BNS: Mike Olsen - NASCAR spotlight

After Two Lean Seasons, Mike Olsen Prepares To Contend For Busch North Series Title Starting at Lee Usa Speedway, April 25 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 17, 2004) -- Like an NFL general manager scouting the free agent market for the player who will...

After Two Lean Seasons, Mike Olsen Prepares To Contend For Busch North Series Title Starting at Lee Usa Speedway, April 25

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 17, 2004) -- Like an NFL general manager scouting the free agent market for the player who will put his team over the top, Mike Olsen, the 2001 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series champion, has spent the winter making plans for an key addition to the Little Trees Chevrolet racing team. He's planning to bring back Big Mo.

That's "Mo" as in "Momentum." For the past two seasons, Olsen has struggled in the early stages of the campaign before rallying in the summer to record a top-ten finish in the final standings. In both years he has waited until mid-August or later to find victory lane. In 2004 he knows his title chances depend on establishing his credentials as a contender early and avoiding the burden of playing catch-up against a star-studded field.

"You've worked all winter making changes and if you go to Lee and it works it gives you momentum you can carry into the season," he said, looking forward to the Busch North Series opener at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, N.H., on Sunday, April 25. As well as kicking off the 18th season of Busch North competition, the Lee event will mark the debut of live NASCAR Grand National Division racing on HDNet high-definition television.

One element of Olsen's title strategy fell into place before the 2003 season ended as he reached an extension agreement with his long-time primary sponsor, Car Freshner Corp. of Watertown, N.Y. Their Little Trees brand has appeared on Olsen's cars since 1996, making it the longest-running continuous sponsorship in the Busch North Series. "We went into last season without getting that deal done and it does wear on you because you're not quite sure what the future holds. This year we've got it done and it's a multi-year deal, so we're real pumped up," he commented from his shop on the banks of the Connecticut River in North Haverhill, N.H.

Olsen and crew chief Harry Norcross have led the Little Trees team in a major overhaul of their inventory for the 2004 campaign, among other changes, setting their cars up to run softer front springs. "We've done a lot of work this winter, upgraded a lot of our stuff. Lee is usually a good track for us so we're looking forward to going there," said Olsen, emphasizing the importance of the fast start. Like other Busch North drivers who run well on road courses, he also pointed to the advancement of the Lime Rock Park event in Lakeville, Conn., from October to Memorial Day weekend as a positive move. "Lime Rock is earlier this year so the road course car won't just be sitting there until after June," he observed.

Olsen enters his 14th full season on the Busch North Series with four race victories, 38 top-five and 76 top-ten finishes, and over $700,000 in money won. Olsen can also be considered the series' own "Ironman" -- he has started 148 consecutive Busch North Series events, dating back to October 1995 at Lime Rock Park. His nine Bud Poles place him in a tie for seventh on the all-time list. Speaking of ties, his career victory total equals that of his legendary grandfather, Stub Fadden, who made one of his occasional racing appearances last year at the wheel of an Olsen car and recorded a top-ten finish.

For the first time in several years, the Busch North Series isn't scheduled to visit Olsen's home track, Thunder Road International Speedbowl, during the 2004 campaign. Balancing that disappointment is the addition of another historic short track, Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey, as the venue for the season finale. "I've heard Wall has about the same character," he said, adding "Hopefully, we can pick up at Wall where we left off at Thunder Road."

With the personnel, technical, and sponsorship sides of the team all in order for 2004, and a winning attitude in place, "Big Mo" - Momentum- should become a welcome addition to the Little Trees Chevrolet team in the new season.

-nascar-

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