OLSEN AND HOAR MAKE FOR SURPRISING FRONT ROW by Mike Twist
One Team Didn't Focus on Qualfying, the Other Had a Back-Up Car
With the big guns out for the first NASCAR Busch North Series event of the season at the New Hampshire International Speedway, it would be expected that the pole position would go to a high horsepower team that concentrated their efforts on qualifying for the race on the longest oval track on the schedule.
Instead, the front row for Saturday’s Siemens 125 will be shared by a driver that ran absolutely no qualifying set-ups at a recent test and another team using a back-up car after trouble in practice.
Mike Olsen won the top starting spot with a lap of 30.550 seconds at 124.674 miles per hour. His closest competitor was Brian Hoar. They were followed by Mike Stefanik, Mike Johnson and Joey McCarthy.
Olsen had never sat on a pole at NHIS before and was
surprised by his lap.
“I don’t even turn the radio on when I’m qualifying, that usually screws me up,” said Olsen. “I just do my thing and I can tell if it’s a good lap or a bad lap. I knew that it was pretty decent but when I came around the corner and saw it on the board, I didn’t know it was that good.”
The pole is quite an accomplishment for Olsen’s team, which is based in the rural town of Haverhill - about an hour from the track.
“This is huge for our team,” said Olsen. “I’m normally known for short track racing more so than here. We tested here and I knew that I had a good racing car, but I didn’t know about qualifying. We came back today and it was still the same. I‘m extremely happy. It‘s always been one of my goals to do well here. It‘s our home state”
Hoar had to use a back-up car after a freeze plug on his engine blew out in practice.
“The car’s good - we’re lucky,” said Hoar. “We spent all day yesterday getting that car ready and now I’m glad that we did.”
Qualifying back in 15th was Busch North point leader Andy Santerre. The driver of the #6 car was disappointed with his run, but is still optimistic for the race.
Is a clean racecar a fast racecar? Mike Stefanik's Grizco Racing team waxed their #55 before it qualified third. (51 Photo)
“It will race good,” said Santerre. “The car was not as good as I would have liked to have seen it and we were struggling a bit, but we tried everything that we could to make it go better. When it comes to the race, we’ll be fine. I guess that you win some and you lose some and today we lost.”
Matt Kobyluck qualified seventh. He will be a busy driver this weekend with an entry in the NASCAR Busch Series event as well. Qualifying for that race is set for Friday afternoon.
Ryan Moore (L) and Andy Santerre (R) talk shop in the garage area. Neither driver qualified in the top five, but both are likely to contend in the race. (51 Photo
“I’m going to be busy on Saturday,” said Kobyluck. “To run 200 miles and then turn around and run another 125 with a ten minute break in between will be a test of my endurance, that’s for sure. But I’ve been working out for it and getting prepared.”
Kobyluck is realistic about his goals for his Busch Series debut.
“We’ve got to qualify first,” said Kobyluck. “Hopefully, we’ll get past that hurdle. Then I’d like to finish the race and finish on the lead lap. That’s our goal.”
Three former winners on the Busch North tour qualified for
their first starts of the season. Dale Shaw drove his own car to a 17th place qualifying run, Tom Carey qualified 19th in the #03 car and Tracy Gordon qualified 24th on board the #33 owned by Fred Skaff.
Other notables in the Busch North Series field were Kelly Moore (6th), Ryan Moore (8th), Brad Leighton (11th) and Dave Dion (22nd).
A few NASCAR Winston West drivers made the trek to New Hampshire to compete this weekend. David Eshleman qualified 29th and Jack Sellers will start the event in the 32nd position.
It might look like his Busch North car, but this #40 is actually Matt Kobyluck's entry in the Busch Series event. (51 Photo)