BNS: Stafford III: Event preview

Stafford Motor Speedway can still be a puzzle to the best as Busch North Series returns for Carquest Fall Final on Sunday September 29. STAFFORD SPRINGS, Conn. (September 24, 2002)-- The Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring has been racing at ...

Stafford Motor Speedway can still be a puzzle to the best as Busch North Series returns for Carquest Fall Final on Sunday September 29.

STAFFORD SPRINGS, Conn. (September 24, 2002)-- The Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring has been racing at Stafford Motor Speedway since the series inaugural year of 1987, so the venerable track in the Connecticut hills should hold no mysteries for the circuit's veterans. It was repaved a few years ago, but like most tracks which trace their origin to a fairgrounds, it's a relatively flat, symmetrical half-mile. If a team keeps good records and sets the car up by the book, Stafford should run true to form.

Maybe the legendary characters who are still a part of the Stafford scene don't want it to be too easy for the current generation with its shiny and sophisticated cars. Whatever the reason, Stafford can still puzzle and frustrate the sharpest drivers and crew chiefs in the business. They will once again try to unlock Stafford's secrets in the Carquest Fall Final, the next-to-last race of the 2002 Busch North Series season, on Sunday, September 29. Andy Santerre enters the race leading Matt Kobyluck, a Stafford graduate, by 28 points, and defending Carquest Fall Final winner Brad Leighton by 53 in one of the closest Busch North point races on record.

The Carquest Fall Final is a combined event with the Featherlite Modified Series and Stafford's regular NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge classes. For the Busch North Series, practice begins at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 28, with Bud Pole Qualifying at 3 p.m. Sunday morning brings the traditional Stafford pit party, where the fans are able to mingle with the racers and their cars on the front straightaway. The 150-lap Busch North Series race is set for approximately 2 p.m., with SPEED Channel's cameras recording the action for national telecast on Monday, November 4.

Dale Shaw can speak as authoritatively as anyone on the challenge of Stafford. As a chassis builder as well as a driver, Shaw has chased the Stafford combination since the series' earliest days. In the 2001 Carquest Fall Final, he led over half the race before surrendering the lead to Brad Leighton. Never making a move to pit road, he hung in for a strong second place finish.

Returning to Stafford for the first of three 2002 appearances, Shaw again played the no-pit strategy to gain the lead in June's Carquest Auto Parts 150. This time, however, five drivers on fresh tires streaked by in the final 45 laps, led by winner Kelly Moore.

"We gave the first race away at Stafford because we didn't stop, and we weren't going to let that happen again," Shaw related. In July's NASCAR 150, he again led early, then stopped almost impossibly late, with only 20 laps to go. He came storming back to win after a skirmish with leaders Andy Santerre and Dale Quarterley left him in the lead as the race went into overtime.

"We kind of stole the second race because we did stop late." Shaw declared. "I felt the track owed me one and it gave me one." It was his first Stafford win after 15 years of trying.

The Carquest Fall final is the only daylight race for the Busch North Series at Stafford and also the only doubleheader with the Featherlite Modified Series. The time of day effects the track condition, but Dale Shaw says the presence of another division shouldn't be overlooked in the equation, especially when it comes to time trials. "It makes a great deal of difference in qualifying," the Guaranteed Overnight Delivery Chevrolet driver noted, adding "If you have an early draw and the modifieds have just been out, it hurts you, but we all have to deal with the same thing."

Perhaps it is the unpredictable nature of Stafford that adds to its attraction for racers as well as fans. "We're looking forward to going back," said Dale Shaw of the Carquest Fall Final. "We've run real strong both times this year and I don't see anything changing this time."

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Dale Quarterley , Matt Kobyluck