BUSCH NORTH LEFTOVERS: NHIS by Mike Twist and Justin St. Louis
Ryan Not Happy with TC, Stefanik Goes Too Far on Pit Road and Much More

It doesn’t look like Ryan Moore and Ted Christopher will be exchanging Christmas cards this year.  Moore feels that Christopher cost him a chance at winning the race and wasn’t afraid to say so.
“I was coming back up through and the guy that makes no mistakes in the world and thinks he's the best racer ever really pulled a stupid move on us and hit us in the rear end,” said Moore.  “That bent something. This car was horrible after that, and it couldn't get through the corners.”

Moore wasn’t going to enjoy the media attention that Christopher was going to get after the race either.

“He never does anything wrong, and I'm sick of reading about him,” said Moore.  “I'm sick of talking to him, I'm sick of watching him walk around. His interviews are stupid, he's stupid, he walks like an idiot, and he looks like an idiot. Most of the time he's talking like one, too."

Christopher really wasn’t too concerned about the situation.

“---- him,” Christopher was quoted saying in The Boston Globe, when asked about his feud with Moore.

Mike Stefanik led 21 of the first 22 laps at New Hampshire, but a botched pit stop cost him dearly.
"I overshot my pit,” said Stefanik.  “I thought we were pitting by points, I didn't realize we were picking pits. Normally we talk about where our pit is before we go under green, but everything was hurried up and we just never did.

Stefanik said after the race that It was definitely the driver, and not the spotter [Mike’s wife Julie], who was to blame for the miscue.
“My wife did the right thing by counting me down, but I couldn't figure out why she was counting me down, I still had half the length of pit road to go. I overshot it, had to back up, and it made for a long stop."

Stefanik got to race in many situations during the 125-lap race and ended up finishing sixth.

"On the track, we were pretty good. We led for a while after the restart. I think the outside was a little bit of an advantage on the restart, to tell you the truth. You have to hold your car down and you get a little loose up off, and Ryan [Moore] got by me and the 77 [Eddie MacDonald] went with him.

"Then we battled a little bit there, and hey, we ended up with a sixth, that's the bottom line."

Thinsg went better for Stefanik in the NASCAR Modified Tour portion of Friday's doubleheader.  He finished second to Ted Christopher in that 100-lap race.
After his shunt, Gallo was not ready to give up.  He continued on to finish the race in the 14th position.

“We fought our way back all day, got ourselves in the position to get the lucky dog and with a few more laps, we would have gotten a top 10.  We came here to win the race, so a 14th-place finish is not what we were looking for, but it was on the lead lap and the raceteam did awfully well.  “We learned a lot and I think that everyone knew that we had a car.  We came right through and we passed an awful lot of cars.”

Being a part-timer might have been a factor in the fact that Gallo got no breaks in the race.

“I didn’t get any respect out there.  When you race up front, you are supposed to get respect, but I didn’t get any.”   

Gallo won’t have to wait long to race again, his #88 team is entered in Friday’s event at Dover.

“We’re loading up and we are going to Dover and I know that we’ll be a force there.”


Andy Santerre isn’t just a racecar driver.  He is also the team manager for the Grizco Racing Busch North superteam with himself, Mike Stefanik and Brad Leighton driving.  Santerre came away from the New Hampshire race with a fifth-place finish, which helped when it came to his point lead.  More important to him though was the fact that Leighton finished second and Stefanik finished sixth.

Ted Christopher (#35) and Ryan Moore (#74) dice it up at various points in the New Hampshire race.  (Top - Justin St. Louis  / 51Photo, Bottom - Howie Hodge Photo)

Just like in July, qualifying for the Busch North race at New Hampshire was rained out.  This meant that the field would be set by point standings and Mike Gallo’s team would have to start in the back.  The small Jim Burgess-owned team is run out of a two-car garage in Maine and they only run a limited schedule of races, but are always a threat at New Hampshire.

Once again, they were a threat in this race, but their parade was rained on in the middle of the race when Gallo got spun and could not get his car refired immediately.  They lost a lap because of this.
“We went three-wide with someone going down on the apron in turn four,” said Gallo.  “What a stupid move.  I won’t say any car numbers, but I can’t believe that an idiot would go down there like that.  The #45 came up into me then and that lifted us right off the ground.   The car wouldn’t start.  I was just worried and wanted to get back into the race.  We came back and we were lucky enough to get our lap back.”

Gallo might have been enough of a gentleman to reveal car numbers, but a check of our race notes shows that he was referring to the #33 of Tracy Gordon.
Mike Stefanik misses his pit and gets pushed back to the correct stall.  (51 Photos)
“We’ll take that,” said Santerre.  “To have our three cars in the top six was great.  Mike had a great car and had a good shot at winning.  I think that Brad and I also had a good shot at winning, but we needed green flag laps.  The cars wouldn’t go off the restarts.  When it went green, they were good.  At one point, Brad had a mile lead out there.  I got to second and I was coming, but on the restarts I was terrible and Brad wasn’t as good as on the long runs.”

When the season started, Santerre and Stefanik were very close on what they desired for a race set-up, but
was a good run, we were kind of hoping for a little bit better, and the car wasn't quite as good as it was back in July, but the weather had a big part of it. We had an air gauge that was messed up yesterday in practice, so we actually started off today not knowing what we had. We went right back to a square-one setup because we were chasing that air gauge yesterday and we couldn't get the car where we wanted it. I think that was the biggest factor, so we kind of had a guessing game going on before today.   The car was alright, but I wish we could have that practice session back and do it over.

Hoar also spoke out against the complaints of some competitors in NASCAR’s top series, who often criticize the NHIS track as being difficult to race on.

“This is a fun place, you know, Bob Bahre has done a helluva job making it a better race track. If the Trucks and the Cup guys don't make an awesome show out of this, it's their own damn fault. There's two-and-a-half or three grooves out there. You can run some different lines and if you want to get dicey it's a lot of fun."


On one hand, Brad Leighton was happy with a second-place finish at NHIS.  On the other hand, the racer in him would have only been happy with a victory.
"It was okay, but we were hoping for more,” said Leighton.  “Our season has been pretty dismal with our finishes, so second place is good. We had one heck of a car, we had, what, almost a full straightaway lead. Then that caution came out, which is still a mystery because they didn't do anything with the track. Hey, all in all, it wasn't too bad. I think if we could have had six or eight laps to work on Teddy we probably could have won."

The race was ended six laps early due to light rain.  Leighton was in second place at the time.  Does he think that NASCAR should have waited out the weather?
Leighton had a preference for something completely different.  As the season has progressed, Leighton learned to adapt to a set-up closer to what his teammates are running.

“They were very close [today],” said Santerre.  “Brad’s is a little bit different than Mike and I, but we’re getting him closer to where he needs to be.”

So the day wasn’t perfect for Santerre, but it was still very rewarding from a management point of view.

““I’d like to have seen a 1-2-3 Grizco finish, but you know what? Second, fifth and sixth isn’t bad.  We’ll take that.  My main focus is making sure that Mike runs well, Brad runs well and I run well.  I want to get all three of us up there.  Today we didn’t win, but we didn’t wreck and we were right up there.  Not we’ve got something to work with and we’ll go to Dover and see how we make out there.”


Brian Hoar had a solid run at New Hampshire.  The Vermont driver finished the 125-lap race in the
fourth position.
It was fun and kind of exciting out there,” said Hoar after the race.  “ I think I spent more time three-wide than I did anything else, it was kind of crazy. The car wasn't great, but it was alright. We were better on the high side. When we got trapped on the bottom, we got real loose, on the high side it was pretty neutral. It wasn't bad, it was a good race, we'll take fourth."

The run was Hoar’s second top five finish at New Hampshire this season in two races, which helped him collect points for the NHIS track championship.

"I think we tied for second in the track championship. It
"I think they should have gone back to green a lot sooner. But from what I understand, they radioed to the guy running the pace truck and he gave the go ahead, but the tower wouldn't release it. What are you going to do?, That's racing."

Wait patiently until next time perhaps?  Not a chance.

"I've said that three times in a row now. I'm used to winning here, and I want one bad."


Donny Lia made his NASCAR Busch North Series debut in Ralph Solhem’s #00 car, recently vacated by Nevin George.  Lia was 14th in opening practice, but had to start in the back of the field when qualifying was rained out.
Brian Hoar (#45) runs with the #35 of race winner Ted Christopher.  (Tom Gallo / NASCAR Photo)
Christopher's #35.  (Howie Hodge Photo)
Mike Gallo pulls his #88 off pit road.  (51 Photo)
The #44 of Santerre.  (Tom Gallo / NASCAR Touring Photo)
Brad Leighton's #25.  (Justin St. Louis / 51 Photo)
Lia fell back in the early stages of the race, but once he got going and made up a lap thanks to the lucky dog pass, he was moving up through the top 20.  However, within sight of the finish on lap 107, the engine on his #00 erupted in a thick cloud of smoke while heading down the backstretch.

Lia was done for the day as his car was towed back to the transporter.

“It just blew up,” said Lia.
Lia did get the chance to learn quite a bit from his first race.

“It was a learning experience.  I got better through the whole race with the car.  Another couple of races and I’ll be in good shape.  We’ll get the car right and I’ll be fine.  It was a good experience and I need to thank Ralph for giving me a good opportunity.”


On one of the last restarts of the day, Ted Christopher got beat for the lead by Brad Leighton.  It was something that TC was not very happy about.
"He just took off early,” said Christopher.  “They said in the drivers meeting you can't jump the start. So I get back to second and I figured they'd give me the spot back, but I don't race this series all the time, so I'm exactly not the poster child of Busch North."

So Christopher took matters into his own hands and was determined that he would not be had twice in a row.  On the final restart, he motored ahead of Leighton to retake the lead.

"I knew I was better than the time before when I beat him
on the restart, so I said 'Okay, I'll have to try to do the same thing.' This thing goes, it's got a good motor in it, and I ended up getting by him again." (on the next to last restart)


What a difference a year makes.  Last season, Sean Caisse showed up for his first Busch North race at NHIS and crashed out early.  This season, he’s been the prodigy of the Busch North tour and he was actually very disappointed with his lead lap finish of 21st.

but the guys worked really hard and I'm proud of everybody. I just can't wait until Dover, that's all I've got to say."


It wasn’t a good weekend to be a Gordon at New Hampshire.  Jeff finished 14th in the Nextel Cup race and Robby had an even worse day.  He got into it with Michael Waltrip and crashed out of Sunday’s race.  Things got even worse for that Gordon when he was fined handsomely and lost 50 points because of his reaction after the Waltrip run-in.
"We didn't get the finish we wanted,” said Caisse.  “Casella Waste Systems came on for this race, and I wanted to represent them well. Even though we were running in the top three and top five, it's kind of disappointing making a late pit stop and then having it start to rain.

The late pit stop really hurt the team when the raced was called early.

We came in to take tires with 25 laps to go or so, and then it started raining, so we ended up finishing where we came out of the pits. Once again this year we didn't finish where we were running and it's just unfortunate,
Meanwhile, Tracy Gordon finished seventh in the Busch North race.  It was not a bad effort at all, but it was one that Gordon was not happy with.

"We're quite discouraged, really,” said Gordon.  “I think we had the fastest car out there. We're a little discouraged that we didn't win, but we got our pit strategy together. The guys worked wicked hard on the car, and it's a good car. Brand new car, brand new motor, plenty of horsepower, it's an awesome car."

Mike Olsen had two very different halves of his New Hampshire race.  The first part of the race, he was among the leaders.  The second part of race was spent making pit stops to repair damage to his Little Trees #61, which he drove to a 13th-place finish.

“The car was really good early,” said Olsen.  “After the pit stop, I went underneath a car in turn three and I don’t know what happened.  He kid of came down and I got bumped and the next thing that I knew, Kelly [Moore] was sideways in front of me.  I missed Kelly, but got ran over from the back.

“From that point on, the car didn’t drive like it did earlier.  I got into another melee when the #88 [Mike Gallo] spun and I had already committed to going under the #99 [Bryon Chew].  He turned to miss the #88 and hit me.  That bent the other side.”

As we saw earlier, Ryan Moore was not happy with Ted Christopher after the race.  The young Maine driver felt that damage from bumping and banging with TC cost him a chance at the race victory.  Still, Ryan Moore managed to hang on and finish third, which was not a bad effort at all.

"It was alright,” said Moore.  “We had a really good car at the beginning of the race, we had a dominant car. We pitted, didn't make any adjustments.”

Moore was the highest finishing Busch North regular at NHIS since Christopher and second-place Brad Leighton only run partial schedules. 

“You know, a third place deal is a decent points run, but we needed to gain more than we did. Our car was capable of winning the race, and we should have won it, but it's just another third place finish for the year. The car was just horrible after what he did, it bent something in the back, I haven't looked at it, but I couldn't drive through the corners. I probably should have finished about tenth with it, I had to really get up on the wheel and wheel the hell out of it to try to stay with them, and third was the best we could do."
Obviously, the final result of the day was not what Olsen had hoped for.

“I really wanted to do well here today and we had a good car, it just didn’t happen and I don’t really have any good reasons why.  We were in the wrong spots I guess and that’s the way it goes.”


Eddie MacDonald started out his weekend at New Hampshire was a blown engine in practice on Thursday.  Things got better when he led laps in the race, but backslid when he had to make a surprise pit stop at that point.

“We had a water leak when we were in the lead,” said MacDonald.   “It leaked all over the right side tires and made it pretty loose getting in.  We were slipping and sliding, they blacked flagged us and we had to come in.”

MacDonald lost several laps making repairs and finished 27th.

Despite not having much practice, MacDonald said that his car was handling very well in the race.  For that, he credits his crew chief Rollie LaChance and car owner Jerry Morello.

“Rollie, Jerry and all of the guys did an awesome job.  We’ve got a great group of guys and for them to have the cars perfect without needing any adjustments and only one lap of practice is impressive.”

With the team blowing engines at New Hampshire and the previous race at Oxford Plains Speedway, there will be some planning this week to see what powerplant will go into the car for Friday's race at Dover.

“We don’t really have a plan yet," said MacDonald.  "We’ve got a few back-up plans that we are putting together.  There are two motors at the machine shop waiting to be fixed.”


Kelly Moore finished 10th in only the third start of his 2005 season.  The all-time winningest driver in Busch North history is enjoying not racing for points and enjoyed racing at NHIS.

"We had a good time, we were just coming here to have some fun,” said Moore.  “We got banged up in one of those three-wide deals, but we had a lot of fun. It was good day."

Donny Lia's #00 gets towed into the pits after it blew up.  (51 Photo)
Caisse's #5 comes out of the pits.  (Justin St. Louis / 51 Photo)
Tracy Gordon's #33.  (51 Photo)
Mike Olsen gets into trouble.  (Top - Howie Hodge Photo) and shows the damage from the incident.  (Bottom - Justin St. Louis / 51 Photo)