A ‘Crazy’ Time Of Year
Crazy Horse Racing Teams Ready To Prove Their Mettle At Oxford
If there’s one thing Travis Stearns points to this year, it’s just how consistent his race cars have been in weekly competition at Oxford Plains Speedway.
With a pair of wins, five Top-5s and no finish worse than sixth in seven races this season, Stearns has a 31-point lead over the rest of the field as the Late Model world descends upon Oxford for this weekend’s 39th annual TD Bank Oxford 250. Practice is on Saturday and Sunday, with qualifying set for 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon and the main event in the evening.
Stearns is as excited about this weekend’s edition of the prestigious short-track race as he has been about any prior.
“I’ve felt pretty good before, but I’ve had nothing to really show for it. The car’s just a lot better now,” said Stearns, who has qualified for the race three years in a row with a career-best finish of 10th in 2009. “We have a good car, period. It’s something I’m not really used to coming into this race.”
Part of the reason for Stearns’ success has been a new Crazy Horse Racing chassis that he’s using. Built over the off-season, he’s noticed the benefits immediately. The biggest thing has been the car’s consistency over long runs, something that should set up nicely for Sunday’s 250-lap event.
Mickey Green, who not only builds cars at Crazy Horse Racing alongside Mitch Green but is also Austin Theriault’s crew chief on the ACT Late Model Tour, said that kind of consistency was the goal when the company set out in designing its 2012 chassis.
“I don’t think they fall off as much,” Green said. “They may not all go out and run the quickest lap times – but they don’t drop off. Look at Travis – everyone thinks he’s so much faster than everybody else, but he’s not. He’s just staying more consistent throughout the race. When everyone else starts dropping off, he’s still running roughly the same lap times.”
Theriault will debut his new car this weekend, after testing at Oxford Plains last week and then running Saturday night’s 40-lap Late Model feature. He started deep in the 24-car field and finished third – despite not deciding to really “race” other cars until several laps into the event.
He, like Stearns, thinks he’s in the best position he’s been in to challenge for a TD Bank 250 win. He finished third last season – the youngest podium finisher in the race’s history.
“Most people that have met (Mitch and Judy Green), they know that they’re great people to work with,” Theriault said. “When they give you their word that they’re going to have a car ready, they’re going to be ready. We worked right down to the wire – even had some all-nighters on this car. I think it’s really paid off.
“I sort of feel sorry for the competition. It’s way better than the other car was at Oxford.”
“The biggest thing is that the balance is so good on it,” Stearns said. “With my old car, the littlest thing – miss the stagger by a quarter of an inch, or going from day into night – would take it from being a fifth place car to to being a 25th-place car, and it was awful. It was a completely different animal. This thing here, it slows it up with little changes – but it only goes from a car that can win to being a Top-5 car.”
Last year’s Oxford Plains Speedway Rookie of the Year, Chris Coolidge, has posted a pair of career-best second-place finishes in weekly competition at the track this season. Coolidge knows that there are plenty of obstacles to overcome just to qualify for the starting field on Sunday, but he’s also extremely happy with the way his No. 72 has performed in the first half of the season.
After not qualifying for the TD Bank 250 as a rookie, he’s eager to make the starting grid this time around.
“Last year we tried to qualify in our first year. We had fun and we were competitive, but we just didn’t have the luck,” Coolidge said. “We’re going to attempt it this year, and this car’s going really good thanks to Mitch and Mickey and Crazy Horse and all those guys there. But the key to the 250 is the luck of the draw – that’s the biggest key right there.”
Mickey Green hopes the luck is on Crazy Horse Racing’s side when it comes to late evening on Sunday. It would be a huge win for a company that really only took off two years ago, once it moved into its new shop in South Paris – just a few miles down the road from Oxford Plains Speedway.
“If we don’t run well, then there’s something wrong. I’m very confident going into the weekend,” Green said. “These cars just don’t fall off, and it’s a big thing.
“Winning the 250 is huge. Just huge. Other car builders have won them – and if we could do it in our second year with our own design, that would be huge just huge for us. I’m not going to say it would put us on the map, but it would be a really big deal for us as a group.”