OXFORD — Even though Kyle Treadwell is a self-admitted “late bloomer” in the racing world, he’s been picking up speed all season and believes he has a legitimate shot at winning this weekend’s Oxford 250.
The 24-year-old Buckfield resident is in his sixth racing season but this is only his second in the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Models, the class he’s in at Sunday’s big event at Oxford Plains Speedway. He started racing five-and-a-half years ago when he was 19.
“I was a late bloomer. Most kids these days start when they’re five. It’s crazy,” Treadwell said Monday. “My first two years I was terrible, but I caught on pretty quick. Racing is one of those things where either you have it or you don’t.”
He credits his father, Joe, who’s a mechanic, for giving him the racing bug.
“I never had the money so I was just helping people. My dad raced until I was 15 and I started building a car when I was 17 and it just took me a while,” Treadwell said. “I finally raced it in 2010 and the rest is history.”
Last August was the first time he qualified for one of the biggest short track races in the country that draws thousands of people each year. He finished 22nd two laps down, which means the leaders of the race lapped him twice.
But things have changed over the past year. Treadwell now runs the number 44 race car designed and built by fellow racer and Buckfield resident, TJ Brackett.
“I am a lot faster. I have a newer and better handling car. … Driving is 20 percent. Eighty percent is the car and how it handles,” Treadwell said, noting he runs staggered tires with bigger ones on the outside for better handling. “Last year … we weren’t even sure we were going to try (to qualify for the Oxford 250). This year, we’re a threat to win it.”
Last year, Treadwell finished the racing season in the top 10 only seven times and the top five twice, coming in fifth place both times. This year he’s come in the top five eight times, bringing home a first place win, three second places and a third place.
“(They’re) all podium finishes. … There’s nothing wrong with bronze. It’s just frustrating when you get it three times and you’ve only go gold once,” he said, noting he’s had eight career wins thus far. “I want more wins.”
Despite his frustration, Treadwell’s riding off a high from last weekend’s second place Super Late Models win at OPS. He said if he was asked the week before if he had a shot at bringing home first place at Oxford 250 with a $25,000 minimum purse, he would have answered no.
“We found some speed during the race Saturday night,” he said, adding he knocked off 0.10 to 0.20 of a second off his time.
Treadwell knows the competition is stiff. There’s seven previous Oxford 250 winners competing this year, including last year’s two-time winner Travis Benjamin of Morrill. He’s not worried about Benjamin too much but has his eye on speed demon Shawn Knight of Paris.
“He has been rocket fast every time he’s shown up. … He’s led some laps (and) he’s right up front,” Treadwell said, noting Knight placed sixth in last weekend’s race. “He’s basically the local pick to win. I am everyone’s second.”
Out-of-state competition includes racers from New York, Georgia and North Carolina, and even a driver with a car owned by NASCAR superstar Kyle Bush.
“The track doesn’t have much grip so you can’t get on the throttle really well. I have the smallest engine package you can run. All those guys down South have big motors. … They will have a hard time getting hooked up so I’m not that worried about it,” Treadwell said. “That’s one of the advantages of knowing the track.”
Bush’s racing team will have a leg up on Treadwell and other locals with their professional NASCAR pit crew as there are two pit stops during the race, he said.
“They will come down and bust down a 20-second pit stop and my guys will take a minute,” Treadwell said, adding his crew consists of his father and friends. “We just got to make it up on the race track is all.”
And yet, he is excited about Sunday.
“The race, this is it. This is everyone’s dream,” he said. “I get goosebumps just thinking about it.”
Fans could get goosebumps as well as they are in for a weekend full of action, which includes three days of INEX Legends cars. Beginning Friday, Aug. 28, there will be practice for PASS Super Late Models and feature races for PASS Modifieds, Outlaws, Ladies, Rebels, Cruisers, Street Stocks and Bandits. On Saturday, Aug. 29, there’s more practice for PASS Super Late Models, along with feature races for the Valenti Modified Series, Street Stocks, Oxford Plains Speedway Modifieds, Wicked Good Racers, Classic Lites and the New England Mini Stock Tour.
Beginning at 9 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 29, there will be rotating practice for all divisions. At 1:30 p.m. there will be heat and consolidation races for PASS Super Late Models. Next up are features for PASS Modifieds, Rebels and Street Stocks.
At approximately 5:30 p.m., the green flag will wave, releasing the drivers for the 42nd annual AIM Recycling Oxford 250.
Tickets range between $15 and $60 and can be purchased at the main ticket booth or by calling the office at 539-8865. The speedway is at 877 Main St. (Route 26) in Oxford. For more information, visit www.oxfordplains.com/index.html.