NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, BUSCH NORTH SERIES POST-RACE NOTES MBNA RacePoints 150, Dover International Speedway, Friday, September 23, 2005 How close was the Dover finish between Andy Santerre and Ryan Moore? The best view in the house...
NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, BUSCH NORTH SERIES POST-RACE NOTES
MBNA RacePoints 150, Dover International Speedway, Friday, September 23, 2005
How close was the Dover finish between Andy Santerre and Ryan Moore? The best view in the house was from the flagstand, and this is how Busch North Series chief starter Shawn Houlihan described it: "It was at the limit of what you can determine with your own eyes. If it were any closer, we would have had to go to the video replay or the scoring monitor."
No one has, at the time of writing, come up with a closer finish at Dover or on the Busch North Series. The closest previous electronically-timed Busch North finish is the 0.109 seconds by which Brad Leighton beat Andy Santerre at NHIS in September 2003. The closest Dover finish is probably the May 1984 NASCAR Busch Series race in which Sam Ard edged Ron Bouchard by a couple of feet.
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Youth was served at Dover as four of the top five drivers were under the age of 25: Ryan Moore (22), Sean Caisse (19), Ryan Seaman (22), and Tim Andrews (22). Andy Santerre was only exaggerating slightly when he claimed the ages of Moore and Caisse added together would be less than his his own age! The Dover winner and three-time champion isn't quite ready for the rocking chair two weeks after observing his 37th birthday.
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Due to the bonus points awarded to race leaders, Santerre and Moore scored the same number of points at Dover. As the winner, Santerre received 175 points plus the 5-point bonus awarded to all lap leaders, giving him 180 for his day's work. Moore scored 170 points for second, 5 points for leading laps, and another 5 points for leading the most laps, also adding up to 180.
Because of their equal points at Dover, Santerre stayed 58 points ahead of Moore. However, Santerre's teammate Mike Stefanik fell to third in the standings, 70 points behind, after his ninth place finish with a car whose handling he called "evil". All that arithmetic means Santerre increased his series lead from 33 (over Stefanik) to 58 (over Moore).
Moore can score a maximum of 370 points in the two remaining races. Santerre needs an average finish slightly better than fifth to clinch his fourth straight title if Moore runs the table, winning and leading the most laps at Lime Rock next weekend and again at Thompson on October 8.
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With the win under his belt, Santerre spoke in detail about his recent back surgery, performed during the three-week break between the Fisher Snow Plows 150 at Oxford, Maine on August 27 and the Sylvania 125 at NHIS on September 16. The ruptured disc had caused pressure on the sciatic nerve causing him to lose feeling in his left leg. The operation took place as soon as he returned to North Carolina from Maine, but he never sat in the race car until two days before practice at NHIS.
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Any doubts about Sean Caisse's extraordinary talents were dissolved at Dover as he fought on even terms for the lead with Ryan Moore most of the way and finished third, the best of his 12-race career and the best of car owner Barney McRae's 16 years in the Busch North Series. It also turned around a streak of three bad finishes, going back to Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., where he won his first career Busch Pole but crashed on oil from a blown engine while leading, That streak of bad luck had seen the consistent John Salemi erode Caisse's once massive point lead in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings by leading the rookie finishers for three straight races.
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Right behind Caisse came last year's Sunoco Rookie winner, Ryan Seaman, like Caisse scoring his first career top five. Seaman was a star in qualifying as well, nailing down third spot in the lineup after convincing himself to hold his foot to the floor all the way around!
Taking the final green flag tenth at lap 141, he passed some of the best in the business- Matt Kobyluck, Dale Quarterley, and Ted Christopher among them- to wind up fourth. "I drove it like I was time trialing it. I didn't touch the brake. I just let it sail into the corners and I was off," he explained.
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NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series front-runner Brett Thompson told HDNet he watched races from Dover on television and it looked like a neat place to race. With that motivation, his family team set out from Jerome, Idaho across the continent to tackle the "Monster Mile". His first Dover thrill came when the Rich Thompson Trucking team hauler entered the track. The haulers make a sharp turn on the 11-degree banking of the\back straight in order to reach the garage area, and Brett was sure the big rig would roll over! It didn't, and he went on to post an impressive 10th place finish. He even led laps under the green flag when he stopped once for two tires under caution while most of the other lead lap cars stopped a second time to complete a four-tire change.
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Tracy Gordon, who had won the POWERade Power Move of the race Award at NHIS for moving from 34th to 7th, again showed his ability to pass cars at Dover, racing from 13th to the outside front row on the lap 93 restart. He actually led part of a lap without being scored as the leader at the line, but bounced off the turn four wall shortly after, earning the unofficial Great Save award for straightening the car out. He went to the garage for repairs and finished 20th.
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Milestones... Ryan Moore's new track record at Dover, 149.800 miles per hour, is the fastest on the Busch North Series by margin of over 22 mph! It marked only the second existing track record broken since the minimum weight was raised to 3300 pounds... Tim Andrews notched his first top five finish of the season in only his second start... Ryan Seaman moved into the top ten in the point standings for the first time in his two-year career... Andrews and Brett Thompson became the 28th and 29th drivers to achieve a top ten finish in 2005... Mike Olsen was out of the top ten for the second straight time, but only the third time all season... At the other end of the scale, Mike Johnson missed the top ten for the fifth straight race after starting the season with six top tens and Eddie MacDonald was 20th or worse for the third straight time despite his best career qualifying run, outside the front row. Both Johnson and MacDonald have been fast but totally without luck in recent weeks.