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The Juice

THE JUICE: Can A Vermonter Win The 250?

- Justin St. Louis on 15 Jul 2010

">PHOTO: Brent Dragon won the pole for the Oxford 250 last year. Can he win the race this year?

The TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway is the region’s biggest short track event, attracting the largest field of Late Models any track in the northeast will see.

Oxford officials released a “probable” entry list this week listing 136 drivers. While that list might be a bit inflated -- one of our sources has confirmed, for example, that neither of the two Connecticut-based drivers on the list will be at Oxford this weekend -- it’s a likely bet that field will near the mark of 71 teams it saw last July.

Thirty-four of the drivers on the “probable” list are from Vermont. Only two Green Mountain Boys have taken and Oxford 250 win in 36 years (Bolton’s Mike Barry in 1982, and North Ferrisburg native Jamie Aube in 1987 and ’89), but there’s a legitimate shot -- actually, in our opinion, there are ten legitimate shots -- that the trophy will return to the land of Freedom and Unity this year.

1. Brian Hoar -- No. 37 Racing Engines Dodge
Credentials: Six-time and defending American-Canadian Tour champion
Why he could win: Hoar is unquestionably the hottest Late Model driver in the north this year, and his efforts have been among the most dominant of any short track series regular in the country in 2010. He led 37 laps in last year’s TD Bank 250 and finished in the top-five in both of his ACT starts at the track this year.

2. Eric Williams -- No. 7 Second Storey Homes/Dixie Chopper Chevrolet
Hometown: Hyde Park
Credentials: Former ACT Milk Bowl and Labor Day Classic 200 winner
Why he could win: Williams won the 2009 ACT season finale at Oxford Plains Speedway last year and has a habit of winning marquee events. On his resume are a Milk Bowl, a $10,000-to-win Labor Day Classic, a pair of Vermont Governor’s Cups, and six career ACT victories.

3. Brent Dragon -- No. 55 Beverage Mart/Furniture World of Vermont Chevrolet
Credentials: Finished seventh or better in ACT standings each year since 2000
Why he could win: Dragon is on a roll this season, and has his best shot at an ACT title in years. He was one of the key players in last year’s ‘250’, winning the pole and leading most of the first half of the race before finishing sixth. In three ‘250’ starts, he has never finished worse than tenth.

4. Roberts Motorsports -- John Donahue/No. 26 National Guard Ford and Brad Keselowski/No. 12 National Guard Ford
Home base: Barre
Credentials: Donahue is an ACT and Thunder Road title contender, Keselowski is likely to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship this year
Why the team could win: Donahue led laps and finished third in last year’s Oxford 250, finished third in last week’s ACT event at Airborne Speedway, and won last week’s 50-lap feature at Thunder Road. He’s also a five-time OPS winner across three divisions. Keselowski, unlike most NASCAR stars that participate in the ‘250’, spent a day with Roberts Motorsports testing and preparing his car back in June, and is there to win.

5. Nick Sweet -- No. 88 Saint J Auto/Fortier’s Community Care Home Pontiac
Hometown: Barre
Credentials: Won Merchants Bank 150 and Governor’s Cup 100 at Thunder Road this year
Why he could win: Not only is Sweet on fire this year, he loves Oxford. In his rookie season in 2008, Sweet ran as high as third in the ‘250’ late in the race and finished sixth, then finished second in an ACT event there in the fall. Sweet was overheard at Thunder Road last week talking about how excited he is to race the Oxford 250 this year.

6. Brad Leighton -- No. 55 Subway/Harrison Concrete & Redi-Mix Chevrolet
Hometown: Center Harbor, N.H.
Credentials: Former ACT Pro Stock Tour and NASCAR Busch North Series champion
Why he could win: Driving for Middlesex car owner Pete Duto, Leighton is a threat in any event he enters. He was the only driver to challenge Hoar for the win at Airborne Speedway last week. Since getting into the Duto ride in 2008, Leighton has finished 8th and 11th in the ‘250’, and was the 1993 runner-up.

7. Cris Michaud -- No. 6 Merchants Bank/Heney Realtors Ford
Hometown: Northfield
Credentials: Three-time Thunder Road champion, ’04 Milk Bowl winner
Why he could win: After a rocky start to the year, Michaud is getting better and better. He picked up his first win at Thunder Road two weeks ago and was eighth in last year’s ‘250’. Plus, he has extra motivation to win the TD Bank 250 in the Merchants Bank car.

8. Chris Riendeau -- No. 4 Weathervane Restaurant/VPE Chevrolet
Hometown: Ascutney
Credentials: ACT Late Model Tour rookie
Why he could win: “The Weasel” is a throwback to the days when drivers would race anything they could get their hands on. In any given week, Riendeau can be seen touring with ACT, running a Late Model at Twin State, a Pro Stock or Modified at Monadnock, or a Strictly Stock at Canaan. He’s always learning, and the Oxford 250 is his next stop. He wouldn’t be the first surprise winner, either.

9. Richard Green Racing -- Joey Becker/No. 16VT Richard Green Trucking Ford and Mark Lamberton/No. 16NY Richard Green Trucking Ford
Home base: Enosburg Falls
Credentials: Lamberton is a three-time ACT winner and former Airborne Speedway champion, Becker is a former ACT Memorial Day Classic 100 winner
Why the team could win: Becker and Lamberton have been surprisingly fast this year. The Oxford 250 is an event tailor-made for New York racer Lamberton, who is a smooth, consistent racer. If Becker had more consistency, he would almost certainly be in the top two or three in Thunder Road points.

10. Roger Brown -- No. 22 Caron’s Body Shops Chevrolet
Hometown: Lancaster, N.H.
Credentials: Won the 2007 TD Bank Oxford 250
Why he could win: In a surprise deal announced on Thursday, “The Rocket” returns to racing with Shelburne-based Caron Motorsports after a two-year break. Brown was one of the most electrifying drivers in ACT during his previous effort, and his highlight was a late-race slugfest with David Avery, then holding off a last-lap charge from Dale Verrill to win the 2007 edition of the richest one-day short track event in America. Plus, car owner Gary Caron won twice at Oxford during his driving career.



Time to take a look at the top Vermonters from the past weekend...

ACT Late Model Tour: Williston’s Brian Hoar won Saturday’s event at Airborne Speedway. John Donahue of Graniteville was third with Milton’s Brent Dragon fourth.

Airborne Speedway (Plattsburgh, N.Y.): Vince Quenneville, Jr., of Brandon was third in Saturday’s Modified feature, with Don Scarborough of Brandon seventh Milton’s Cody Benoit was the Renegade runner-up with Dave Rabtoy of Swanton third.

Albany-Saratoga Speedway (Malta, N.Y.): Mike Bruno of Bomoseen was sixth in Friday’s Modified race, and Hunter Bates of Middlebury was the Sportsman runner-up. Fred Little of Salisbury was fifth in the Pro Stock feature.

Bear Ridge Speedway (Bradford): Rookie Ryan Dutton of Bradford won Saturday’s Sportsman Modified feature over Moultonboro, N.H.’s Jack Cook and Gary Siemons of Orford, N.H. Steve Ellsworth of East Corinth won the Sportsman Coupe race over Bryan King of Corinth and rookie Jeremy Stygles of Bradford. Tyler Stygles of Bradford won the Limited Late Model feature over Jeremy Hodge of Newbury and Will Hull of East Montpelier. White River Junction’s Josh Sunn extended his Fast Four unbeaten streak to nine races, with Andy Johnson of Wilder and St. Johnsbury’s Kevin Harran completing the podium. Tom Placey of Bradford took the Hornet win over rookies Eric Lang of Groton and Jesse Smith of Topsham. Melissa King of Corinth won the Hornet Queen race over St. Johnsbury’s Misty Bell and Donna Racine.

Big Daddy's Speedway (Rumney, N.H.): Ed Tobin of Hartland won Sunday’s Sportsman Modified feature, and White River Junction’s Josh Sunn won the Mini Stock feature with St. Johnsbury’s Kevin Harran fourth.

Canaan Dirt Speedway (Canaan, N.H.): Dan Eastman of Thetford Center was fifth in Friday’s Sportsman Modified feature with Louie Cadwell of Vershire seventh. Josh Sunn of White River Junction was third in the Mini Stock race, and Mike Stender of Tunbridge beat Dakota Stender to win the Bandit race.

Canaan Fair Speedway (Canaan, N.H.): Saturday’s races were rained out.

Devil's Bowl Speedway (West Haven): Kenny Tremont of West Sand Lake, N.Y., won Sunday’s Modified feature over Vince Quenneville, Jr., of Brandon and Marc Johnson of Guilderland, N.Y. Middlebury’s Hunter Bates won the Sportsman race over Joey Trudeau of Hague, N.Y., and Jared McMahon of Hydeville. Jon Miller of Malta, N.Y., won his fifth-straight Renegade race over Frank Monroe of Granville, N.Y., and Larry Underwood of Milton. Essex Junction’s Chad Brown won the Bomber Warrior race over Salisbury’s Brent Warren and Justin Lilly of Castleton. Garrett Given of Cornwall was the Duke Stock winner over Castleton’s Erika Lilly and Whitney Martel of Granville, N.Y.

Granite State Mini Sprints: Terry Reil of Middlesex was seventh in Friday’s 600cc race at Canaan Dirt Speedway, and Lacey Hanson of Orwell was third in the 500cc feature.

Lebanon Valley Speedway (West Lebanon, N.Y.): Cullen Howe of South Londonderry was ninth in Saturday’s Sportsman feature, and Chuck Towlsee of Manchester was seventh in the Pro Stock race.

Modified Racing Series: Ascutney’s Dwight Jarvis was the runner-up in Friday’s event at Lee USA Speedway, with nephew Joey Jarvis sixth. Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, Mass., was the winner.

Mohawk Int’l Raceway (Akwesasne, N.Y.): Friday’s races were rained out.

Monadnock Speedway (Winchester, N.H.): Saturday’s races were rained out.

NASCAR Nationwide Series: Shelburne’s Kevin Lepage finished 37th at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: David Stremme finished 36th at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday for Vermont-based Latitude 43 Motorsports.

Pro All Stars Series: Scott Dragon of Colchester was 12th in Tuesday’s event at Lee USA Speedway. Mike Rowe of Turner, Me., was the winner.

Riverside Speedway (Groveton, N.H.): St. Johnsbury’s Bob Ailes was third in Saturday’s Late Model feature, with Jeremy LaCoss of Lyndon fourth. David Allen of North Troy was fourth in the Super Stock feature, Howard Switser of West Burke won the Dwarf Car race, Brett Rowell of Concord was the Street Stock runner-up, and Lisa Hodgdon of Danville won the Angel event.

Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl (Barre): John Donahue of Graniteville won last Thursday’s Late Model feature over Tracie Bellerose of Gorham, N.H., and Brooks Clark of Fayston. Derrick O’Donnell of Bradford won the Tiger Sportsman event over Barre’s George May and Joe Steffen of Essex Junction. Randolph’s Eric Johnson won the Street Stock race over Tommy Smith of Williamstown and Paul Giacherio of Washington. Ken Christman was the top Junkyard Warrior over Brock Parrott of Williamstown and Kevin Dodge of Barre.

Twin State Speedway (Claremont, N.H.): Rutland's Dallas Trombley was Friday’s Late Model runner-up, and Robert Hagar of Windsor was the Modified winner. Chris Wilk of Mendon was the Super Street winner, and Pittsford’s Kyle Davis won the Strictly Stock feature. Jeremiah Losee of North Springfield was the Wildcat winner over Rob Leitch of Cavendish. Stephen Donahue of Graniteville was the Sportsman runner-up.

White Mountain Motorsports Park (North Woodstock, N.H.): Saturday’s races were rained out.



Thursday, July 15
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl, Barre -- 6:30pm (Mid-Season Championships)

Friday, July 16
Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Malta, N.Y. -- 6:45pm (Modified Tri-Track Series 50)
Canaan Dirt Speedway, Canaan, N.H. -- 7:00pm (Sprint Cars of New England)
Twin State Speedway, Claremont, N.H. -- 7:30pm (Late Model 100)

Saturday, July 17
Airborne Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y. -- 6:00pm (ISMA SuperModifieds)
Bear Ridge Speedway, Bradford -- 6:00pm (Mid-Season Championships, Granite State Mini Sprints)
Canaan Fair Speedway, Canaan, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)
Devil’s Bowl Speedway, West Haven -- 8:00am-5:00pm (Autocross)
Monadnock Speedway, Winchester, N.H. � 6:00pm (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour)
Riverside Speedway, Groveton, N.H. -- OFF
White Mountain Motorsports Park, North Woodstock, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)

Sunday, July 18
Big Daddy's Speedbowl, Rumney, N.H. -- 4:00pm (Sprint Cars of New England)
Devil's Bowl Speedway, West Haven -- 6:00pm (Regular Event, Spectator Races)


Granite State Mini Sprints: Sat., July 17 � Bear Ridge Speedway, Bradford, Vt. (6:00pm)
Modified Racing Series: Sat., July 17 � Oxford Plains Speedway, Oxford, Me. (6:00pm)
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Fri., July 16 -- Gateway Int’l Raceway, Madison, Ill. (SPEED/8:30pm)
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Sat., July 17 � Gateway Int’l Raceway, Madison, Ill. (ESPN2/8:00pm)
Pro All Stars Series: Sat., July 17 � Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, Scarborough, Me. (6:00pm)
Sprint Cars of New England: Fri., July 16 � Canaan Dirt Speedway, Canaan, N.H. (6:00pm)
Sprint Cars of New England: Sun., July 18 -- Big Daddy’s Speedbowl, Rumney, N.H. (4:00pm)

Photos by Alan Ward; Eric LaFleche/; Leif Tillotson; and Justin St. Louis/VMM


"I don’t care what kind of car it is. If it’s got four tires and steering wheel, I’ll drive it." --Nick Sweet

"I want a championship next year, that’s what I want. I’m gonna get it next year. If I run the full season, I’m gonna get it." --Modified Racing Series driver Steve Masse

"I’ve never had a season where we’ve had this number of podium finishes. Never. And I dare say nobody else has, either." --ACT champion Brian Hoar

"It’s crazy to think that however many years ago I was sitting in the stands up here watching my dad trying to make the race and now we’re in victory lane." --Milk Bowl winner Joey Polewarczyk

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