awareness Super Late Model full-time at Oxford with hopes of making an attempt to qualify for the 44th annual Oxford 250 in August.
With Rose now out of the picture in Street Stock, the door is wide open for another talented veteran like Matt Dufault to take command. The smart-as-a-whip and easy-going beer truck driver from Turner will go after the championship at Oxford, the inaugural Quad Crown and select Open races.
Jordan Russell (No. 4 Russell & Sons Towing Chevrolet) will return to Oxford seeking that elusive first Street Stock feature victory. Russell’s primary focus will be on the Quad Crown series. Another veteran he’ll have to contend with is Billy Childs Jr., of Leeds. Childs is building a new car for 2017 and will compete for the points championship.
Addie McDaniel is gearing up for a full-time run in Oxford’s Bandit class. She’ll also run a few Rebel races on Wednesday nights in her newest car. As the season winds down, McDaniel hopes to compete in a couple of races on Bob Guptill’s Northeast Mini Stock Tour (NEMST).
Chachy Hall will also go after the Bandit class championship in 2017. Hall made some big gains last year in his program and could contend for the coveted crown. Hall will also assist David Whittier as he competes in the Street Stock class.
Former Oxford regular Spencer Morse will compete full-time on the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) circuit in 2017. Morse also hopes to run a few SLM races and will assist Madison Morse as she races in the Thunder 4 class at Wiscasset.
Down in southern Maine, a host of teams are busy preparing for the 2017 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season at Beech Ridge. Among the big story-lines in Scarborough is the reuniting of Mike Fowler with Hall of Fame driver Mike Rowe.
“I will be stepping out of the drivers seat, and Mike will be driving for myself and Travis Caruso,” Fowler said. “Caruso Fowler Racing (CFR) will race full time at Beech Ridge, and in select PASS North events. We’ll be seeking our third championship together at The Ridge. Anything less would be a disappointment. We’ve built a brand new Distance car and will be ready to go on opening day.”
Bobby Timmons is also gearing up to compete at Beech Ridge, yet his season will have a delayed start. The skilled machinist severed part of his right index finger in late March and will need time to heal and recover before climbing into the No. 48. Timmons will also run a SuperMod in NH in 2017.
Evan Beaulieu has been showing off the new Dale Shaw Race Cars-built entry he affectionately calls “Emily” since the Augusta show in January. The owner of Nitro Designs and proud member of the Hancock Lumber family (his employer) has the skills; now he’ll have the equipment needed to win.
John Peters had some great news in recent weeks as he prepares for the 2017 Pro Series season. Peters was chosen as one of seven finalists to particpate in the Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP). The program was created by the family of 1992 NASCAR Cup champion Alan Kulwicki.
The opportunity is huge, and Peters will seize it in a big way. He notched a win in 2016 and gained a great deal of speed.
Other Maine drivers working on preparations for the new season include Mark Grantham (Trucks at Beech Ridge); Waterford veteran Jamie Heath (full-time effort on NEMST, part-time in OPS Bandits); second-generation pilot Logan Melcher (No. 41 entry, seeking the Thunder 4 crown at Wiscasset); Jeff Moon (working with son TJ Moon at Richmond Karting Raceway and Wiscasset).
As you can see, it’s going to be another busy and competitive season on the short tracks here in Maine. We hope the snow melts away quickly where you live, and that you’re making plans for Opening Day.
-By Phil Whipple, Speed51.com Contributor. Photo Credit: Phil Whipple