PORTLAND – The return of the Super Late Models is expected to add an element of excitement to the 40th annual TD Bank 250 on Sunday at Oxford Plains Speedway.
“This brings all the strategy back to the race and I think the fans sitting in the grandstands love that,” said Ben Rowe, a two-time 250 winner.
Rowe, who is from Turner, was among eight drivers who were in Portland on Wednesday to talk about the legendary short-track race.
For the past six years, the TD Bank 250 had been open solely to the Late Models sanctioned by the American Canadian Tour.
This weekend the ACT cars are out and the Super Late Models of the Pro All-Star Series are in.
“Instead of having five guys in the race who can win it, you will have 10 or 15 (drivers) who have won races of this caliber,” said Tim Brackett, a former Oxford Plains track champion from Buckfield.
Brackett, who has run in 14 of 17 250s since making his race debut in 1995, has driven both types of cars in the event.
“With an ACT car, you’re (running) full bore every second,” he said. “There’s no holding anything back. You’ve got to drive a qualifying lap every lap to keep up. With these cars here, you can conserve stuff a little bit and you’ve got more at the end. They’re faster. They’ve got more power, more grip.”
Because the two cars run on different types of tires, the timing of pit stops could become crucial.
“The ACT tire was a good tire to run a race,” Rowe said. “They don’t drop off. They don’t wear out so everybody would come in at the same time, pit and go back out.
“The top 20 would run in the top 20 and you would get very little passing. I can promise you you’re going to see a lot of passing, the comers, the goers, the guys on good tires, the guys on bad tires.”
The wide-track tire used by the SLMs lose their grip during the course of the long-distance race and must be changed at some point.
That’s where the racing strategy comes in.
“A guy is going to stay out for lead-lap money,” Rowe said. “He’s going to get greedy and lead all the laps. Been there. Done that. Or do you want to come in there and take tires on and try to win the thing at the end?”
Last year’s winner, Joey Polewarczyk Jr. of Hudson, N.H., picked up $45,500. A regular on the ACT tour, he is not entered in Sunday’s race.
The TD Bank 250 is now a points race on the PASS North tour.
“With it being a points race, we’re trying to get the best place as we can and hopefully minimize the damage if anything goes bad because there’s going to be a lot of cars,” said Joey Doiron, a 21-year-old driver from Berwick.
As PASS North’s point leader, Doiron is guaranteed a spot on the 36-car starting grid.
“It’s nice going into the weekend knowing you have a spot on the starting grid,” he said, “but that’s not the route we’re planning to go. We’re going there and hopefully contend to win.”
Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: