At approximately 12:20 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 30 one of the most crucial moments of the 42nd Annual Oxford 250 will take place, and it won’t be on the race track.
Following the driver’s meeting, the 70-plus drivers expected to enter the event will make their way one-by-one towards a race official holding a bag. In that bag will be numbered pills that will represent each driver’s starting spot in one of six qualifying heat races.
A good draw can set you up for a relatively easy path into the Oxford 250, while a poor draw can be the beginning of a long day that could include up to three rounds of qualifying.
Many of the drivers have different strategies going into the draw. Some, like defending Oxford Plains Speedway track champion TJ Brackett and current Beech Ridge Motor Speedway point leader Reid Lanpher, draw for themselves.
“At the beginning I let other people draw and then we’d draw bad every time so it wouldn’t matter,” Brackett told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I’ve drawn the last two year and drew pole two years ago and then last in my heat last year, so I’ll probably do it again this year.”
“I think I’ve drawn the last two times and I haven’t fared too well picking the pill,” said Lanphter. “We’ll see how this year goes. It is a lot about luck, so hopefully we can get a good one this year.”
Other drivers such as three-time Oxford 250 winner Mike Rowe refuse to go anywhere near the bag full of numbers. He doesn’t have anyone particular that he chooses to draw for him, as long as it’s just not him.
“I don’t draw because I draw real, real bad,” said Rowe. “I usually have somebody else do it so I can holler at them later.”
Not only is the draw important because it determines a driver’s starting position in their qualifying heat race, but also because it determines who is in their heat. According to defending PASS North champion DJ Shaw, the strength of a driver’s heat race is even more important than where they actually start.
“Last year I drew sixth in the heat and didn’t make the feature (through heats) and the year before that I drew ninth or 10th and won the heat,” Shaw explained. “It’s all in who you get in your heat, what line goes and what kind of luck you have to go along with how good your car is.”
Two-time defending Oxford 250 winner Travis Benjamin knows all about what it’s like to experience a poor draw. He’s had to overcome starting from the last row in his qualifying heat during the last two 250’s. Benjamin is hoping that his team is due for a good draw and an easier path into the race as he chases his record-tying third straight win in the race.
“I let my crew chief do it and to be honest with you.” Benjamin stated. “He’s drawn us the last row the last two years. It is what it is. I would love to see number-one or number-two out of that hat, that’s for sure. But we’ll do what we’ve got to do.”
Fans can watch all of the action, including all three rounds of qualifying, from the 42nd Annual Oxford 250 live on Speed51.com. Video tickets can be purchased now by clicking here.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com