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Tim Andrews Prepares For Return To Busch North Seriesby Alan J. Claffie
One of the NASCAR Busch North Series' most promising Rookie of the Year candidates in 2003 never got to finish out his first full season on the tour. But despite winding up out of his ride just seven races into the '03 campaign, Concord, North Carolina's Tim Andrews showed he had the ability to compete with Ryan Moore for the RotY honors and even vie for race wins.
Starting the season in J.T. Mase MotorSports' No. 11 Chevrolet, Andrews came out of the box with a fourth-place finish at the Lee USA Speedway season opener. He recorded another top-five finish in the sixth race of the year, held at Holland International Speedway. But the next race, at Thompson International Speedway, was his last in the No. 11 car. The sponsor didn't pick up the option for the balance of the season, and the car was parked, leaving Andrews without a ride.
He made the eighth race of the season, at New Hampshire International Speedway in July, behind the wheel of the Penfold Motorsports car, but that was his last Busch North race of the year.
Before the season ended at Lime Rock, Andrews began laying the groundwork for forming his own team to return to the series in 2004. With the acquisition of a former Akins Motorsports Chevrolet, his return to Busch North is now well underway.
While forming his own team, Andrews considered other venues, but decided to return to familiar territory.
"I've got a Hooters Pro Cup car sitting in the shop, but I didn't know if that was going to get enough exposure in front of the right people," he said. "We kicked the idea around, but then we found a Busch car that had been sitting right next door to our shop for a little while. The price seemed pretty right for what we were looking to do.
"We already knew how Busch North was running and the people to talk to about running there, so we just thought that Busch North would be the better avenue."
With the car now in house, Andrews drew up a six-race schedule that would take him to some tracks he ran well at last year, as well as some new challenges.
His first appearance of the year will be at Lime Rock Park on Memorial Day weekend, and he also expects to run Watkins Glen. He had not run either road race in the 2003 season.
"I've won several races in both Legends Cars and Thunder Roadsters on road courses," he explained. "I think I just have to get a little time in the seat of a stock car on one, maybe at Virginia International Raceway, just to get the feel of a stock car on those types of tracks."
One of the races Andrews is most looking forward to is his second appearance at Holland International Speedway, which he couldn't say enough about following his fifth place finish there last June.
"That's still just a neat little race track," he said. "I though it would be a good place just to go and have some fun and keep racing."
The newly-formed team is still outfitting its shop in North Carolina.
"Right now it's just me and Dad working on the car," he said, referring to 1992 Winston Cup-winning crew chief Paul Andrews. "We've got some decent shop equipment, but we're still needing a couple of things. One of the good things about being where we are, it's a lot easier to get in the car and go to the parts store rather than waiting three days for it to be shipped up north."
The biggest piece of the team - sponsorship - is not yet in place, but Andrews continues looking and hopes that with some outside income, his six-race schedule might increase to a full-season slate.
"If we could at least get our tire bills covered at the big tracks, that's what we're really looking for right now," he said. "If the money's there, we'll definitely run more races. I'd definitely like to run a full season, but we have to have the money to do it."
Whether it's for six races or a full season, having a young, talented racer the likes of Tim Andrews in Busch North is going to increase both the appeal and competitiveness of the upcoming BNS season.