Countdown to the Showdown: Busch North Champions Santerre and Olsen spotlight DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 26, 2003) -- There are still two races remaining in the regular season, but enthusiasm continues to build among NASCAR Grand National ...
Countdown to the Showdown: Busch North Champions Santerre and Olsen spotlight
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 26, 2003) -- There are still two races remaining in the regular season, but enthusiasm continues to build among NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series teams for the inaugural Toyota All-Star Showdown, scheduled for Nov. 6-8 at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. The two most recent Busch North Series champions, Andy Santerre and Mike Olsen, recently talked about their expectations for the Showdown. They took different routes to arrive at the same conclusion -- this race will take their series to a new level.
At first glance, the Santerre and Olsen racing operations are strikingly different. Santerre works in Harrisburg, N.C., nearly in the shadow of Lowe's Motor Speedway. By contrast, Olsen's shop sits on the bank of the Connecticut River in the picturesque New England town of North Haverhill, N.H.
Santerre looks at the Toyota All-Star Showdown as a chance to reward his team for a long summer of hard work and sacrifice, which has brought them to the threshold of a second straight Busch North title and a chance to showcase the quality of the Busch North Series on live national television.
"We haven't gotten very far working on the car because we're trying to wrap up the Busch North title, but we're excited about it. We've made all our reservations, and we're going to treat it like a vacation," Santerre said, noting that 10 people will be flying from various points in the northeast to join the crew hauling the race car from North Carolina.
"We want to spend some time in California and see the sights. We probably won't get a lot of time for sightseeing, but we want to do the best we can."
Santerre's primary sponsor, Aubuchon Hardware Stores, is a regional chain in northern New England. Olsen's sponsor, Car Freshner Corporation of Watertown, N.Y., markets its familiar Little Trees product line nationally, and that gives the 2001 Busch North Series champion an added incentive to raise his game another notch at the Showdown.
"We're all pretty excited about it. It's an opportunity for us to show a much broader audience the excitement of NASCAR racing at the regional level. It also gives us a chance to perform for some of Car Freshner's customers on the west coast," Olsen said. His comments came as Car Freshner Corp. announced that the Little Trees brand will continue to sponsor Olsen's Busch North Series program through the 2005 season.
The Toyota All-Star Showdown will bring together top drivers from throughout NASCAR's regional racing divisions. The top 10 drivers in each of the four series which comprise the NASCAR Elite Division -- Featherlite Southwest, International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest, Kodak Southeast and Raybestos Brakes Northwest -- along with the top 15 drivers in the two NASCAR Grand National series -- Busch North and Winston West -- who will compete in a similar format. The race will be televised live, on NASCAR TV on SPEED Channel, beginning at 8 p.m. ET, Nov. 8.
The Toyota All-Star Showdown is an invitation-only, non-points event. Drivers will be invited based on their finish in the 2003 point standings for their respective series. Forty Elite Division teams and 30 Grand National Division teams will make up the event's starting fields.
The three-day event begins with practice on Thursday, Nov. 6. Teams return for another practice session on Friday, Nov. 7, along with twin 50-lap qualifying races for both divisions. The feature races will be held Saturday, Nov. 8.