BNS: Stafford preview

Stafford Springs, Conn. (July 24, 2001) - The phrase "Don't look back, something might be gaining on you" is attributed to baseball legend Satchel Paige. He was referring to getting older, but the same thought might be applied to the Busch North...

Stafford Springs, Conn. (July 24, 2001) - The phrase "Don't look back, something might be gaining on you" is attributed to baseball legend Satchel Paige. He was referring to getting older, but the same thought might be applied to the Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring field after two-time defending champion Brad Leighton won the New England 125 at New Hampshire International Speedway, the race which marked the halfway point of the 2001 season. Leighton is still fourth in the points race, but after a trouble-plagued first half he has reached competitive form just in time for the stretch drive.

That drive- and the second half of the Busch North Series season- begins with the ASB NASCAR 150 at Stafford Motor Speedway this Friday night, July 27. The Busch North Series will highlight a full night of racing which also includes Stafford's regular NASCAR Weekly Racing Series classes. The Busch North Series teams begin practice at 3 p.m., with Bud Pole Qualifying at 6 p.m. and the ASB NASCAR 150 set for a 9 p.m. green flag.

Leighton owns one Stafford victory, in the spring event of 1999. He came mighty close to making it two this June, when he spun after contact with Kelly Moore while the pair dueled side-by-side for the lead in turn four with less than 20 laps to go. Brad recovered from the spin to take second.

"Stafford is a big track for us, Leighton said. "We run good at Stafford. We haven't had a lot of success, but we've been fairly competitive. We finished second there the last time after that on-track excursion with Kelly Moore, but we have to put that behind us."

In any race at Stafford, Ted Christopher is bound to make headlines. The all-time leading winner and defending champion in the track's weekly feature class, the SK Modifieds, Christopher won the spring 2000 Busch North Series race from deep in the pack. Leighton acknowledged his respect for the driver known to the Stafford faithful as "TC". "Teddy's tough, he's racer, he'll race anything," Leighton declared.

Addressing the differences in approach between a title contender like himself and a part-time series competitor like Christopher with no point race concerns, Leighton noted, "We're in the championship hunt so we need to be concerned about everybody on the track. He's very competitive whether he's a lap down or leading, so we'll race him with the white gloves on." In other words, he's committed to racing hard, but also committed to not losing sight of the overall objective of the championship for the sake of one position in one race.

Asked to pick an upset contender for the Stafford win, Leighton singled out the Stafford graduate who recorded his best career BNS finish last week, Matt Kobyluck. "Matt's a great kid who puts a lot of effort into his program," Leighton declared. "He's running good, and he shows a lot of respect on the track. He'll win a race soon," Leighton predicted.

The ASB NASCAR 150 is the second of three appearances for the Busch North Series at Stafford during the 2001 season. The last will come as part of the CarQuest Fall Finale on Sunday September 30, and will be the next-to-last race of the 2001 campaign.

The Busch North Series is one of nine NASCAR Touring Series which blanket the USA, bringing major events to NASCAR Weekly Racing Series tracks like Stafford Motor Speedway as well as many superspeedways and road courses. 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 majoe 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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Series NASCAR
Drivers Matt Kobyluck , Ted Christopher