Dale Quarterley brings motivation and a winning combination to Lime Rock's Burnham Boilers 200 Busch North Championship finale Sat., Oct.12. LAKEVILLE. Conn. (October 3, 2002) -- The focus will be on the three-way championship battle among Andy...
Dale Quarterley brings motivation and a winning combination to Lime Rock's Burnham Boilers 200 Busch North Championship finale Sat., Oct.12.
LAKEVILLE. Conn. (October 3, 2002) -- The focus will be on the three-way championship battle among Andy Santerre, Matt Kobyluck, and Brad Leighton when the Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring stages its 2002 season finale at Lime Rock Park on Saturday, October 12. But everyone will keep a wary eye on the driver who enters the Burnham Boilers 200 eighth in the standings. Dale Quarterley is hungry, he has a plan, and he authored one of the greatest charges in series history to win this race in 2001.
For the tenth straight year, the scenic northwestern Connecticut road course plays host to the final act of the Busch North Series season, and for the first time since 1997, the title is really up for grabs, with Santerre leading Kobyluck by 38 points and Leighton by 80. Three practice sessions on Friday, October 11 will lead up to Bud Pole Qualifying at 4:35 p.m. using the Grand American method of qualifying in groups. Saturday's 82-lap, 125-mile race is set for a 2:15 p.m. green flag.
Dale Quarterley is only in position to better himself by two, or at most three spots in the standings. More important, he can wipe away the memory of his hard-luck loss in the most recent Busch North Series road race, at Watkins Glen, N.Y. this summer. There he dominated, only to run out of fuel during the extra laps necessary to achieve a green-white-checker finish as required by series rules. The Land O Lakes Chevrolet driver plans to use exactly the take-no-prisoners approach that won from the back of the field at Lime Rock in 2001, even though it may have cost him the win at Watkins Glen in 2002.
"We basically showed up last year with the mentality that we would try to lead every lap and go as fast as we could. If we broke, we'd lose the race on our own," he declared. "This year we're going to go with the same deal. I'm going to go as fast as I can go. If that puts me half a lap ahead at the end, great, if it puts me half a lap behind, we lost it on our own, not with anyone's help."
Quarterley's Watkins Glen misfortune arose from his reliance on the timed green flag pit stop common to most NASCAR teams on road courses. But his faith in stopping at a pre-determined point is not shaken. He explained, "Everybody yells at me for running out of gas, but if you pit under green, get serviced and go back out, you're fine. If a yellow comes out, and you pit, you aren't allowed to come back out until the last guy goes by. You could go from first to 30th. So you're racing the caution, not the other cars on the track. Road races breed cautions, because there are 12 turns out there where you can mess up."
"We've been trying to leave a four-lap cushion," he concluded. "We want to be good for at lest one green-white checker. As soon as we can put gas in and have a four-lap cushion, we'll pit."
The real reason for Quarterley's road course dominance doesn't have to do with tactics on pit road, but a strategy that encompasses the whole race weekend. In his 2001 Lime Rock victory, he was sent to the tail of the field for reporting late to the drivers meeting but took only 59 laps to pass the entire 36-car field. Of that race, Dale said forcefully, "I did feel I could pass anyone. We didn't sit on the pole for a reason. We spent every waking moment trying to make the car go the same speed from lap one to lap 82. Because of that, I was strong all day long instead of being wicked strong at the beginning and a little weak at the end. If you look at the race, we passed a bunch of people at the green, but then I started picking them off slowly, and at the end I started winging right by them again because everybody else fell off and we didn't."
While Dale Quarterley is firmly focused on his own race at Lime Rock, he offers an insight into the three title contenders, all of whom have shown road racing ability in the past although only Santerre has won on a road course. "Brad's been the strongest by far," he remarked of Leighton. "He's been there every time. Why he hasn't won a road race, nobody knows. Matt Kobyluck has really stepped up to the pump this year, too."
While he'd like to be part of the title chase, Dale Quarterley sees his chance to seize the spotlight, without the self-imposed handicap he overcame in 2001. "That's why we're going to do what we're going to do. We'll try to lead every lap and go as fast as we can go," he reiterated. "If they can keep up, great, and if they can't, we'll end up with it at the end."