Glenn Sullivan Returns to Busch East Series by Penny Aicardi
Former Busch North Winner Reflects on Series Changes
Glenn Sullivan (51 Photos)
Glenn Sullivan never announced a retirement. He never said he was quitting. But after running six full-time seasons in the early 1990’s, Sullivan slowly faded from view in the NASCAR Busch East Series. But like most racers, Sullivan was itching to come back for more, and Mark Willoughby, a veteran car owner in the series, has given him that chance with a seat in the No. 15 Waste Management/Dennis Ciotti Race Car Products Chevrolet.
Sullivan, a one-time winner in the Busch East, ran full-time in the series from 1991-1996. He made a handful of races in the last 10 years, but concentrated more on his efforts in the USAR Hooters ProCup Series where he experienced limited success. Over the last couple of years, Sullivan could be found at the track giving a hand to his longtime friends at Buzz Chew Racing, but driving time was the element Sullivan was missing most. He wanted to get back behind the wheel. And with the help of some friends – Riley D’Hondt Motorsports, Buzz Chew, and Ryan Moore – Sullivan was able to do just that.
“I just wanted to race – you always have that desire,” he said. “These are the cars that I know, and the tracks in the Northeast are tracks I’m familiar with. The Hooters Cup travels way, way, too much for me. I spoke with Mark Willoughby last year at Waterford about driving this year. I think he has a good team. He does get results, and we have some strong associations with teams down south. It’s a brand new team with brand new equipment. I think this is a great opportunity.”
Sullivan is surprised with how much the series has evolved in one aspect, and has gone backwards in others. The purses, without the contingency money, are less than he was earning when he won at Wiscasset in 1994, but the caliber of teams now involved with the series are completely different. Long gone are the days of family teams and independent hobbyists. The Busch East Series, according to Sullivan, has evolved into a real stepping-stone division for young drivers aiming for NEXTEL Cup.
“From when I used to run the Busch North Series to now is completely 100 percent different,” he said. “It used to be that anybody could have won the race. Now you have four or five guys really capable of winning. The series has gotten better this year with that as far as NEXTEL Cup Series drivers coming in, but at the same time it is chasing the guys away that have supported this series. There is no way that these older teams can compete with the engineering and resources that the new teams have. The Cup teams don’t need these purses. They are just investing in their future.”
The team has intentions of competing in nearly all the events on the 2007 schedule with the exception of Elko and Iowa Speedways. But much to the team’s dismay, Sullivan had to sit on the sidelines for the season opener at Greenville-Pickens Speedway after they failed to qualify for the event.
“It was horrible,” Sullivan said about not making the race. “It’s like being on a pitchers mound and giving up a homerun. We were very fast at Greenville, but we did have a problem. We couldn’t figure out what it was. When we got it back to the shop, we found that the fuel filter had been put in backwards,” he explained. “It was just one of those freak things.”
“What are you going to do? That happens to everyone in racing at some point. I don’t care who you are. It happens. You can’t worry about it. Successful people look ahead and not back.”
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IN OTHER NEWS 16 teams tested at New Hampshire International Speedway earlier this week. 2006 Defending Champion Mike Olsen was there testing two of his cars.
“I was happy,” he said. “We got a lot of information out of it and we got some time in there with the spec engine.”
Other drivers that tested included: Matt Kobyluck, Sean Caisse, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Rogelio Lopez, Eric Holmes, Mike Gallo, Chase Austin, John Salemi, John Freeman, Michelle Theriault, Joe Massessa, James Pritchard, Jr., Jonathan Smith, Ryan Seaman, and A.J. Henricksen.
We tried a bunch of things, and I think we were pretty happy. With the cars that were there we were a top-four car,” said Perry Waite, crew chief for Matt Kobyluck. “We found some things that we need to change, so it’ll make things that much easier when we get there in July.”