The 2012 Amsoil NELCAR got underway last weekend as the drivers took the green flag at Unity Raceway. This weekend NELCAR is heading to New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) to take on the 1.6 mile road course. Evan Beaulieu hope to take the number 56 legend car to victory lane and get his 1st win of the season.
RPM: What have you been doing in the off season?
Beaulieu: Of course getting ready for this season, we have expanded from just fielding cars for myself to fielding a second car for rookie Alicia Perry and Charlie Buxton. We have also been helping Wyatt Alexander and their team in their next step into legends cars as well. The four of us make a pretty solid team, Charlie and myself have logged a lot of laps on all these tracks we go to and I'm just doing all I can to help speed up the transition for both Alicia and Wyatt, since it is a huge step from karts to Legends Cars. Other than that I've been busy working at Hancock Lumber and with my business Nitro Designs as well. We also ran the Champ Kart at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island and had a blast as always.
RPM: How was the race last weekend at Unity?
Beaulieu: I'm glad that I can say that sixth place was a struggle for us. I had prior commitments to work that morning and we ended up missing practice unfortunately and dug ourselves into a bit of hole, but we made some great adjustments after our heat race and we had a very strong car, we just couldn't get the track position we needed. Unity is a rough track and during the daytime when it is hot and greasy it is very difficult to pass. We did the best we could and I had a blast running in the middle of the field, there were four or five of us right under a blanket driving as hard as we can, and we had a lot of fun and that's really all you can ask for.
RPM: What do you think of the 2012 NELCAR Schedule?
Beaulieu: I personally think it is great. We've all complained for the past few years that we need to travel south to get a full 25 race season in for National INEX points, but now with the races we have up here we can get all those races and then some and be competitive in the National points race, plus I'm still young and I want to be in a racecar as much as I can, and in Legends I have the opportunity to do so.
RPM: With 2 and even 3 races in 1 week, a lot of time is spent in the shop working on the cars. If car is severely damaged you could be out of a few races, and take a major hit in the points.
Beaulieu: That's something you definitely need to consider each week, we have been very fortunate the past few years to keep our cars clean each week, since I haven't always been the best at keeping our car clean. We learned three years ago that wrecking each week really does get old and we cannot afford it either. During the race I just do what I can to keep myself out of potentially bad situations and be smart. A few people have told me to finish first, first you must finish.
RPM: What’s your opinion on the 3 throw away races?
Beaulieu: It was needed for this season and I honestly wouldn't of minded seeing a couple more. Our schedule is very long but with three throwaway races it gives everyone that is running for the championship a couple of mulligan's and the chance to miss a race or two if there are more important issues going on.
RPM: Is there a lot of work setting up the car for the road race?
Beaulieu: There's a ton of work that goes into setting up the car for road racing, and it is necessary is you want to run up front. I won't get into too much detail but you have to basically square up the whole car and keep it as equal as you can to be fast on both the left and right handers. That track is very fast as well so you need to be sure that your motor is in best shape as possible as well.
RPM: What was it like to win the TNT Championship and the NELCAR Championship last season?
Beaulieu: It was just an incredible feeling and a huge relief. The Thursday Thunder championship had to of been one of the closest in history. We've worked so hard the past few years to get to that point, and especially getting to duel for the Thursday Thunder championship with Kevin Hutchens, whom I've raced against for years and we have a lot of respect for each other, just made it mean that much more. The NELCAR Championship just put a period on the great season that we had, and it's just an honor to be the champion of such a great series and I hope I can represent the series well this season as the defending champion. It's not just all about me though, I'm just lucky enough to drive the equipment that my dad, Derek and Jeff put a lot of hard work into. I feel like I've put myself in some pretty good company winning both in the same season, and we are looking to do the same this season.
RPM: As a driver what changes would you like to see in the NELCAR racing series?
Beaulieu: NELCAR has grown so much since I first got in in 2008, and while my dad is a part of that, he is not the only one as all the directors and tech officials have worked so hard to help the tour grow as much as it has. I know every time I have been asked this question that one of the issues I have brought up, has been solved and I honestly right now can't pick anything I'd like to see different. We'll see how the rest of this season goes but I'm very happy with the way the tour is going.
RPM: What is the key to getting around the road course at NHMS?
Beaulieu: One thing a lot of people don't realize is the physical and mental aspect of running a road course. On an oval there are essentially four marks you need to make, getting into both corners and getting out of both corners. On a road course there can be as much as 20 marks you have to hit each lap. It is a lot of hard work, but I've put a lot of emphasis into making myself better prepared for those races and run laps on the Iracing simulator, watch and read up on road course racing. Four races may not sound like many races, but if you can distance yourself from the field in those races, it could pay off big at the end of the year.
RPM: Do you prefer the Oval or the road course at NHMS?
Beaulieu: I'll be honest in saying that I prefer the road course racing at NHMS. It's just a different type of racing and a breath of fresh air the four times we run it. The oval is a very difficult track, with hard braking and fast straightaways and we've had a few good moments there, but it just doesn't fit my style of driving. However, it is still a good chunk of our schedule and we need to be on our “A” game at all these races, including the oval races at NHMS.
RPM: One of the biggest expenses of being a touring series is fuel getting back and forth to the track.
Beaulieu: Absolutely is, especially with the price of diesel as high as it is. We are fortunate though to not only be in the center of a lot of tracks we run at, but to also have great partners like Hancock Lumber, Beaulieu Construction, Copp Excavating, New England Legends Sales & Service and K&B Auto to help us to get to the track each week. We are always looking for more help to get to the tracks but it's just one of the expenses we have to go through. Hopefully a solution in either renewable energy or cheaper ways to get fossil fuel will help ease the pain at the pump, since it does have a direct effect on tours like ours, but until then we just have to cut back on certain things and get through it.