but nothing major, so we’ll just get ready for the next one.”
FAST DOESN’T EQUAL GOOD FORTUNE FOR EDDIE MacDONALD
If there were a hard-luck award in the Busch East Series, after two races Eddie MacDonald would have it sowed up. MacDonald has been one of the fastest cars on track at both races but has been bitten by a large bad luck bug.
BUSCH EAST LEFTOVERS: GREENVILLE AND STAFFORD By Matthew Dillner
Bad Luck Bugs, Strokers, & Mad Drivers Open the Season
A TALE OF TWO RACES FOR KOBYLUCK
Matt Kobyluck had his second straight good run to start out the 2006 season. But this second place finish was a lot different, and in many ways a lot easier, than the previous one.
In the season opener at Greenville-Pickens Speedway (SC), Kobyluck led the race and pitted for tires late in the event. His Mohegan Sun car went on a tear through the field but ran out of time getting to the front. At Stafford, Kobyluck opted to stay out for track position instead of charging with fresh rubber.
“This place typically doesn’t wear out tires like a place like Greenville does,” said Kobyluck. “Could we have used tires? Yes. Nobody wanted to give up track position to get tires and have to come back through. Fortunately everybody was on the same program today and it kind of worked out.”
Matt Kobyluck (#40) leads a gaggle of cars that includes Ted Christopher's #35. (51 Photo)
GOULD AND JOHNSON TICKED AFTER BIG WRECK
Mike Johnson was one of the drivers to take the pit-and-charge approach at Stafford. That strategy might have bitten him in the butt. Coming through the field Johnson made contact with Rich Gould’s #8 and crashed hard.
“I was working my way back up with some fresh tires,” explained Johnson. “I don’t know what the deal was. He (Rich Gould) kept on blocking me. I was obviously faster but he kept blocking and blocking. I finally get around him and going into turn-one he just drives in the back of me.”
Gould, who was visibly upset after the race, saw the incident from a completely different set of eyes.
“He won’t do that again,” said Gould. “He tried to strong arm me. He thinks that I am a rookie so he’s just going to take advantage of me. Going down the front straightaway he just tuned down on me. I was still underneath him and to his door. We go down into turn one and he just turns like I’m not even there. I just never let off. I tried not to hit the wall but I made sure he did.
“I’m just aggravated. We had a good car and we were running eighth. We just wanted to finish. I didn’t want to crash. It wasn’t my goal. I just wanted to finish. It’s only my fourth race.”
“That’s racin’,” added Johnson. “It ain’t over till it’s over and you’ve got a lot of rookies out here doing stupid things. They race people when they are not as fast and just try to hold people off. It’s bound to cause wrecks like this.”
Luckily, Johnson’s big hit came where Stafford Motor Speedway recently installed soft walls. The car was totaled but Johnson walked away to race another day.
“It was a hard hit,” said Johnson. “At that point you pretty much just hold on. I have pretty good safety equipment. I got jousted around a little bit but I’m alright. I’m going to go take a walk up there (to the Stafford Soft Wall) and see what type of damage we did up there.”
STEADY OLSEN SEES RED AT STAFFORD
Mike Olsen got a nice podium finish at Stafford. Olsen is off to a consistent start in the Busch East Series. The Little Trees driver was looking for big things at Stafford but a late race red flag, caused by Mike Johnson’s hard crash, put up a stop sign for Olsen’s charge.
“That last restart hurt us,” said Olsen. “Our car was good on the long runs. If we had a little short caution it wasn’t bad. The caution before that (red flag) I thought I had something for those two. That long break cooled the tires down too much. I didn’t have much for them at the end but was trying real hard. We’ll take a third. It’s a good start and it could be worse. “
STROKER GETS IT DONE IN CONNECTICUT HOMECOMING
Charles Lewandoski is on a roll. The young driver followed up his impressive run at Greenville-Pickens Speedway with a career-best sixth place finish in the Busch East Series race at Stafford Motor Speedway.
The race fans and Stafford PA announcers enjoyed having the hometown hero battling up front. Even more special for the Stafford faithful was the fact he did it with the name “Stroker” on his roof, which was a nickname that Jack Arute, Sr. hung on Lewandoski when a was a regular in the Late Model class at the track. It referred to the Burt Reynolds character in the movie, “Stroker Ace”.
“The ‘Stroker’ decal is tribute to Jack Arute Sr.” said Lewandoski. “Mark (Arute, General Manager of Stafford and Jack Arute’s son) came over on a golf cart and gave me a nod and said that’s cool, almost like a ‘thank you.’ That family has always been good to me and it’s not right coming here with out Jack. It was the best way that I could respect him with a tribute since I was in North
Is that Stroker Ace? No, it's Charles Lewandoski. (51 Photo)
Carolina and couldn’t make it to any of the services. This was just a thank you to him for all the kind words and advice he gave to me.”
SOUTHERN LAVENDER TAKES CRATE CAR TO STAFFORD
Jody Lavender was good out of the box at Greenville’s season opener…literally.
“We had an old Busch car sitting around,” said Lavender. “I ran it at Rockingham in 2003. The car has been sitting in storage ever since. We pulled it out of the storage container when we found out they (The NASCAR Busch East Series) were running Greenville. We knocked the cobwebs off of it. It had a quarter-inch of dust on it. The motor hadn’t been touched. We pulled it out and sprayed some WD-40 in the cylinders and cranked it up.”
After a good run at Greenville, Lavender decided to crank it up again and tow up to New England to join the Busch East Boys at Stafford.
“This deal this weekend came up pretty much last minute,” said Lavender of the surprise visit to Stafford. “After last weekend at Greenville we had a great racecar and didn’t get the finish we wanted. We thought we had a great shot at winning that race. Jim Burgess gave me an opportunity to come up here and race again. And that ole’ Aarons Dream Machine was goin’ pretty good tonight.
“I had never seen this place (Stafford) before we pulled in the gate today and never watched it on TV or anything. Coming to a new place and only getting an hour of practice is tough. By the time that I got where I need to be on the racetrack so I could give good feedback about the racecar, practice was over. If we had the chance to tune on this car I believe we would have been a contender for the win.”
SEAMAN HAS ROLLER COASTER NIGHT END ON A HIGH
Ryan Seaman’s 2006 debut in the Busch East Series didn’t go exactly as planned for the young New Jersey driver. He was fast in practice but lost speed in qualifying. And then had make a come back after a few spins put him a lap down and finish seventh.
The #06 of Ryan Seaman runs to the outside at Stafford. (51 Photo)
“We finally got the lucky dog and we were able to avoid the wrecks, pick our way through the rest and pick up a couple of spots,” said Seaman who also lost his brakes midway through the event. “It was definitely an eventful night and a fight. We were constantly trying to find out what was wrong with the car. I think we pitted three times and we kept coming from the back and making it back in the top ten. To be a contender in the top ten was pretty cool. The thing wasn’t handling well at all, but we struggled through it.
“It was great, especially for what we went through tonight. Starting back in the field three times and to finish feels so good; they kept faith in me and they kept tuning on it and it felt good. So she has a couple of wounds on it,
Rich Gould (#8) rides the wall (Top), while Mike Johnson's #96 ended up taking a hard hit (Center). After the race, Johnson checked out the SAFER barrier. (51 Photos)
They say when one thing goes wrong, it all goes wrong, and that has been the case for the Massachusetts driver. It all started when he lost his ride with car owner Jerry Morello just before the start of the season. MacDonald then scraped together a car and got to work. The team put in a few overnight shifts getting the car ready for the season opener. When they left the shop the night before the race to make the long haul to South Carolina, MacDonald took the wheel of the transporter. After a few hours, a sleepy MacDonald decided to relinquish his driving duties and get some shut-eye. Just when Eddie was drifting, the turbo on their truck broke.
The team made it to the track with a little help from some friends and was on the move at Greenville until an axle broke. At Stafford, the #48 was fast again. But just like Greenville Eddie found a gremlin, this time in the form of a flat tire after a late race tangle.
“I saw that the 35 (Ted Christopher) was smoking and I could smell his gear oil,” said MacDonald. “I called it in so they could check it out and they said they were going to leave him out there. When he drove it into one there I don’t know if Olsen got into him or not but he got sideways and spun it right out. I couldn’t pinch it in far enough to miss his car. The rear end of my car got into his.
“We cut a tire down. It didn’t go down quick so I had them checking it and told them if felt kind of funny. We came up with the decision to stay out there because we were fourth. It basically screwed us because we ended up losing a lap. It was kind of a bad decision on our part. We had new tires and they had 130-lap tires so I think we would have had a shot at the win.”
MacDonald ended up with a 13th-place finish at Stafford.
Eddie MacDonald's #48 goes skyward thanks to some bumper tag. (51 Photo)