OPS 250: Notes and fan photos

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Dixfield’s Scott Robbins needed to do some extra work on his car if another appearance in the 250 was in the cards. Robbins was part of a multiple-car crash in the fourth heat of qualifying when he traded paint with Kevin Lepage and Robbie Crouch.

Crouch’s front took a significant hit and he had to leave the race, while Lepage continued. Though Robbins made an effort to keep going, the car began to overheat.

“I think it was kind of my fault,” said Robbins. “We were all bumper-to-bumper, and I think it was Kevin Lepage in front of me. I backed off and tried to let him save it. I shouldn’t have got him sideways. Something else happened in front of him at the same time. Then all just broke loose.”

Robbins and his crew were feverishly working in hopes of getting the car ready for the consolation races.

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“The guys are working so hard to get it back out there,” said Robbins. “I don’t think we hurt it that bad, but we’ve got a long way to go to get in the race now.”

Robbins didn’t know how prophetic he was. He had the lead in the final last chance race but had to hold off a number of challengers. Late in the race, D.J. Shaw made a bid to bump Robbins off the lead. Robbins began to spin but recovered. Shaw lost control and brought out the yellow. When racing resumed, Robbins held off a charging Robbie Crouch to earn his spot.

Proof is in the numbers

A new era has officially been launched at the TD Banknorth 250.

Much discussion was generated by the switch from Pro Stock to Late Model cars in Maine’s premier stock car race. The expense associated with building and maintaining a Pro-Stock vehicle prevented many drivers around the region from entering or, at least, being competitive in the 250.

How has that change affected the race?

The initial numbers are telling. Even with the return of many former competitors, 17 of the 24 qualifiers in the heats will be driving in their first 250 race.

Bienvenue a Oxford

For the first time in several years, there were seven drivers from the Province of Quebec entered in the TD Banknorth 250. The teams, most of which race their cars on the American-Canadian Tour, were some of the first to arrive for practice each morning, and were among the last to leave at night, trying everything to get their cars to work at this 3/8-mile oval.

“This track is pretty particular,” car owner Louis Larue said. “It’s hard to get a pretty good setup. We worked all day (Saturday) and (Sunday) all morning, but the car is always loose, a little bit loose.”

Larue owns the No. 48qc car, driven by Karl Allard. Allard replaced veteran Andre Beaudoin behind the wheel of the car this year. Beadoin was a 17-year-old rookie in 1977 when he raced at the 250. Now, the team is back, in part because the Late Models have replaced the Pro Stocks as the car of choice in the race.

“There are many Late Model sportsmen in Quebec,” Larue said. “It was easier for us to come here. In Pro Stock cars, there is probably two or three cars in Quebec. We’re proud to be here. It’s an honor for us.”

Meant to be

Pete Potvin couldn’t help but see the blinding flash of yellow behind him in Heat 5 of qualifying Sunday. The Graniteville, Vt., native was in his second-ever race at Oxford Plains Speedway and saw nine-time OPS track champion Jeff Taylor on his tail. The Norridgewock veteran was attempting to steal away the coveted third spot and a guaranteed position in the 250.

All Potvin had to do was hold him off.

“All I was thinking about was the amount of wins that he has at this track,” said Potvin. “I knew I couldn’t mess up. We were awesome yesterday. Today we were just a little bit off. We were always loose, and we couldn’t do anything to tighten the car up.”

Taylor attempted every trick in an effort to sneak around Potvin. If Taylor made a move on the outside, Potvin would block him. When it was obvious a pass on the outside was unlikely, Potvin just had to keep low and keep Taylor at bay on his rear fender.

North of the border

This is the 30th consecutive year Marius Priemont of Quebec City has attended the TD Banknorth 250. He and 56 racing fans boarded a bus Saturday morning and headed to Oxford Plains Speedway.

“Every year for the last 30 years,” he said. “We had to refuse 30 people.”

He says look for him next year, too.

Sent to the sand

Pete Fecteau seemed to be cruising along in the final heat during the qualifying Sunday. The Morrisville, Vt., resident led the final heat for much of the race and had just five laps to go before he spun out and landed in the sand on the infield. He tried to correct himself and get back in the race, but it was too late.

“The 26 got inside of us and we both were disqualified, and I don’t think there was any need of it,” said Fecteau. “But he got me around. We lost it, of course. I thought we might come back a little bit, but we got spun out again.”

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