Another weekend, another mile track, but not just another race for Busch North Series in Dover's MBNA All American Heroes 150 this Friday. DOVER, Del. (September 17, 2002)-- Look at the Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring schedule, and you would...
Another weekend, another mile track, but not just another race for Busch North Series in Dover's MBNA All American Heroes 150 this Friday.
DOVER, Del. (September 17, 2002)-- Look at the Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring schedule, and you would think the mid-September run would be a easy stretch for the crews who work in the shops. Back-to-back one-mile tracks, New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, N.H., and Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. Just touch up the dents and dings from Loudon, change the oil, and load up for the run to Dover.
If that was the case, defending Busch North Series champion Mike Olsen would have been home watching Monday Night Football instead of burning the midnight oil at his shop in North Haverhill, N.H. In fact, the one-mile length, and the fact that the Busch North Series is showcased on a NASCAR Winston Cup weekend, are the only things the two events have in common. The radically different configurations of NHIS and Dover offer contrasting challenges in car preparation as well as race strategy and driving technique.
The MBNA All-American Heroes 150 is scheduled for this Friday afternoon, September 20, as the leadoff event in a weekend tripleheader at Dover International Speedway that also includes the Busch Series, Grand National Division on Saturday as well as the Winston Cup Series on Sunday. The Busch North Series teams will open the facility for the weekend with practice at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday, September 19, followed by Bud Pole Qualifying at 2:30 p.m. and final practice at 4:30. Race time is 4:30 p.m. on Friday, following Winston Cup qualifying.
The SPEED Channel cameras will be on hand to record the MBNA All-American Heroes 150 for telecast on Monday night, October 28.
In simplest terms, New Hampshire International Speedway is a low-banked track, where drivers brake, turn, and accelerate at each end of the speedway with a ride down the straightaway in between. Dover, by contrast, is a high-banked momentum track where the turns and straights blend together. Taking time from his labors as part of the team which prepares and maintains the Little Trees Car Freshner Chevrolet, Mike Olsen talked about the requirements of each. "It's completely different. We're running the same car, but it's a completely different package for Dover than for Loudon, suspension-wise, brake-wise, just about everything," he explained. "Dover takes a much stiffer spring because of the speeds and the high banks. You don't use any brake at all at Dover. At Loudon, we use softer springs with a lot of brake. The only similarity is that they're both a mile long."
Another difference between NHIS and Dover really is black and white: the former, like most speedways, is paved with asphalt, while the latter is surfaced with concrete. Mike Olsen doesn't view that as a critical difference, though. "For us, it's the configuration of the track, not the concrete," he stressed. "We have nothing else like it, nothing like the high banks. You feel the g-force pulling you down into the seat."
Dover's high speeds bring another aspect of a race team's game plan into focus when it comes time to pit. A gas-and-go stop under green at Dover is an almost sure ticket to the lapped-car lane. "The pit stops are going to be crucial, particularly if you have a green flag stop which could happen," Olsen noted, adding "A bad pit stop will cost you more compared to the guys who are up to full speed on the track."
Finally, there's the difference in familiarity to separate the two superspeedways. NHIS is like a home game at Fenway Park for the Busch North teams, while Dover is like a road trip to Camden Yards. The series veterans have raced at the flat track in mountainous New Hampshire two or three times a year for over a decade. While it's been repaved and recontoured, it's still the track where all but the rookies feel at home. The high banks in the Delaware flatlands, however, remain a daunting challenge to all- different, demanding, and far from home.
One team will unlock Dover's secrets, and they'll be found celebrating in victory lane as the sun sets on Friday afternoon.