AUTO RACING

Caribou’s Spud Speedway opens for season on Sunday afternoon

Posted May 24, 2012, at 8:34 p.m.

Spud Speedway owner Troy Haney figures there were only four good racing weekends last summer at the racetrack.

Rain or the threat of rain hurt car counts and attendance the other weekends.

But it’s a new season and Haney is optimistic about the prospects for a better summer of racing beginning Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Caribou track.

Mainely Motorsports TV show host Steve Perry will serve as the Grand Marshal.

Perry will introduce the Save Speed 4 the Track group, which tries to save young people’s lives by stressing the importance of being a conscientious driver and safe rider.

Spud Speedway will be the last track to open, as Oxford Plains Speedway and Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough are beginning their weekly series on Saturday night at 6:30.

“We’re ready to go,” said Haney. “The weather looks good. We’ve got a busy season ahead of us.”

Two of the new wrinkles this season include a five-race series for Late Models and the Cary Medical Center Challenger series, an entry-level class for drivers who want to get involved in the sport at an affordable price.

And drivers in all classes will race free. They won’t have to pay the $20 entry fee.

The Late Model series is designed to attract “downstate drivers” said Haney, and beef up Spud Speedway’s car counts in the class.

“We only have four or five Late Models up here. We’d like to get four or five more from downstate,” said Haney.

Haney noted that the other four tracks in state race on Saturday nights, so he is hoping drivers will make the trek to Aroostook County to race on Sunday afternoon.

The series will pay $750 to win in the first four races, but the fourth annual Spud 150 will be the fifth and final race and that will pay $2,500. It will be held on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 9.

“There will be a $10,000 purse for the 150,” said Haney.

He said if any driver wins three of the five races, they will earn a $1,000 bonus.

Sunday’s opener in the Late Model series will be a 50-lapper.

The other Late Model races between the opener and the Spud 150 will be held on June 17, July 7 and Aug. 5. The July 7 race is the only one being held on a Saturday night and it will be a 75-lapper. There will be a fireworks display that night.

The Challenger series, according to Haney, is “basically an Enduro class.”

Drivers simply need to install a single roll bar and a driver’s door bar and take out the excess glass, headlights and taillights. And they have to have used tires, not new tires.

“For $200 or $300, you can go racing,” said Haney. “We want to keep the cost way down.”

The audience also will be involved, as one fan will spin a wheel before the Challenger race to determine whether the race will be run clockwise or counterclockwise or if there will be another format. For example, Haney said they may put skidder tires on the track to make it like an obstacle course.

“What we want to do is equalize the class a little bit,” he said. “We want to make it an entry-level class that doesn’t require mechanical skill.”

By having an unpredictable format, the drivers won’t be able to doctor their cars to take advantage of a particular format.

There will be four regular classes that will be featured every week.

There will be the Northern Lights class, Street Stocks, Super Streets and the Fast Fours.

Shawn Dewley, who won the Northern Lights points title a year ago, Street Stock winner Derek Finnemore and Super Streets champion Dillon MacDougal are all returning to defend their titles, according to Haney, but he isn’t sure if Keith Thibeau will be back to defend his title in the Fast-Fours.

The Young Guns and Power Puff (women) classes will run together, but it won’t be on a regular basis.

Haney is going to jazz up a few of his weekends with music.

Local band Unlucky Joe will play after the Wicked Good Vintage tour race on July 14 and there will be a Summerfest Concert featuring Neon Highway and the Kelly Parker Band on July 21.

Another highlight will be the Day of Destruction on Labor Day weekend with Maine’s monster truck Crushstation being the headliner.

“We’re in great shape. We’ve got some new sponsors and some new ideas,” said Haney. “I think we’re going to have good car counts. They’re going to be up in every division.”

Theriault finishes fifth

Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault finished fifth and Frenchville native Shawn Martin was 17th in last weekend’s Armed Forces 150 American-Canadian Tour race at Oxford Plains Speedway.

Pittston’s Ben Ashline won the race with Joey Polewarczyk Jr. of Hudson, N.H., Winthrop’s Jeff White, Brent Dragon from Milton, Vt., and Theriault rounding out the top five.

Theriault, who will soon graduate from Fort Kent High School, is currently fourth in points in the ACT series, 19 points behind leader Wayne Helliwell Jr. of Dover, N.H.

Also racing last weekend was Darrell Wallace Jr., who became the third African-American to run a NASCAR Nationwide Series race and wound up finishing ninth at Iowa Speedway in the Pioneer Hi-Bred 250.

The 18-year-old Wallace had run for Revolution Racing in the K and N Pro Series East the previous two years and Cherryfield’s Andy Santerre had been that team’s competition director before moving on to Hattori Racing this season.

Wallace, who was second in points in the K and N Series a year ago, is running for Joe Gibbs Racing in the series this season and also will run a handful of Nationwide races.

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