NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series Test Lee USA Speedway, Saturday, April 17 A total of 21 cars from 20 Busch North Series race teams turned out on an unseasonably warm day at Lee to test and tune for the season opener next...
NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series Test
Lee USA Speedway, Saturday, April 17
A total of 21 cars from 20 Busch North Series race teams turned out on an unseasonably warm day at Lee to test and tune for the season opener next Sunday, April 25. The accent was on running in race trim rather than taping up the front end and aiming for a time trial lap. With that in mind, most of the front-running teams were satisfied to be consistently around the 16 second mark on the semi-banked three-eighths mile oval. Andy Santerre's pole time last year was 15.67.
Incidentally, the title of the award for fastest qualifying time this year has undergone a subtle change. It's now the Busch Pole Award in the Busch North Series.
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A new sight on pit road was Bryon Chew's #99 Sta-Rite Water Systems Chevrolet turned out in a color scheme or black, blue, and white. While the number, color, and sponsor are new, the team is basically the same that Chew has run as #09 in the past under the banner of his father's Long Island car dealerships.
Also new, although it took a close look to make sure, was Brian Hoar's Goss Dodge Intrepid. Hoar, a Vermont Dodge dealer, has run GM products in the past disguised in Evernham-type paint jobs. For 2004 he acquired Tom Baldwin Jr.'s real Dodges, leaving most of his graphics the same as 2003 but with "DODGE" on the front air dam in letters too large to miss.
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He's baaaaack! Brad Leighton, that is. The winner of four straight Busch North Series races at Lee USA, including three openers from 1997 to 1999, plans to run eight races in 2004 with the Irving Oil-sponsored team he joined last season. They will race the Chevrolet he tested at Lee on the short tracks and a Ford on the superspeedways and road courses. The two-time series champion will make the first three races- Lee, Thompson, and Lime Rock. It will be interesting to see if Leighton's schedule expands if he's in a strong point position after Lime Rock's Memorial Day weekend event.
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While neither driver was present at the Lee test day, both Joey McCarthy and Bryan Wall were making news. McCarthy, sixth in the final standings for 2003 and the leader of more laps than anyone else at the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in California, is entered at Lee under the banner of Glenn Rudolph's STI (Secure Technologies Inc.) team for whom Jeff Spraker, Greg Schaefer, and Tommy Beamer all drove last season.
Meanwhile, reliable sources reported that Wall, who shares the Busch North Series record of four road course wins, will come out of retirement to drive at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen as a teammate to Mike Gallo.
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Ryan Seaman was the only Auto Meter Rookie of the Year candidate to test at Lee on Saturday. Also registered for the program are Michael Jacobs and Doug Krpata. Several other drives eligible for rookie status are entered at Lee, and may compete for Auto Meter points in the Lee 150 if they complete the required paperwork before race time.