Oxford Plains Speedway owner Bill Ryan said he was pleased with the turnout and car count at Sunday night’s 37th annual TD Bank 250.
“I was definitely happy with it,” said Ryan. “The fact we had 79 cars enter with this economic environment is huge.”
He estimated that 9,000 spectators turned out. The facility can hold 13,000.
“That has been the typical crowd after 2004,” said Ryan.
He said the race attracted 13,000 in 2004 because that was the first year Ryan brought Sprint Cup drivers to the race.
In 2004, he was able to land 2003 Sprint Cup points champion Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch, who went on to win the points that year. In subsequent years, he attracted drivers like current fellow Sprint Cup Chase contenders Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.
Harvick currently leads the points standings, Hamlin is fourth, Kurt Busch is fifth, Kyle Busch is sixth and Kenseth is eighth.
Sprint Cup driver and Nationwide Series points leader Brad Keselowski was the featured driver on Sunday and finished 22nd after starting 39th with a provisional.
Jeffrey Earnhardt, grandson of the late Dale Earnhardt, was a late addition to the field but failed to qualify and wasn’t awarded a provisional.
“I didn’t see his past performance as being anything that was worthy of a provisional,” explained Ryan. “He had finished fifth in the K & N [Pro Series East] series. I think he understood.”
Earnhardt was fifth in 2007 when he was driving for the Andy Santerre Motorsports team owned by the Cherryfield native and four-time K & N Pro Series East champion.
Ryan said he intends to continue to schedule the 250 on the off weekend for the Sprint Cup drivers so he can continue to try to attract them to the race.
“It adds a dimension to the race. A lot of fans like it,” said Ryan. “You never know who is going to come out of the woodwork and run the race and that makes it fun.”
Harvick is the only Cup driver since 2004 to win the 250. He won it in 2008.
Brackett seeking Truck race spot
Strong’s Dale Brackett, who was raised in Abbott, will try to qualify for the AAA Insurance 200 Camping World Truck Series at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis tonight.
He had hoped to qualify for the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway (Va.) on March 27 but qualifying was rained out so he was sent home.
Both the qualifying and the race will take place tonight. The race begins at 8.
If he qualifies, he will make his debut in the Truck series.