Leftovers: NASCAR Busch East Series at Music City by Penny Aicardi
New Faces, New Combinations, New Winners and More
The big news at Nashville’s Music City Motorplex was the driver change in the No. 35 NDS Motorsports entry. Eric Holmes is out, and NASCAR Modified ace Jerry Marquis is in.
Marquis, 50 has joined the Robert Torriere-owned No. 35 Waste Management/Recycle America Chevrolet team for the balance of the 2007 season. He will compete in both the Busch East Series and Whelen Modified Tour full time. In his first outing with NDS, Marquis qualified 21st and finished ninth.
“I got a phone call Wednesday, and was asked if I could fill in for the rest of the season,” Marquis said of the Busch East ride. “Things have changed a lot in the series since I ran it full time. Hopefully I’ll be able to fit in and help the team out as a veteran, and perform well.”
Young Guns On Top At Nashville
The Music City 150 turned out to be a night for the “young guns” of the NASCAR Busch East Series. Four of the top-five drivers -- Rogelio Lopez, Joey Logano, Marc Davis, and Jeffrey Earnhardt – are all new to competing full-time in the Busch East Series, and all but Lopez are new to the series completely.
“We ran a limited schedule last year and we’ve been working really hard to move up from Mexico to here. I worked with this team last year, but not a complete season. They’ve been so great to work with,” said Lopez.
Dave Davis Motorsports and crew chief Fred Skaff, who are no strangers to the Busch East Series, got their first win as well.
“We're basically a brand new team with Fred and some other guys joining just this year. It was hard at the beginning of the year to get everyone on the same page, but I think this win comes at a good time for us,” said Lopez. “We were having bad races, but now we're moving back in the right direction in the points."
Earnhardt, who tested at the track prior to the Music City 150, posted his first top-five finish, and was excited about his performance.
“We came and tested and came back with a better car. We left here and we were
decent, but when we unloaded today we were real good. The guys did a good job of deciding what we could do different to make the car better. We were on it from the time we unloaded,” he said. “I was trying to stay calm, but I think I was getting a little excited. I was thinking maybe we could have got Rogelio and go for the win, but I lost all the forward bite and it hurt us coming off of four. Coming out of turn two we were really good and we’d pull right up there in back of them. It was a good night.”
Logano continued to be a force to reckon with – coming from 10th to post the runner-up finish.
“I went from ninth in the last 20 laps. I started picking it up a little bit and I started really driving the car. A lot of other guys wore their stuff out a little too quick. I had the winning car I think. Rogelio’s car was real fast, but our car was real fast too. I thought I had something on the last restart, but once I got into fourth gear the motor started sputtering from being out of gas I guess. Once we got in the corner, the gas sloshed over and it picked up,” he said.
I knew that the only way to win this race was to save tires and be there at the end. That was our plan when the race started.. It was a wicked points night for us. I’d like to have a good tire, but I’d rather have a championship trophy.”
Kevin Leicht, cousin of NASCAR Busch Series driver Stephen Leicht, made his NASCAR Busch East Series debut behind the wheel of a Bush Motorsports entry and posted a 20th place finish. Leicht is a regular competitor in the UARA Stars Late Model Series. Bush Motorsports will run a full schedule in 2008 and drivers, Kevin Leicht and AJ Lane, will compete in the remainder of the 2007 race season.
Rich Gould, who made his debut in the NASCAR Busch East Series in 2005 and ran his first full-time season in 2006, was the biggest surprise of the weekend at Nashville. Gould, who last year failed to even post a single top-10 finish after 6 DNFs, ran as high as third place in the Music City 150.
“I knew we had a good car from the beginning of the first practice. After just five laps on the track I told the guys that we had an awesome car. It just felt so easy to drive, unlike any car I had ever driven. In qualifying I just messed up trying to drive the car too hard because I knew how good it was,” said Gould.
Gould came to Nashville sporting a brand new sponsor in North American River Runners, West Virginia’s oldest and largest outfitter for outdoor adventures. It turned out that after an optimistic practice session, Gould was the slowest car of the 31 entries. He feared he would have to go home. He made the race based on a provisional, but proved his first assessment of the car was an accurate one.
Gould ran in the top-five for nearly most of the second half, but with 25 laps to go, Gould got a flat tire. He was able to come back up through to post the tenth place finish.
“I told everyone we had an awesome car and tonight everyone saw it! I couldn’t believe we had that flat tire when we were running in the top-5 but somehow with the luck we had this weekend it doesn’t surprise me. This just goes to show that getting paired up with an organization such as (North American River Runners) means the sky is the limit.”
Lopez's #9 (NASCAR/Mike Keon Photos)
Dumarey Shortening Learning Curve
Max Dumarey, the European road racer from Belgium and driver of the #16 Bodycoach.net Chevrolet owned by Mike Olsen, has been improving each week on his finishes. At Nashville, Dumarey posted his first top-15 finish.
“It’s only my sixth race on an oval and we’ve been gaining every week. I think just getting the seat time has been a big help, but this team is really starting to work well together. The guys on the crew really understand when I’m explaining something to them, and we’re just clicking,” he said.
But Dumarey is really looking forward to Lime Rock Park next month.
“I can’t wait to get on a road course,” said Dumarey. “I’m anxious to see how these cars handle turning both left and right. It should be fun.”
Sing It Again
The Music City 150, not surprisingly, pulled out a celeb of sorts to sing the national anthem. The one they picked, however, sort of threw all of us media-types for a loop: Tommy Tutone. Sure, you know the name, but do you remember what song was his claim to fame?
8-6-7-5-3-0-9. Yep, that’s the one. Forgive me, because now you’ll be singing it all day.
Tutone wasn’t lacking in entertainment either. After starting the song, the 51-year-old singer had to stop and start all over again when he messed up the words.
Quote of the Week
“It’s basically a CSI crime scene at the moment. We have a lot of evidence, but we have to take it back to the lab and analyze it,” said Mike Olsen about his No. 61 “Little Trees” Chevrolet after he wrecked on lap 23. Olsen’s rear-end broke and tore apart the drive shaft and oil pan.
Dumarey (#16) rides in the middle of a three-car wide pack at Music City.