Despite Engine Problems, Moore earns a Top-10 Finish
Holland, NY - Racing in the "minor" leagues of NASCAR has its share of long road trips and sometimes even more distant ones back home after disappointing results on the track. There are no airplanes to shuttle the driver and teams back to its home, no, just a lot of free time to think about what could have been. This past week, Kelly Moore, driver of the Tic-Tac Pontiac on the Busch North Series, a NASCAR Touring Division, had those same thoughts as he prepared for the Chevy "Kick a Little" 150 at Holland International Speedway. "Our travel time to Holland is about the longest we face each year," said Moore. "There have been times when we haven't run well or had some bad luck at Holland and it seems like an eternity until we hit the Maine Turnpike." Moore, and many of his Busch North Series competitors, make their homes in the Northern New England area, nearly a 600-mile drive to the 3/8-mile Holland International Speedway. Moore was real happy with his performance on Saturday evening, a 10th place finish, his 3rd top-10 of the 1998 season, and did enjoy that long ride home.
Engine problems plagued the Tic-Tac team this weekend, something that is uncommon for the team and its Jack Tant prepared powerplants. First, a carburetor problem during practice sessions prevented the team from getting those valuable practice laps on the car, then with only 18 laps to go, the Pontiac Grand Prix developed a skip in the engine. "After our first practice, I thought we had a shot at winning the pole," explained Moore.
"But our team drew an early qualifying run and that not only hurt our team but others who usually qualify well." Moore was the 16th car to take the track for qualifying, ending up a disappointing 18th. With the exception of New Hampshire, the all-time Busch North Series pole champion has been unable to qualify his car consistently in the top-10.
"Our strategy going into this race was to run consistent laps, keep our nose clean and contend for the win," said the 1995 Busch North Series Champion. Moore did just that, moving into the top-10 within the first 30 laps. During a restart later in the event, Moore missed a shift and may have caused the initial engine damage. "There was some strategy being played on the restarts and I just missed a gear and over revved the engine." Moore explained.
While contending for position during the final 20 laps, Moore was hit from behind entering turn 1. While Moore brought the Pontiac Grand Prix under control, he lost several spots on the track. With only 16 laps to go, Moore's engine dropped a cylinder. But, Moore and his team fought it out over the remaining laps and earned a respectable 10th place finish. "We had a good race setup in the car, considering the lack of practice time we had," Moore continued, "this is just a good solid effort by the whole team.
I think we're real fortunate to come out of here with a good finish considering the engine and on-track problems. Jack Tant builds some outstanding engines, considering what we did to the engine early in the race, it lasted on eight almost the entire race."
The Busch North Series will enjoy a couple of weekends off, returning to race at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, ME on June 13th.