Thursday, August 26, 2010

Brackett closing in on second title at Oxford

Veteran short track racer Tim Brackett knows the quick way around Oxford Plains Speedway as well as anybody in the northeast. He won the track title back in 2005 when Pro Stocks were still the premiere division.

Now, he's getting a firm handle on Late Model cars and is leading the points standings with just two races left on the 2010 schedule. For the second straight week (Aug. 21), the margin between Brackett and 2004 Late Model champion Shawn Martin is a scant 12 markers.

Both Brackett and Martin got off to slow starts this year, but both turned the corner in a big way in late July. Martin has reeled off three podium finishes since his team was forced to dig out their old car. Martin's 2010 piece (built by Mitch Green) was destroyed on June 24 in ACT competition at Beech Ridge.

"The old car is serving us very well," Martin said in the pit area two weeks ago. "We took some items off the new chassis and converted this one over to race-ready, and it has been handling like a dream. In the first half of the season, we struggled trying to get the new car to stay fast on long runs. It fell off significantly after 25 or 30 laps, and our features are 40 laps. At least we had the old car to utilize, and to pull back up to second in points has been very gratifying.  Now we'll just have to dig in these last few races and see if we can overtake Tim."

Brackett, of Buckfield, has had an extremely busy summer of 2010. Not only is he working to maintain his own No. 60 machine and secure a title, he also fields the equally-potent No. 61 entry driven by his talented son, TJ. And let us not forget his foxy daughter, Vannah, who is leading the points in Oxford's Ladies division. If the family manages to record three titles this year (Sat. Showdown & Wed. Acceleration Series points are separate for Ladies), it will be remarkable.

"We've had quite a season so far," Brackett said while working on TJ's car last week. "It took me a while to get up to speed this year, but the car has been consistent week-to-week. Shawn is a good racer, he will be right there these last two weeks and if I fall out early - he'll be right there to capitalize. The idea of a winning a second championship is pretty neat, so we'll give it our best and see how it all shakes out."

I must say, Oxford's Late Model division has been pretty entertaining in 2010. We started out with Tommy Ricker making the headlines, winning two straight features and vaulting into the points lead for several weeks. And when his on-track performance started to fade,  we watched in awe as Lewiston's Corey Morgan began to shine. Morgan drew some attention with impressive runs in the ACT events on May 16 and June 19, then blew all of us away when he finished third in the 37th annual TD Bank 250 on July 18.

And as if Morgan's impressive runs weren't exciting enough, along comes nine-time Oxford track champion Jeff Taylor into the mix (late summer) with a sparkling new No. 88 Late Model to join the ranks. Taylor was the absolute King of the Pro Stocks for over a decade, but has been reluctant to make the switch. As owner of Distance Racing Products, his goal was to learn the Late Model's dynamics (chassis setup, handling characteristics, etc.) from a seat-of-the-pants perspective. On July 31, he won his first Late Model feature. Just three weeks later, he won again. If I was about to order a new car for 2011, it would be from DRP in Fairfield.

Regardless of who wins the 2010 Late Model championship, we've had a fantastic season at Oxford. Don't let those ego-driven clowns still clinging to their outdated, overpriced Pro Stocks fool you. Late Model racing is exciting, there are a lot more teams with a chance to win,. and the amount of side-by-side racing is about 10-to-1 over "Super Late Models."  So boys, what makes them so "SUPER" anyway?

Don't miss the final two points shows at Oxford on August 28 and September 11. We're talking drama, action and a great story no matter who comes out on top. I'm just thrilled I've had the pleasure of watching these guys all season long. I hope to do it all again in 2011.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Folsom claims Late Model feature at Thunder Road

BARRE, Vermont – Grant Folsom led from green to checkered to notch his second career Late Model feature victory, dominating the Safelite Autoglass Trophy Dash Thursday night (aug. 5) at Thunder Road International Speedbowl.

Folsom, of Waitsfield, started from the pole and held off a hard-charging Reno Gervais for top honors. After a caution-plagued performance the previous week, this 50-lap feature was completed with just one delay. Gervais, of Island Pond, settled for second, while Jamie Fisher edged out John Donahue for third. Phil Scott followed Donahue to the line to complete the top five.

Current Thunder Road Late Model point leader Dave Pembroke took sixth, followed by Nick Sweet, Rich Lowrey, Cris Michaud and last week’s winner Joey Becker in 10th.

Folsom's win makes eleven different winners in 11 Late Model races held this year at Thunder Road.  The only repeat winners this season are Dave Pembroke, who won the point counting season opener at Devils Bowl Speedway along with a regular feature event; and Barre's own Nick Sweet, who won the ACT Late Model Tour Merchants Bank 150 and the Carquest Governor’s Cup.

Peacham’s Tony Rossi earned his first career Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen feature win. He worked his way from the 8th starting position and held off 2009 Tiger Champion Jimmy Hebert, Mike Ziter, Derrick O’Donnell and Eric Badore. Bobby Therrien, last week’s feature winner Matt Potter, Tom Therrien, Pete Ainsworth and current point leader David Finck completed the top ten.

Elmore’s Dave Whitcomb earned his second career Allen Lumber Street Stock feature win and his first of 2010. He outran Mike MacAskill who was looking for his third straight win. Gary Bashaw, Scott Weston and point leader Tim Campbell rounded out the top five. Ron Gabaree, Gary Mullen, Thomas Placey, Dave LaFleche and Sid Sweet all earned top tens.

The Junkyard Warriors saw Cabot’s Ken Christman take his eighth win of the 2010 season. He was followed by Kevin Wheatley and Tommy Elwood.

(NOTE: The NEAR cars and Bob Doyle Museum truck were also on hand at Thunder Road last night. More to follow (with photos) this weekend).

The Allen Lumber Street Stocks and the Junkyard Warriors will be back in action this Sunday, August 8 with a special 50 lap race as part of the M&M Beverage Enduro event. Post time is 6:00pm.

All four Thunder Road divisions will be back next Thursday, August 12 for Aaron’s Sales and Lease Night. The event will feature the Run-What-U-Brung. Post time is 6:30pm.