OXFORD — What do you do with you day off?

For Derek Kneeland — a native of Windham who now lives in Moorseville, N.C. — Sunday’s Oxford 250 was a perfect chance to climb back in the driver’s seat.

Kneeland grew up racing in the area, but his career has led him to step out from behind the wheel and onto the sidelines. Currently he works as a spotter for NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kyle Larson and Chip Gannassi Racing — a job that keeps him busy to the point where usually he gets only one opportunity to race a year.

“I’m traveling 40 weeks out of the year with the NASCAR circuit so I don’t get a whole lot of time to do this,” Kneeland said. “This is our off weekend.”

It was a short trip to Oxford Plains for Kneeland this weekend, as he helped guide Larson — who is 14th in the Sprint Cup driver standings — to a third place result in the Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last Sunday before hitching a ride back to Maine with his family.

When asked if Larson had any advice for him heading into the Oxford 250, Kneeland said he kept it simple.

“He just said go fast,” Kneeland said, “and use your fenders.”

The Maine native did not return to his home state without some help though. Joining him in his crew Sunday was Steven Wallace — son of Rusty Wallace — who has competed in the Oxford 250 in the past.

“Derek’s got a lot of laps here. He raced a lot during the past before becoming a spotter,” Wallace said. “He’s no real rookie, he just hasn’t really raced in a while. It’s just like riding a bike, you fall off and get back on it. He’s done a real good job.

“It’s kind of always cool to me. He’s just my friend and he spots and whatnot. I’ve never really known him as a race car driver. …We don’t really ever go to the racetrack together. It’s cool to see him having fun.”

Wallace competed in the 2009 race at Oxford Plains with his father and uncle, Kenny Wallace, although the result was less than memorable.

“When I ran it we didn’t do too good,” Wallace said. “Something happened, we fell out of the race and I can’t really remember. We raced the night before in St. Louis. It was long travels coming up here and whatnot but it was good times.

“…This is a cool race. It’s very big up north, so it’s definitely a lot of fun to come up here.”

Unfortunately for Kneeland — who finished 15th in the 2013 Oxford 250 — Sunday’s race did not go as he had hoped and he failed to get out of qualifying.

He drew second in his first heat, but it proved to be one of the toughest of the day as it also featured NASCAR Nationwide driver Austin Theriault, three-time Oxford 250 champ Mike Rowe, local standout T.J. Brackett and two-time champ Ben Rowe. Even defending champ Travis Benjamin was forced into the consolation round.

In his consi heat Kneeland spent the bulk of it in fourth, but could not get past Benjamin, Alan Tardiff and Shawn Knight to crack into the three and get the qualifying berth along with it. In the last chance qualifier Kneeland once again got caught up in the middle of the pack and forced to settle for the early exit.

Evan Crawley—621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: Evan_Crawley

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