PHOTO: Kyle Busch completed a weekend sweep at Oxford Plains Speedway by winning the 38th annual TD Bank 250 on Sunday evening. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)

–by Ricky St. Clair and Justin St. Louis

OXFORD, Me. — Kyle Busch capped a perfect weekend at Oxford Plains Speedway by stamping an exclamation mark on his stay in Maine by winning the prestigious 38th annual TD Bank 250 on Sunday. The victory came less than 24 hours after a win in 150-lap Pro All Stars Series event at the track.

Busch started fifth on the 38-car field by virtue of a win in his qualifying heat ran comfortably in the top five throughout most of the event. Nick Sweet of Barre, Vt., set a blistering pace in the early stages of the event after taking the lead from Jeff White on lap 57. The defending Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl track champion held a comfortable lead until nine-time Oxford champion Jeff Taylor of Farmington, Me., took a turn leading on lap 123.

Busch, making his third career appearance at Oxford — he finished sixth in the TD Bank 250 in 2005 and 22nd the following year — took the lead from Taylor on lap 181. The Las Vegas native distanced himself from the remainder of the top five before running into heavy lapped traffic and would eventually get passed by Taylor on lap 225, but Taylor would pay the same consequence and coughed up the lead to Busch for good on lap 227.

The 26 year-old NASCAR superstar Busch escaped a race-deciding restart on lap 234 with a hard-charging performance from Sweet to win New England’s biggest short track event.

“I knew that was going to be the race — the restart,” Busch said. “I had to get a good one on [Sweet] because his car was strong. I didn’t want to get stuck underneath him and have to race him because I knew I would burn my stuff up too quickly.”

Busch was humble after his win and appreciated his fellow competition throughout the course of the entire weekend.

“To me it means a lot,” Busch said. “You know, I love this. You come back to the local short tracks or big races across the country like the Winchester 400 [in Indiana] and the Snowball Derby [in Florida] or here at Oxford and you‘re racing against the best of the best that day. These guys are no slouch.”

Busch’s familiarity with his Super Late Model paid off on Saturday night when he won the PASS 150, but the driver who currently sits fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings was unsure of how his Late Model would handle around the 3/8-mile oval in its maiden voyage.

“We didn’t know that we had a shot,” Busch said. “We thought with had a fifth or sixth place car and that’s kind of where we rode for a while.”

Sweet made one last attempt to get alongside Busch in turns three and four on the final lap, but was denied.

“I was basically trying to put the car wherever it needed to go to keep the speed up,” Sweet said. “I wasn’t letting [Busch’s] car get any farther ahead, but at the end there on that last lap I just overdrove it trying to get to him. I definitely had nothing for him, or at least not enough time.”

Seventeen year-old Austin Theirault of Fort Kent, Me., who was driving his family-owned Late Model for just the third time this year, walked away with a third-place podium finish.

Eddie MacDonald, the 2009 and 2010 winner of the event, rebounded from a lap 179 spin and took fourth. Seven-time American-Canadian Tour champion Brian Hoar of Williston, Vt., worked his way from his 25th-place starting position to finish fifth.

The unofficial top ten was rounded out by Taylor, John Donahue, Shawn Martin, Eric Williams, and Quinny Welch.

Eighty-two cars entered the event. Polesitter Ben Ashline finished 30th, seven laps down, after suffering a flat tire early in the race. Ashline led the first dozen laps before White took over, but White also suffered a flat tire and was relegated to 35th. Sweet led 67 laps, Taylor led twice for 59 laps, and Busch led twice for a race-high 68 laps.

Only five caution periods slowed the race, which was completed in one hour and 42 minutes.

Busch pocketed $25,000 for the victory and a total of $31,800 after lap leader bonuses.

Oxford Plains Speedway, Oxford, Me.
Sunday, July 24, 2011


1. (5) Kyle Busch, Las Vegas, Nev. — 250
2. (9) Nick Sweet, Barre, Vt. — 250
3. (11) Austin Theriault, Fort Kent, Me. — 250
4. (26) Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass. — 250
5. (25) Brian Hoar, Williston, Vt. — 250
6. (10) Jeff Taylor, Farmington, Me. — 250
7. (24) John Donahue, Graniteville, Vt. — 250
8. (6) Shawn Martin, Turner, Me. — 250
9. (22) Eric Williams, Hyde Park, Vt. — 250
10. (2) Quinny Welch, Lancaster, N.H. — 250
11. (14) Jeff Marshall, Jefferson, N.H. — 250
12. (27) Randy Potter, Groveton, N.H. — 250
13. (15) Dave Pembroke, Middlesex, Vt. — 249
14. (12) Larry Gelinas, Scarborough, Me. — 249
15. (32) Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Hudson, N.H. — 249
16. (35) Wayne Helliwell, Jr., Dover, N.H. — 249
17. (30) Tim Brackett, Buckfield, Me. — 249
18. (18) Miles Chipman, Epping, N.H. — 249
19. (16) Scott Luce, Strong, Me. — 249
20. (28) Dennis Spencer, Jr., Oxford, Me. — 249
21. (36) Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton, Vt. — 249
22. (8) Shane Green, South Paris, Me. — 248
23. (13) Chip Grenier, Graniteville, Vt. — 248
24. (34) Patrick Laperle, St. Denis, Que. — 248
25. (33) Mark Lamberton, Mooers Forks, N.Y. — 248
26. (21) Dave Farrington, Jr., Jay, Me. — 248
27. (31) Brockton Davis, Whitefield, N.H. — 247
28. (38) Don Wentworth, Otisfield, Me. — 246
29. (17) Travis Stearns, Auburn, Me. — 246
30. (1) Ben Ashline, Pittston, Me. — 243
31. (19) Tommy Ricker, Poland, Me. — 243
32. (23) Craig Bushey, Fairfax, Vt. — 228
33. (20) Al Hammond, South Paris, Me. — 219
34. (7) T.J. Watson, Cundys Harbor, Me. — 127
35. (3) Jeff White, Winthrop, Me. — 124
36. (4) Shawn Knight, South Paris, Me. — 59
37. (37) Jamie Aube, North Ferrisburgh, Vt. — 52
38. (29) Brad Leighton, Center Harbor, N.H. — 51