@@ NASCAR Busch North Series Series Opener From: BGNNWriter@aol.com.
BY PENNY DEGRE
The 1996 season kicks off for the NASCAR Busch North Series this weekend with the Tri-States Megabucks Twins at New Hampshire International Speedway. With an exceptionally large number of cars expected to show, the real race will be securing a spot in the starting field for the 125-lap event.
Kelly Moore, who switched over to the Pontiac Grand Prix body style for this year, feels confident and ready to defend his championship.
"We feel real good about going into the 96 season," Moore said. "The team has really worked well together all winter long preparing these cars, and I think we'll look for big things. The team is very excited to come back."
In addition to the new body style, another change in the Tic-Tac Racing team is the addition of three crew members. Larry Leighton has been added on as a full-time fabricator and right rear tire changer, Sean Plowman will be taking care of tire duties, and Gary Tabscott has also been hired for general fabrication work.
"Testing gave the guys an opportunity to work and learn to function with each other," commented Moore. " We went to New Hampshire on the third of April and had that test session, and the test session went very well. The cars performed well. Everything is looking very positive. New Hampshire in the past has been a very good track to us. We've had some consistent runs there. Its also one of the premier race tracks that we race at because of the large purse that it draws. Not only do you have a large purse but you have a beautiful facility and you get a lot of exposure out of it. The fans love it."
"Our main objective is to get the first two or three races under our belt with some good consistent finishes," Moore said. "We'll get this team on a high and just keep rolling."
While Moore is prepared to defend his title, Mike Stefanik, second in the points standings last year, will be eager to start his attack for the championship.
Driving the No. 51 car for H&H Motorsports, Stefanik will once again carry Burnham Boilers as the major sponsor.
Andy Santerre will be at New Hampshire with an additional sponsor - E.J Prescott Company. The company sells water supplies, fire hydrants and water pipelines. They were a long-time sponsor of Winston Cup driver, Ricky Craven, while he drove in the ACT tour.
"I'm pretty confident that we can make a strong run for the championship," commented Santerre. "I've added a second car, that can't hurt, it can only help. We'll be using the second car for the big tracks such as Louden and Nazareth."
Fourth in the points standings last season, Dave Dion will be back driving the familiar Berlin City Ford/Continental Paving Fords that he ran last year. The team has spent the off-season upgrading the two cars for the '96 season.
"We had a good year last year and the hard part will be duplicating it or improving upon it," Dion said. "Its more of a challenge every year. Just the sheer numbers, the amount of people you're going to compete against, is a challenge. We've got to stay on our game plan just like everyone else."
Although most Pontiac and Chevrolet drivers have opted to run with the V8 engines, Dion says that they are going to stick with a V6 for a majority of the tracks. Dion also spent time at New Hampshire testing for the upcoming event.
"Everything was good at testing. I was real satisfied," said Dion. "We uncovered a lot of little things that may have given us some problems on race weekend."
Tom Bolles will be at New Hampshire with almost an entirely new crew. The team will also be running the new Pontiac Grand Prix body style.
John Quinn replaces John Monsam, who left the team to pursue a job in the South, as crew chief. Quinn who is from Springfield, Mass. has worked with Bolles for three years.
"Everything here this year is new," commented Bolles. "We're going with the new Pontiacs this year, we have a whole new group of people, and the motor program is now under the Rousch name. I'm looking forward to the season. We're going to go racing and see what we can do. We're ready to roll, just a lot of loose ends to tie up right now. Loudon is my favorite track, I just hope we can go up there and do some damage."
So what else can you expect to see this year? Brandon Butler, 1995 Rookie-of-the-Year will be driving the No. 7 Skoal Racing car of Quint Boisvert, while his brother, Franklin, will take over the Mitchell Motorsports ride attempting to capture the 1996 Rookie honors.
Jamie Aube, a three-time Busch North Series champion, announced in Daytona that he has paired up with AJ Parker to run a full North schedule. Aube has a jump on points in the series by capturing a 20th place finish in the Goody's 300 at Daytona Int'l Speedway in February, the highest finish of the Busch North competitors.
Derek Lynch has left the No. 15 O'Connor Racing team and formed CDL Motorsports making his sophomore year the first as an owner/driver. The team is planning on running a full schedule. Replacing Lynch will be Jerry Marquis, last year's seventh place points winner. Marquis and the O'Connor Racing team plan on running a limited schedule with fourteen races scheduled as of now.
Glenn Sullivan signed Brioschi effervescent antacid as a primary sponsor for the '96 season. In addition to running on the Busch North tour, Sullivan plans on running a limited schedule in the South.
Meservey Motorsports hired crew chief, Steve May for their efforts in the series this year. May returned north last year after working with Bill Elliott's research and development program and also having served as crew chief at Cale Yarborough Motorsports.
Fadden Racing has hired Dave Allbee of North Haverhill, NH to replace Frank Stoddard as crew chief. Stoddard left the team to pursue a job in the South.
The 125-lap season opener will be take place on Sunday, April 14 at 1:15 p.m.
* * * * * QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS? Please write Penny Degre at P.O. Box 85, Mendon, MA 01756 or email BGNNWriter@aol.com.