Northern Points: Kruczek Unlikely Star In Final Oxford 250 Tune-Up


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RacedayCT Northern Points Green 280Billed as the final true Oxford 250 tuneup, last weekend’s Pro All Stars Series race saw some 40 cars attempt to qualify at Oxford Plains Speedway. The field for the HP Hood 150 had all of the names and faces one would expect to contend at Oxford, and it certainly included everyone’s list of Oxford 250 contenders.

PASS championship contenders Mike Rowe, DJ Shaw and Joey Doiron. Two-time defending Oxford 250 champ Travis Benjamin. Trevor Sanborn with High Motorsports for the first time. Beech Ridge Motor Speedway frontrunners Reid Lanpher and Garrett Hall. All of them qualified under a watchful eye.

Nobody’s list had the name Bryan Kruczek at the top.

Kruczek charged from the 21st spot on the starting grid Sunday to win the HP Hood 150 — only his second career PASS win. But it was also the Newmarket, N.H. driver’s second win of the season, with the other coming on the similarly flat Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in May.

kruczek ops win

Bryan Kruczek of Newmarket, N.H. won the PASS HP Hood 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway on Sunday, Aug. 2. (Photo by Norm Marx)

Kruczek won by a margin of some four seconds, nearly a quarter of a lap ahead of Jeremy Davis and Hall. Davis has been a model of consistency in his part-time PASS effort this season, while Hall posted his best career finish in his rookie season in a Super Late Model.

With just three weeks remaining until the Oxford 250 on August 30, Sunday’s race may have served as a giant test session for all the teams in attendance. More importantly, it might have only served to show that when it comes to Oxford — and the Oxford 250 — there are no favorites.

While the race might no longer attract the 80-90 entries it once garnered in its heyday, it still remains as the richest one-day race in the northeast with its guaranteed $25,000 to win purse — and, as ever, it’s nearly impossible to predict who has the upper hand heading into the event at the end of this month.

History Making

Derek Griffith of Hudson, N.H. won the White Mountain Motorsports Park 100 last Saturday to become the first driver in Granite State Pro Stock Series history to win four races in a single season.

The breakout campaign for the LCM Racing driver is due in large part to Louie Mechalides, the veteran Tyngsboro, Mass. racer who competed in both Super Late Models and Modifieds during his career.

“Louie has been tutoring me, and dialing me in, it’s huge,” Griffith said. “That’s the biggest thing I could focus on.”

Griffith beat both Davis and Shaw across the line, two drivers with plenty of history at White Mountain Motorsports Park. Shaw, the reigning PASS North champion, is a former Late Model champion at the track.

“He was just in a league of his own,” Shaw said. “He’s been really impressive how far he’s come, and how far their program has come.  He’s definitely a top-tier driver.”

Next ACT

In eight American Canadian Tour races at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, there have been eight different winners — including Barre, Vt.’s Nick Sweet last summer.

Saturday night, Windham, Maine driver Brad Babb will try and make it nine-for-nine at his home track.

“After the way we ran at Oxford, I’m really looking forward to Beech Ridge,” said Babb, who tangled with eventual winner Joey Polewarczyk while racing for the lead late at Oxford Plains on July 25. “If we can run that well again, I really think we can come away with a win. Obviously I feel like I got the short end of the stick on the deal at Oxford, but I’m not going to worry about it.

“I’m just going to race like nothing happened and we’ll see what happens when we get there.”

Babb won the Beech Ridge track championship in 2012, and he’s focused on touring series racing since that season. While this season isn’t his first full-time ACT attempt, it is his first in the No. 15 owned by Joey Laquerre of East Montpelier, Vt.

Polewarczyk leads Wayne Helliwell Jr. of Dover, N.H. by just seven points in the standings heading into Beech Ridge. Polewarczyk has a victory at the track in 2010, while Helliwell has not won at the facility.

Babb is third in the championship picture with a win this season at Thunder Road.

Pit Notes

Reid Lanpher of Manchester, Maine won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Pro Series feature at Beech Ridge last Saturday night to become the first driver in five years to win back-to-back races in the top division. Launcher is the point leader with three career victories… Shawn Knight of South Paris, Maine won his second Super Late Model of the season at Oxford Plains Speedway on Saturday… The Granite State Pro Stock Series heads to Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H. for the JBH 100 Saturday… The Thunder Road International Speedbowl ‘King of the Road’ battle is, not surprisingly, shaping up to be a two-man show between multi-time champions Derrick O’Donnell and Nick Sweet. O’Donnell leads Sweet by 19 points with just a handful of starts remaining… The PASS North Series is back in action north of the border at Autodrome Montmagny on Saturday night.

Comments

  1. Shawn- I know the Oxford 250 is not your normal race to cover, but if you have never been you and others here should make the trip. Drivers with CT ties entered are Derek Ramstrom, Dillion Moltz, and former Modified Tour driver Spencer Davis. Thompson regular Larry Gelinas usually attempts this race. 50+ entries thus far

  2. Andy Boright says

    The Oxford 250 has lost much of it’s luster, much like the track itself has. It was once billed as the richest one day race in America, now it’s barely the richest one day race in the Northeast. The purse has declined, the car count has declined, and the attendance has declined. Frankly the race is a shell of what it once was and who knows if the track will be open (and if it is, run by whom) next season.

    How come no mention was made of the car count for the GSPSS at WMMP? 13 cars starting a touring event is at least as important to mention as the race winner.

    The ACT Tour has run 8 point counting events, Joey Pole & Wayne Helliwell have won 7 of the 8 races.

    Just continue to ignore all the problems GSPSS, ACT, and PASS have. They will work themselves out just like they always do, it’s not your job to report the news.

  3. Larry Gelinas doesn’t attempt to race the Oxford 250 he has won it

  4. LM – I know Larry has won the 250 in the past, but was just pointing out he is another Driver with CT ties that usually attempts this race each year.

    Andy- they show 53 cars entered thus far, and it standing room only event when I went 2 years ago, not sure this event has lost as much as you lead on; is it the 250 when the Busch North cars ran, no. But still one of the best single day events in New England.

  5. The 250 is one of my favorite races every year– and I’ve attended most of them since that first 200 lapper. The races the last few years have been *really* good. Even better since they stopped importing Cup drivers. (It’s awesome if you can beat a Cup driver but, let’s be honest, their resources let them operate on a different level. I’d rather see the $$ go to the locals.)

    The 250 will get more than 70 cars. And there’ll be a LOT of quality teams. There’ll be Canadians, Yankees from pretty much every New England state, and southerners. Every one of them will have to qualify through random draw heat races. At least one OPS regular will shine surprisingly in the 250. There’ll be a last-chance race full of desperation and treachery. And the lap money will play a role in who runs up front in the 250.

    It’s one of THE best races in the northeast every year.

    One of my other all-time favorite races — the Thompson 300 — doesn’t even exist any more, and it’s sorely missed. They pulled in over 100 modifieds the first couple years they ran that event. That was magic then, and it’s unthinkable today. The Sizzler pulled in a ton of cars the first few years. (C’mon TriTrack guys… replicate the Oxford 250 for the mods! If anyone can, I think it’s going to have to be you.)

    But NO race pulls in the car counts like they used to. That’s just the state of racing today.

    ACT is in crisis because two drivers have won most events? (Hey, now Babb is a 2-time winner.) Pole and Helliwell are two AWESOME drivers. Yes, the talent is a bit light this year, but that stuff is cyclical.

    The GSPSS pulled in 13 cars at their last race? I’ve seen them put on some entertaining races, but I’m not even sure why that series exists. They’re in direct competition with PASS. There’s a little bit of cross-over between the two series but most (not all!) of the GSPSS drivers would struggle at a PASS event.

    PASS itself had a small field at their most recent event up at Montmagny. They struggled to get cars to come to Thompson the last few years that track was on the tour. The MRS car counts fluctuate wildly. It’s just the nature of the beast. This isn’t Cup racing, where there’s incentives to make every event and a huge end-of-year point fund.

    The car counts at most track’s weekly divisions are struggling at this point.

    This just is what racing is today. My personal belief is that short track oval racing is dead in 10-15 years. Enjoy it while you can.

    And enjoy the coverage of ACT, PASS, GSPSS on here, too. Because that’s just not Shawn’s beat. I’m glad to have Travis Barrett on here. He’s a fine writer and I’m glad to see those series covered.

  6. Hey Shawn, or Travis…

    How about a profile piece on Dillon Moltz? The CT driver has branched out to ACT and PASS this year and he’s really doing well. He seems like a breakout star on the verge.

    thanks

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