PHOTO: Jeff Taylor once again was kept out of the TD Bank 250 winner’s circle with a second place finish Sunday. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)
–by T.J. Ingerson
OXFORD, Maine — Maybe it’s just not meant to be for Jeff Taylor.
The nine-time Oxford Plains Speedway champion was once again kept out of the TD Bank 250 victory lane in his 15th time trying, but was able to finish in the runner-up position.
“It’s kind of subdued,” Taylor said of his emotions about finishing second. “It’s great to be second; it’s been 17 years since the last time. I mean, these guys (winner Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., and third-place finisher Austin Theriault) were like four and five. It will probably sink in a bit more as the week goes on. We couldn’t really ask for much more even thought we would have liked more. It’s just the way the day turned out.”
The Farmington, Maine veteran started the 250-lap crown jewel in the seventh position and steadily moved his way through the field. Taylor resided in the second position after 50 laps and appeared to have a car capable of challenging that of Polewarczyk’s.
A lap 69 caution period saw Taylor restart third and fall to fourth, where he rode until a caution flag on lap 135. Taylor, like many other lead laps cars, took advantage and put on four new tires, and exited the pits in the third position and was able to sit in that position when the caution was displayed for the final time on lap 208.
Taylor was able to move into the second position on lap 218 after he passed Wayne Helliwell, Jr., and began to slowly reel Polewarczyk in. But Polewarczyk was able to maintain the gap to Taylor over the final ten laps of the race, while being chased by third place finisher Theriault.
“Sure, I had (Polewarczyk) covered,” Taylor amusingly said if he had anything for Polewarczyk in the event of a late race caution. “He led, what, 205 laps? But, no, I could see him and just keep him honest, that’s about all I could do. I never knew Austin was coming, I thought Wayne was still third. I just tried to keep the rear tires on it. This place is round and it’s always on the right rear (tire). You just have to save it as long as you can. And if your car is as good as Joey’s, you can get out front and maintain, and the rest of us can just ride and hope he screws up. But he didn’t do that.”
The TD Bank 250 was only Taylor’s second race of the season after competing in the American-Canadian Tour season opener in mid-April.
“The one thing we do miss is we don’t race much now,” Taylor said. “We don’t know our car on a long run. We had such a good heat race, we’re hesitant to change (the car). We’re the opposite of what (Polewarczyk and Theriault) would do. They race all time. You put them two together and you don’t even get to my age yet. We had a great day for how we did it. We coulda maybe won if everything had gone a little differently, but we’re tickled to death with second.”
Taylor, who owns and operates Distance Racing, built the car Polewarczyk ran, and joked in victory lane that the next car that Polewarczyk would buy would now cost more.
In that joking moment, at least Taylor was able to keep his witty charm despite missing out once again.