Busch North Comes Back to Oxford and Produces a Night of (Not Quite) a Million Stories
MOORE AND PENFOLD NOT HAPPY WITH EACH OTHER
Bill Penfold and Kelly Moore have been racing in Maine for a long time. They have crossed paths now and again as well. But both drivers left Oxford none too happy with each other after they got together during the race.
“That was just typical Billy Penfold,” said Moore of the incident. “We were racing and we couldn’t go anywhere and then all of a sudden, he just ran over me. It was going to happen, it was just a matter of when. I was waiting for it.”
Penfold wasn’t too concerned about Moore being mad at him.
“I got underneath Kelly there a little bit, but my nose was up to his rear tire,” said Penfold.
“You can see the tire mark. I guess he’s a little upset but it's not the first time that I’ve pissed somebody off. I’m not shy about it. If I piss people off, oh well. They can kiss my ass just like I’ve always said. I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to race a car.”
Earlier in the race, both drivers had pretty good races going. It was only the first Busch North race of the season for Penfold and second for Moore.
“It was fun [while it lasted],” said Moore. “It was just a long night, but that’s one of those deals.”
“I had a blast,” said Penfold. “We had a really good car
and just got caught up in some wrecks unfortunately. That’s part of racing. We had a top 10 car all day. We were up to sixth when a lapped car got into some lead lap cars and we got shoved into it. At the end, it was a handful to drive.”
Initially, Penfold was scored as finishing 10th, but a revised rundown by NASCAR showed that he was one lap down and finished 15th – one position behind Moore.
Still, Penfold was happy with his first race of the ’05 season.
“It was fun to be back with NASCAR again,” said Penfold. “I don’t know what the difference is, but this was so much more fun to be around than in the past. The officials were fun to be around. The guys were courteous on the track. It was a lot of fun.”
DELAYED CAUTION COSTS SOME TEAMS BIG-TIME
Not long before the 100-lap mark, the #30 of Jeff Anton spun as a large pack of cars was racing through turn three. For some reason, a caution was not thrown immediately. However, when that large pack descended upon Anton’s stopped car and several machines piled into in, a yellow flag, and then a red one, flew for track clean-up.
In this corner, was the damaged #0 of Bill Penfold... (Lisa Twist Photos)
Penfold plans to be back for one more race this season – at Lime Rock Park in October.
“We’re going to Lime Rock definitely,” said Penfold. “I’ve got a lot of fans down there, so look out boys, I’m going to Lime Rock."
SANTERRE KEEPS POINT LEAD WITH SOLID RUN
Andy Santerre took over the NASCAR Busch North Series point lead last week at Motor Mile Speedway. However, in the early stages of the Oxford race, it looked like it might be slipping away.
Santerre got caught in a lap 32 wreck with Matt Kobyluck and Mike Johnson. He stayed on the lead lap and rebounded to finish fifth.
The cars of Dale Shaw, Kelly Moore, Mike Johnson and Eddie MacDonald were among the ones involved.
“I didn’t even know it was coming up,” said Johnson. “I heard that they were stacking up and I went to the outside. Two cars in front of me went to the same place and the whole field was there. There was nowhere to go. I guess that car had been spun out for almost a full lap before we got there and they didn’t throw a caution. Unfortunately, that took a few cars out.”
“Somehow we got through it,” said Sean Caisse. “Barney and my father spot for me and they do a great job. They were able to let me know what was up ahead and I was able to get around it.”
The #96 of Mike Johnson and the #15 of Dale Shaw were both damaged in an incident where the caution might not have come out soon enough. (Tom Gallo Photo)
“We had a good car and at the beginning, I was trying to bide my time a little bit and pick off guys as I could,” said Santerre. “But that wreck that I got in, I really had nowhere to go. There was nothing I could do.
"Luckily, we came in and the guys got it fixed and put two tires on it and I stayed on the lead lap. We were tight after that because the steering was bent, but I could make passes on the bottom.”
Had it not been for that wreck, Santerre might have been able to win in his homestate of Maine.
“We had a great car,” said Santerre. “I think that we had a car good enough to give Dave a run for his money, but we never got to try it. Guys always say that, but I really feel comfortable with what I had for a car tonight. It was great.
“I’m happy with a fifth considering all that we went through. Obviously I wanted to win because it’s my home state, but you can’t win them all.”
“It’s for my father really because he won’t give up,” said Stockwell. “He keeps coming back and doing this thing. All he wants to do is race and he puts the money into this. When we can come out of a race like this where we were competitive and we weren’t just there, that’s what it’s all about. Now one of these days, we’re going to be sitting over there where Dion is and we’re going to pull out of here with a win. We’re as close as we’ve been since 1997 [when Stockwell won at Thunder Road in his first career Busch North start.”
With three weeks until the next Busch North event at New Hampshire, Stockwell and his team have a little time to breathe.
“We’ve got some time off now and the car isn’t all beat up, which is the first time for that in three weeks.”
WHERE WAS THE SECOND GROOVE?
Since Oxford Plains Speedway was repaved a few years ago, observers have complained that the track has lacked a good second groove for side-by-side racing. Gradually, that problem has gotten better. However, people still complained after July’s TD Banknorth 250 about the lack of a passing lane even though none of the top seven finishers in the race started in the top 20 and Mike Rowe came from a starting spot of 37th to win.
“I just started on the outside on a restart and couldn’t get back in [line],” said Olsen. Every restart we were on the outside. On that last one, I went out there to try and gain a spot and I ended up losing a few.”
Still, Olsen’s night was better than that of his pit area neighbor.
“It could be a lot worse, my car could look like Mike Johnson’s, so I can’t be too disappointed,” said Olsen. “We had a really good car. We dunged up the front early, so it was running a little hot. I definitely had an easy top three or four and we ended up sixth, but there’s not really anything we can do about it.”
Hoar also knows how Caisse feels.
“We’ve always been good friends with those guys,” said Hoar. “I’ve always been good friends with [Caisse’s car owner] Barney McRae. I hate it, but this is part of the game. It’s happened to me before and I know that it sucks [for them].”
KIP GETS BEST FINISH OF THE SEASON
Underdog driver Kip Stockwell went all of the 2004 season without a top 10 finish. This year has been looking up though. A ninth-place run at Oxford was his third top 10 of the ’05 season.
“We’ve had a string of top 10s, but they were all 10th-places,” said Stockwell. “We’re happy with a ninth. I was driving the wheels off at the end just trying to protect what we had. I’ve never had a year where I’ve finished three times in the top 10. It’s really satisfying because we’ve had some really tough years.”
Stockwell and his family run their small raceteam out of Vermont where they spent the days working in their auto repair shop and the evenings working on the racecar. Stockwell credits his father for just about everything that the raceteam does.
So, much of the complaint of the Pro Stocks not having a second groove could be dismissed as bellyaching. However, the heavier Busch North cars really did seem to have a hard time making the outside work as a passing lane.
And that caused a few problems.
“I got back in the back of the field and it’s tough to come up through the field here,” said Mike Johnson. “There’s a lot of bumping and everyone is trying to get down to the bottom. It’s tough track to come from behind at and obviously, we had some front-end damage.”
“There was a wreck on turn one when we were in turn three,” said MacDonald. “I didn’t know about it and I got into the back of Kelly before I could slow down. Whoever was behind me, got into the back of me and drove me right into the mess. I thought that we would miss it, but no such luck.”
TWO BUDDIES GET TOGETHER IN A BAD WAY
Sean Caisse and Brian Hoar are pretty good friends. Their raceshops are only a few miles apart in the suburbs of Burlington, Vermont. They talked before the race, but while battling for the fifth position with less than 20 laps to go, they got together. Caisse spun and lost a lap while Hoar went on to finish fourth.
And he was driving a car that was completely new to him.
“We teamed up with Bob Nolet and some of the guys that run with Teddy Christopher,” said Caisse. “This is actually a car that we bought off him because we bent our car pretty good at Motor Mile.
"It’s a good car. We only had two 45-minute practice sessions to get dialed in at a track that I never have been to and in a car that I had never sat in. So for us to be
The #16 of Kip Stockwell. (Tom Gallo Photo)
“For some reason, Brian Hoar felt that fifth-place was important enough to wreck somebody,” said Caisse. “I don’t understand that. I’m pretty good friends with Brian, so I’m pretty speechless.”
Hoar was far from speechless though and he took all of the blame for the wreck.
“That was a shitty deal,” said Hoar. “There is nobody out there that I would rather not hit than Sean. But we did.
“Sean was slower than we were and I was racing hard with Leighton behind me. Leighton and I had passed each other a couple of times. The long and short of it was that I saw the #96 [the wounded and lapped car of Mike Johnson] was coming up and he was much slower. I thought that it was my chance to get up alongside the #5 and use the #96 as a pick. At the same time, I was still mirror driving. I was trying to move a move to the outside and at the same time not let Leighton get by me. I had my head up my ass and I just hit him. I just plain messed up.”
“They stuck us on a track double file for the restart and there’s not really a second groove,’ said Sean Caisse. “When they do that, you put every driver who restarts on the outside wanting to get down. That’s why you see those crashes like that.”
“You can’t race on the outside here with these cars on this type of racetrack,” said Ryan Moore. “It’s unfortunate.”
“It’s a tough deal,” said Hoar. “There was no outside groove, so unless someone was slowed up on the inside, there was nothing to do out there. I tried to make it work and I couldn’t do it.”
“If there was more of an outside groove, I would say that I’d really look forward to coming back here,” said Matt Kobyluck. “But when you know that you have a faster car and you can’t do anything about it, it’s a little frustrating. That curb down the bottom hurts too. All someone needs to do is get within a couple feet of that curb and you can’t get your nose in there.”
OLSEN SEES TOP FIVE FINISH SLIP AWAY
Mike Olsen ran in the top five all night long. Well, almost all night long. Late in the race, he got shuffled back to a finishing position of sixth after being solidly in the fourth position for much of the later stages in the race.
...and in this corner was the torn-up #47 of Kelly Moore. (Lisa Twist Photo)
Sean Caisse (L) and Brian Hoar (R) talk before the race. They woudl get together again before the checkered flag waved. (51 Photo)
Sean Caisse's #5. (Tom Gallo Photo)
The #61 of Mike Olsen stuck in Oxford traffic. (Tom Gallo Photo)
Dave Dion (#29) and Matt Kobyluck did a little bit of side-by-side racing, but that was a rare sight. (Tom Gallo Photo)
Santerre talks with Tom Campbell after qualifying. (51 Photo)
running in the top five was a win for us. These guys are
working their tails off and they are putting in the effort.”
“Hopefully, the fans had a good time and liked the races,” said Moore. “I really wanted to win.”
Moore has entered various major events at Oxford over the past few seasons. In his first TD Banknorth 250 start, he finished third. In 2004, he failed to qualify. He feels that a second-place run in the Busch North race might have redeemed that though.
“We’ve come up here and tried to race the Pro Stocks three or four times and I’ve just made a fool out of myself. I embarrassed myself and went home hanging my head pretty hard, so I wanted to come back and put on a show and let people know that I didn’t forget how to get around here.
BATTLE FOR SECOND LEADS TO SPIN
The race was barely 20% completed when Mike Johnson and Matt Kobyluck got together racing for third-place on an early restart. The end result was that Johnson went for a backwards spin through turn one. His night got worse from there.
Matt Kobyluck. (51 Photo)
“When we had a few long runs there, it really brought back memories. You’ve got to drive the racetrack to help your car rotate and get down the straightaway. I really like racing here and I really like the fans. I was excited to come back.”
MacDONALD AND TEAM HAVE OVERALL BAD DAY
Eddie MacDonald and his #77 team had a bad day at Oxford. They blew an engine in practice, missed qualifying to change it and had to take a provisional and then wrecked during the race.
The #77 team changes engines. (51 Photo)
“The crew worked their butts off and did an awesome job,” said MacDonald. “The car was good right off the bat today and we had motor problems. We straightened that out and went out there and the car was running really good.”
In a perfect world, that good run would have translated into a good finish. However, bad luck struck the team once again.
“We were going to come in and pit for tires under the next caution before we wrecked,” said MacDonald of being involved in the multi-car wreck into a stopped car on the track.
HOAR HAS GOOD RUN IN OXFORD RETURN
Brian Hoar had raced at Oxford before on the American Canadian Tour, but it had been a few years.
“I think that the last time we were here was 2000,” said Hoar. “I always liked the track. It’s always been a tough little track to come to. It’s just a big round circle out there and it hasn’t gotten any easier to get around. I can tell you that.”
Hoar made his way through the field to finish fourth, but he doesn’t credit his driving ability for that.
“Some of that was luck and the other part was luck and then there was some luck involved. We had a decent car too, so that helped. We got stuck on the outside a few times and got some breaks to get on the inside. We had some good inside restarts too and dodged a few wrecks. We got some spots that way and were able to survive.
DION SPEAKS ABOUT CIVALI PENALTY
Two races ago, James Civali put Dave Dion into the wall at Stafford Motor Speedway. NASCAR officials parked Civali and reviewed the videotape of the incident before suspending Civali until late September.
Dion spoke of the penalty at Oxford.
“At least it wasn’t ignored and NASCAR didn’t let it happen,” said Dion of the incident. “I’m satisfied. It’s not that they penalized him, because I don’t have anything against him. But they reacted and said that they couldn’t let the sport go in that direction. If they had just said for me to just go away, I would have just gone away. But because they reacted and said that they didn’t care if you were an old guy, a young guy, a veteran or a kid, that there is a line.
“Finally, we’re seeing them make decisions on what they think is right, not what Daytona says.”
Dave Dion looks over his damaged race car at Stafford after a run-in with James Civali. (Howie Hodge Photo)
Ryan Moore looks out over the crowd at Oxford. (Lisa Twist Photo)
“It was a rough night,” said Johnson. “I thought that I gave Matt enough room and I guess that he came up a little bit and got us around at the beginning there. It was pretty much downhill from there.”
“I’d say it was Mike not being patient,” said Kobyluck of the incident. “He feared that he was going to get freight trained on the outside and that’s a product of being on the outside at the restart. He was running the risk of losing a couple of spots.
"But you also have the chance later on of getting a few of them back. He saw a hole that he was going to try and squeeze his car into and unfortunately, it didn’t work out well for him.”
CAISSE ADAPTS QUICKLY TO OXFORD
Before he got spun late in the race, Sean Caisse had a top five run going. It wasn’t due to years of experience at the track – he had never turned a wheel at the facility before raceday.
Caisse has run very strong in recent week. The rookie won the pole and led at Motor Mile, but like at Oxford bad luck reared its ugly head for him.
“Unfortunately, it seems that every single week lately we’ve gotten the short end of the stick,” said Caisse. “At Motor Mile, we were leading the race when [Joey] McCarthy ended up blowing a motor right in front of us. Before that at Stafford, we ended up crashing in practice when [Dave] Dion spun in front of us, so we drove the race with a wrecked racecar.”
And at Oxford, he got together with Brian Hoar as documented earlier in this article.
MOORE ALMOST HAS GREAT HOME VISIT
Ryan Moore is a former regular at Oxford Plains Speedway. He enjoyed making the trip back to the track for the Fisher Snowplows 150.
KELLY MOORE LIKES RACING IN HIS BACKYARD
Oxford is only 45 minutes from Scarborough, the hometown of Kelly Moore, Ryan Moore and the family business – RC Moore Transportation.
“Personally, I like racing close to home,” said Kelly Moore. “I wish that more of our races were closer to home than Radford, Virginia. But I’ve got to get used to that because the way that my son’s career is going, there’s going to be more of it. They aren’t going to move all of those racetracks into one state. We’ll have to do some traveling.”
PASS RACERS VISIT NASCAR RACE
There were enough good racecar drivers in the pits at Oxford to put on a pretty good event among themselves. The race was held on an off night for the IBG-PASS Series and that brought out many personalities from that world.
Scott Mulkern, Cassius Clark, Johnny Clark, Tracy Gordon and Corey Williams were all seen in the pit area. It was said that Mike Rowe was also in attendance although Speed51.com never got to see him.
PASS car owners Steve Perry and Jay Cushman were also observed making the rounds at Oxford.
SPONSORS LIKED THE OXFORD RACE
Teams were glad to see Busch North return to Oxford because it opened up another market of exposure for their sponsors. Although there were two very different reason why.
“It’s always good to have good coverage for our sponsor [Little Trees Air Fresheners],” said Mike Olsen. “Last week, we were in Virginia and near North Carolina and Tennessee. The more people that we can get the Little Trees name out to, the better. It always helps. I’d like to see us go to more markets, but that’s hard for the little guys who don’t have a sponsor.”
Sean Caisse and his team. (51 Photo)
“This means a lot to me because of the sponsorship that I have,” said Kelly Moore. “NAPA Auto Parts of Maine and the Bill Dodge Auto Group support this team and it’s good for them to be in their marketing area. You can’t run these cars on good faith, you need to have the dollars for it and that is what they provide.”
The race also marked the return to racing for Fisher Snowplows, which was the title sponsor of the event. Fisher had backed Busch North cars through the years for Dick McCabe and Mike Rowe.
To the Maine-based company, it was more than just advertising.
"It was very exciting to have the oldest driver competing in the series to win the homecoming Fisher Snowplow 150 at OPS," said Fisher's Gary Dwinal, who was around for the company's glory years in motorsports. "We have sponsored many race events on the Busch North tour over the years, but on a personal note, this was very special and will always be the most memorable Fisher sponsored event in my life."
Dick McCabe, grand marshall of the Fisher Snowplows 150 and former driver of the #0 Fisher Snowplows Buick, looks over the #96 of polesitter Mike Johnson. (51 Photo)