BNS: Lime Rock: Season finale preview

ROAD RACING, OVAL TRACK WORLDS MEET AT LIME ROCK PARK'S BURNHAM HYDRONICS 200K PRESENTED BY MOHEGAN SUN, SAT., OCTOBER 1; BUSCH NORTH SERIES TITLE NEARS DECISION DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 26, 2005) -- Stock car racers and road racers ...

ROAD RACING, OVAL TRACK WORLDS MEET AT LIME ROCK PARK'S BURNHAM HYDRONICS 200K PRESENTED BY MOHEGAN SUN, SAT., OCTOBER 1; BUSCH NORTH SERIES TITLE NEARS DECISION

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 26, 2005) -- Stock car racers and road racers sometimes don't seem to be speaking the same language. Stock car racers describe their car's handling as tight or loose, they shift the transmission, and their front wheels are held in place by A-frames. Road racers talk about understeer and oversteer, shift the gearbox, and their front suspension components are wishbones.

The two worlds meet annually when the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series visits Lime Rock Park in northwestern Connecticut, the scenic 1.53 mile layout which calls itself "The Road Racing Center of the East". In a dozen Lime Rock races, drivers with strong road racing backgrounds have won seven times- three by Butch Leitzinger, two by Bryan Wall, and two by Dale Quarterley, while talents developed on the short tracks have claimed the other five. Ken Schrader won the inaugural in 1993, Ted Christopher claimed the honors in 1997, Mike Stefanik was victorious in 1998, Denny Doyle scored his only Busch North win in 2002, and Brad Leighton triumphed in 2004.

The battle between the rival camps will resume on Saturday, October 1, in the Burnham Hydronics 200K presented by Mohegan Sun. The 82-lap contest, covering 125 miles or 200 kilometers, is next-to-last round of the Busch North Series season, and will be telecast live in high definition by HDNet. Andy Santerre leads Ryan Moore by 58 points as he seeks his fourth straight Busch North title.

Burnham Hydronics Chevrolet driver Mike Stefanik, who enters his sponsor's race holding third place in the standings, 70 points behind teammate Santerre, says success at Lime Rock demands a combination of preparation and attitude. The preparation involves not only the car- bigger brakes, a specialized transmission, and revised weight distribution, to name just three factors- but the driver as well. Like many others, Stefanik attended the Skip Barber Racing School, whose home campus is at Lime Rock.

The winning attitude at Lime Rock is what Mike Stefanik calls "cautiously aggressive." He explained that seeming contradiction by saying, "This whole race is a battle against making mistakes. The whole thing is staying on the blacktop. It's so easy to drop a wheel off and throw away your whole race." He admitted, though, that as the race enters its closing laps, "cautiously aggressive" loses a lot of its caution and picks up a fair measure of aggressiveness.

Bryon Chew, driver of the Buzz Chew Auto Group Chevrolet, is currently seventh in the point race. He recorded the best finish of his career with a second place at Lime Rock in 2002, and he echoes Stefanik's thoughts with his own twist. "It's a very technical place, you have to watch every turn, every move that you make. You have to get into that road racing mindset so you don't drop a wheel (off the track)," he said.

Compared to an oval track race of equal stature, Chew declared, "I'll be less aggressive until about ten laps from the end, and then I'll let it all hang out."

For every theory, there are dissenters, and Brian Hoar, number six in points, falls into that category when it comes to road racing a stock car. Asked how he prepares himself, the Goss Dodge driver answered simply, "I don't. I just show up and turn right instead of left." Elaborating, Hoar added "I've got to get on the track so I can get the hang of shifting again, and then I just work up to speed."

The Burnham Hydronics 200K presented by Mohegan Sun weekend begins with practice on Friday, September 30, starting at 11:45 p.m. Road race style Busch Pole Qualifying follows at 4:15 p.m. Under the road race qualifying format, the field is divided into groups of four to six cars of similar performance, and each group is given several timed laps together. The fastest lap by each car during its group session is recorded as its qualifying time.

The green flag on Saturday, October 1 is set for 1:00 p.m. In addition to the live HDNet telecast, SPEED Channel is scheduled to present an enhanced replay on Saturday, November 11 at 3:00 p.m.. Viewers should check local listings for exact date and time.

NEWS OF NOTE

* Brad Leighton scored a long-awaited first road race victory at Lime Rock in 2004, passing two-time winner Dale Quarterley with only three laps remaining. Because Busch Pole Qualifying was cancelled, Leighton started 19th while Quarterley started sixth. Mike Olsen, Bill Penfold, and Mike Johnson completed the top five. The 2004 event was run on Memorial Day weekend, the only time the Busch North Series has not visited Lime Rock in October.

* The Busch Pole Qualifying record at Lime Rock is held by Bryan Wall at 53.591 seconds, 102.778 miles per hour, set in 2001.

* With the running of the Burnham Hydronics 200K presented by Mohegan Sun, Lime Rock Park breaks a tie with Watkins Glen International for the title of holding the most Busch North Series road races.

* In 24 Busch North road races to date, the leading winners are Butch Leitzinger and Bryan Wall with four wins each. Ted Christopher has three.

* Andy Santerre clinched the first of his three consecutive Busch North Series championships at Lime Rock in 2002, winning the title over Matt Kobyluck by just nine points.

* With two races remaining in the 2005 season, Matt Kobyluck has won three races, Andy Santerre, Ryan Moore, and Mike Stefanik two races, and Dave Dion and Ted Christopher one race each.

* The Busch Pole Award lead is held by R. Moore with one more than Kobyluck and Mike Johnson who each have two poles. While Stefanik and Sean Caisse have one pole each. Qualifying was cancelled at NHIS in September.

* Lime Rock Park was built in 1957 to the design of local resident John Fitch, the only American ever to drive for the Mercedes-Benz factory team. Fitch, who still visits the track regularly, is also the inventor of the safety barrier system using sand- or water-filled barrels seen on many highways.

FAST FACTS:

What: Burnham Hydronics 200K presented by Mohegan Sun, twelfth race of the 2005 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series schedule

Where: Lime Rock Park, Lakeville, Conn.
When: Saturday, October 1, 1:00 pm.

Track layout: 1.53 mile road course
Race distance: 82 laps, 125 miles or 200 kilometers

Television: HDNet live
SPEED Channel enhanced replay Saturday, November 11, 3:00 p.m.

2004 Burnham Hydronics 200K race winner: Brad Leighton
2004 Burnham Hydronics 200K Busch Pole winner: None awarded

Schedule: Friday, Sept, 30 -- Practice 11:45 to 12:15 p.m., 1:15 to 1:45 p.m., & 2:15 to 2:45 p.m., Busch Pole Qualifying road race style in groups 4:15 p.m.; Saturday, October 1 -- Burnham Hydronics 200 presented by Mohegan Sun 1:00 p.m.

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Ken Schrader , Butch Leitzinger , Skip Barber , Bryan Wall , Dale Quarterley , Matt Kobyluck , Mike Johnson , Ryan Moore , Ted Christopher , Sean Caisse , Bryon Chew