LAKEVILLE, Conn. (October 8, 2002)-- Andy Santerre is in the drivers seat to win his first Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring championship this Saturday in the 10th annual Burnham Boilers 200 at Lime Rock Park, although Matt Kobyluck and Brad ...
LAKEVILLE, Conn. (October 8, 2002)-- Andy Santerre is in the drivers seat to win his first Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring championship this Saturday in the 10th annual Burnham Boilers 200 at Lime Rock Park, although Matt Kobyluck and Brad Leighton both have hopes of pulling off an upset in the closest point race since 1997. Meanwhile, two lucrative special awards, the Gatorade Front Runner and Flowmaster Star of the Race, remain to be decided entering the series finale.
The Burnham Boilers 200 is set for a 2:15 p.m. green flag on Saturday for 82 laps over the 1.53 mile road course which has served as the venue for the last Busch North race of the season every year since 1993. Defending race winner Dale Quarterley, two-time Lime Rock victor Bryan Wall, and 1997 winner Ted Christopher are all part of the entry list of nearly 45 teams who will seek 36 starting positions in Bud Pole qualifying on Friday afternoon.
Santerre holds a lead of 38 points over Kobyluck and 80 points over Leighton, with the winner earning 180 points. There is a 10-point drop to second place, five points per position from second through sixth, four points per position from sixth through eleventh, and three points per position from eleventh through last place. No bonus points are awarded for leading laps in the Busch North Series.
Of course, the easiest way for Santerre to assure his first Busch North title is to finish ahead of Kobyluck and Leighton in the Burnham Boilers 200. Barring that, he needs to finish at least seventh if Kobyluck wins, or within eight spots if Kobyluck is second or below. If Leighton wins, Santerre needs only to finish 20th to close him out, or within 22 positions if Leighton is second or worse. It sounds simple, but Santerre well remembers 1996. That year at Lime Rock he was in a position to overtake Dave Dion for the title, only to flip his car while racing for the lead.
Santerre is also in contention for the Gatorade Front Runner Award of $7,500, which recognizes race leadership during the season. However, he trails 2001 Busch North Series champion Mike Olsen and can only overtake Olsen by leading the most laps at Lime Rock. If Olsen prevails, it will be his second straight Gatorade Front Runner title.
The Flowmaster Star of the Race contest, which rewards the driver who makes the greatest improvement from start to finish, is wide open. Kip Stockwell goes into Lime Rock with a one-point lead over Greg Schaefer for the $7,500 award, while Tracy Gordon and Carey Heath are outside contenders.
The other two sponsored Busch North Series special driver awards have already been clinched. Martin Truex Jr, is the Bud Pole champion for 2002, while Robbie Harrison is the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year.
The 2002 Busch North Series champion and all the top 20 finishers in the standings, as well as the special award winners, will be honored during the 2002 Awards Ceremony on Saturday, November 9, at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, Mass.