BNS: Thompson: Event preview

Busch North Series teams ready to take mid-year exam at Thompson International Speedway in Pepsi Racing 150 this Saturday night, July 13. THOMPSON. Conn. (July 8, 2002) - Halfway though the year is traditionally the time for mid-term exams. Not...

Busch North Series teams ready to take mid-year exam at Thompson International Speedway in Pepsi Racing 150 this Saturday night, July 13.

THOMPSON. Conn. (July 8, 2002) - Halfway though the year is traditionally the time for mid-term exams. Not yet time to award high honors or make excuses, but time to take stock of where each one stands in comparison to the rest of the class and whether there's a realistic chance to move up before the final report card is issued.

When the checkered flag falls on the Pepsi Racing 150 at Thompson International Speedway this Saturday night, the Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring will have raced almost exactly half the laps scheduled for the 2002 season- 1,275 of 2,569 scheduled laps to be precise. The Busch North Series teams face their mid-term under demanding conditions. Thompson's high-banked 5/8-mile oval was repaved at the start of the 2001 season, and proved lightning fast in last year's event, with the track record being beaten by nearly a full second in Bud Pole Qualifying. This year, with records falling at seven of the first eight tracks the series has visited on the new Goodyear Eagle tires, the standards will be even higher.

The Pepsi Racing 150 is scheduled as a one-day event with the first practice session at 10:45 a.m. Bud Pole Qualifying is set for 4:15 p.m., with the feature race green flag at approximately 8:30 p.m. As is customary when the Busch North Series visits a member track of the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge, Thompson's regular classes will be in action as well.

Although he didn't win in 2001, Mike Olsen earned an "A" on his mid-term at Thompson on the way to the Busch North Series championship. "Last year I felt it was the turning point for us;" Olsen related. "We lost the motor and crashed in practice, then won the Bud Pole and ran second in the race, " he recalled of the Little Trees Chevrolet team's performance that came up just short of winner Martin Truex Jr. The opening stages of the 2002 campaign have been rough on Olsen, although his two Bud Poles rank just behind Truex's three fast qualifying efforts.

Olsen realizes he needs to rise to the next performance level in a hurry if he is to join the battle for the 2002 title, currently an intense five-way race among Andy Santerre, Kelly Moore, Dale Shaw, Matt Kobyluck, and Brad Leighton. He thinks Thompson, with its high speeds and tight quarters, could be the place to start. "In a way it's our Bristol," he said comparing the Busch North venue in the northeast corner of Connecticut to the Winston Cup track in the northeast corner of Tennessee. "It's high banked and fast with a lot of action," he continued, adding "Since they repaved it, it's a good surface, There's still a few dips in it but nothing like it was before. There's a lot of good racing all through the field."

The joker in the deck at Thompson could be the new tire, and the fact that teams have not been able to test privately at the track under NASCAR's new testing limits, designed to reduce costs, which went into effect this spring. "At some of the tracks, because the new tire grips so well, it does wear them out faster," Mike Olsen noted. That's not downgrading his chances on this exam, however. "We're looking forward to going back there with the new tire," he concluded. "It should be super-fast and it should be a good race."

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Martin Truex Jr. , Matt Kobyluck