BRIDESMAID NO MORE: After over 100 starts in the Busch East Series over six years plus, Bryon Chew has shed the label of the "the best driver in the series who hasn't won a race." The signs were there in 2004 with his first Busch Pole at Stafford...
BRIDESMAID NO MORE: After over 100 starts in the Busch East Series over six years plus, Bryon Chew has shed the label of the "the best driver in the series who hasn't won a race." The signs were there in 2004 with his first Busch Pole at Stafford and in 2005, not only from his runner-up finish at Waterford and his sixth place in the final standings, but the fact that he was a contender nearly every week on any type of track. That intensified in the first two races of 2006 and finally came to fruition when he outdueled Mike Johnson on the final restart at Holland.
Fittingly, Chew's first victory came in his home state, although it's hard to find two points in New York further apart than the Chew family home in Mattituck, on the eastern end of Long Island, and Holland International Speedway near Buffalo. A third point on the compass is crew chief Ron Ste. Marie's shop at Inlet, N.Y., deep in the Adirondack Mountains, where the No. 99 Buzz Chew Auto Group Chevrolet is maintained.
Standing away from the spotlight during the victory lane ceremonies but wearing the biggest smile of all was Buzz Chew, who has backed his son's racing efforts from legends cars to pro trucks to the long road to their first Busch East Series victory. By the way, both Bryon's top fives so far in 2006, An American Revolution 150 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway and the Fuccillo Auto Park HUGE 150 at Holland, came in races sponsored by Chevy dealers. That, of course, is the Chew family's business as well.
STREAKS ARE MADE TO BE BROKEN: Any of the final three leaders of the Fucillo Auto Park HUGE 150 would have broken a long winless streak. Before Bryon Chew passed him in the closing laps, Mike Johnson was looking at his first Busch East Series win since July 2004, and his first checkered flag of any kind since the 2004 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. Mike Olsen hasn't won a series race since 2003, although he has 16 top-fives during that dry spell.
For Tracy Gordon, fourth place was his best since closing down his own racing operation after the 2002 season. It was also the best finish ever for car owner and occasional Busch East Series driver Fred Skaff. The fifth place by Eddie MacDonald was the first top five (and top ten) for the new team he formed with crew chief Rollie Lachance just before the season opener.
ONLY ONE LAP COUNTS: Prior to Bryon Chew at Holland, the last driver to win a Busch East Series race by taking the lead with two laps to go was Brad Leighton, at New Hampshire International Speedway in 2002. The last winner to lead only three laps in a race was also Leighton, at Lime Rock in 2004.
FOR THE STATISTICIANS IN OUR AUDIENCE: The first three Busch East Series races of 2006 have produced a total of 23 lead changes. Six drivers have led at least one lap. Sean Caisse is the only driver to lead all three races. Ten drivers have scored top five finishes, and 16 have scored top-tens. Of 85 cars officially starting, 66 have been running at the finish for a finishing rate of 77.6 percent.
INTERNATIONAL INDEED: Four drivers of nationalities outside the USA started at Holland; three Mexicans and one Canadian. Rogelio Lopez posted the best finish of the international contingent by coming home 11th in the unofficial rundown after running as high as fifth. The brothers Carlos Pardo and Ruben Pardo were unofficially scored 15th and 17th, respectively. Pierre Bourque of Ottawa, Ont. was 20th.
While Carlos Pardo may have traveled the longest distance to compete, his car had the shortest trip. The No. 21 tia Bonita Chevrolet came from the shop of former Holland regular and Busch East Series driver Troy Williams in Yorkshire, N.Y., less than ten miles from the speedway.