BNS: Lee USA season opener preview

NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series unveils new look in 2003 opener at Lee USA Speedway Sunday, April 27. WAVERLY, N.Y. (April 7, 2003) -- A "new look" will be in evidence on many fronts when the NASCAR Grand National Division, ...

NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series unveils new look in 2003 opener at Lee USA Speedway Sunday, April 27.

WAVERLY, N.Y. (April 7, 2003) -- A "new look" will be in evidence on many fronts when the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series begins its 17th season of competition on Sunday, April 27, at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, N.H. Before the final checkered flag falls in October, NASCAR's premier full bodied northeastern stock car series will contest 18 races at 14 speedways in eight states, including four appearances with the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and 12 events on national television.

The first new look comes in the title of the series, which has undergone a subtle but important change. The NASCAR Grand National Division has been created to bring the Busch North Series and the Winston West Series under a common rule structure. As the Grand National Division, the role of both series as a final step for competitors aspiring to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, Busch Series, and Craftsman Truck Series will be enhanced, while continuing to provide professional opportunities for racers who make their career at the regional level.

Another new look will be found on the race car of defending Busch North Series champion Andy Santerre. The Cherryfield, Me., native returned to full-time action last season bearing his familiar number 44 and running a virtual one-man operation from his shop in North Carolina. For 2003, Santerre has combined his efforts with those of former Busch North Series driver and Winston Cup car owner Joe Bessey to field a Chevrolet under the Aubuchon Hardware banner carrying Bessey's number 6.

While the paint scheme remains the same, a new look will be found behind the wheel of the Burnham Boilers Chevrolet as two-time Busch North Series champion Mike Stefanik returns to full-time action in the series for the first time since 1998. Since his last Busch North title, Stefanik has added two more Featherlite Modified Series crowns, bringing his total of NASCAR championships to eight. Should he prevail in the 2003 Busch North title contest, he will tie the all-time NASCAR record of nine championships held by Richie Evans. Meanwhile, the driver Stefanik replaces in the Burnham team, two-time champion Brad Leighton, will bring a new look to the events he contests in a partial schedule with the #35 Irving Oil Ford fielded by the newly-formed NDS Motorsports team.

The look will be new in several ways for another potential title contender, Paul Wolfe. The young gun from upstate New York will field the first Dodge Intrepid in Busch North Series competition from the shops of Daytona 500 winning crew chief Tom Baldwin Jr., with sponsorship from Tops Friendly Markets. Also debuting a new backer is Bryon Chew, with Auto on the fenders of the family Chevrolet he drove to a career-best second place finish in the 2002 season finale.

Santerre's closest challenger for the 2002 title, Matt Kobyluck, returns with his familiar Mohegan Sun Chevrolet, as does fourth place finisher Kelly Moore, the series all-time leading race and Bud Pole winner, with his NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet. Other perennial contenders include 2001 champion Mike Olsen, Dale Quarterley, Mike Johnson, and Dave Dion, the 1996 title holder who ranks second to Kelly Moore in career Bud Poles. Sure to be in the picture during the 2003 season are Eddie MacDonald, who scored his first Busch North Series win in 2002, Brian Hoar, who won his first two Bud Poles, Most Improved Driver Award winner Greg Schaefer, and Bill Penfold and Joey McCarthy, who set new marks for career best finishes last season.

Rookie competitors always bring a fresh presence to a racing season, and the 2003 Busch North Series campaign will showcase one of the most anticipated newcomers in several years as Ryan Moore, a standout in late model and pro stock races in New England for the past two years as a teenager, joins his father Kelly Moore in a two-car team. Also declaring his plans to seek the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year Award is Mark Durgin, the former crew chief for Eddie MacDonald. Durgin will drive the Triple Crown Racing Chevrolet.

One more new look on the 2003 Busch North Series schedule will be unveiled on Sunday, May 18, when the series visits the newly-opened, state-of-the-art Lake Erie Speedway in North East, Pa. The Lake Erie event will mark the series' return to western Pennsylvania after a two-year absence.

While the look new prevails in many quarters, the Busch North Series will retain its hallmarks: the variety of tracks and the tradition of exciting racing which have built its reputation for excellence since 1987.


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Drivers Greg Schaefer , Dale Quarterley , Paul Wolfe , Matt Kobyluck , Mike Johnson , Ryan Moore , Eddie MacDonald , Bryon Chew