ANDY SANTERRE MOTORSPORTS TO DEBUT NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION SPEC ENGINE AT WATERFORD SPEEDBOWL * Waterford Meant Trial Before Triumph For Matt Kobyluck * Mike Johnson, Bryon Chew Bring Best Career Marks To The Bowl DAYTONA BEACH,...
ANDY SANTERRE MOTORSPORTS TO DEBUT NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION SPEC ENGINE AT WATERFORD SPEEDBOWL
* Waterford Meant Trial Before Triumph For Matt Kobyluck
* Mike Johnson, Bryon Chew Bring Best Career Marks To The Bowl
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 14, 2006) -- If all goes well at the Andy Santerre Motorsports shop in Harrisburg, N.C., this week, a new era in NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series racing will begin Saturday night in the Big Y World Class Market 150 at Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl.
The Grand National Division spec engine, developed by NASCAR to reduce the cost to competitors in both the Busch East Series and its west coast counterpart, the AutoZone West Series, will make its race debut under the hood of the No. 44 Casella Waste Systems Chevrolet driven by Sean Caisse, who currently trails point leader Mike Olsen by just 34 points with four races to go.
"It just arrived and we're planning to put it in the car this afternoon. If it fits and nothing goes wrong, we're planning to race it at Waterford," said Andy Santerre, the four-time series champion who is masterminding Caisse's efforts in 2006, speaking from his shop on Monday.
"It's built by Carl Wegner in Wisconsin and it's part of the first batch of three engines with the new etching, the invisible marking to make sure the parts are what they're supposed to be. The other two engines are going to Bill McAnally in the (AutoZone) West Series," Santerre continued. The concept of the spec engine is to adopt the use of specified parts to control the cost of the engine, while continuing to allow Grand National Division teams to choose their engine builder and brand of car.
Santerre and Caisse both tested the prototype spec engine back-to-back with their regular powerplants last winter and found the performance almost identical but with different characteristics. "When we tested it, the spec engine was a little softer off the corners and a little stronger at the end of the straight (than the current engine)," Santerre said adding "I think that will help on short tracks like Waterford because you won't spin the wheels as much."
The engines are designed to cost less initially, as well as to save teams even more money in the long term by improving durability -- something Santerre is eager to test this weekend at Waterford.
"We're looking for an advantage because all our motors are old," Santerre explained. "Although we haven't had engine trouble this year, we're expecting things to start breaking. We're looking for more reliability with the spec engine."
HOME SWEET HOME (FINALLY): Defending Waterford winner, Matt Kobyluck (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet), had never finished in the top five at his hometown track until last season. In fact, his 2003 and 2004 attempts had both ended in turn one accidents right in front of the tent hosting Kobyluck Corporation employees and guests for a night at the races. By contrast, the 2005 victory lane was a sea of orange and black as joyful as any seen on the Busch East Series in many years. The Kobyluck family operates a construction, materials, and transportation business in southeastern Connecticut, and every employee and customer seemed to be part of the celebration that night.
THE BEST AT THE 'BOWL: Mike Johnson (No. 96 Johnson Lumber Ford) and Bryon Chew (No. 99 Buzz Chew Chevrolet) carry a statistical edge into Waterford on Saturday night. Johnson has two wins (2001 & 2004) plus a third and a fifth at the 'Bowl for four top-five finishes in six starts. Chew, who was a frequent Waterford winner in his Legends car days, has twice reset his best career finish in a full-length Busch East race at the track, He was third in 2003 and second last year before breaking into victory lane in 2006 at Holland (N.Y.) International Speedway.
BRANCHING OUT: Both Matt Kobyluck and Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Pierre Bourque (No. 10 Driving.Ca/Canada.Com Chevrolet have tested their talents in other series during the two weekends since the Busch East Series last raced at Adirondack International Speedway in Beaver Falls, N.Y.
Kobyluck and his team stepped up to the NASCAR Busch Series in the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International road course. Kobyluck qualified an impressive 26th in a field of 46 cars which included 16 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series regulars. Unfortunately he crashed on his final qualifying lap, forcing crew chief Perry Waite and his crew to work overtime to make the start just a couple of hours later. Kobyluck settled for 42nd in the final rundown.
Mike Olsen and crew chief Harry Norcross of the No. 61 Little Trees Chevrolet team were also in Watkins Glen helping their former teammate and fellow North Haverhill, N.H. native Frank Stoddard, the crew chief for Boris Said in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race.
Meanwhile, Bourque stayed home in Canada to record a 12th place finish in the CASCAR Series race through the streets of Trois Rivieres, Quebec, on August 6 before heading to Nashville Superspeedway to race with the ARCA RE/MAX Series. Bourque, driving for Andy Hillenburg as he does in the Busch East Series, started 36th and finished 21st on Nashville's concrete high banks. The experience gained in Music City can be applied when the Busch East Series visits the concrete banks of the Monster Mile, Dover (Del.) International Speedway on Sept. 22.
LEADERBOARD - after 7 of 11 races
Busch East Series point standings: 1. Mike Olsen 1190, 2. Sean Caisse 1156, 3. Brian Hoar 1005, 4. Bryon Chew 1004, 5. Matt Kobyluck 978, 6. Mike Johnson 961, 7. Joey McCarthy 948, 8. Charles Lewandoski 899, 9. Jeff Anton 876, 10. Ruben Pardo 834, 11. Kip Stockwell 818, 12. Dion Ciccarelli 793, 13. Scott Bouley 766, 14. John Salemi 758, 15. John Freeman 752
Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings: 1. (tie) Ruben Pardo 58, Dion Ciccarelli 58, 3. Jeremy Clark 50, 4. John Freeman 48, 5. Pierre Bourque 47, 6. Patrick Dupree 46, 7. Brent Cross 34
POWERade Power Move of the Race Awards: Jeremy Clark, Ryan Seaman, Tracy Gordon, Jamie Aube, Carlos Pardo, Dave Dion, Ray Ciccarelli 1
Featherlite Most Improved Driver Awards: Brian Hoar 2; Joey McCarthy, Mike Johnson, Sean Caisse, John Freeman, Bryon Chew 1
What: Big Y World Class Market 150, NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series Race #8 of 11
Where: Waterford Speedbowl, Waterford, Conn.
When: Saturday, August 19, 2006, 7:30 p.m.
Track layout: 0.375 mile paved oval
Race distance: 150 laps, 56.25 miles
Posted awards: $109,411
Television: HDNet live; SPEED enhanced replay Thurs., Aug. 31, 5:30 p.m.
2005 Big Y World Class Market 150 race winner: Matt Kobyluck
2005 Big Y World Class Market 150 Busch Pole winner: Matt Kobyluck
Track record: 14.980 seconds, 90.129 miles per hour, Martin Truex Jr., July 8, 2002
Schedule: Saturday, August 19 - Practice 1:30 to 3:00 p.m., Busch Pole Qualifying 5:00 p.m., Big Y World Class Market 150 7:30 p.m.