Pre New Hampshire Busch East News and Notes by Penny Aicardi
Rules Changes, Brad is Back and More
NASCAR Busch East Series team will have to get the lead out in time for New Hampshire.
Busch East Series teams will have to deal with two new rules this weekend for the running of the New England 125 at New Hampshire International Speedway. As part of an effort for NASCAR to be environmentally friendly, teams will use unleaded fuel for the first time in series history.
The unleaded fuel, Sunoco 260 GTX, has been used by the NEXTEL Cup, Busch, and Truck teams all season. Teams have also been limited to four members going over the wall on pit stops, which will necessitate a separate tire stop and fuel stop during the race.
“Our teams don’t have the time or the money to deal with all of this,” said four-time Busch East Series Champion and current car owner Andy Santerre.
NASCAR implemented the unleaded fuel rule for three races this season - both NHIS and Dover – or any race that runs in conjunction with the NEXTEL Cup Series. Unleaded fuel was first tested last year at a Busch Series race in St. Louis and has been since phased in to all of the national touring divisions.
“Looking down the road, this will not be the last time we use it,” said Busch East Series director Lee Roy. “The spec engine was designed to run unleaded anyway. The traditional built engine does need some additional tuning, but about 75 percent of the teams are now running the spec engine.”
“I think our series is still small. Our teams have individual sponsors with fuel suppliers, and this forces them into taking their sponsor off the car for this weekend. It’s just not right,” said Santerre. “It has other drawbacks too. For a guy that has an 18-degree motor, he has got to put a bunch of money into his motor. (The fuel) is hard on the valvetrain. In the Cup it’s not such a big deal because they replace these things on a weekly basis, but for the Busch East, it is a big deal. It’s very time consuming and it seems to be way overboard for just a couple of races. If we have to run it, I’m okay with it, but then we should be running it every week.”
Matt Kobyluck, driver of the No. 40 Chevrolets felt indifferent about the process of using the unleaded fuel.
“It doesn’t make much difference to me,” he said. “We had to change the jetting a little bit, but we’re not expecting anything dramatic to come out of this rule change.”
Though teams were varied on their opinion of the use of unleaded fuel, they pretty much took a united front on the change in number of crew members allowed over the wall.
None of them liked it.
“If they had done this at the beginning of the year, I would have said it’s a good move,” said 2006 defending Busch East Series Champion Mike Olsen. “But at this point in the season, we’ve already spent the money and we’ve already planned to have these guys there.”
“It’s a yes and no type of answer,” said Kobyluck, regarding whether or not he was in
Mike Olsen got plenty of help in this photo, but not nearly as many crew members will be able to go over the wall at the same time in this year's NHIS races.
agreement with the new rule. “I can see what they are trying to do, but the problem is they did it too late. We’ve already had to spend money on licenses, we already had the hotel rooms and such. It’s just too little too late right now.”
But Santerre worries about the safety aspect of the rule. Will more injuries occur because one crew member is trying to do too much on pit road, or will less guys over the wall result in less injuries? Only time will tell.
“It’s a contradiction. They talk about safety on pit road, but then they institute a rule like this. We’re all for saving money, but you can’t do a safe pit stop with four people. You have to have at least five to do a pit stop. They would have had been better off saying that you don’t have a pit stop at all or put in a five-minute break.”
NASCAR’s Lee Roy doesn’t feel that the rule is jeopardizing the safety of the crew members, but rather limiting the chance of a crew member in getting hurt. The focus will be either on tires or gas, and not both.
“If there are less men, there is less exposure and less chance to get hurt. It’s in the numbers. With a gas stop being a separate stop, if makes it even safer. You’re concentrating on one thing at a time instead of multiple things at once,” said Roy. “This is something that used to be done.”
Hollywood At NHIS
Brad Leighton, once dubbed “Hollywood” by his fellow competitors, will return to the series this weekend as he tries for a fifth NHIS track title. Leighton will wheel the famed No. 55 that led him to two series titles in 1999 and 2000. The car is owned by longtime friends Steve and Peg Griswold and will carry the colors of Irving Oil/Bluecanoe Convenience Stores.
Leighton will compete in three Busch East Series races in 2007: The Busch East 100, part of Thompson International Speedways Pepsi Full Fender Frenzy, the New England 125 on June 29th and the New Hampshire 125 on September 14th – both at NHIS.
Leighton retired from full time racing at the conclusion of the 2002 season, but since then, has made at least two starts every year.
An annual tradition will continue this week at New Hampshire International Speedway – the Governor’s Breakfast to benefit Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD) and David’s House, a home-away-from-home for families of children being treated at CHaD.
The Busch East Series will be well represented at the function, which takes place Friday morning at 8 a.m. Those planning to attend to sign autographs include: Pierre Bourque, Jeremy Clark, Chase Austin, Sean Caisse, Matt Kobyluck, Joey Logano, Marc Davis, John Freeman, Peyton Sellers,
Ruben Pardo, Dion Ciccarelli, Ray Ciccarelli, Michelle Theriault, Brad Leighton, Mike Olsen, and Scott Bouley.
All proceeds from the Governor’s Breakfast go directly to CHaD and David’s House, due in large part to the generosity of NHIS, which hosts the event. In addition, NHIS donates a VIP suite for the day so that children from the co-beneficiaries can rub elbows with NASCAR drivers and enjoy the race in style.
This year's featured guests include Governor John Lynch, NASCAR Busch East Series Drivers Sean Caisse and Mike Olsen, who will speak at the event, and MRN Motorsports "Turn Two Announcer" and "Sirius Speedway" Host Dave Moody.
Breakfast tickets are $30 each. Corporate Sponsor tables are $500 and include seating for eight. For information and/or to reserve your tickets, call CHaD Community Relations at (603) 653-3437.