BNS: Thompson rain date to end season



DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 3, 2005) -- The NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series was born and nurtured on the short tracks of New England. Over 75 percent of the series' 340 races have been held on oval tracks shorter than one mile. Thanks to the intervention of Mother Nature nearly three months ago, the series will finish its season and crown its champion under the lights on a New England short track for the first time since 1992.

The doubleheader featuring the Busch North Series along with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was originally scheduled for Sunday, June 12, but inclement weather forced it to be postponed until this Saturday, October 8. It marks the first season finale and championship decision on a short track since Dick McCabe edged Joe Bessey by six points at Star Speedway in Epping, N.H., thirteen years ago.

While the series championship is the most important prize to be decided at Thompson, there are other official awards and personal goals on the line, including the Busch Pole Award championship and Matt Kobyluck's quest to win at all four Busch North tracks in his home state of Connecticut during the same season. The last of the 15 invitations for the third annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway, November 11-12, will be determined at Thompson as well as the final standings among the top 20 drivers who share in the Busch North Series point fund awards. .

Andy Santerre carries a lead of 75 points over his teammate Mike Stefanik and 94 points over Ryan Moore into the Thompson finale, as he bids for his fourth consecutive Busch North title. No driver has ever won four Busch North crowns, consecutively or otherwise. Santerre needs to finish 17th to clinch, even if Stefanik scores the maximum 185 points by winning and leading the most laps. He needs a 23rd place in Thomspon's 30-car field to close out Moore.

Even before his current title streak, Santerre was a veteran of title-deciding races, having lost the 1996 crown to Dave Dion in the final race. "We'll probably go as little conservative on both the engine and the chassis setup. We'll race to keep the tires under us and the fenders on the car," he declared, adding "I hate to race that way, but there's a championship on the line."

"If it's late in the race and I'm in a position to win, you can bet I'll go for the win," he concluded. None of Santerre's three prior championships has ended with a race victory.

While Ryan Moore is a long shot to win the series championship, he's in a good position to claim the seasonal Busch Pole Award title. Both Moore and Kobyluck have three Busch Poles, so either can take the honors without a tiebreaker just by setting the fastest qualifying time at Thompson. If they remain tied in poles, Moore enjoys a 59-point edge over Kobyluck in the Busch North point standings, which would serve as the tiebreaker. Ryan Moore's father, Kelly Moore, is a multiple winner of the Busch Pole Award championship and the all-time leader with 47 individual Busch Poles.

Mike Johnson can win his third pole of 2005 at Thompson, but he cannot equal the point total of either Moore or Kobyluck, so he is out of contention for the seasonal award.

With four race wins, Matt Kobyluck has assured himself of the unofficial distinction of "leading winner" in 2005. Following his win at Lime Rock Park last Saturday he has won at three of the four Connecticut tracks the Busch North Series visits, including Stafford Motor Speedway and Waterford Speedbowl. He also won outside the Nutmeg State at Adirondack International Speedway in New York.

"To win at Thompson, to win at every track in Connecticut, would be awesome," he said after the Lime Rock triumph."It's been the best season we've ever had; we've been in contention to win almost every track we've been to." Kobyluck's connection to his home state is deeper than almost any other driver, since he's a member of the Mohegan Tribe which has made eastern Connecticut its home for hundreds of years.

Sean Caisse has clinched the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award over John Salemi and Jeff Anton, but the annual titles in the POWERade Power Move of the Race and Featherlite Most Improved Driver programs remain wide open. Kip Stockwell and John Salemi are tied with two individual POWERade awards, which reward the driver gaining the most positions from start to finish in each Busch North Series race. In the Featherlite standings, where positions improved from the preceding race is the deciding factor, Matt Kobyluck, Eddie MacDonald, and Brian Hoar are tied with two awards each. As in the Busch Pole Award program, ties are broken by the higher position in the overall standings.

The first 11 invitations to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown have been mathematically clinched and the drivers in positions 12 to 15- Joey McCarthy, John Salemi, Dale Shaw, and Kip Stockwell- can lock up their spots on the Busch North Series team by qualifying for the race at Thompson. The real action is for 16th in the final standings, where Scott Bouley leads Jeff Anton by just five points and Dave Dion by 26. Drivers outside the top 15 in points can potentially be invited to the Toyota All-Star Showdown if any of the top 15 decline.

The New England Dodge Dealers Twin 100 is scheduled as one-day event for both the Busch North Series and the Whelen Modified Tour. Busch North Series practice starts at 1:00 p.m, Busch Pole Qualifying is at 4:00 p.m., and the main event concludes the night's racing with a green flag at 8:45 p.m.


* The 2004 Busch North Series event at Thompson was won by Brad Leighton, leading all but the first 19 laps. It was his second win in three years at the track. Mike Stefanik came on strong to finish second with Dave Dion third, Dale Quarterley fourth, and Ryan Moore fifth after winning the Busch Pole and leading the first 9 laps. The hard luck story of the race was Brian Hoar who took the lead on lap 10, pulled away quickly, and hit the wall on lap 19 avoiding a lapped car. Hoar finished 27th.

* The Busch Pole Qualifying record at Thompson is 20.200 seconds, 111.386 miles per hour, set in 2002 by Martin Truex Jr.

* Thompson International Speedway has hosted the Busch North Series 21 times since 1988. Ricky Craven and Mike Stefanik are tied for the most wins with three.

* The New England Dodge Dealers Twin 100 has drawn nearly 40 Busch North Series entries. If all of them appear, it will be the largest Busch North field of the 2005 season and the largest Busch North Series short track race field since the 2000 season. Only 30 cars will start the race.

* Thompson International Speedway was built in the wake of the devastating New England hurricane of 1938 by John Hoenig, whose family still operates the track today. When it opened in 1940 it was the first asphalt track in the USA and the first track built specifically for racing full-sized cars, rather than midgets, on the east coast. It is one of the senior tracks on the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series and its annual World Series, scheduled one week after the New England Dodge Dealers Twin 100, is a highlight of the New England racing calendar.


What: New England Dodge Dealers Twin 100, 13th and final event of the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series for 2005

Where: Thompson International Speedway, Thompson, Conn.

When: Saturday, October 8, 8:45 p.m.

Track layout: .625 mile paved oval
Race distance: 100 laps, 62.5 miles

2004 Race winner: Brad Leighton
2004 Busch Pole winner: Ryan Moore

2004 Top ten: 1. Brad Leighton, 2. Mike Stefanik, 3. Dave Dion, 4. Dale Quarterley, 5. Ryan Moore, 6. Joey McCarthy, 7. Eddie MacDonald, 8. Mike Olsen, 9. Andy Santerre, 10. Matt Kobyluck

Schedule: Saturday, October 8- Practice 1:00 to 1:30 p.m. & 2:15 to 2:45 p.m., Busch Pole Qualifying 4:00 p.m., New England Dodge Dealers Twin 100 8:45 p.m. or immediately following NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race


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Drivers Ricky Craven , Martin Truex Jr. , Dale Quarterley , Matt Kobyluck , Mike Johnson , Jeff Anton , Ryan Moore , Sean Caisse , Eddie MacDonald , John Salemi