OXFORD — Kevin Harvick didn’t make a return appearance Sunday, but his car did.

The car that Harvick drove to victory in last year’s rain-plagued TD Banknorth 250 was back, but driven by Canadian Karl Allard. He purchased the car last year before Harvick had even completed his victory. Allard has been driving the No. 48 car this season and is third in the points standings in the ACT Castrol standings.

“The car, so far, is good,” said Louis Laroux, the crew chief for Allard. “We’re still having some problems. We have a tire issue. We had that a couple weeks ago up in Quebec. We had a pretty good car, but the right-rear tire wasn’t right, but so far, the car runs really well.”

Allard has managed to qualify for the 250 the last two years and earned a spot in the race Sunday by winning the first last-chance race. He outdueled New Hampshire’s Aaron Ricker for much of the 20-lap heat and edged him by half a car length.

“The car is not bad, but it’s a pretty tough track here,” said Laroux.

Rusty remarks

Rusty Wallace held court with the media just before the start of Sunday’s qualifying heats, opining on a number of topics, including his son, Steven, short-track racing and the current state of NASCAR.

Wallace compared Oxford Plains Speedway to the Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., home of the Snowball Derby.

“Everybody’s tired of cookie-cutter race tracks. They want something with character, something unique about it,” the TD Banknorth 250 grand marshal said. “This track is very, very unique with the straightaway and no walls. I’m sure those people are sliding off the track all the time. They fly off on the field (in turns 1 and 2) and drive back onto the track, and that will knock your fender off because you’re hitting the wall, so it’s not a bad idea having that.”

Moving to the big tracks, Wallace said the recently-implemented double-file restart in NASCAR isn’t having the desired impact.

“The thing I keep looking at is TNT’s TV ratings and FOX’s TV ratings,” he said. “When they got the double-file restart, it hasn’t moved the ratings at all. In fact, when it was all said and done, TNT’s six-race stretch ended with an 8-percent decline in ratings.”

“What it’s done now is all these guys are crashing on restarts, and the drivers are saying, ‘We wanted it, but now we don’t want it,'” he said.

Wallace called the decline in ratings and attendance this year “upsetting.”

“Chicago seats 73,000 and they had 50,000 sitting in the grandstands,” he said. “We got 52,000 sold at my race track in Iowa for the inaugural race. That’s a Nationwide race, and we beat them by 2,000 people. They’ve just got to stay digging and do everything they can to make the fan happy.” 

(Bad) luck of the draw

So much for trying to pick the best number in the draw.

Of the six drivers who drew pole positions for the six qualifying heats to begin the afternoon, only one — Pete Potvin III — managed to qualify for the race in his heat. Potvin barely squeaked in with a fourth-place finish in his heat.

The rest of the pole-sitters — Dave MacDonald, Rowland Robinson Jr., Daniel Descoste, Mike Johnson and Jimmy Childs — had to resort to the consolation rounds, and only Childs made it through to the feature race.

Billy Childs, Jr. and Tim Brackett made the most noise in their respective heats, moving from 11th into a qualifying position in the 20-lap heats. Joey Polewarczyk and Patrick Laperle each moved from 10th into qualifying positions.



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