BNS: Lee USA: Tim Andrews race notes

Tim Andrews scores top-five finish to start Busch North Series Rookie of the Year campaign. Tim Andrews, of Concord, N.C., took the early lead in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings of the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch...

Tim Andrews scores top-five finish to start Busch North Series Rookie of the Year campaign.

Tim Andrews, of Concord, N.C., took the early lead in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings of the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series when he finished fourth in Sunday's Freedom 150 at the Lee (N.H.) USA Speedway in his Palermo/Moen Chevrolet.

Andrews has now run two Busch North races, recording finishes of sixth (at New Hampshire International Speedway in July 2002) and fourth.

Andrews' team tested at Lee the week preceding the race, and that testing time paid off. Andrews was fast in Sunday's practice, and posted the seventh-best qualifying lap in time trials. His time around the third-mile oval was 15.832 seconds.

At the start of the race, Andrews fell to tenth but that's the lowest position he ran in the entire race. He rebounded to ninth at the one-third distance mark. His big break came under a lap 61 caution, where most of the field pitted while Andrews stayed on the track. He moved all the way up to second, behind his J.T. Mase MotorSports teammate, Joey McCarthy.

The two ran nose-to-tail for the next 42 laps, with Andrews holding off the charges of fellow rookie Ryan Moore. But on lap 109, two of the leaders who were coming back from their pit stops caught Andrews and passed him, relegating him to fourth. He held strong in that position, though, turning away challenges of other cars with fresher tires, and crossed the checkers in fourth position, the best of the six rookies in the race.

"The car was working really good, and the guys were working so hard today," he said after the race. "The Palermo Chevy was running really nice all day. I was looking forward to just finishing the race, as long as I could finish this thing I knew we were going to be up there. I didn't expect a top five first time out of the box, our goal was just to finish races. To have a top five is just amazing.

"It was [crew chief] Jason Weissman's call to stay out when everyone else pitted," Andrews continued. "I was kind of doubting myself there for a while, but it was a good call. I didn't have to beat the car up too bad having to fight back through traffic, and we came out of it with a good result. We're going for the Rookie of the Year championship, and we've got a little headstart on the rest of the guys. It's a good start for the season, I just have to continue with this momentum."

Andrews' rookie year continues in two weeks with his first visit to Connecticut's Stafford Motor Speedway.

-ajc-

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