Two Team Work Together, Two Drivers Battle, Flat Costs Kelly & More
TITLE CONTENDERS SHOW GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP
In racing, you always hear about friendly rivalries and how two teams racing head-to-head would do anything to help their competitors. Sometimes that might be true and sometimes, it might just be PR.
Rarely though is there such an extreme example of good sportsmanship as what happened after Mike Olsen crashed at New Hampshire.
Olsen was basically the only thing in the way of Andy Santerre’s third consecutive championship entering the race, so when he had trouble you would think that Santerre’s team might breathe a sigh of relief. They didn’t. Instead, the #6 Bessey Motorsports team made their way to Olsen’s pit with tools in hand and got right in to help the #61 team fix their battered racecar.
“We park side by side all year and both teams get along very good,” said Santerre. “We’re very similar people and I think that the people that we have around us are also very similar. My guys get along good with his guys. Hell, if they need a motor and needed something that we had, they’d have it and I know if we needed something I know they’d have it. It’s
been great being parked next to them this year. We'll do
whatever it takes to help them out and they would do the same for us."
When the #61 crashed, crew members from the #6 came right off to help out. (51 Photos)
Santerre actually seemed genuinely unhappy to see his competitor run into bad luck.
“It was disappointing to see Mike have a bad day here,” said Santerre. “He ran so well here last time and I thought that he got over that hump because this hasn’t been one of his best tracks. Today, I think that he just got caught up in a situation that he couldn’t avoid. Mike and I have been friends a long time and we’ve got a mutual respect for each other. For us to race each other for the championship has been pretty cool.”
Olsen really appreciated the help from Santerre’s team and promised to return the favor if it was ever needed.
“They’re great guys,” said Olsen. “That’s what makes it fun. Racing with guys like Andy and all of the guys on his crew is great. They’ve always been helpful to us and we’d do the same for them. When it all boils down to it, we’re all friends. We’ve all been doing this a long time and that’s what it’s all about. There’s no need in being enemies out there, that’s for sure.”
TWO LEE ALUMS ARE NOT CHUMS
On the other hand, there are two alumni drivers from Lee USA Speedway (NH) that probably won’t be socializing with each other anytime soon.
Mike Gallo and Eddie MacDonald locked horns during the race, with MacDonald ending up in the wall. Gallo had one of the strongest cars all day and led several laps on the way to a fifth-place finish. MacDonald had a solid top five run going at a track where he has struggled lately. Unfortunately, only one of the drivers would end up with a decent finish.
“The car was perfect, it was great on the outside,” said MacDonald. “I was running the high groove all day and Gallo decided to turn right coming out of turn four and put us into the wall. It’s just the way that he drives. I’ve learned a lesson from that.”
Although they both started their racing careers at the same short track, the two had not raced against each other much before competing in the Busch North Series.
However, this week was not the first time when they had an incident with each other.
“We’ve raced together very few times,” said MacDonald. “The last time that we were here in July, he drove right into the back of me after the race. He must have thought that we got into him. I don’t know why he drove into the back of me last time or put us into the wall this time.”
Gallo definitely remembers the July incident as well.
Gallo (#88) and MacDonald (#17) run nose to tail down the NHIS frontstretch.
was nice to these guys and I let them know that they could run up front with Mike Gallo.”
The wreck ended a good run for MacDonald, who has struggled lately at New Hampshire and was in need of a good finish.
“It was a super car,” said MacDonald. “This is the best car that I’ve had all year and the best car that I’ve ever had here.”
NASCAR MEETS WITH TEAMS ON CHANGES
As reported by Speed 51 a few weeks back, there appear to be major changes in store next season for the NASCAR Busch North Series. NASCAR met with owners and drivers in a closed door meeting on the Friday morning of the weekend at New Hampshire to discuss those changes.
A very different schedule is likely for 2005. Events are probably going to shift from bullrings to larger tracks and more races will take place in Mid-Atlantic and Southern states. Venues commonly mentioned in the garage area at New Hampshire were Richmond International Raceway (VA), Rockingham Speedway (NC), Martinsville Speedway (VA) and maybe even Greenville-Pickens Speedway (SC) or the Memphis Motorsports Park (TN).
A return to the road course at Watkins Glen International (NY) is also possible. Earlier this season, it was thought that future Busch North races at that track might be doomed by the arrival of the Busch Series on the track’s 2005 schedule.
A larger purse for short track races was also a key point in the NASCAR presentations. Ideas to contain costs were also discussed. Teams were informed that 2003 and 2004 sheet metal would not be allowed next season and that a plan to phase in a lower cost composite body was in the works.
And finally, it was said that a new title sponsor could be in the works for 2005. No possible company was mentioned, but it is thought that NASCAR would like to package an Eastern Series at their Elite Touring level with the NASCAR West Series and sign a common sponsor for both divisions.
OLSEN’S WRECK ENDS REALISTIC SHOT AT THE TITLE
Mike Olsen isn’t mathematically eliminated from the championship picture for 2004. If the car counts are high for the next two races, if Olsen can finish very high in the final events and if Andy Santerre has problems early in both race, Olsen could rebound. But for all practical purposes, his title fight ended on Monday when a crash dropped him to a 30th-place finish at New Hampshire.
“Let me tell you, that’s the second time with the #17 and that’s it with him,” said Gallo. “If he comes near me on the racetrack again, it’s going to get ugly. It was another bonehead move. He just drove right into me off the corner. How I didn’t get in the wall, I don’t know. I got off the gas and on the brakes and I don’t know why I wasn’t in the wall. What he’s doing, I don’t know. The kid’s out of control.”
Gallo wanted to emphasize that although he won’t be cutting MacDonald any slack on the track, he won’t be looking to wreck him on purpose either.
“I don’t drive like that,” said Gallo. “I drove clean with Kelly (Moore). It took me 20 laps to get by him and I didn’t touch him. I drove Paul Wolfe the same way that he drove me. I
would have finished towards the back of the top ten. The #15 (Bobby Dragon) car finished seventh and we were better than him. So we weren’t going to gain any points, but now we’ve lost quite a bit. I was going to be tough anyway. For the most part, throughout the year, we finished pretty close together.”
Still, the 2004 season has been a good one for Olsen and his Little Trees team and he remains upbeat about the season as a whole.
“Regardless, we’ve had a good year,” said Olsen. “We’ll just pack up and move on.”
TIRE WOES HOLD BACK MOORE
Kelly Moore led the most laps in the Sylvania 125 and had one of the fastest cars out there. However, a untimely late race pit stop dropped him to a 15th-place finish. A flat tire was to blame.
“The right rear tire went down,” said Moore. “It started going down I think before that caution there and that’s why the car tightened up and we lost the lead. It’s one of those unfortunate things. That’s part of racing, if you can’t take the gremlins you don’t deserve the trophies.”
Moore could take some comfort in the fact that his son and teammate, Ryan Moore, finished third.
“Both cars were pretty strong today,” said Moore. “We were getting ready to pounce on the big picture. He almost got there and I was close to it before a gremlin hit me. We’re real proud of him.”
Olsen's car suffered heavy front and rear damage after wrecking.
Olsen was in the wrong place at the wrong time on a restart.
“It was an unfortunate situation. I guess the #15 car (Dragon) jumped out of fourth gear. I slowed up from hitting him and Dale Shaw got into the back of me. That wrecked us.”
Olsen didn’t expect to gain many points on Santerre, but he was disappointed about losing so many.
“Obviously, Andy had an awesome car and we were going to be lucky to get a top ten,” said Olsen. “I think that we
Tom Carey wheels the #03. (51 Photo)
Mike Gallo was not very happy with MacDonald after the race.
SANTERRE DEDICATES VICTORY
Andy Santerre’s car owners, Joe and Nancy Bessey, were not at the New Hampshire track to observe Santerre’s victory. Instead, they were in North Carolina to be with Nancy‘s ill father, William Aggers.
On Sunday afternoon, Aggers passed away. He was a was a U.S. Air Force Veteran in World World II and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross twice at Pearl Harbor.
The #6 team remembered him in victory lane on Monday.
“We dedicated this win to Nancy Bessey’s Dad,” said Santerre. “He died Sunday at one o’clock and this one’s for him.”
FROM MIDDLE OF PACK TO FRONT
Before qualifying on Thursday, it looked like Andy Santerre might have something for the pole position. Santerre has struggled in time trials at New Hampshire in recent events, but excelled in the race. This time around was not any different. Santerre qualified in the 11th Position and was not happy was his lap. He made up for it of course, by winning the race.
“We were really disappointed after qualifying,” said Santerre. “We had been the fastest in practice and went out a qualified 11th. I knew that we’d have a good enough car to get up there and challenge for the win. I didn’t know if we could actually win, but we proved that we could and it’s a great day to race.”
CAISSE GETS CRASHED IN FIRST RACE
Sean Caisse made his Busch North debut at New Hampshire and had a good run going until he found the wall after a little bit of guidance to get him there.
The Moore crew services the #47 in a late and unplanned stop.
Caisse surveys the damage to the #20.
“We were sitting 12th on the restart with about 20 laps to go,” said Caisse. “We came from 21st and were having a good run. I had saved my car and were trying to finish the race. That last restart, I got right up underneath Stefanik off of turn two. I was alongside him and Dave Dion went three wide at the bottom. My spotter told me to lift, so I let Stefanik go on the outside. Dion was down the bottom and he tagged me in the left rear corner. That spun me around and now the car’s toast.”
The first race for the former NASCAR Featherlite Modified Series was an educational experience.
“I learned that there are some drivers that you can trust out there and some that you can’t,” said Caisse. “A couple of times, there were a couple of people who got into me. I was trying to let them go. I let everyone go balls to the wall and wear their tires out. Near the end, we were running lap times equal to the leader. I thought that we had a good chance to finish in the top ten and that was our goal coming into this race.”
LEIGHTON BUMPED BACK TO A 14th-PLACE FINISH
Brad Leighton finished far outside the top ten, an unusual occurrence at New Hampshire for him. He has 14th career victories at the track, but was bounced around pretty good in the closing laps of this event.
“Everybody gets a little antsy at the end of the race,” said Leighton. “We were definitely free on restarts. We were loose a little bit and we got tapped. In the back a little bit. We had a top five car and we ended up finishing 14th, but you can’t whine too bad. I’ve had a lot of success here and we’ll get them next time we come back.”
AUBE OK AFTER HARD WRECK
With 18 laps to go, Jamie Aube crashed hard to bring out the red flag. His car was badly mangled, but he was angry, but physically alright.
“I’m fine,” said Aube. “I’m disappointed that the car is all torn up. It didn’t really need to happen. The #29 (Dion) and the #22 cars bumped and got sideways. We just kind of went around on the outside and I guess that Kobyluck thought that there was plenty of room to run three-deep. He just drilled me in the door and wrecked me. There’s no need for it.”
Despite the hard hit, Aube and his Triple Crown Racing team is all prepared for Friday’s race at Dover.
“We have a car already to go,” said Aube. “But this was a good racecar today and it’s a shame to lose it.”