DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 20, 2006) -- The teams of the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series will see things from a different angle this Saturday night- an 18-degree angle, to be specific. That's the inclination of the high-banked...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 20, 2006) -- The teams of the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series will see things from a different angle this Saturday night- an 18-degree angle, to be specific. That's the inclination of the high-banked turns at Holland (N.Y.) International Speedway's 3/8-mile layout that hosts the Fuccillo Auto Park HUGE 150, the third race of the 2006 schedule. After opening the season on two relatively flat half-mile tracks in Greenville, S.C. and Stafford Springs, Conn., it's time to tackle a bullring for the first time in 2006.
The mention of the term "high-banked bullring" sends shivers down the spine of some drivers while causing others to break into a wide grin. One of the latter is Kip Stockwell of Braintree, Vt., the driver of the No. 16 Sabil & Sons/Randolph National Bank Chevrolet who currently holds down eighth place in the Busch East Series point standings. Stockwell scored his only series victory in 1997 at Thunder Road in Barre, Vt., a track whose configuration is much like a scale model of Holland.
"To me, going to Holland is like going home. I like that kind of a track more than a flat track," Stockwell related, adding "The speeds are up in the corners- you can really rock the car in the turns."
Popular belief says that high-banked tracks are fatiguing to drive, and for a 500-lap NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway that is undoubtedly true. But for a 150-lap race at Holland, likely to take about an hour to complete, Stockwell says the banks are less of a strain on the driver.
"It's probably more of a mental thing than anything, from one track to another," he declared. "I just know I'm more comfortable at a track where you can drive it in hard and the banking is there to hold you. When you have a chassis that works real well, which we have most of the time when we go to a good banked track, we're real comfortable."
HAT TRICKS: The Bennett family's Holland International Speedway has hosted the Busch East Series in each of its 20 seasons, starting with the series inaugural year in 1987. The 1988 event was rained out and not rescheduled for the only break in the tradition. Dave Dion is the only three-time winner, taking three in a row from 1995 to 1997. Andy Santerre, winner in 2002 and 2004, is the only other multiple victor.
This year, of course, Santerre is guiding the fortunes of Sean Caisse, who has already set a record by winning the first two races of the 2006 campaign. He will be going for a hat trick of his own Saturday night, seeking not only the first three-race winning streak to open a season but the first three-peat at any point in the season since Tracy Gordon in 2000.
TIGHT DRAFT: If you can visualize the current Busch East Series point standings as a virtual race on a virtual track, the battle for fourth looks like something from the last lap at Talladega. Bryon Chew, Charles Lewandoski, Jody Lavender, and Jeff Anton are separated by just five points.
FIRST TIMERS: Five drivers have won their first Busch East Series race at Holland- Dale Shaw (1987), Brian Ross (1993), John Preston (1994), Bryan Wall (1999) and Joey McCarthy (1993). For Ross and Preston it would be the only wins of their careers as both have now retired from competition. McCarthy has not repeated the trip to victory lane, although he remains a top contender. Wall never won another race on an oval track, although he scored multiple road course wins at Watkins Glen and Lime Rock. Shaw, of course, holds 19 wins, good for fourth on the all-time winners list.
EAST MEETS MIDWEST: Western New Yorkers are in many ways closer in culture to their neighbors in Ohio and Michigan than to the rest of the Empire State. That extends to stock car racing. While most tracks in New York have always featured open-wheel cars, Holland has followed the midwestern pattern with full-bodied late models as its premier class since the track was first paved in 1968. In 1989, Holland drivers Dick Flaig and Gary Schwab were profiled in Sports Illustrated magazine as part of a series about local sports heroes in small-town America.
LEADERBOARD -- after 2 races
Busch East Series points: 1. Sean Caisse 375, 2. Matt Kobyluck 345, 3. Mike Olsen 335, 4. Bryon Chew 289, 5. Charles Lewandoski 288, 6. Jody Lavender 285, 7. Jeff Anton 284, 8. Kip Stockwell 264, 9. Mike Johnson 253, 10. Dion Ciccarelli* 251
Sunoco Rookie of the Year Points: 1., Dion Ciccarelli 20, 2. Jeremy Clark 17, 3. Ruben Pardo 16, 4. Pierre Bourque 15, 5. Patrick Dupree 12, 6. John Freeman 10, 7. Brent Cross 4
Busch Pole Awards: Mike Olsen 1, Sean Caisse 1
POWERade Power Move of the Race Awards: Jeremy Clark 1, Ryan Seaman 1
Featherlite Most Improved Driver Awards: Brian Hoar 1, Joey McCarthy 1 .
What: Fuccillo Auto Park HUGE 150, NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series Race #3 of 11
Where: Holland International Speedway, Holland, N.Y.
When: Saturday, June 24, 2006, 8:00 p.m.
Track layout: .375 mile paved oval
Race distance: 150 laps, 56.25 miles
Posted awards: $109, 701
2005 Fuccillo Auto Park HUGE 150 race winner: Mike Stefanik
2005 Fuccillo Auto Park HUGE 150 Busch Pole winner: Mike Stefanik
Track record: 13.373 seconds, 93.926 mph, Martin Truex Jr., June 29, 2002
Schedule: Saturday, June 24 -- Practice 2:00 to 2:45 p.m. & 3:15 to 4:00 p.m.; Busch Pole Qualifying 5:00 p.m., Fuccillo Auto Park HUGE 150 8:00 p.m.