BEAVER FALLS, N.Y. (Aug. 12, 2003) -- The NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series remains in New York State for a second consecutive weekend, but moves to a completely different venue for the Dealmaker 150 at Adirondack International ...
BEAVER FALLS, N.Y. (Aug. 12, 2003) -- The NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series remains in New York State for a second consecutive weekend, but moves to a completely different venue for the Dealmaker 150 at Adirondack International Speedway this Saturday, August 16. Gone are the Finger Lakes, the Watkins Glen road course, and the glamour of serving as opening act for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. In their place are the rich farmlands of the Black River Valley with the mountains rising on the eastern horizon, the challenge of Adirondack's nearly circular half-mile oval, and an atmosphere reminiscent of the roots of stock car racing.
The second annual Dealmaker 150 is a one-day event beginning with the parade of race car haulers through the nearby county seat of Lowville at 9:00 a.m. Practice begins at 1:00 p.m., with Bud Pole Qualifying at 5:00 p.m. Dealmaker 150 race time is approximately 8:00 p.m., following an on-track autograph session.
Defending race winner and Busch North Series champion Andy Santerre is anxious to return to Adirondack for several reasons. First, he fondly remembers last year's highly successful inaugural event, partly for its ambience and partly for the fact he came from behind to win. Second, he thinks this year's race should be even better. Third, he needs a strong run to put some distance between himself and a hungry pack of title challengers after a rare three-race stretch outside the top ten.
"It has an old-time feel to it. It's a neat place," Santerre recalled from last year's visit. "Driving through the small town and waving to all the fans was great, and then to drive through the woods and into a big field and there's the track. It's like 'Field of Dreams,'" he added.
When the teams took to the speedway in 2002, they found it different than any half-mile track they had experienced before. "You pretty much have to lock the steering wheel and not straighten it up much," Santerre described. "You're going in a big circle, and you have to be real smooth with the accelerator. You can't use a lot of horsepower, so you have to be real smooth and run the same line."
Using a county fair analogy that comes naturally with the environment, Santerre continued, "It's kind of like getting on a whip, where someone puts you on the end of a rope and swings you. You just go around in the same circle and try not to make any mistakes."
Running the 150 lap distance in 2002 produced heavy wear on both drivers and their tires. While the only answer to driver fatigue may be in the gym, the tire solution has come from the Goodyear engineers. "I think the tires are pretty strong now. Every place we run they seem to go the distance without any problem, plus the track has had a little more time to cure, so I don't think we'll have any issues with that," Santerre predicted, adding "I think it will be a good race and maybe we'll be able to go the distance without changing."
For Andy Santerre and his Aubuchon Hardware/Brickmill Marketing Group Chevrolet team, the return to a track he mastered last year could not come at a better time. After winning three of the season's first four races and pulling out to a healthy point lead, Santerre has endured finishes of 19th, 24th, and 11th in his last three starts. His lead of over 160 points eroded to only 11 points two weeks ago.
After challenger Kelly Moore suffered a disastrous 31st place at Watkins Glen, Santerre now has a little breathing room, 50 points to be exact, but a new threat has appeared in second place. Mike Stefanik, returning to the series in 2003 after a four-year absence, has shaken off the early-season blues and moved into contention. Adirondack provides Santerre, as well as Kelly Moore and fourth-place Mike Johnson, with a small but potentially critical edge in experience over Stefanik and rookie sensation Ryan Moore. Of course, Stefanik's team was third last year with Brad Leighton driving, and Ryan can call on the resources of his father and teammate Kelly.
The Dealmaker 150 marks the two-thirds mark of the 2003 Busch North Series season, the 12th race of 18 events on the schedule. It's the time that dreams of championships, successful seasons, and invitations to the Toyota All-Star Showdown can be fulfilled or shattered. That process will come into focus this Saturday night at Adirondack International Speedway's "Field of Dreams."
NEWS OF NOTE
* The inaugural Busch North Series event at Adirondack last August was won by Andy Santerre, who pitted late and surged through the field on fresher tires to take the lead from Matt Kobyluck with just nine laps remaining. Kobyluck had passed Brian Hoar just six laps earlier. Kobyluck, Brad Leighton, Hoar, and Dale Quarterley followed Santerre to the finish. Five drivers exchanged the lead eight times during the 150 laps. For a debut race at a new track, it was clean as well as competitive, with only seven caution periods for 39 laps and all but one car running at the finish.
* Kelly Moore set an automatic track record in Bud Pole Qualifying at 16.718 seconds, 107.668 miles per hour.
* So far in 2003, Andy Santerre has led the Busch North Series standings after each of the eleven races. His largest lead was 161 points after eight races, his smallest, not counting the season opener, was 11 points after ten races.
* Five drivers -- Kelly Moore, Ryan Moore, Joey McCarthy, Matt Kobyluck, and Mike Stefanik- have held second place in the standings, but none for more than two consecutive races.
* Six drivers have won races: three by Santerre, two by Kelly Moore, Martin Truex Jr., and Tom Carey, one each by McCarthy and Ted Christopher. McCarthy is the only first-time winner.
* Seven drivers have won Bud Poles: three by Truex, two by Kelly Moore, one each by Santerre, Mike Johnson, Stefanik, Carey, Kobyluck, and Dale Quarterley. Moore raised his all-time record to 47 Bud Poles -- all achieved driving #47.
* Ryan Moore has won the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Race Award seven times in 11 races. Tim Andrews, currently inactive, has two awards and Mark Durgin one. R. Moore leads Durgin 106-83 in the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year standings.
* The top fifteen drivers in the Busch North Series standings earn invitations to the Toyota All-Star Showdown with the Winston West Series at Irwindale Speedway in southern California, November 6-8. Currently, Carey Heath holds down the 15th and final invitation to the Showdown, with Mark Durgin only 14 points behind.
* A total of 60 drivers have competed in the Busch North Series during the 2003 season to date, with 16 competing in all 11 races and two others missing only one event.
What: Dealmaker 150, NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series race #12 of 18
Where: Adirondack International Speedway, Beaver Falls, N.Y.
When: Saturday, August 16, 8:00 p.m. (approx.)
Track layout: .500 mile paved oval)
Schedule: Saturday, August 16 -- Practice 1:00-2:00 & 3:00-3:30 p.m., Bud Pole Qualifying 5:00 p.m., Dealmaker 150 8:00 p.m. (approx.) /