BUSCH: Holland preview

HOLLAND, N.Y> (May 24, 2001) - Admittedly, it's not like the Winston Cup teams hauling from Charlotte to Sonoma, or the Formula One circus flying off from London to some distant continent. But the annual trek to Holland International Speedway in...

HOLLAND, N.Y> (May 24, 2001) - Admittedly, it's not like the Winston Cup teams hauling from Charlotte to Sonoma, or the Formula One circus flying off from London to some distant continent. But the annual trek to Holland International Speedway in western New York is the longest road trip of the year for most of the competitors in the Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring.

Holland, a high-banked, 3/8-mle oval nestled in the hills 20 miles south of Buffalo, hosts the Burnham Boilers 150 on Saturday night, June 2. The Bennett family's track is one of just three speedways on the original 1987 Busch North Series circuit appearing on the 2001 calendar.

With most of the Busch North Series teams based in the New England states, Holland is a long haul. Few tow further than Bill Penfold, who is off to his best start, ranking seventh in the BNS point standings after two races. The Penfold shop is located in Yarmouth, Maine, a few miles north of Portland. According to the Rand-McNally Road Atlas, it's 538 miles from Portland to Buffalo. Taking I-95 to the Massachusetts Turnpike and the New York State Thruway, the only practical route with a big rig, it's much closer to 600 miles.

The prospect of a tight race on a challenging track before an enthusiastic crowd makes the miles easier. "It's ten to twelve hours, depending on traffic," Penfold noted. "But it's 99 percent interstate, so you just cruise, drink a lot of water and soda, listen to the radio, and pretty soon you're there."

Holland does share one characteristic with the Busch North Series' ancestral home in northern New England. Unlike the other paved tracks of upstate New York where modifieds and supemodifieds have dominated, full-bodied stock cars have been the staple for Holland fans since the track was paved in 1968. The exploits of local heroes like now-retired Dick Flaig and still-active Art Clark, as well as invaders like Don Biederman and Bob Senneker set the stage for the appearance of the northeast's major stock car series to become the highlight of the Holland season.

That may account for the fact that Bill Penfold feels at home, almost a time zone away from Maine. "It's a great race track. I look forward to going there each year," he related. "The fans are great and there's good side-by-side racing. You've got a bottom groove and a top groove and you can even get three wide if you really want to.

"It's a tricky little track and it's not hard to get into trouble," Penfold continued, "but it's also a forgiving track because you get a little sideways in the corner and get it back. It's Holland and even if I bend up the car I like going there."

Another Maine competitor, Tracy Gordon, enjoyed his Holland expedition the most as he won last year's event after taking the lead in the closing laps from Dale Shaw.

The Burnham Boilers 150 is scheduled as a one day event on Saturday, June 2, with practice at 1 p.m., Bud Pole Qualifying at 4:30 p.m., and race time at approximately 8 p.m. Holland's regular NASCR Weekly Racing Series classes will also be part of the evening's events.

The Busch North Series is one of nine NASCAR Touring Series which blanket the USA, bringing major events to NASCAR Weekly Racing Series tracks like Holland International Speedway as well as many superspeedways an road courses. The NASCAR Touring program is recognized as the premier training ground for NASCAR's national series, the Winston Cup Series, Busch Series, Grand National Divison, and Craftsman Truck Seriss, while also providing career opportunities for professional racers at the regional level. Corporations making major contributions to NASCAR Touring point funds include Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Featherlite Trailers, Goody's Headache Powders, Gatorade, RE/MAX International, O'Reilly Auto Parts, Raybestos Brakes, and R.J. Reynolds' Winston brand.

-AL Robinson

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Series NASCAR XFINITY