If Oxford Plains Speedway's decision to close its 2007 season with a 150-lap American-Canadian Tour race was curious, then the track's recent announcement that it will finish up next season with an ACT event on Sept. 13 could prove disastrous.
For the first time in recent memory, ACT closed its '07 slate with a race other than the prestigious Milk Bowl, returning to Oxford on Oct. 6 for a 150-lap finale that ACT insider deemed "a favor." Though the Sept. 13 New England Dodge Dealers 150 at Oxford next season won't serve as ACT's finale (the Milk Bowl 2 weeks later will), it's a move by Oxford Plains that begs the question.
This time around there won't be the threat of cold weather, or the Fryeburg Fair just down the road apiece. Instead, that mid-September date comes smack dab in the middle of the Sylvania 300 weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the first race in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
You're not asking New England fans to choose which event to attend by holding them head-to-head, because for most there is no choice — and annual attendance of more than 100,000 speaks volumes to that end. Tickets to 1 of only 2 area appearances for NASCAR's top series are purchased long in advance, and the travel plans are made well ahead of time, too. With uncertainty surrounding Speedway Motorsports Inc.'s purchase of the New Hampshire track in the future, the September race could be the final one of its kind.
Tracks much further away from Loudon, N.H., than Oxford close their gates for entire weekends for fear of poor attendance.
The weekend of Sept. 20 is an open weekend on the 2008 ACT schedule as its currently comprised. The 2 Little Guy 100's are to be held on that same day as that ACT race, too -- the same day as the final points program at Wiscasset Raceway.
Nobody in the world of short-track racing should be held prisoner by the NASCAR behemoth, but the much smarter money should have been placed on holding the New England Dodge Dealers 150 the next weekend. It would help racers who want to compete in the Oxford finale, and it would save fans, once again, from being forced to make difficult choices with their racing dollars.
It's a day late and a dollar short -- and most of you have probably found it by now -- but here's an unofficial top-10 from the Mason-Dixon Meltdown last Saturday night in Concord, N.C.
The PASS combination event was won by a northern driver for the 2nd year in a row, with 4-time PASS North Series champ Ben Rowe passing Corey Williams for the win as the white and yellow flags came out in the closing stages of the event. Johnny Clark was 3rd.
Defenind Meltdown champion Cassius Clark finished 6th.
1. Ben Rowe
2. Corey Williams
3. Johnny Clark
4. Preston Peltier
5. Trevor Sanborn
6. Cassius Clark
7. Richie Dearborn
8. Adam Bates
9. Mike Rowe
10. Perry Brown