* Brian Hoar Overcomes Early Season Woes, Looks to Finish Strong * Ford's Streak of Winning Seasons in Jeopardy * Waterford Broadcast On SPEED Changed to Friday, Sept, 1 at 4:00 P.M. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 24, 2006) -- In June, Brian Hoar...
* Brian Hoar Overcomes Early Season Woes, Looks to Finish Strong
* Ford's Streak of Winning Seasons in Jeopardy
* Waterford Broadcast On SPEED Changed to Friday, Sept, 1 at 4:00 P.M.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 24, 2006) -- In June, Brian Hoar fired the engine of his No. 45 Goss Dodge Intrepid for the start of the second race of the 2006 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series season at Stafford Motor Speedway in Stafford Springs, Conn. The oil pressure went to zero and his spirits sank almost as low as he was unable to take the green flag and was relegated to last place in the results. A week later he spun, lost a lap, and finished 18th at Holland (N.Y.) International Speedway. Since then, Hoar has reeled off five straight top-five results, which combined with his runner-up finish in the season opener at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville, S.C., has placed him in the middle of a three-way battle for third in the standings with Bryon Chew (No. 99 Buzz Chew Chevrolet) and Matt Kobyluck (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet).
That trio is covered by 11 points, although they are all more than 175 points behind leader Mike Olsen (No. 61 Little Trees Chevrolet), who heads Sean Caisse (No. 44 Casella Waste Systems Chevrolet).by 44 points.
"It was the lowest of lows", Hoar recalled of his Stafford experience. "I sat there in the infield thinking 'there goes our championship hopes' and to a large extent I was right." His team, led by co-crew chiefs Neal Woodward and Karl Osha, has rededicated itself after the twin setbacks in June and focused on the goals still attainable: third in the standings, a win first-ever win in the series for Dodge (the brand the Hoar family sells at their South Burlington, Vt. dealership), and the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway in October.
Hoar attributes his top-five streak to off-season conditioning- not himself, although he's an occasional marathon runner, but his equipment. "It's just better performance. We've got faster race cars this year. The crew really worked hard all winter putting new front clips on my two short track cars," he explained. The upgrade was needed, because the Busch East Series field has been highly competitive in 2006. "Seven or eight guys are really running strong this year. Mike Olsen is up front every week and Sean Caisse is absolutely running for the win every race. Bryon Chew and Matt Kobyluck have been pretty consistent as well," he added.
Following the September 16 race on the moderately-banked New Hampshire Internatiomal Speedway in Loudon, N.H., the Busch East teams follow the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series south to Dover (Del.) International Speedway the following week, where they face a very different mile track, high-banked and concrete paved. The series finale is in a still different environment, the 1.53 mile road course at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., on Saturday, September 30.
"All three are good tracks for us," noted Hoar, who holds the NHIS track record and won the Busch Pole there in July. With that in mind, his choice of equipment seems surprising, but like every other racer, he's looking for an edge. "We'll probably take one of our short track cars to Loudon. We know our speedway car is consistent there but we need a little more to run up front," he said, mindful of the fact he did not lead a lap from his pole position in the earlier NHIS race. "We'll have the speedway car as a backup if we need it," he added.
Following the same philosophy, the Goss Dodge team plans to convert its other short track car for Dover, the fastest track on the series schedule. While there will be some minor sheet metal changes around the front fenders, most of the preparation will go into the suspension geometry and weight distribution to suit the loads imposed by the high banks.
Lime Rock holds special attraction for Brian Hoar, and not just because he ran the fastest laps of the weekend last year after repairing damage from encountering a deer. "I'm really excited about Lime Rock, because for the first time we'll be going there with a Dodge. We put a Charger body on our road race car last winter," he explained. As it ran at Lime Rock in 2005, Hoar's road race car was the last "Brand C"(Chevrolet) left in the shop.
Finally, there is the prospect of returning to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, scheduled several weeks earlier this year on the weekend of October 20-21. Brian declined his invitation in 2005 because a rash of late-season mechanical issues left him without the resources to be competitive in the contest between the top 15 Busch East Series teams and their counterparts from the AutoZone West Series. Not this time. "We're absolutely focused on going to California. Unless we wind up with three wrecked cars in the last three races, we'll be there," he declared.
FORD STREAK ON THE LINE: With three races to go, the record of a Ford product winning at least one Busch East Series race for 12 straight years is in jeopardy. The closest a blue oval driver has come to victory lane in 2006 is a second place finish by Mike Johnson (No. 96 Johnson Lumber Ford) at Holland in June. The usual Ford standard bearer, Dave Dion (No. 29 Berlin City/Continental Paving Ford), has cut back his schedule to primarily include short tracks in 2006, and there are none of those remaining on the schedule. Johnson, currently sixth in points, and Sunoco Rookie contender Dion Ciccarelli (No. 84 Star Sales Ford), currently 12th, are the only Ford pilots running the full series. However, both the No. 33 Archer Corp./The Woodworks Ford driven by Tracy Gordon and the No. 88 JBR Racing Ford driven by Mike Gallo have proven top superspeedway contenders.
TIME CHANGE FOR WATERFORD BROADCAST ON SPEED: The date and time for SPEED's enhanced replay of the Big Y World Class Market 150 from Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl has been changed to Friday, September 1, at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. It had originally been scheduled the preceding day.