BUSCH NORTH LEFTOVERS: NHIS by Mike Twist and Justin St. Louis
Gallo, Santerre, Hoar, Two Moores, Dion, Civali and Much More

If you talked to Mike Gallo after the race, you might think that he had won instead of finishing in the sixth spot.  Then again, considering that he is scraping along with a team that does three races a year and has a patchwork of mostly local small sponsors, a sixth place finish against the likes of Grizco Racing, the DEI-connected Moore Racing team and Matt Kobyluck’s team was like a race victory.

Adding to the accomplishment was the fact that Gallo started the race dead last after qualifying was rained out and his team also developed a problem with their primary engine.

"From dead last, baby! How about that?” said Gallo.  “I don't care what anyone else says, that was the move of the race right there. Wow man, I love this place. We blew our motor yesterday, threw in last year's motor, and we didn't even know if we were going to start the race, let alone drive all the way up through the field."

Gallo’s secret to success?  Hard work with a good group of guys.
"My guys really worked hard this weekend, it's too bad we can't race more. We've got a great team, we just need the money. Oh well, we're coming back here in the fall and going to Dover.  I can't wait.”

To get to the next level, Gallo needs a little more support and he’s not shy about asking for help either.

“Are you writing a story?” he asked during the interview. “Put that money part in there for me, would you? Man was that fun!"


There was a familiar sight from the past at one point in the race at Loudon.  That was the orange #29 Dion Brothers Racing machine of Dave Dion leading the race.  Dion used pit strategy to get his car out front and he loved every lap of it.
“Even though it was just kind of a token thing, it still felt good,” said Dion.  “To lead on Loudon on HDTV with my family home watching was just too cool.  They have it in Vermont and it must have drove them wild.  They probably knew that in the end it wouldn’t work, but for a while it did.”

The plan that got Dion into the lead didn’t work out in the long run though.

”We knew that we were barely a top 10 car and we put a set of right sides on, but it was junk.  The right front never turned.  I even pitted again and gave up what little track position I had, but they couldn’t fix it.  It was just wicked tight.”
“You know, I haven't had great luck there the last two times, but I'm looking forward to it. Usually, when I get bit by a place twice, I win the third time, so I hope we can go down there and get it."


Meanwhile, one of the other Busch North championship contenders did not have a day to write home about.  Matt Kobyluck had his worst finish of the young season.  He ended up 19th, one lap down.

Mike Gallo  (51 Photo)

Andy Santerre was a jack of all trades at New Hampshire.  He drove the #44 car and served as its crew chief as well.  He managed to use both talents to finish fifth.
“It was a miserable day,” said Kobyluck.  “We were good in the last practice session and I have no idea what happened to our tires, but we went from a top five car in practice to a pile of junk in the race.  It was terrible from the drop of the green.”

And the car didn’t get much better for him either.

“We tried to make adjustments to make it better and salvaged what we could.  We’re in one piece, so we’ll work on it for next time.  We chalk it up to a bad week and go on from here.”
Dion (#29) races with Andy Santerre.  (Leif Tillotson Photo)
"That was a good day, considering we had no crew chief,” said Santerre.  “I had to make the calls, and that's kind of hard to do when you're driving the car, too. I knew Mike was going to run the whole way (not pit for gas) but I didn't think he'd make it. I figured if we both ran out of gas the big guy (Steve Griswold) would kill us. I wanted to stay out myself, but my guys got me to believe I'd run out."

Next up for the Busch North cars is Waterford Speedbowl, a place at which Santerre hasn’t had the best of memories over the past few years.  He’s hoping to turn that around this time there.

Bad luck isn’t just a matter of a sophomore jinx though.  Rookie Charles Lewandoski has also had a frustrating season so far and that continued at NHIS as well.  Things got bad for Lewandoski with a bang in his latest race.

“I was cruising along and avoiding the wrecks, but my left rear was coming apart,” said Lewandoski.  “It came apart and caused some damage.  It took the battery box out, took the crush panels out and all the fumes got in there.  The battery was hanging out of it.  It really came apart.  We fell a bunch of laps down trying to get it fixed.”

Getting the car fixed well enough to finish the day was not going to happen.

“I was riding around the fumes were getting worse and worse so we parked it.”

Lewandoski finished 31st after completing only 44 laps.


Brad Leighton was within sniffing distance of the leaders early on, but faded to finish 11th.  Actually, it was lucky that he finished at all.

"We broke a motor,” said Leighton.  “It's too bad.  We really had a great car. I was in third place when it went sour. With about 50 laps to go, I was down to seven cylinders; by 20 to go, I was down to six. Rather than make it worse, I pulled in. It's too bad.  It would have been nice to have all three cars in the top five, but oh well."


Pit strategy helped Brian Hoar lead late in the New England 125, but it wasn’t enough to hold off Mike Stefanik.

"That was all strategy,” said Hoar of his second-place finish.  “The plan was to get up front early and stay and it worked out pretty well after we moved up through the field. I was trying to run Mike (Stefanik) down at the end, but he was fast."


New Hampshire brought another top 10 finish for Eddie MacDonald and Jerry Morello’s #77 team.  They finished eighth.

"When we were up front early, it was nice,” said MacDonald.  “We could drive the car out of the corner better than anybody, but by the end of the race everyone kind of caught up. The car was handling awesome, but it wasn’t great on the straightaways.  Our motor was really lacking some power, we've got to  take a look at that."

MacDonald has now finished in the top 10 for three of the four 2005 events.

“It’s awesome.  It makes it nice coming to the track knowing that the car is just about perfect and you just need to fine tune it.  The team is great, all these guys are great and Jerry has given me a great opportunity." 

The strength of the team is even enough for MacDonald to look forward to a race at a track where he hasn’t run well in the past.

"Waterford... eh... I've never really been that great there, but Rollie (Lachance) is optimistic. We'll go give it our best, anyway."

Dale Shaw dropped out of the race on the fourth lap and the reason was pretty obvious.

"It just caught fire,” said Shaw.  “I don’t know….******* thing..."


Kelly Moore ran his first race of the season and finished fourth.  You probably won’t see him back in a Busch North car until August 27th, though.

“This got us over the hill,” said Moore.  “Next we’re going to run at Oxford.  That’s my own stomping ground and I’ll run the Busch North race there.”

Also at Oxford, the father and son duo of Kelly and Ryan Moore hope to make a big impression on the July 31st TD Banknorth 250.

“Ryan is going to run the 250,” said Kelly Moore.  “I’ll practice the car and get it ready while he’s off at Adirondack [where the Busch North Series runs on Saturday night, July 30th].  I hope to get it decent for him.” 

Mike Olsen had to settle for seventh place after running out of steam trying to pass Mike Gallo for sixth late in the race.

“It's really tough to pass here. We were faster than the 88 at the end. I got under him on the last lap, and I could’ve run into him, but... We had a good car.  I just wish we had a little better luck on the track."

Speed51.com’s newest recruit, Justin St. Louis, got the chance to catch up with Ted Christopher after the race.  Unfortunately, TC had just crashed out of the event and was on his way to hop on a helicopter to Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) to race his SK Modified, so Justin got a quick lesion on how Christopher can sometimes be a man of few words.

It went like this:

Justin: "Hey Ted, you okay?"
Ted Christopher: "Yeah."
Justin: "What happened?"
TC: "Somebody spun me out."

Christopher was credited with the 32nd position after completing only 26 laps.


James Civali would have had plenty of legitimate excuses that he could have used had he finished in the back of the pack.  It was only his second Busch North race, he was running for a small family owned team and it was his first time racing at New Hampshire.

None of those excuses would be needed though.  The rookie finished 10th and appeared to love the track.

"This is a lot of fun!” said Civali.  “We've run the car twice, and we've been good both times. This place drives a lot like Thompson - the straights are really fast, but you have to get on the brakes pretty hard in the corners. The difference is that at Thompson the car goes where it wants, and here you have to actually make the car turn and put it in the groove. This place is tough, but I like it."


Ryan Moore had a pretty full plate entering the NHIS race.  He was fresh off his first Busch North victory the week before at Lake Erie, qualified successfully for his first NASCAR Busch Series event and had a record of strong runs in 2004 at the Magic Mile.

So finishing third in the race wasn’t exactly what he was looking for, but it wasn’t bad either.

"I'm kind of disappointed; the car got really tight on me. There was some other stuff, too. A lug nut jammed on the pit stop and there's really nothing you can do about that, but the new set of tires wasn't the best either.  I guess it's good to be disappointed with third, really."

Ryan Seaman hasn’t had much to smile about this season.  He hasn’t finished in the top 10 yet (although he’s come close with two 11th-place finishes) and he wrecked at NHIS.

It’s not exactly the sophomore season that he’s wanted.

"It just got out from underneath me, and I backed it into the inside wall. It bent everything:  the link, the trailing arm, the whole thing. We're just looking for a good finish. Anywhere, I don't care. This has been a really shitty way to start the season.  I'm sick of it."

Mike Stefanik won the race at NHIS with some lap times that even impressed himself.

"The car was really good all day long,” said Stefanik.  “I knew I'd have to hold off Brian for the win. When he'd catch up to me, I had to drive it a little harder, but we ran 30.90s and 31-flats at the end. That's really moving around this place."


The battered #06 of Ryan Seaman.  (51 Photo)
Olsen (#61) ) chases the #88 of Gallo.  (51 Photo)
Andy Santerre (51 Photo)
Matt Kobyluck pulls in after a long day at the track. (51 Photo)
Andy Santerre (51 Photo)