BNS: Beech Ridge preview

Busch North Series' Mid-Season Visit To Beech Ridge For Irving Oil 150 On Saturday, July 7, Finds Rookie Brian Hoar Challenging For Overall Honors SCARBOROUGH, Me. (June 27, 2001) - The Irving Oil 150 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway on Saturday ...

BNS: Beech Ridge preview

Busch North Series' Mid-Season Visit To Beech Ridge For Irving Oil 150 On Saturday, July 7, Finds Rookie Brian Hoar Challenging For Overall Honors

SCARBOROUGH, Me. (June 27, 2001) - The Irving Oil 150 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway on Saturday night, July 7, isn't quite the midpoint of the Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring season- it's actually the ninth event on the 21-race schedule. However, it does represent the first return visit to a track where the series has already raced in 2001, and it's as close to the Fourth of July as the schedule comes. So it's a good time to look back on the opening acts of the Busch North Series drama, and peer in to the future as the series enters its decisive months.

The Irving Oil 150 marks the second of three appearances for the Busch North Series at the popular one-third mile oval on the outskirts of Portland. It's the only race of the Beech Ridge trio which will be held under the lights along with the regular Saturday night NASCAR Weekly Racing Series program. Busch North Series practice begins at 12 noon, with Bud Pole Qualifying at 5:45 p.m. The 30-car Irving Oil 150 field is set to take the green flag at approximately 9 p.m.

Mike Olsen scored his first Busch North Series victory with a come-from-behind win in the PTM Racing 150 at Beech Ridge in June, and followed it up with a flag-to-flag romp at Star Speedway the following week. Olsen has used those triumphs to build a lead in the Busch North Series point race over 2000 Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year Mike Johnson and Tracy Gordon, the winner of the 2001 season opener at Lee, N.H. Waiting in the wings to challenge for the top spot are two-time defending champion Brad Leighton, and Kelly Moore, who has extended his all-time records for race wins and Bud Poles while returning to full-time action after running a limited schedule in 2000.

The 2001 Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year contest appeared wide-open at the start of the season, with a trio of drivers- Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, Mass., Joey McCarthy of Randolph, N.J., and Brian Hoar of Williston, Vt.- sharing the laurels in the first three events. Then Hoar seized the initiative, running the table with five straight Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Race performances, finishing on the lead lap in the top seven overall positions each time. His best performance in the streak was fifth in the PTM Racing 150 at Beech Ridge.

Like all the rookie contenders, Hoar faces a steep learning curve. The Busch North Series cars, the tracks, and the racing conditions are all vastly different from those he encountered in his championship years at Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vt. "We've gotten a lot better week in and week out," Hoar related. "We've gotten to where we unload the race car and we know what we're doing, for the most part.

"We've got the car to the point where it's very adjustable. It's reacting to our changes," Hoar elaborated. "We're communicating well. Learning the new tracks is coming to us faster than we thought it would, and fortunately, we've had some good help from different teams to give us a baseline idea. We know the car and they give us an idea about the track so we show up and the car is semi-close."

Although Hoar has run touring series in the past, his efforts haven't required the logistical or crew support of the Busch North Series. "The most difficult part is getting the crew to the track," he declared. "Most of the guys are volunteers and they have to work. It's tough to get a consistent crew; if I had the same seven guys coming to the track every week it would help."

With the second round of visits to previously unknown tracks starting with the Irving Oil 150 at Beech Ridge, plus the annual BNS Labor Day weekend visit to Thunder Road, Hoar looms as a threat to join some select company. Mike Johnson and Martin Truex Jr. (2000), Brad Leighton (1996), Jerry Marquis (1994) and Ricky Craven (1990) all were Busch North Series race winners during their rookie season.

"It's been phenomenal," Hoar said in summing up the season to date. He could ask for only one improvement. Away from the track, he's a Dodge dealer in the Burlington, Vt., area, which explains why the paint scheme of his #9 Pontiac is a replica of Bill Elliott's Dodge Winston Cup car. "Maybe one day, we'll have a real Dodge out there," he commented.

The Busch North Series is one of nine NASCAR Touring Series which blanket the USA, bringing major events to NASCAR Weekly Racing Series tracks like Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, as well as many superspeedways and road courses. The NASCAR Touring program is recognized as the premier training ground for NASCAR's national series, the Winston Cup Series, Busch Series, Grand National Division, and Craftsman Truck Series, while also providing career opportunities for professional racers at the regional level. Corporations making major contributions to NASCAR Touring point funds include Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Featherlite Trailers, Goody's Headache Powders, Gatorade, RE/MAX International, O'Reilly, Auto Parts, Raybestos Brakes, and R.J. Reynolds's Winston brand.


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