PORTLAND, Maine — Oxford Plains Speedway owner Bill Ryan recalled a prank pulled by NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kevin Harvick in 2008 after he won the TD Bank 250.
“After Denny Hamlin raced in 2006, I thanked him for coming and he said, ‘Where’s my 36th-place trophy?’” Ryan said Wednesday at the annual midweek press conference before Sunday’s 39th annual TD Bank 250. “I told him I’d send him one. I actually got him a trophy but I didn’t pull the trigger on sending it to him because I didn’t know if he’d remember our conversation and I didn’t want him to think I was a jerk.
“After Harvick won the race in 2008, I was telling him about the Hamlin story. He asked me if I still had the trophy. I said, ‘I think it’s still in my office.’ He said to give it to him.
“He took it down to the next [Sprint] race and as the cars were lined up in their starting positions, Harvick put the trophy on the hood of Hamlin’s car. Hamlin wanted to know what was going on and Harvick was laughing. Harvick told him the story and Hamlin remembered [our conversation]. They both had a good laugh,” said Ryan, who has enjoyed his dealings with Cup drivers who have competed in past TD Bank 250s.
“I’ll use Harvick as an example,” said Ryan. “I didn’t get a great impression of him based on what I saw of him on TV. But he’s a lot different once you get to know him. He’s a really nice, sincere guy. And Kyle Busch is a great guy. I had fun sitting down and talking about racing with him.”
Ryan said the NASCAR drivers remember their time in Oxford.
“I was down at Daytona and I bumped into Kurt Busch and had a great conversation with him,” said Ryan, who also ran into Matt Kenseth at a public appearance.
“They have a lot of fun at Oxford. For them, it’s a lot less pressure,” said Ryan.