OXFORD — Up until yesterday, Travis Stearns’ TD Banknorth 250 resume read like a highly-touted prospect who finally gets called up to the Major Leagues, only to get drilled in his first batting practice and sent to the disabled list.

” I’ve had really, really bad luck,” the 24-year-old Auburn native said. “I’m 0-for-2 with a blown motor and a destroyed race car so far.”

That’s why Stearns wasn’t going to be especially picky about how he got into the 36th TD Banknorth 250 as long as he was one of the 43 drivers in the featured field.

Stearns quickly found out his luck would change Sunday. He drew the outside of the front row in the second qualifying heat and more than held his ground to earn a spot in the front row alongside pole winner Brent Dragon.

“It feels pretty good just to finally get in,” he said. “It’s nice to be up front, but we’re just glad to get in.”

The No. 85 led his 20-lap heat virtually from wire to wire, but given his previous experience, Stearns wasn’t going to take anything for granted.

“It was pretty intense. That 20 laps felt like 200,” he said.

Heightening his anxiety were the struggles he has had this season after a strong 2008 campaign. Tire problems have plagued Stearns most of this season. He’s currently eighth in the Late Model series at OPS.

“Everything that used to work for me didn’t work. We just started peaking, just started feeling comfortable the last couple of weeks,” he said. “We’ve been struggling a lot this year, but we’ve been getting better every week.”

Stearns has shown the ability to bounce back from adversity before. He got his first career win in 2008 just one week after a crash nearly destroyed his car. He added a second win in August. 

Yet Adams knew little could prepare him for the arduous 250, even a change of luck.

“I’m just gonna take what I can get and try to stay patient,” he said. “I’ve never ran that long. I’d like to lead a few laps and say I did.”


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