BNS: Seekonk: Mike Olsen -- NASCAR spotlight

Busch North Series Gets Back into the Short Track Groove at Seekonk Speedway with Budweiser 150, Saturday Night, June 12 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 3, 2004) -- And now for something completely different. The NASCAR Grand National Division,...

Busch North Series Gets Back into the Short Track Groove at Seekonk Speedway with Budweiser 150, Saturday Night, June 12

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 3, 2004) -- And now for something completely different.

The NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series has spent its last two races living in the fast lane at Thompson International Speedway and Lime Rock Park, a pair of racing venues very different from each other but both with lap speeds over the 100 mile per hour mark. On Saturday, June 12, the accent will return to short track racing in the Budweiser 150 at Seekonk Speedway, a circular one-third mile track where door-to-door racing is the norm and the only pit strategy is to stay as far away from the pits as possible.

Mike Olsen, the 2001 Busch North Series champion, holds the Busch Pole Qualifying track record at Seekonk and comes to the "Cement Palace", named for the concrete grandstands which encircle it, on an early season roll. He's run off three straight top ten finishes which place him third in the series standings. "Seekonk is much smaller, so horsepower isn't as much an issue as it would be at Thompson," he noted in comparing the upcoming track to the site of the series' last oval race. "You need a good package of shocks and springs there because it's tough to get a car to handle on the outside. It's a tough little place," he added.

"It's a real wide track. You've got to make a circle out of it, going out to the wall on the front and back stretches," the Little Trees Chevrolet driver continued. "It's got two grooves and you can go three-wide, but if you get out of the second groove there's not much grip and there's a lot of rubber buildup from the tires."

Olsen can attest to the last point from experience. Specifically, he made a mistake that cost him a possible Seekonk win in 2003. "Last year I was racing Kelly Moore for the lead early in the race, and I thought I could get him on the outside, but I got a little too aggressive with the throttle and spun out in front of the field," he recalled. Escaping his predicament without contact and without losing a lap, he came back to finish eighth.

Short track racing with full-bodied stock cars means action at close quarters and some degree of contact is inevitable. Yet finesse wins races, a lesson Mike Olsen learned from his grandfather, Stub Fadden, one of the greatest short track drivers in New England racing history. "A big part of the game plan at Seekonk is to make sure you keep your car in good shape ands stay out of trouble," Mike explained. "It's a place where restarts seem to breed restarts when the cars get bunched up and race two-wide."

Another reason to keep the fenders straight at Seekonk involves the outside pit setup, which requires exiting and re-entering the track by way of a tunnel under the stands betweens turns three and four. "You hope you don't have any problems or any flat tires because it's so tough to pit. You've got to go in and out and turn around plus get your car worked on and there's not much time. You definitely don't plan on stopping," Olsen emphasized.

Turning left constantly for 150 laps, most of them spent in heavy traffic, makes a Busch North Series race at Seekonk Speedway both a physical and mental challenge. But which of the two is the greater obstacle? Mike Olsen picks mind over matter. "It's more demanding mentally," he declared. "Physically, the race goes by quickly if it stays green. You get bounced around a little, but the mental part is the most important. You need to keep your head. It's easy to get frustrated if you're faster than they guy in front of you. That's when you get yourself in trouble."

The Budweiser 150 is scheduled as a one-day event on Saturday, June 12. Practice starts at 1:15 p.m. with Busch Pole Qualifying at 4:00 p.m. and the green flag before at 7:00 p.m., with HDNet cameras rolling for a Sunday, June 13 national telecast at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time. Seekonk's regular NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series classes will also be in action during the evening.

-nascar-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR