Two Drivers Don't Play Nice, Olsen Wheels a Late Model & Many DNQs
SHAW AND WILLIAMS BATTLE OVER RACING REAL ESTATE
Dale Shaw started in the 16th position and worked his way into the top ten early in the 150-lap race. While fighting with Eric Williams for the sixth position just past the 100-lap mark, Shaw's day took a
turn for the worse when his #52 car bounced off the frontstretch wall, which led to a damaged panhard bar that ended his day.
maybe he tried cranking into me a little bit to loosen me up and then get by on the outside. It backfired on him and he bounced off me (and into the wall). That's my version. His might be altogether different, but that's what happened."
Williams continued on in the race and posted a fourth-place finish.
ACT BEATS THE WEATHER - BARELY
The race at Thunder Road just barely beat the approaching weather. Within a few minutes of the finish, drizzle started to fill the air and soon after, light rain showers began. Track owner and racing broadcaster Ken Squier was thankful for the timing of the rain.
"We beat the weather! That might have been the biggest race of the day," Squier said. We were warned of showers coming in around 4:30 or 5:00 and they held off just long enough for us to get everything in."
BUSCH NORTH DRIVERS ACTS-IT ON OFF WEEKEND
NASCAR Busch North Series driver Mike Olsen cut his racing teeth at Thunder Road and has campaigned a Ron Bevins-owned Late Model in selected Thursday night features and ACT shows over the past several seasons. The #61 team was also there for this year's opener.
Mike Olsen traded in his normal #61 racer for something lighter, lower and less powerful.
Shaw was not happy with the way that things unfolded on the racetrack.
"The #7 car (Williams) turned right in the middle of a straightaway when he was halfway by me on the inside," Shaw said. "It hooked into my wheel, ripped the wheel out of my hand and turned me into the wall."
Williams saw things differently.
"Shaw's kind of an aggressive driver and he likes to play around with you a little bit," said Williams. "I think that
Shaw's #52 had a pancaked right side after racing got too close with Eric Williams.
It's a little bit of a stress reliever to get away from the normal
grind and come over here and just have fun racing with these guys," Olsen said. "I started my career here at Thunder Road back in '87 and I love coming here.
"It's a great atmosphere here and my family gets to come and see me race because it is close to home. (Olsen's hometown of North Haverhill, New Hampshire is about an hour away.)
A great finish for Olsen wasn't to be though. Electrical
A crew member shares a few last minute words with Jamie Fisher before his heat race. It would be the only racing laps of the day for the defending Thunder Road champ.
took their toll on his #61 machine after Olsen was running solidly in the top 10.
"The motor just quit," said Olsen. "We tried to diagnose it real quick and it looks like an ignition box. It's too bad because the car was running good. We were biding our time behind the #32 (eventual race
winner Jean-Paul Cyr) and waiting for traffic to sort out. But that's the way it goes sometimes, we'll just come again some other day."
Olsen hopes to have a few other days with the Late Model during the upcoming season.
"My Busch car is my main focus, but I'd like to run some Thursday nights and maybe another tour race or two before the year is out," he said. "Nothing is set in concrete, it's a 'go-as-we can' situation, so we'll take it race by race"
ARE WE AT A DIRT RACE?
Just getting into the starting field of 26 for the event proved difficult. The 39 cars on hand might have thought they were
participating in a World of Outlaws show, having to run four heat races, a consi, a B-Main and then giving two provisionals just to set the starting grid. How tough was it to get in? Six of the top ten points cars from the 2003 ACT standings had to run the consi.
2003 Thunder Road Late Model champion Jamie Fisher was among the drivers not to make it into the big show. He was joined by a list of drivers that included Ken Dufour, Tim Martin, Jacob McGrath, Stephen Reny, Sam Caron, Dan Colby and Chris Curtis.
LAPERLE RACES CLOCK TO GET TO THUNDER ROAD
The top-finishing Canadian driver was Patrick Laparle, who towed down from north of the border after his team finished putting together their car at the last minute before the race weekend
"This is a brand new car, we just finished it Friday night and brought it down here to practice on Saturday," said Laperle. "We got a top 10, but the car was too loose. We tried something for the feature and it didn't work, but we finished in the top 10 and we'll take that."
CHAD WHEELER RIGHT ON TRACK SO FAR FOR 2004
Chad Wheeler finished 12th in last season's ACT points without a top-three finish during the season. He was able to get his '04 campaign started out on the right foot at Thunder
Road with a third-place run and hopes to build on that finish.
"We've never started out the year this well," said Wheeler. "We've had some decent runs over the course of the season but have never been able to get out of the box this well. Hopefully, this will be a sign of things to come."
Wheeler's #92 car is prepared for competition in a crowded Thunder Road pit area.
RULES PACKAGE MAKES CARS CLOSE AND BULLETPROOF
Tight rules that call for spec engines, spec shocks and other tight controls in the ACT Late Model series has produced quite a bit of parity and reliability. It took 43 green flags laps at Thunder Road before a car got lapped on the track. Also, 23 of the 26 starters were still running at the 100-lap mark.