All-Star Showdown on horizon DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 29, 2004) - The NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series season is symbolically heading into turn three, with nine of 15 races completed, and defending champion Andy Santerre has...
All-Star Showdown on horizon
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 29, 2004) - The NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series season is symbolically heading into turn three, with nine of 15 races completed, and defending champion Andy Santerre has hooked up in a tight draft with 2001 champion Mike Olsen to break away from the pack. While Santerre and Olsen are likely to settle the title between them, a wide-open contest looms for the third spot, and for the rest of the top 15 point positions which will qualify drivers for the second annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown against their counterparts from the Grand National Division, West Series.
The Toyota All-Star Showdown is again scheduled for the ultra-modern Irwindale Speedway in southern California, November 11-13, with live national television coverage by SPEED Channel. Last year the Busch North Series captured ten of the top 12 positions and easily won the team championship, but individual honors fell to West Series driver Austin Cameron. The Grand National Division competitors will share the Toyota All-Star Showdown weekend with the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division late model teams from around the country.
Here is a brief view the current top 15 teams in the Busch North Series standings, as well as the teams who are trying to race their way into Toyota All-Star Showdown positions, plus a look at the Grand National Division, West Series opposition.
1. Andy Santerre , Cherryfield, Maine (#6 Aubuchon Hardware Chevrolet), 1478 points: Just when it looked like the defending champion was ready to run the table, he struggled to an 11th place finish in the Kobyluck Corporations 150 at Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl and qualified 15th a few days later for the Siemens 125 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Not to worry. He raced strongly at NHIS, nipping Ryan Moore by inches for fourth place, to build his lead to 27 points. He owns victories at the next three tracks on the schedule. He also has the strong desire to win the Toyota All-Star Showdown he missed so narrowly in 2003.
2. Mike Olsen , North Haverhill, N.H. (#61 Little Trees Car Freshner Chevrolet), 1451 points: Olsen rode a roller coaster at NHIS, winning his first superspeedway Busch Pole but dropping as low as 15th in mid-race. A closing drive gave him eighth and minimized his point loss to Santerre. His perfect record of top-tens remains intact, and Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine, where he owns half his four career wins, arrives on the schedule in late August.
3. Kelly Moore , Scarborough, Maine (#47 NAPA Auto Parts/Bill Dodge Chevrolet), 1306 points: The series all-time winner led the most laps at NHIS before losing the lead to his son Ryan. Although he has never won on a road course, Kelly can't be counted out at Watkins Glen or anywhere else. He seems a lock to finish in the top five for the 13th time in 18 years.
4. Ryan Moore , Scarborough, Maine (#74 R.C. Moore Transportation Chevrolet), 1302 points: It's tough to win in the Busch North Series, especially when one of your toughest opponents is your dad. Ryan seemed to have his first career victory locked up at NHIS, but handling trouble forced him back to fifth. He will be a contender for his first career win in all the remaining races and at the Toyota All-Star Showdown.
5. Dale Quarterley , Westfield, Mass. (#32 EDART/Bully Hill Vineyards Chevrolet), 1284 points: Following his NHIS win, the Big Q is the hottest thing in New England this side of Monster Seats tickets at Fenway Park. Now he goes to Adirondack, where he won in 2003, and to Beech Ridge, where he scored his first career win in 2001. Third place in points is a highly realistic goal heading into the Showdown.
6. Mike Stefanik , Coventry, R.I. (#55 Burnham Boilers Chevrolet), 1260 points: What had begun to look like a lost season for the Grizco Racing team has turned around in the last two races, with a second place finish at Waterford and a top-ten run at NHIS. While matching last year's second in points is a longshot, a top-five in the standings and a long-awaited race win are clearly possible.
7. Matt Kobyluck , Uncasville, Conn. (#40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet), 1221 points: It would be hard to imagine a more expensive day than last Saturday for the big guy. Two badly damaged race cars, one each in the NASCAR Busch Series and Busch North Series race, will have the Mohegan Sun team digging down deep for the next stretch of the season. To find a bright spot, look at Watkins Glen, where Mohegan Sun is the race sponsor and Matt has run well in the past.
8. Joey McCarthy , Randolph, N.J. (#8 RV Tech Chevrolet), 1209 points: Running on the proverbial shoestring, Joey and the STI team have climbed back into the top ten after hitting rock bottom (25th with a blown engine) at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway in June. The big news, however, is a new McCarthy- Joey and Jennifer welcomed Mackenzie Rose, their first child, the night after Joey's latest top-five at Waterford. Like Santerre, McCarthy remembers what might have been at Irwindale last fall, where he led the first 100 laps of the Toyota All-Star Showdown.
9. Mike Johnson , Salisbury, Mass. (#96 Johnson Lumber Ford), 1203 points: It doesn't get much better than Waterford, winning the Busch Pole and leading every lap. But racing has a way of pulling last week's winner back to reality, and NHIS certainly did that for the Johnsons. A strong focus now is on Beech Ridge, where Mike was on his way to apparent victory last year when he was penalized for a jumped restart. Third place in points, where Mike finished last year, is only 103 points away.
10. Dave Dion , Hudson, N.H. (#29 Berlin City/Continental Paving Ford), 1163 points: Dynamite Dave won three Busch Poles in the first six races, but the mid-season run has not been kind to the all-time fan favorite, including last place at Waterford where he didn't make it past practice. His best chances the rest of the season are at Adirondack and Beech Ridge, both handling tracks of the type where he excels.
11. Eddie MacDonald , Rowley, Mass. (#17 HRM Motorsports Ford), 1139 points: Eddie Mac finally got it turned around at NHIS with a solid seventh after finishing no better than tenth for six races. Beech Ridge is clearly his best track, with first, second, and third in his last three races, but he also posted a top five at Watkins Glen in 2003 and shows a real liking for the high speeds of NHIS. Matching last year's eighth in points will be tough, but so is Eddie.
12. Brian Hoar , Williston, Vt. (#45 Goss Dodge Intrepid), 1130 points: The "what if..." season continued for Brian at NHIS, where he could have challenged Quarterley and the Moore family for the win if he had not lost a lap in the pits. Maybe it's the law of averages catching up, since he finished every lap of every race in 2003. There's still time to give Dodge it's first Busch North Series win, and Hoar is competitive on every kind of track.
13. Bryon Chew , Mattituck, N.Y. (#99 Sta-Rite Pumps Chevrolet), 1122 points: When the gremlins stay away, Bryon is a strong contender, as shown by his four top-tens. But three other times out of the top 15 have limited his upward mobility. He's only 41 points out of tenth, but there are three tough customers in front of him. Here's a team already thinking about the Toyota All-Star Showdown, where they posted a top-five in 2003.
14. Bobby Dragon , Milton, Vt. (#15 Waste Management/BG Environmental Chevrolet), 1117 points: It's been a stealth season for the veteran- you don't see him until he takes the checkered flag in or near the top ten. With no race this year at Thunder Road, his home track for over 30 years, he may have his eyes on T-Road's close cousin, Wall (N.J.) Township Speedway, where the regular season ends on October 2.
15. Bill Penfold , Yarmouth, Me. (#0 VIP Charter Coaches Chevrolet), 1114 points: He's been playing hurt from a non-racing injury, but the cure is just around the corner. It's called Watkins Glen and it fits Penfold like the proverbial glove. He was fifth last year and might have won if the rain hadn't made the teams who didn't pit look good. He likes going fast, so Dover is high on his agenda, too.
Close Behind The Top 15....
Jamie Aube has made great strides with the One Stop Toy Shop Chevrolet since he returned to the series. He's 84 points out of the last Toyota All-Star Showdown invitation with six races to go.... Auto Meter Rookie of the Year leader Ryan Seaman posted a fine 16th at NHIS, gaining two positions to 17th... Scott Bouley said before the NHIS event he didn't know if his engine had one lap or 100 laps in it. He was running at the finish with 122 laps completed to hold 18th place, just in front of Kip Stockwell... Barney McRae completes the top 20 on the chart. He led three laps at NHIS, the first in his career.
Meanwhile, On The West Coast....
After five of 13 races, Mike Duncan holds a 25 point lead over 2003 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown winner Austin Cameron. David Gilliland is third, 36 points behind the leader, with Scott Gaylord and defending series champion Scott Lynch completing the top five. Cameron has won two races and Gilliland one. The other two wins have gone to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver Ken Schrader. (Schrader also owns one Busch North Series win. He scored in the inaugural race at Lime Rock Park in 1993.)