OXFORD — It has been a record-setting year for Kyle Busch.
The 26-year-old Sprint Cup driver from Las Vegas tied Mark Martin for most career wins in the the Nationwide Series with his 49th coming at New Hampshire Motor Speedway two weekends ago and he has become just the third driver in history with 100 overall wins between the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck series.
Which accomplishment means more to him?
“All of the above. Everything,” said Busch Sunday afternoon before the TD Bank Oxford 250. “Every week it’s something else. Whether it’s good, whether it’s bad. We take everything in stride. We do what we can with it. It means a lot more to win races. We’d like to have more Cup wins.”
Busch, who went on to win the Oxford 250 Sunday night, has 22 Sprint Cup wins and 29 Truck series victories.
Busch said he doesn’t feel his feat of reaching 100 wins by the age of 26 has earned the proper recognition.
“It’s a relative term from what I’ve learned this year. People want to degrade it as much as they can so it’s not as meaningful,” said Busch whose success, aggressive style of racing and skirmishes have earned him a healthy share of detractors.
Busch continued his winning ways on Saturday night when the won the Pro All-Stars Series 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway.
“We had a really good car. It’s a car we built at Kyle Busch Motorsports,” said Busch. “We had fun. It was a good race. Patrick (Laperle) led most of it then we were able to come on at the end. I felt like we saved our stuff a little bit more than he did.”
Busch qualified fifth for the TD Bank 250 by winning his heat race. It was his third TD Bank 250 and he keeps coming back because he enjoys it.
“Oxford is fun. It is certainly a challenge. It takes a really good race car driver, a smart race car driver to get around here,” he said.
Pittston’s Ashline earns pole
Ben Ashline said he has been coming to Oxford Plains Speedway since he was 8- or 10-years old.
“I was sitting in the grandstands and I dreamed of one day starting on the pole at the Oxford TD Bank North 250,” he said.
The 20-year-old from Pittston achieved that goal on Sunday, starting the first heat race ninth before taking the checkered flag to earn the pole.
“We started ninth and I honestly didn’t think we could quite get that far. There was strong competition and everybody is so close,” he said.
“I’m ecstatic. I can’t even explain how great this feels. The crew worked hard,” he added.
Ahline finished 25th in the TD Bank 250 two years ago and was 26th last year.
“We had a good run going but I got heat stroke last year,” he said.
Ashline is a regular on the American Canadian Tour where he is currently seventh in points and leading the rookie points.He also runs in the Late Model division at Oxford Plains Speedway.
Ashline, who was home schooled, works for Jeff Taylor at Distance Racing Products in Fairfield.
His car has a Distance Racing chassis and he said Taylor has been a great influence on him.
“He has taught me more. … I’m so appreciative. I can’t be more thankful for what he’s done for me,” said Ashline, who is in his fifth season of racing after six years running go-karts.
He has had four top 10s on the ACT series this season.
County drivers qualify
Aroostook County was well-represented in the 250.
Frenchville’s Shawn Martin qualified sixth and 17-year-old Austin Theriault from Fort Kent earned the 11th starting spot.
Theriault qualified in just his second time at the 250. He failed to qualify last year, but went on to finish third in the race this year.
Martin has qualified several times and once earned the pole. His best finish was fourth.
Martin said it was “awesome” to have two Aroostook County drivers who cut their racing teeth at Caribou’s Spud Speedway claim top 11 spots.
“It’s one of the best race tracks around. I love that track,” said Martin referring to Spud. “The thing I love the most is it has so much grip. You can really drive the car. Here (Oxford) there’s absolutely no grip. It’s all about finesse.”
Theriault was equally excited and said having a year of experience under his belt has been beneficial.
“I’m a better driver this year. I’m more confident and the crew is more confident. I’ve learned a lot out on the track like race maneuvers. When the 250 comes around, if there’s a hole that’s open, you really have to take it because everyone is really protecting their real estate and they don’t want to give it up.”
From Ohio to Maine
It was a long night for defending two-time champ Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, Mass. and some of his crew members.
MacDonald and part of his crew ran in a 150-lap K and N Pro Series East race in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday night, finishing 10th, and then they drove to Pittsburgh.
They checked into their hotel at 3:30 a.m. and had to leave an hour later for a flight to Portland. There was a layover before they landed in Portland at 9:30. They were able to get to Oxford in time for a practice session.
MacDonald said he was also able to take a short nap en route to Oxford.
He started 26th and went on to finish fourth.
Rolfe fails to qualify
It was a tough day for Albany Township’s Ricky Rolfe.
The veteran driver won the fourth heat race which would have qualified him for the fourth starting spot.
But in post-race technical inspection, his car’s front end was ruled to be too wide which negated his win.
He tried unsuccessfully to qualify in the consolation race and the last-chance race so he went home early.