NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, BUSCH EAST SERIES NEWS & NOTES * Bryon Chew Racing Well During Recovery; Prospects Are Bright for 2006 Stretch Run * Pardo, Ciccarelli Sunoco Rookie Contest Remains Tight * Busch East Series Alumni Enjoying ...
NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, BUSCH EAST SERIES NEWS & NOTES
* Bryon Chew Racing Well During Recovery; Prospects Are Bright for 2006 Stretch Run
* Pardo, Ciccarelli Sunoco Rookie Contest Remains Tight
* Busch East Series Alumni Enjoying Successful Seasons
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 30, 2006) - After his gritty performance in the Big Y World Class Market 150 at Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl, where he finished second despite a leg injury he sustained in a recreational boating accident, Bryon Chew (No. 99 Buzz Chew Chevrolet) is more than halfway on the road to recovery. He promises to be at 100 percent when the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series schedule resumes on Saturday, Sept.16 with the New Hampshire 125 at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, N.H.
Chew admits his Waterford performance surprised even him. "I wasn't really sure if I was going to be able to race when we got there. It hurt and we practiced slower than we should have," Chew recalled. But his fourth place qualifying effort gave him the resolve to go forward, and the adrenaline flow of competition took over from there.
"Once we got into the race I just tuned it out of my mind, except under caution when it started to throb a little bit," he explained. "To finish second to Matt (Kobyluck) at Waterford, his home track, is pretty good."
Despite the physical cost, it has been a satisfying season for the "Chew Crew", highlighted by Bryon's first career Busch East Series victory at Holland (N.Y.) International Speedway on June 24. Currently third in the Busch East Series point standings, Chew has been on a steady upward curve for the past two seasons. In 2002, his third with the series, he enjoyed a breakout year with four top-five finishes and 12th in points, but he became stuck on that level for the next two years. In 2005 he moved up to sixth and now is poised to duel for third with Brian Hoar (No. 45 Goss Dodge Intrepid) and Matt Kobyluck (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet) over the final three races of the season.
"We hoped we would be here after all the work we did on the cars over the winter," said Chew. "We found some things on the short track car that have really helped us be more competitive." Ron "Spot" Ste. Marie, Chew's crew chief since his Busch East Series rookie season, maintains the cars at his shop in Inlet, N.Y.
The level of preparation for the rest of the season could hardly be higher. Bryon will use his dedicated NHIS car at the "Magic Mile", where overheating left him 32nd, his worst finish of the year, in July. There's also a car prepared specially for the high banks of Dover (Del.) International Speedway where the Busch East Series visits on Sept. 22 and a road race car for the regular season finale at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. on Sept. 30.
Chew's highly successful short track car, meanwhile, has been set aside until the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway, October 20-21. At the end of the season the top 15 drivers the Busch East Series standings will be invited to compete in this special post-season event which also includes the top 15 drivers from the NASCAR Grand National Division AutoZone West Series. Since the event's inception in 2003, Chew is one of just 26 drivers who have made the cut for all three consecutive editions of the Toyota All-Star Showdown, including just 12 in the Grand National Division.
"The way we've been able to get that car running, we're going out there thinking we've got a chance to win it," said Chew. He finished fifth in the inaugural Toyota All-Star Showdown back in 2003.
Summing up his 2006 season to date, he added "You really have to be on your game to win because it's so competitive. But we put the work and the resources into it."
SUNOCO ROOKIE UPDATE: Ruben Pardo (No. 12 SuperCuts/Family Dollar Dodge) and Dion Ciccarelli (No. 84 Star Sales Ford) carried their battle for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award from the stats page to the track at Waterford. They entered the Big Y World Class Market 150 tied for the lead with 58 points each and battled for position most of the race. Pardo finished ninth and Ciccarelli 10th, giving Pardo a one-point lead, 68-67, in the Sunoco Rookie standings.
Meanwhile, a tie for third emerged after Patrick Dupree (No. 24 Outback Steak House Chevrolet) placed 14th at Waterford and Pierre Bourque (No. 10 Canada.com/Driving.ca Chevrolet) 16th. Both now have 54 points.
John Freeman (No. 5 MTX/Kenwood Audio Chevrolet) finished 17th and Jeremy Clark (No. 25 Drake Oil Chevrolet) was 27th in the Waterford event, creating a tie for fifth at 53 points. Brent Cross (No. 97 LaCross Motorsports Chevrolet), the only Sunoco Rookie candidate to miss a race so far in 2006, has 39 points.
ALUMNI ON THE MOVE: Drivers and crew chiefs with strong Busch East Series connections are enjoying standout seasons elsewhere in the NASCAR universe. Mike Stefanik, the 1997 and 1998 Busch East champion and runner-up in 2003 and 2005 is leading the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour standings in search of his seventh title in that series.
The crew chief for Stefanik's two Busch East championships, Greg Zipadelli, is as usual in the middle of the battle for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series title as crew chief for defending champion Tony Stewart. The first race in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup takes place at New Hampshire International Speedway the same weekend the Busch East Series schedule resumes at the Loudon, N.H. facility.
Martin Truex Jr. is fourth in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and tied for 22nd overall in the point race. Ryan Moore has competed in 10 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races and ranks 35th in points. It's worth noting that only two drivers who have competed in fewer races are ahead of Moore in the standings, and one of them is named Mark Martin.