OXFORD – Bradley Babb may be young, but he knows that at the TD Bank 250 “anything can happen to anybody at any time.”

He just wished it hadn’t happened to him.

Babb, 20, was 10 laps away from earning a coveted starting spot in the 40th annual race at Oxford Plains Speedway. Leading a consolation race by four lengths, he eased off the throttle entering the third turn and his engine blew.

“I didn’t have any warning,” said the 2012 Beech Ridge Motor Speedway Pro Series champ from Windham.

He avoided the wall and wrecking the rest of his No. 14 car, but the day was broken instantly.

“I’m pretty much heartbroken. We really don’t have the money to be doing this anyways so I’m not sure where we’ll be racing next,” Babb said.

It’s a story oft-repeated at New England’s premier short-track event.

First place is $25,000 and ever-lasting prestige. Just making the field is a badge of honor.

But it does come at a cost.

For the Babb team, it now has a $7,000 engine that “is junk now,” said Bobby Babb, Bradley’s father.

Some of the other costs: $2,500 for tires, $400 for fuel.

But the price tag wasn’t what really bothered father and son.

“We know we were good enough to be in the race. It wasn’t a driver failure or a crew error. It was just an engine failure,” Bob Babb said.

Bradley Babb has qualified once for the 250, in his first attempt in 2010. In 2011 he was wrecked in a heat race. Last season he didn’t attempt to qualify as he focused on winning the Beech Ridge title.

“As much as it’s disappointing and I don’t want to be hanging around for the rest of the day, I’ll be just as excited next year to come back here and try to win and give it everything I’ve got,” Bradley Babb said.

The Babbs also recognized that sometimes even bad memories can become cherished.

Bob Babb recalled 1984 when he and Maine racing legend Kelly Moore wrecked each other in a heat race at the Oxford 250.

“We’re pretty good friends now and it was pretty stupid on both our parts,” Bobby Babb said.

Now, “Kelly always races Bradley super clean,” Bob Babb said.

So it was somewhat ironic that on the lineup before Bradley Babb’s ill-fated consolation race, it was Moore lined up right behind him.

Both Babbs said they shared a laugh with Moore, just to make sure there wouldn’t be a repeat 29 years later.

It’s unlikely they’ll ever really laugh about the year of the blown engine at the TD Bank 250, but it will be a part of their personal history with Maine’s historic race.

ANOTHER WINDHAM driver who had tough luck later in the day was Corey Bubar.

He had led briefly on lap 151 and then again for another few laps. He had been in the top five for much of the night until getting caught up in “Krazy” Kevin Powell’s spin on lap 190.

It was one lap after he came in to the pits for the first time during the race. The wreck ended Bubar’s night.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at:

scraig@mainetoday.com

Twitter: SteveCCraig