DAYTONA BEACH, Fla (June 26, 2006) -- The annual appearance by the Busch East Series at Thompson International Speedway's high-banked 5/8 mile oval this Thursday night will be the only 100-lap short track race of the 2006 season. In mileage, the...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla (June 26, 2006) -- The annual appearance by the Busch East Series at Thompson International Speedway's high-banked 5/8 mile oval this Thursday night will be the only 100-lap short track race of the 2006 season. In mileage, the 62.5 miles is actually a bit longer than last Saturday's 150-lap event race at Holland (N.Y.) International Speedway's 3/8 mile track, but for strategic purposes, it's the shortest oval race of the year. With so few laps to regain track position, Thompson's pit road will be visited only by those with on-track damage, mechanical problems, or dire handling issues.
Last week's winner, Bryon Chew, is all in favor of the sprint race format. "I like the fact that we won't be able to pit," he declared, adding "I like that track. I think we should run pretty well there, and I think it will make it more even for everybody. If you have a problem and have to pit, you'll be in trouble. So, you've got to be on your game when you get there."
Chew feels the confidence that comes with his No. 99 Buzz Chew Auto Group Chevrolet team's success, currently standing fourth in the Busch East Series point standings with a clean sheet of top-ten finishes. "The last couple of years haven't treated us that well, but we've been pretty good every race that we've gone to this year, so I look forward to doing well there," he asserted.
Turning to the characteristics of the Thompson track, Chew noted "It has the high banked corners so you can throw the car in real hard. It's exciting- there's enough room to race there and it's a lot of fun." History has shown the high line is the fastest under most conditions, which could be a vital factor in the side-by-side racing produced by the Busch East Series' double-file restarts. "The high road around is definitely the place to be. Your car binds up on the bottom. You'll be able to race on the bottom for a little while with new tires, but then you'll have to go up top because the car gets too loose on the bottom," he explained.
HANDLING OR HORSEPOWER?: A track like Thompson, with lap speeds over the 100 miles per hour mark, always brings up the question of which is more important to success, handling or horsepower. Eddie MacDonald, the winner at Thompson in 2005 and driver of the No. 48 New England Mechanical Overlay Chevrolet, offered a mixed viewpoint. "It's mainly handling, but horsepower is always a factor on a half mile track, so you need to have it all together," he answered.
TWINBILL: Thursday night fans at Thompson will have their only opportunity of 2006 to see two regional series on the same day, as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour precedes the Busch East Series in their own 100 lapper. Both series appear on the two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup weekends at New Hampshire International Speedway, but this year's NHIS schedule calls for them to race on separate days.
Thompson's NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series classes will also be in action, as Thursday is their regular race night during the summer season.
THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT: There's irony in the fact Thompson will host the oval track Busch East Series race with the fewest laps in 2006, because it also hosted the longest races in series history, measured by lap count. Those were a trio of scheduled 300-lap marathons from 1996 to 1998. The '96 race, won by Jeff Fuller, was shortened by rain. The others were taken by Mike Stefanik.
KINGS OF THE BIG T: Mike Stefanik and Ricky Craven have each won three Busch East Series races at Thompson. Including 14 Whelen Modified Series wins, Stefanik has 17 NASCAR touring series triumphs at the track. At press time, Eddie MacDonald was the only previous Busch East Series winner at Thompson entered for the Pepsi Busch East 100.
Unofficial Busch East Series point standings: 1. Sean Caisse 527, 2. Mike Olsen 505, 3. Matt Kobyluck 479, 4. Bryon Chew 474, 5. Charles Lewandoski 434, 6. Mike Johnson 428, 7. Kip Stockwell 402, 8. Jeff Anton 390, 9. Eddie MacDonald 385, 10. Joey McCarthy 380
Unofficial Sunoco Rookie standings: 1. (tie) Dion Ciccarelli, Ruben Pardo 24, 3. Jeremy Clark 23, 4. Pierre Bourque 22, 5. Patrick Dupree 21, 6. John Feeman 20, 7. Brent Cross 9
Busch Pole Awards: Sean Caisse 2, Mike Olsen 1
POWERade Power Move of the Race Awards: Jeremy Clark 1, Ryan Seaman 1, Tracy Gordon 1
Featherlite Most Improved Driver Awards: Brian Hoar 1, Joey McCarthy 1, Mike Johnson 1
What: Pepsi Busch East 100, NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Race #4 of 11
Where: Thompson International Speedway, Thompson, Conn.
When: Thursday, June 29, 2006, 9:00 p.m. (approx.)
Track layout: .625 mile paved oval
Race distance: 100 laps, 62.5 miles
Posted awards: $113,351
2005 Pepsi Busch East 100 race winner: Eddie MacDonald
2005: Pepsi Busch East 100 Busch Pole winner: Sean Caisse
Track record: 20.200 seconds, 111.386 mph, Martin Truex Jr., July 13, 2002
Schedule: Thurs., June 29 -- Practice 12:30 to 1:15 & 2:45 to 3:30 p.m., Busch Pole Qualifying 5:15 p.m., Pepsi Busch East 100 9:00 p.m.