Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chase to Make Camping World East Debut at NHMS

Driver has a busy weekend on tap

MILTON -- Eric Chase is going to be a busy man this week. The Milton racer, who is a regular campaigner with the ACT Late Model Tour and in weekly events at Barre's Thunder Road, will strap into a NASCAR Camping World Series East car for the first time at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend, driving Barney McRae's entry in the Heluva Good! 125 on Friday afternoon at the Loudon, N.H. superspeedway.

He'll also try to pull off a bit of a magic trick on Thursday: being in two places at once. Time trial qualifying at NHMS begins at 3:15pm, and post time for Thunder Road's CARQUEST Vermont Governor's Cup 150 is 6:30pm. Even if Chase is the first driver to take time trial laps at NHMS and is able to leave the track early, he'll have a tall task in getting back to Barre in time to make the first round of qualifying.

Chase will have a flight on stand-by at the Concord Municipal Airport in New Hampshire that will take him to the Edward F. Knapp State Airport in Berlin, Vt., but first must get through the always-swamped parking lots at NHMS and make his way by car from Loudon to Concord (a half-hour challenge at best), and upon arrival in Berlin faces fighting through a major traffic jam there and in neighboring Barre, on a night when an on-track appearance by NASCAR's Tony Stewart is expected to draw the largest spectator crowd in Thunder Road's 50-year history, with estimates at or above 10,000.

"I'm gonna have to fly like the wind," Chase laughed. "Literally."

Aside from the hectic travel -- and that's just Thursday, mind you -- Chase will be a busy man behind the wheel of his race cars. If all goes according to plan, he will have raced 425 feature laps, plus qualifying and practice time, at three different tracks in two very different types of car. Thursday's New Hampshire Motor Speedway practice and time trial -- at a low-banked, one-mile superspeedway in a 3,400-lb Camping World Series car with 600 horsepower, at speeds of over 150 mph, mostly alone on the track -- will be followed up by the 150-lap event at Thunder Road -- a high-banked, quarter-mile bullring in a 2,800-lb ACT-legal Late Model car with 350 horsepower, running two- and three-wide almost non-stop.

Friday will be spent back in Loudon, practicing and racing McRae's car in the Camping World Series event. Saturday, Chase will be in New Hampshire again, at White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock for the ACT Late Model Tour's White Mountain 150.

But Chase is doing it because he loves to. "Yeah, I'm going to set the world on fire this weekend," he joked. "Actually, we do have a good car for Thunder Road and White Mountain, and we're looking forward to those races.

"Loudon, though, I have no idea what to expect."

Chase noted that the comparatively low-buck McRae operation, based in Milton, has fielded competitive equipment in the past, but that the NASCAR Camping World Series East is currently oversaturated with top-tier Sprint Cup Series-affiliated teams running on unlimited budgets. "I may not have the best car there, but we're hoping for a good day. I hope to get a top-15 finish and learn about the track and the cars.

"But then again, I could go out and scare the hell out of myself. I can't imagine it's any worse than going through the dogleg at Sanair (a 9/10-mile tri-oval in Québec) wide-open. I'm just looking to have some fun this weekend."

(Photo by Eric LaFleche/VLFPhotos.com)

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