BNS: Loudon II: Round fifteen preview

LOUDON, N.H. (September 5, 2003) -- Adaptability to change is always a key to success. In NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series competition, that means the ability to perform equally well on short tracks, superspeedways, and road ...

LOUDON, N.H. (September 5, 2003) -- Adaptability to change is always a key to success. In NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series competition, that means the ability to perform equally well on short tracks, superspeedways, and road courses is a necessity for a driver with championship aspirations. No driver illustrates that better than Brian Hoar, who recently scored his first Busch North victory on the quarter mile at Thunder Road in Barre, Vt., where he cut his racing teeth. Next on the schedule for Hoar and the Goss Dodge team is the New Hampshire 125 at the one-mile New Hampshire International Speedway on Saturday, September 13. Brian's adaptability has already made him the NHIS Bud Pole Qualifying record holder, and he would like nothing better than to back up his short track success with his first superspeedway victory.

The New Hampshire 125 is the second and final appearance for the Busch North Series at New Hampshire International Speedway in 2003, and the third of four appearances on the same race weekend as the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Practice and qualifying are set for Thursday, September 11, with the race on Saturday, September 13 at approximately 3:00 p.m., following the New Hampshire 200 for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. There is no on-track activity for the Busch North Series teams on Friday, September 12. SPEED Channel will be on hand to record the action for national telecast scheduled for Saturday, September 20.

Brian Hoar took time from his winning preparations for the True Value 150 at Thunder Road to talk about a short track driver's process of adaptation to superspeedway racing, both on the track and in car setup. "It took three or four races before I got used to it," the 31-year old Williston, Vt. driver recalled. "Now I know what to expect, so I feel pretty comfortable." That comfort zone was apparent when he won the Bud Pole at record speed and finished second to NHIS master Brad Leighton in July 2002, just two years after he first set a tire on the track.

Aside from the higher speeds, the adaptation to NHIS included learning first-hand about aerodynamics, a negligible factor on a quarter mile track. "We treat it a little different setup-wise than we do the short tracks," Brian noted. "We put a little more aerodynamic type of setup in it than we do on the short tracks. When you're turning 125 mile an hour laps, that means 150 on the straights and 100 in the corners, so aero does come into play."

It's not the sort of aerodynamic effect that produces slingshot passes at Daytona or Talladega, or even with the open-wheel Featherlite Modified Series cars at NHIS. But it does require a driver to pay attention. "You don't really feel the draft, but if you're tucked up behind somebody square coming off the corner and you're really hard on the accelerator, the front end will wash out on you," Brian related. "If somebody's tucked up behind you going into the corner, you can notice it get loose," he added.

Prior to the 2003 racing season, New Hampshire International Speedway repaved the turns to widen the racing groove.. For Brian Hoar, that has made a huge difference in the way he runs the track. "I think it's added a lot to the racing because there's more you can do, there's more useable driving lane. You can watch 20 cars out there and you'll see ten different approaches to getting through the corner," he said.

"Before, there was only one approach- you had to be glued to the white line on the bottom," Brian continued. "That was the only way. If you wanted to pass, you had to make your pass going into or coming off the corner, or if you were real brave and had a really fast car, you might go around on the outside. Now you can do a lot of different things."

"During the course of the race, as the car gets tighter or looser, you can change your line accordingly, going higher or lower on the track," he concluded. "I think it's improved the quality of the racing there more than some drivers realize."

NEWS OF NOTE

* The 2002 New Hampshire 125 was won by Tracy Gordon in a wild finish which saw the race extended to 137 laps -- 12 more than the scheduled distance -- to achieve the green-white-checker finish required by Busch North Series rules. Andy Santerre, Brad Leighton, Kelly Moore, and Mike Olsen completed the top five as six drivers swapped the lead nine times. It was Gordon's first career win on a superspeedway and broke a three-race NHIS winning streak by Leighton.

* The first 2003 Busch North Series race at NHIS, the New England 125 in July, was dominated by Martin Truex Jr., who led all but 17 laps. Santerre, Leighton, Ryan Moore, and Mike Johnson followed Truex to the flag. Dennis Demers was the only other race leader, but finished 17th. Ryan Moore qualified second and finished fourth in his first career superspeedway race.

* Brian Hoar holds the NHIS Busch North Series qualifying record of 29.892 seconds, 127.414 miles per hour, set in July 2002. Kelly Moore won the Bud Pole for this race in 2002, and Martin Truex Jr. was the top qualifier this July.

* The New Hampshire 125 will be the 40th Busch North Series race at NHIS, the most of any speedway. Brad Leighton leads all drives with seven wins, followed by Mike McLaughlin, Kelly Moore, and Ted Christopher with four. A total of 17 drivers have won Busch North races at NHIS, at least ten of whom are potential entries for the New Hampshire 125.

*The only drivers to win the Busch North Series title and a win a race at NHIS in the same season are Ricky Craven (1991) and Brad Leighton (1999 and 2000). Kelly Moore, Mike Stefanik, Dale Shaw, and Dave Dion have all accomplished both feats, but not in the same year.

* New Hampshire International Speedway opened in July 1990 and hosted its first "stand-alone" Busch North Series race on Labor Day weekend of that year. Including the "combination" races with the NASCAR Busch Series which were run in the 1990's, the Busch North Series has been a part of every scheduled NASCAR race weekend at the track.

WHAT'S THE WORD?

"Like they say down south, we were all 'up on the wheel' for those laps 50 laps, and we knew we had an appreciative audience." -- Dave Dion, describing the crowd --pleasing duel in the final stages of the True Value 150 at Thunder Road on Saturday, August 30. Dion finished third behind Brian Hoar and Andy Santerre.

FAST FACTS

What: New Hampshire 125, NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series race #15 of 18
Where: New Hampshire International Speedway, Loudon, N.H.
When: Saturday, September 13, 3:00 p.m. (approx.)

Track layout: 1.058 mile paved oval
Race length: 125 laps, 132.25 miles
Television: SPEED Channel, Saturday, September 20, 10:00 a.m.

Schedule: Thursday, Sept. 11 -- Practice 12:15-12:55 p.m. & 1:30-2:30 p.m., Bud Pole Qualifying 3:45 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 13 -- Final practice 8:50-9:20 a.m., New Hampshire 125 3:00 p.m. (approx.)

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Mike McLaughlin , Ricky Craven , Martin Truex Jr. , Mike Johnson , Ryan Moore