For Adams, it's a team sport

There has to be something to the way Travis Adams views a track championship, something that has been the key to him winning 3 of the last 5 Late Model championships at Oxford Plains Speedway.

After finishing 4th in the 1st of 2 40-lap features for the division on Saturday night, Adams was a little disappointed at not winning the feature won by his closest competition -- Ricky Rolfe. In fact, for him it's all about winning races, something he did 6 times in 15 starts en route to the championship.

"You asked about big pictures, but I'm a racer," Adams said. "Racers come for the wins. It seems as though the crew comes for championships."
Giving all the credit to his crew is a trait that can't be overlooked. In fact, in a world where race car drivers are increasingly self-absorbed and egotistical by nature, Adams was happy to give all of the championship "glow" to his team.
Even Rolfe, who finished 2nd to Carey Martin in the nightcap and lost the title race by 28 points in Oxford's 1st season with the Late Models as the headlining division, was happy for Adams.
In fact, he was happy either way, even after Adams finished 3rd in that race to lock up the crown.
"I'm satisfied if I win or if Travis wins," said Rolfe, who works full-time at Race Basics building race cars. "I built both the chassis.

"We did everything we could do," Rolfe said. "(Adams) deserved to win the championship. He had the best year of anyone down here in all the divisions."

The Strictly Stock fight, Tommy Tompkins of Mexico was crowned the champion after finishing 4th, two spots ahead of Sumner Sessions, in the 2nd of 2 30-lap features.


Unofficial results

Mini Stock feature (30 laps) -- 1. Don Mooney, New Gloucester; 2. Bill Irving, New Gloucester; 3. Jim Childs, Leeds; 4. Bill Thibeault, Oxford; 5. Kevin Bishop, Oxford.

Strictly Stock feature (30 laps) -- 1. Skip Tripp, Sabattus; 2. Mike Short, Auburn; 3. Matt Williams, Brownfield; 4. Tommy Tompkins, Mexico; 5. Rick Thompson, Naples.

Late Model feature (40 laps) -- 1. Carey Martin, Denmark; 2. Ricky Rolfe, Albany Township; 3. Travis Adams, Canton; 4. Shane Green, ; 5. Brad Hammond, Sabattus.

Rolfe wins; long shot for title

Either way, Ricky Rolfe figures he's a winner.

Rolfe won the 1st of 2 40-lap Late Model features at Oxford Plains Speedway on Saturday, cutting Travis Adams' lead atop the division to 30 points with a single race remaining. Rolfe figured it was much too late to catch the 2-time division champion Adams, but he's happy either way with the 1-2 finish.

"I'm satisfied if I win or if Travis wins," said Rolfe, who works full-time at Race Basics. "I built both the chassis."

Rolfe's win was his 3rd of the season, but Adams finished 4th behind him.

"I really need him to have a bad night," Rolfe said. "I don't wish bad luck on nobody, but that's what it's going to take for me to beat him. He's just been way too fast, way too good."

Earlier in the night, Tommy Tompkins stretched his lead in the Strictly Stock standings to 8 points by finishing 2nd in a 30-lap main won by Rick Thompson. Tompkins and 2nd-place Sumner Sessions have another 30-lapper later this evening to settle the championship fight.
Unofficial results
Mini Stock feature (30 laps, from Aug. 26) -- 1. Bill Childs, Leeds; 2. Bill Thibeault, Oxford; 3. Don Mooney, New Gloucester; 4. Shane Kaherl, Jay; 5. Kevin Bishop, Oxford.
Strictly Stock feature (30 laps, from Aug. 26) -- 1. Rick Thompson, Naples; 2. Tommy Tompkins, Mexico; 3. Matt Williams, Brownfield; 4. Skip Tripp, Sabattus; 5. Sumner Sessions, Norway.
Late Model Stock feature (40 laps, from Aug. 26) -- 1. Ricky Rolfe, Albany Township; 2. Mark Childs Sr., Mechanic Falls; 3. Shawn Martin, Turner; 4. Travis Adams, Canton; 5. Dave MacDonald, New Gloucester.

Childs becomes 1st Oxford champ of '07

Jim Childs sure made short work of Saturday night.

The Oxford Plains Speedway driver needed less than 15 minutes to claim the first championship of the Oxford Championship Series' 2007 season. Childs won the 1st of 2 Mini Stock features Saturday night (the final 22 laps of a 30-lap race originally scheduled for last Saturday) to earn his 2nd straight Mini Crown.

The victory was Childs' 6th this season and 28th of his career, and it made him the 1st repeat Mini champion at Oxford since Harold Beisaw won 3 straight from 1974-76.

Childs entered the night with a 112-point lead over rookie Bill Irving and needed only to show up for the rain-delayed event to win. He added to the drama by winning.

Putting Late Models to the holiday weekend test

Call it a "Late Model Immersion" weekend for me.

We're kicking it off at Oxford Plains Speedway, where 26 Late Models are on hand for championship night at the track. There are a pair of 40-lap features to run, and it's Travis Adams who has the chance to take home the hardware. Ricky Rolfe is second, 36 points behind.

Tomorrow, I'm heading off for Thunder Road in Vermont, one of those racing places I've never been to but that you're supposed to go to if you're any kind of auto racing writer worth your salt. I'm not sure that I'm worth my salt -- or what that term even means -- but it's a holiday weekend and the idea of a Nextel Cup race at California on television makes my eyes glaze over and the drool start pooling at the corners of my mouth.

They say if you want to see the ACT tour at its very best, then Thunder Road is the place to do it. So, I'm game.


Landry takes his act on the road

Even after winning a championship at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway last season, not much has changed for Mike Landry.

Landry, the 2006 Sport Series champion at The Ridge, still enjoys competing both at the track and in open shows around New England.

Read the complete story in today's Kennebec Journal.


Adams can become a track champion

Travis Adams is a 2-time Late Model champion at Oxford Plains Speedway, but he has an opportunity on Saturday night to truly call himself a track champion for the 1st time.

Saturday is Oxford's final points night of the season. It marks the end to the 1st year at the track with the Late Model division as its headliner. That ought to be all the motivation Adams needs to hold onto his 36-point lead over Ricky Rolfe this weekend, and he'll have to survive 2 40-lap features to do it.

The term "track champion" gets thrown around quite a bit, and we in the media are as guilty as anyone. We refer to drivers all the time as "track champions" in stories -- whether it's a Pro Stock division at Wiscasset Raceway or a Mini Stock at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway. In many ways, we've all lost sight of what a track champion really is.

For the record, a true track champion is the season's champion in its premier division -- whatever division the track claims as its top one. At Oxford, it's the Late Models. At Thompson, it's the SK Modifieds. At Unity Raceway, it's the Super Streets.

Maurice Young is a 5-time champion at Wiscasset and he's looking to claim his track-record 6th title in just a few short weeks. But Young is not about to be crowned a 6-time track champion -- only 1 of his titles came in what was considered Wiscasset's top circuit.

This year's title will be No. 5 in a Strictly Street. That's not to say what he's done isn't amazing and worthy of an immense amount of respect, because it is. It's just that it's an important distinction to make. There are championships at a track, and then there are track championships.

There are regular season division winners in Major League Baseball, and there are World Series champions.

On Saturday, if Travis Adams stays within 18 total positions of Ricky Rolfe in the 2 features (not including the 1 qualifying heat he'll run), he'll have 3 Late Model titles on his resume. But Adams will be a track champion for the 1st time, after winning his 1st 2 titles when Oxford ran Pro Stocks as its premier division.

Yeah, Adams has been here before. But, in a sense, he's never been in this position at all.

Doing it F1 style

How's that old saying go? You can take the man out of Formula 1, but you can't take the Formula 1 out of the man?

First, Juan Pablo Montoya comes along and makes the move from F1 to NASCAR. Now, it Jacques Villeneuve is making the jump, racing Craftsman Trucks for Bill Davis Racing this fall before likely hopping into the Cup ride being vacated by Jeremy Mayfield in 2008.

But it's not enough for an F1 driver to make the switch and throw a little praise in NASCAR's direction. Nope. Villeneuve's got to toss a few barbs at Montoya in the process.

Montoya's transition into the NASCAR garage hasn't been all that smooth on or off the track, and Villeneuve is among the first to say it's to be expected.

"Apparently, no matter what you're driving, nobody likes the new boy," Villeneuve said. "Anytime anybody (new) got into F1, we didn't like it and we made their life hard."

But Villeneuve didn't stop there with that general assessment.

"But [Montoya] was like that in Formula 1, extremely aggressive and got on people's nerves," Villeneuve said. "I guess he kept the same personality going into NASCAR, which once he settles in, it will be all right. He's driving hard, he's fast, and he's making a name for himself. Now he's earning respect, so that's fine. But I've never been as aggressive as him, I would say."

Unfortunately for New England racing fans, Villeneuve's Craftsman Truck debut is slated for Sept. 22 at Las Vegas — one week after the 200-lap Truck event at New Hampshire International Speedway.


Dearborn has his day at Speedway 95

With the 2 cars that dominated the event gone from contention in the final laps, Richie Dearborn leapt at his opportunity.

Dearborn muscled the lead from rookie Trevor Sanborn with 6 laps remaining on Sunday, and the Hollis driver picked up his 3rd career PASS North Series victory in the PASS 150 at Speedway 95.

Read the complete story in today's Kennebec Journal.


Must have been humidity

Bobby Clark, the brother and crew chief of PASS North Series driver Johnny Clark, sent the message loud and clear.

In front of the media assembled around Richie Dearborn, winner of the PASS 150 at Speedway 95 on Sunday, Bobby voiced his displeasure regarding some contact between Dearborn and his brother on the track. Bobby screamed while he pointed at Dearborn, letting him know that all that stood between Dearborn and retaliation was a flat tire on the Clarks' No. 54.

It was that kind of a day. Hours earlier I'd been telling Cassius Clark about how everybody in the PASS ranks genuinely seem to get along and, for the most part, to enjoy competing against one another.

And then Dearborn and Clark were tossing verbal jabs at one another.

"There's no need for him racing people like he did. That was ridiculous," Clark said of Dearborn, who took the race lead from him on a lap 118 restart after contact in turn 1. "He doesn't need to run people off the race track. He slammed into me going into turn one and ran me off the race track. It about wrecked the whole field."

"(Johnny's) hit me a ton of times, too," Dearborn said. "Johnny gets a little hot-headed -- we all do. ... I'm one of the cleanest drivers out here, and these guys don't like it now that I'm giving a little back to them."

Enter Bobby Clark, stage right.

"You're lucky we had a flat tire, Richie," Bobby yelled. "The 2nd time you drove the 29 straight
up the track, we'd have been right there to do the same thing right back to you. You're lucky we had a (expletive) flat tire, buddy."

"Sure," Dearborn deadpanned. "Perfect."

Then Jay Cushman and former driver Scott Chubbuck were sparring, too. Cushman's rookie driver Trevor Sanborn finished 2nd with Chubbuck 3rd.

"(Cushman) don't remember there's people listening (on the radio)," Chubbuck said. "He's telling (Sanborn) to run everybody wide and do this and do that, but nothing changes. He used to do the same thing when I was in the car."

Cushman said Chubbuck's driving forced him to warn Sanborn.

"He cut across 2 lanes in front of us, and there was enough space to drive a truck through," Cushman said.

The 2 drivers one most expected to be upset with each other -- Dearborn and Sanborn, who each made a pass on the other (with contact) for the lead on late-race restarts -- were the most cordial.

"With 10 laps to go or whatever, you've got to expect that," said Dearborn, who made contact with Sanborn on lap 144 while taking the lead en route to the win "Really, it could have been a lot worse. It's bad enough I lost the lead, but luckily we had that caution with six or seven (laps) to go to regain it."

Sanborn agreed the contact was well within the boundaries.

"It was a handful, that's for sure. That was good racing," said Sanborn, who tagged Dearborn 4 laps earlier while earning the lead. "I got run up a little bit, but I used my surface in the same area he did. That's racing. I ain't crying about what he did, and I hope he doesn't cry about what I did."

Just another day of PASS racing at the tight and tricky Speedway 95.

Welcome to Speedway 95! Now, please hurry home...

And you wonder why local stock-car racing doesn't get more media attention...

Aside from PR man and track announcer Bill DaButler, who not only does a professional job but always does it with a smile on his face, the reception at Speedway 95 on Sunday was chilly at best.

Here's how it went down:

After the PASS Modified and North Series heats, I hitched up the press box phone line to the back of the laptop to update the blog. I was on-line for all of 5 minutes, after which I unplugged the line. I was then asked by the track's head scorer if I had been using the phone line. When I answered that, indeed, I had, I was met with a resounding, "Oh."

"I'm sorry," I said, "I hope it wasn't a problem."

"No, it's not now," I was told with a roll of the eyes.

Less than 5 minutes later, while putting some notes down on paper, the same scorer tapped me on the shoulder.

"That's one of our scorers' seats," she said, followed by nothing else, as if it needed no explanation. She just glared at me until I moved.

So, I moved my belongings and headed back out to the pit area.

As if that weren't bad enough, when the races were over, I was alone in the press box working on my story for Monday's Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. The phone lines had been removed, and there was no one around to help. No phone lines means no e-mail access for those of us jurassics with dial-up, and that means either missing deadline or not getting a story into Monday's papers altogether.

That would go over big with everyone -- me, my editors, my bosses, the race teams and the readers and fans.

There were also no local results, and the only PASS results were the ones DaButler let me jot down off his one and only copy.

Thanks to the help of a gas station attendant down the road, I sent the story from a back room at a convenience store -- a story about a regional touring series with a solid fan following at a track that hosted 2 racing events this weekend. Not exactly how you'd like to drum it up.

I bet the PASS folks would love to know that the track hosting its event nearly thwarted any efforts to get the news out about the race there.

See, I'm a roll with the punches kind of reporter. I've been covering local racing for a decade now, and I know more or less what to expect in short-track press boxes -- sometimes you'll have space to work, sometimes you won't quite have enough, but at the very least there will be a phone line. And I'm OK with that.

I know I'll be back to the race track again next weekend, and likely back to Speedway 95 before the season's over. It's my beat, and it's a beat I enjoy covering a great deal. But the fact remains that such a media-unfriendly environment like the one provided by Speedway 95 on Sunday would turn off many a reporter, particularly those who could give 2 cents about auto racing at any level.

There are people on the sports staffs at the 2 papers I work for who would never return to cover a race after an experience like mine -- some who would have left before the races were even half-over, complaining of no place to work. And it's not just our papers, it's other papers that I've worked at and dozens more. If people don't want to cover racing, it won't get covered -- that's the bottom line.

Short-track racing doesn't suffer from a lack of media coverage. It's the short tracks that suffer from a lack of understanding regarding how to deal with the local media. Get the results to the reporters, give them a place to sit and plug into an outlet and give them access to a phone line.

Do that with consistency, and you'll have your media coverage.

Dearborn collects 3rd career PASS win

Never having done much of anything at Speedway 95, it was the last place PASS North Series driver Richie Dearborn expected to find victory lane.

The Hollis driver survived some contentious elbow-to-elbow racing to win the PASS 150 on Sunday afternoon, his 1st career top-3 at the .333-mile facility. Previously, Dearborn owns series wins at Lee (N.H.) USA Speedway and White Mountain Motorsports Park.

"This is the last spot I ever thought I'd win at," said Dearborn, who started on the pole in the 21-car field. "To get my 1st top-3 here and have it be a win is just amazing."

Dearborn first butted heads with Johnny Clark to take the lead on a lap 118 and then swapped the lead with Trevor Sanborn after 2 late-race restarts. Clark suffered a flat right front tire later on and ended up 13th.

"With 10 to go, you've got to expect a little bit of that," Dearborn said.

Unofficial Top-10 Finish:
1. Richie Dearborn, Hollis
2. Trevor Sanborn, Parsonsfield
3. Scott Chubbuck, Brunswick
4. Ben Rowe, Turner
5. Travis Benjamin, Morrill
6. Paul White, Corinna
7. Derek Ramstrom, West Boylston, Mass.
8. Mark Thomas, Hermon
9. Curtis Gerry, Waterboro
10. Ryan Deane, Winterport

Norris wins PASS Mod feature

It all went downhill for Gary Norris Jr. last weekend the moment he hit the road for Riverside Speedway in Groveton, N.H.

The 1st half of a PASS Modified doubleheader weekend ended with a broken axle, a problem compounded by mechanical troubles in Norris' street truck once the them hit the road for its West Gardiner home. Two days later at Wiscasset Raceway, Norris was caught up in an accident and done in with broken suspension parts in the front of the car.

"It was a tough, tough weekend," Norris said after winning Sunday's PASS Modified 40-lap feature at Speedway 95 in Hermon. "We took a big hit in the points and a big hit in the checkbook. This will help the checkbook get flowing again."

Norris started 6th in the 13-car field and was comfortably riding in 3rd by the halfway point of the event. A restart on lap 30 gave Norris the shot he needed, and he uncharacteristically used the bottom groove to launch past leaders Troy Morse and Richie Morse.

Norris then survived a restart with 7 laps remaining, holding off points leader Chris Staples. Norris dropped from 3rd to 8th in the series standings after his 2 DNFs last week, though the top 10 in the standings are separated by fewer than 100 points.
"I just drove it in as deep as I could, really deep," said Norris, who has 3 Modified wins this season, including a season sweep at Speedway 95. "I just hoped it would stick. If it didn't, it didn't."

Staples finished 2nd, with Troy Morse 3rd and Richie Morse 4th. Marc Lucas, Staples' teammate, rounded out the top-5.

Sunday afternoon = PASS North Series date

It's just another sleepy racing Sunday afternoon here on the PASS North Series tour.

The PASS guys just wrapped up their heats at Speedway 95 in advance of their 150-lap main event later on today. Richie Dearborn, Mike Rowe and Scott Chubbuck won their respective 12-lap heats.

There are 21 cars signed in and ready to go, an unsurprising drop-off following a 30-car field last weekend at Wiscasset Raceway. Like at Wiscasset, today's field picked up a few of the track's weekly regulars, though one would think a Sunday afternoon would draw a few more cars out of the woodwork. Maybe everyone's summer racing budget is kaput.
Maybe it's because bear hunting season starts this week...


PASS car owner Jay Cushman, who fields the No. 29 Fords for rookie Trevor Sanborn, made it back from Bristol, Tenn., in time for last night's regularly scheduled Pro Stock feature at Speedway 95.

The lady in Cushman's life won a trip through Citibank to the the guest crew chief for the No. 90 of Stephen Leicht in Friday's Busch Series race at Bristol. Because Cushman is a Ford man, tried and true, he already knew a bunch of the guys on the Robert Yates Racing Busch team.
How'd that go?

"Just like my own guys," Cushman said. "I had a whole list of changes I wanted them to make to the car, and nobody listened to me."
Leicht finished 20th in the Food City 250.

Cushman had some bad luck in the Speedway 95 race, opting to pit Sanborn under a yellow flag. Rain then came and the race was red-flagged and never restarted.

"We finished last," Cushman said. "Don't pit during a red. No matter how good the changes you make to the car, you can't win under red."

Good point. I'll have to remember that.


Two PASS drivers are looking for an improved showing over their efforts at Speedway 95 in May.

Cassius Clark nearly had the field lapped in that event, but he was tagged for an illegal rocker arm and stripped of his win later that week. Mike Rowe crashed not once, but twice, in practice with faulty brakes and ended finishing a somewhat miraculous 11th in the feature.

Clark was 2nd fastest in all 3 of the practices he participated in this morning.

"We're the only car with a crate motor going well," Clark said. "You're not going to be the fastest with one of those."

But Clark was consistently turning laps in the 14.7- and 14.8-second bracket on the odd .333-mile layout where the outside groove is by far the most preferred.


There are just 3 races left in the PASS North season after today.

Heading into the PASS 150 here, Ben Rowe leads his father, Mike Rowe, by 12 points. It's a little further back to defending series champion Johnny Clark, who is 49 points out of the lead and in need of some big-time help from the Rowes (read: misfortune) to win his 3rd series title and equal Ben's championship total.

Richie Dearborn and Trevor Sanborn are 54 and 122 points back, respectively.

ASM has big day at Mansfield

Andy Santerre Motorsports had itself quite a night on Saturday.

Sean Caisse won the NASCAR Busch East Series Mansfield 150 at Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Park, with rookie teammate Jeffrey Earnhardt finishing 5th.

Caisse won the pole for the inaugural Mansfield event, and then led 136 laps in holding off Matt Kobyluck for the victory. Joey Logano was 3rd, and veteran Jerry Marquis was 4th.

Logano retained his series points lead.

Hard as it is to believe, the next event for the BES is the Aubuchon Hardware 125 at New Hampshire International Speedway on Friday, Sept. 14.