BNS: Lime Rock preview

LAKEVILLE, Conn. (October 4, 2001) - The championship is settled in favor of Mike Olsen, but the Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring story for 2001 is far from written as the teams prepare for the season's traditional finale, the Burnham Boilers...

LAKEVILLE, Conn. (October 4, 2001) - The championship is settled in favor of Mike Olsen, but the Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring story for 2001 is far from written as the teams prepare for the season's traditional finale, the Burnham Boilers 200 presented by New England Dodge Dealers at Lime Rock Park on Saturday, October 13. Topping the agenda is Bryan Wall's attempt to win this event for the third year in a row, and the nearly deadlocked battle for second place in the final standings between former BNS champions Kelly Moore and Dale Shaw, who go to Lime Rock separated by just two points. Also in the mix are the destination of the lucrative Gatorade Front Runner Award and many spots in the top 20, where drives share in the post-season points fund.

The Burnham Boilers 200 presented by New England Dodge Dealers runs 82 laps or 200 kilometers around the scenic 1.53 mile road course. Practice and Bud Pole Qualifying are set for Friday, October 12, with second round qualifying Saturday morning and race time at 1:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

Bryan Wall has dominated Lime Rock the last two years, setting a track record in qualifying each time. Should he complete the hat trick, he will equal several records. A win would duplicate Butch Leitzinger's mark of three straight Lime Rock wins and also equal Leitzinger's record of fourth Busch North Series road course victories. Furthermore, Wall would become the 13th different winner in the 2001 series, tying the mark set in 1987.

Bryan took time during Lime Rock's recent open test day to explain his success. "It's a little bit of experience, a great team, and a great car," he noted, giving credit to one of his one-track rivals, Dale Shaw, who builds the chassis used by the Wall's Ford team.

The defending winner also pointed out the difference between Lime Rock and the other road course on the schedule, Watkins Glen. "This is a tight track," he declared. "Watkins Glen is forgiving compared to here. You use up a lot of the track, and sometimes you don't even use the track- you hit the curbs and drop a wheel in the dirt. I think this is the most difficult track on the tour. It's a challenge every lap; you can't take a lap off. You have to be on you game from the green to the checker."

In 2000, both Dale Quarterley and Brad Leighton showed they could run with Wall and both are back with every intention of ending the streak. Leighton held strong lead in the 2000 edition before his transmission locked in fourth gear and he spun, finishing sixth. "I thought we had him knocked off last year, but Bryan's pretty tough here," Leighton observed. "It's all about smoothness. When you get up in the top five, it's the guy whose equipment last longer and who doesn't make a mistake who wins, and it's pretty tough to force Bryan to make a mistake," he added.

Further motivation comes from the Gatorade Front Runner Award for race leadership, which Mike Olsen leads narrowly over Leighton and Martin Truex Jr. Leighton can retain the Gatorade honors by leading the most laps at Lime Rock, provided Olsen does not lead at all.

For Kelly Moore and Dale Shaw, second place in the final standings would be scant consolation, since both went into the 2001 campaign with aspirations to again hoist the champion's trophy. But as true racers, they will go Lime Rock determined to win what remains to be won. "The pressure is off, the pressure is on," reflected Moore, during a break in testing.

"We're sneaking up on it. It's the same car as we used at Watkins Glen, but it's so much more demanding a road course that we're finding things rubbing and bending," Moore continued. "The downhill stretch is key here because it is such a tight course, and most of your passing is done on the front straightaway getting into turn one. There's a lot of keys, but the biggest one is keeping the fenders on the car," he concluded.

Mike Olsen's first place is the only position in the top 20 which cannot change at Lime Rock. Besides the Moore-Shaw battle for second, less than 100 points separate Wall, Quarterley, Truex, Tracy Gordon, and Leighton in fifth through ninth places. There' even a spirited battle for the last spot in the post season payoff, as Barney McRae leads Travis Benjamin by just 28 points for 20th. In the separate Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year standings, Joey McCarthy and Eddie MacDonald have yet to settle second place behind Brian Hoar.

The Busch North Series is one of nine NASCAR Touring series which blanket the USA, bringing major events to NASCAR Weekly Racing Series tracks as well as superspeedways and road courses like Lime Rock Park. The NASCAR Touring program is recognized as the premier training ground for NASCAR's national series, the Winston Cup Series, Busch Series, Grand National Division, and Craftsman Truck Series, while also providing career opportunities for professional racers at the regional level. Corporations making major contributions to NASCAR Touring point funds include Anheuser-Busch Inc., Featherlite Trailers, Goody's Headache Powders, Gatorade, RE/MAX International, O'Reilly Auto Parts, Raybestos Brakes, and R.J. Reynolds' Winston brand.

- Al Robinson

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Drivers Butch Leitzinger , Martin Truex Jr. , Bryan Wall , Dale Quarterley , Eddie MacDonald