BNS: Mike Olsen - NASCAR spotlight

MIKE OLSEN LOOKS TO THE DETAILS TO SHED RUNNER-UP TAG IN BUSCH NORTH SERIES; LEE USA SPEEDWAY'S WHELEN 150 OPENER SET FOR SUNDAY, MAY 15 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 15, 2005) -- In 2004, Mike Olsen shadowed Andy Santerre throughout the NASCAR...

MIKE OLSEN LOOKS TO THE DETAILS TO SHED RUNNER-UP TAG IN BUSCH NORTH SERIES; LEE USA SPEEDWAY'S WHELEN 150 OPENER SET FOR SUNDAY, MAY 15

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 15, 2005) -- In 2004, Mike Olsen shadowed Andy Santerre throughout the NASCAR Grand National Series, Busch North Series season. If he had not made a crucial pit stop error; if he had not been involved in a restart accident; or if two events had not been cancelled due to rain, he might have repeated his 2001 Busch North title. Instead, Santerre secured his third straight crown and Olsen fell over 200 points behind.

But the 37-year-old North Haverhill, N.H. driver has not spent the long northern New England winter dwelling on the word "if". Instead, he has chosen to regroup with his Little Trees Car Freshner Chevrolet team and prepare for the 2005 campaign with renewed attention to detail and a renewed commitment to return to the top.

"We've put new bodies on three cars and we did a lot of work on all our cars, both chassis and engine work. It's been a busy winter," Olsen related during a break at his shop along the banks of the Connecticut River. Noting that the traditional season opener at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, N.H. has moved from its usual mid-April date to May 15, he added, "It's probably not a bad thing that the season is getting a later start than usual because we've had so much work. Hopefully it will all pay off."

Continuity has always been a strong point of Olsen's racing effort. Car Freshner Corp. of Watertown, N.Y. returns for the tenth consecutive year as primary sponsor through its Little Trees brand, making one of the most enduring non-family sponsorships at any level of NASCAR racing. The #61 crew, led by crew chief Harry Norcross, returns intact as well. "We'll have the same bunch of guys back that we had last year. We seemed to be clicking pretty well," Mike observed. That tightly-knit group has helped Olsen achieve eight straight top-10 finishes in the Busch North Series point standings while making 161 consecutive starts, the longest current streak on the circuit.

An integral part of the team as always is Mike's grandfather, racing legend Stub Fadden, who retired from driving in 1998 but has made cameo appearances as recently as 2003. Olsen and Fadden are tied for career Busch North Series victories with four each.

A result of the later start to the season is a tight summer schedule which sees four straight weekends of racing in July, and seven out of eight weeks on the road starting in mid-June. Mike Olsen has included that in his detail planning for the 2005 season as well. "We've always tried in the past, when the first race starts, to have everything ready to roll. That's the plan again this year," he said, adding "We do have a tough stretch there, so we're trying to plan a little bit ahead for that."

A close run for the championship might be good enough to satisfy some racers, but not for Mike Olsen who has tasted the title and wants another appearance at the head table. While 2004 was a big improvement on his ninth and tenth place finishes the two previous years, it wasn't good enough."It gives me extra motivation," he declared, "I hope it does for the guys as well. We were so close for a while, then we had that crash but we were still in the hunt. That's all I can ask from them," he continued.

"I hope we can do it against this year," Olsen concluded, "just a little better."

The Busch North Series opens its 19th season on Sunday afternoon, May 15, with the running of the Whelen 150 at Lee USA Speedway. As with most of the 2005 Busch North Series schedule, HDNet will provide live nationwide high definition television coverage with later replay on SPEED Channel.

-nascar-

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