BES: Stafford: Round two preview

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 13, 2006) -- It's a long haul from Greenville, S.C. to Stafford Springs, Conn. - about 850 miles direct via the Interstates. For the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series teams who ran Saturday night's season...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 13, 2006) -- It's a long haul from Greenville, S.C. to Stafford Springs, Conn. - about 850 miles direct via the Interstates. For the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series teams who ran Saturday night's season opener at Greenville-Pickens Speedway and have just six days to get ready for the TSI Harley-Davidson 150 at Stafford Motor Speedway, it's good to know both tracks are relatively flat half miles, so the same setup should work both places, right?

It's not that simple according to Mike Olsen, the Busch Pole winner and third place finisher at Greenville who broke a long string of bad luck at Stafford with a top five finish in last year's TSI Harley-Davidson 150.

"I think at Stafford the turns are a little sharper. Stafford's probably a little bit wider too. The big thing is that at Stafford the pavement is newer - a lot newer - so I don't think tires will be so much an issue as they were a Greenville," Olsen explained. At Greenville, the question crew chiefs faced was not whether to change the permitted two tires, but when to change them. Strategies varied from lap 48 for Ryan Moore to lap 112 for Matt Kobyluck. Winner Sean Caisse pitted on lap 56.

The history at Stafford since its new asphalt was laid offers little guidance on whether to pit or run non-stop. In the last three races there, Kelly Moore and Matt Kobyluck won without pitting, then Ryan Moore stopped at mid-race and charged back to the lead in the most recent event last August.

The key, according to 2001 series champion Olsen, is that the veteran teams have a book of setup notes on Stafford, whereas they were all rookies at Greenville. "The big thing is that we've got some history there. You know where you can race and where you can't. You've got some idea of how the track is going to change when the sun goes down," he related.

The TSI Harley-Davidson 150 is scheduled as a one-day event with practice starting at 2:00 p.m., Busch Pole Qualifying at 5:00 p.m, and race time at 9:00 p.m. Stafford's regular NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series classes will also be in action.

BACK IN THE DAY: Stafford Motor Speedway is the senior member of the Busch East Series schedule, by four days. The former Busch North Series visited the Arute family's track on Tuesday, July 14, 1987, for the eighth race of its inaugural season. The winner was an invader from the south - Tommy Houston, who stopped on his way back home after the NASCAR Busch Series race at Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine two days earlier. Holland (N.Y.) International Speedway hosted its first race for the series on Saturday, July 18. Holland has been a continuous host to the series since 1987, while Stafford didn't return to the schedule until 1991.

SPREADING THE WEALTH: No one, except the Arutes, can say they "own" Stafford Motor Speedway. In 26 races, no one has won more than three times. That honor belongs to Mike Johnson, winner in 2000, 2002, and 2003.

FEAST OR FAMINE: In two starts at Stafford in 2005, Matt Kobyluck saw the two faces of the racing game. Last June he won the Busch Pole and led every lap. In August, he was involved in a first lap accident which sent him to the pits where mangled front end bodywork was cut away. Although he finished 19th, the NASCAR timing system showed him turning the fastest laps of the race with no aerodynamic help at the front of his car.

REMEMBERING JACK ARUTE SR.: The TSI Harley Davidson 150 will mark the first visit by the Busch East Series to Stafford Motor Speedway since the passing of Jack Arute Sr., under whose guidance for over 35 years the speedway grew to national prominence. His sons Jack, Mark, and Rob continue to march Stafford forward into the 21st century.

CORRECTION: Under revisions to the 2006 NASCAR Grand National Division point system, Sean Caisse received 190 points for his victory at Greenville-Pickens (180 for first place, five for leading a lap, five for leading the most laps), rather than 185 as previously reported. We regret the error. Corrected standings are shown below.


What: TSI Harley Davidson 150, NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series Race #2

Where: Stafford Motor Speedway, Stafford Springs, Conn.

When: Friday, June 16, 9:00 p.m.

Track layout: .5 mile paved oval
Race distance: 150 laps, 75.0 miles

Posted awards: $109,801

Television: SPEED, Wed., June 28, 12:00 noon

2005 race winners at Stafford: Matt Kobyluck (June); Ryan Moore (August)

2005 Busch Pole winners at Stafford: Matt Kobyluck (June); Mike Johnson (August)

Track record: Kelly Moore, 19.672 seconds @ 91.491 mph, June 22, 2001

Schedule: Friday, June 16 - Practice 2:00 to 3:20 p.m., Busch Pole Qualifying 5:00 p.m., TSI Harley-Davidson 150 9:00 p.m.


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Drivers Matt Kobyluck , Mike Johnson , Ryan Moore , Sean Caisse