HOLLAND, H.Y. (June 20, 2002)-- June is the month for graduations in upstate New York, and time for the Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring to pay its annual visit to Holland International Speedway, the high-banked 3/8 mile oval set in the hills 20...
HOLLAND, H.Y. (June 20, 2002)-- June is the month for graduations in upstate New York, and time for the Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring to pay its annual visit to Holland International Speedway, the high-banked 3/8 mile oval set in the hills 20 miles south of Buffalo. Last year, Greg Schaefer celebrated a graduation of his own at Holland. Not the kind with caps and gowns and stuffy speeches, but graduation from aspiring sophomore to full-fledged contender in NASCAR's premier full-bodied touring series in the northeast. His diploma came in the form of his first front-row start and his first top-five finish.
Greg Schaefer will be looking for his master's degree- that is, a Busch North Series victory- when Holland hosts the Sunoco 150 on Saturday, June 29. Practice starts at 1 p.m., with Bud Pole Qualifying at 4:30 p.m. and race time at approximately 8 p.m. as the Busch North Series joins Holland's regular NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge classes in a full evening of racing action.
Schaefer, the 37-year-old driver from suburban Philadelphia who wheels the Rite-Way Electric Chevrolet for Parks-Schaefer Motorsports, can't give a technical explanation for his Holland success. Certainly the fact he enjoys the layout, which is sometimes compared to a little Bristol Motor Speedway, plays a key role. "No secrets. It's just that every time we go to Holland, for whatever reason, it's the best track for us," he declared. "I don't know if it's the banking but I get real comfortable there and go real fast."
"It's like a roller coaster ride," he continued. "You run up the banking, get on the gas, and drive down off. It's one of the more fun tracks we go to."
Steering s 3100-pound Busch North car around Holland's unforgiving banks 150 times looks fatiguing, but Greg Schaefer says the stain is more mental than physical. "It's not really tiring because it goes so fast and its over before you know it. You really don't have time to get tired," he related, adding "It is demanding concentration-wise because its so fast. You definitely have to keep your eyes up ahead, because whatever happens, happens quick and you can get involved."
Schaefer learned all about things that happen fast at the last campus for his racing education, the four-cornered Flemington (N.J.) Speedway, which closed following the 2000 season. "What is different is that at Holland, you can look across the infield and see what's happening in the next turn or the next straightaway, where at Flemington you had the guardrail on the inside and you couldn't see 100 feet in front of you," Greg observed.
While Schaefer and his team haven't yet improved on their fifth place from Holland in 2001, they've been knocking on the door in the early races of the 2002 campaign. He narrated the season's opening stages this way: "I've been pretty happy with the season so far. I think we've had better cars than where we've finished. A lot of times we've had a top five car but we haven't finished in the top five- at Beech Ridge we had a flat tire, at Nazareth we had a bad pit stop and went a lap down."
"Usually, the way my season goes, I get off to a bad start, and then we start clicking toward the summer," he concluded. "So to be sitting 11th in points coming into our better part of the season, things are definitely looking up for us."
Greg Schaefer hopes he can look far enough up to see the highest honors at his favorite track, Holland International Speedway.