LARRY MAHONEY

Weekend featured two memorable sporting events

Posted July 27, 2012, at 3:06 p.m.

This past weekend was a memorable one for sports fans in the state of Maine.

On Saturday afternoon, the 23rd annual Lobster Bowl football game, pitting graduated seniors from the West against the East, was held at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford.

On Sunday night in Oxford, the 39th annual TD Bank 250 was held at Oxford Plains Speedway.

They were miniature versions of the nation’s favorite television sports.

The National Football League tops the list and the NASCAR Sprint Cup series is the second-most watched sport on television.

The Lobster Bowl gives players a chance to interact with high school rivals. For one week, they are teammates and bonds are formed.

They find out that the guy they despised for three or four years turns out to be a decent human being. He turns out to be likeable and they become friends.

Then there’s the game itself.

Some of them will continue their football careers in college.

But, for others, years and years of football come to an end.

A fall ritual ends, a chapter of one’s life is closed and another chapter begins.

Football is a unique sport.

Practices are rarely fun. They are tedious and those wind sprints at the end of practice are dreaded, especially in the heat of summer.

Your body is aching and every step you take is torture.

But that’s also the beauty of football.

You have pushed yourself to the limit, physically and mentally.

And persevering through a season gives you a sense of achievement that you rarely find in other sports.

It gives your self-confidence a boost that carries over into other ventures in life.

And the Lobster Bowl itself is a celebration of football.

The players and cheerleaders have to raise their own money and the proceeds benefit the Shriners Hospitals for Children.

They raised a record $73,000 this season.

This game also gives the participants the knowledge that they have contributed to a wonderful cause and they are touched by the resolve and attitudes of the youngsters for whom they’ve raised the money.

Then you have the TD Bank 250.

Race fans circle the date on their calendars and, since beginning in 2004, it has given them a chance to watch Sprint Cup drivers compete against the drivers from the Northeast.

Some of them fare well — Kevin Harvick won it in 2008 and Kyle Busch took the checkered flag in 2011 — and others don’t.

But the 250 itself caps a great weekend of racing including the heat races that can generate as much action as the race itself.

Any time you give drivers just 15 or 20 laps to qualify for a race that pays $25,000 to win and $100 per lap led, you’re bound to get some aggressive driving and wrecks.

The first set of heat races is 15 laps and the consolation and last-chance races are 20 laps.

The track is just three-eighths of a mile, so if you draw a number in which you start in the back of a 12- or 13-car heat race, you’ve got to hustle to get to the front of the pack into one of the qualifying spots.

The top four qualify from the first set of heat races, the top three from the consolation races and only the winner of the last-chance races.

Then you have 38-39 cars in the starting field and that’s a lot of metal on a short track, which always makes it an intriguing event.

Very few of the drivers are used to running races that last 250 green-flag laps.

Anyone who attended one of these events over the weekend got their money’s worth.

Maybe there were even a few of you who attended both.

The West beat the East 48-24 and Joey Polewarczyk Jr. of Hudson, N.H., won the 250.

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