NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, BUSCH NORTH SERIES POST-RACE NOTES Burnham Hydronics 200K presented by Mohegan Sun, Lime Rock Park, Sat., Oct. 1, 2005 Last week at Dover, Andy Santerre stated his bid for an unprecedented fourth straight Busch...
NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, BUSCH NORTH SERIES POST-RACE NOTES
Burnham Hydronics 200K presented by Mohegan Sun, Lime Rock Park, Sat., Oct. 1, 2005
Last week at Dover, Andy Santerre stated his bid for an unprecedented fourth straight Busch North Series title in dramatic fashion, edging Ryan Moore to win by a foot at the checkered flag. This week at Lime Rock, it was a workmanlike performance which gained him fourth place and brought the championship within reach.
Santerre enters next week's finale at Thompson International Speedway with a 75 point lead over teammate Mike Stefanik and a 94 point margin over Ryan Moore, who lost the runner-up position to Stefanik when he finished 13th at Lime Rock. If Stefanik runs the table at Thompson, winning the race and leading them most laps, Santerre needs to finish 17th to clinch the title. If Moore gains maximum points, Santerre needs a 23rd to clinch. The Thompson event will start 30 cars and has drawn nearly 40 entries.
* * *
The fact that Busch North Series racing is a team sport was shown over and over during the week of Lime Rock.
Three of the seven teams which participated in the open practice on Tuesday as part of the annual Burnham Hydronics 200K presented by Mohegan Sun media day left with damaged cars, including both cars backed by the race's title sponsors. Matt Kobyluck's Mohegan Sun Chevrolet received significant front end damage from hitting the wayward deer coming down the hill to the final turn, Brian Hoar's Goss Dodge team faced a major front end rebuild after collecting the guard rail avoiding Kobyluck's mishap, and Mike Stefanik's Burnham Hydronics Chevy was heavily damaged in a separate incident.
By the time the cars rolled out of their haulers on Friday morning, about 60 hours later, the Kobyluck and Hoar entries were repaired to look like new, and Stefanik's crew had prepared his short track car for road racing, changing almost the entire chassis and moving the fuel filler to the right side. Kobyluck would of course go on to win, Stefanik gained a top five finish, and Hoar set fastest time in two of three practice session, qualified fourth, and led the race briefly before breaking an axle.
Then in Friday's practice, Joey McCarthy charged a tire wall and crumpled the front end of the newly-bodied Tech Air Chevrolet. The radiator and oil cooler needed changing and the front sheet metal needed straightening and the application of yards of duct tape. The STI Motorsports team would have been excused from qualifying, but they thrashed to put McCarthy on the track and he responded with 11th fastest time and his best finish of the year, third, on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Dale Shaw lost the engine in the Waste Management/BG Environmental Chevy. Car owner Mark Willoughby borrowed a spare engine from Laine Chase and the team installed it overnight. Their efforts were rewarded as Shaw drove from last in the field to ninth at the finish, earning $1,000 for the POWERade Power Move of the Race Award.
During the race, both Dale Quarterley's and Scott Bouley's crews took cars that had sustained major sheet metal damage and got them back on the track.
* * *
Bill Penfold loves road racing, and now he loves the beneficiary rule which moves the first car off the lead lap back onto the lead lap at every caution flag. After leading a lap and running solidly in the top ten, Penfold lost two laps on pit road at lap 45. Because the rest of the field was either on the lead lap or many laps down, Penfold was the beneficiary two caution periods in a row, regaining the lead lap and going on to a strong eighth place finish. It was only the second Busch North race of the year for the colorful and popular Maine driver, who traded his traditional blue and white with orange numbers for a solid silver paint job.
* * *
West Coast driver Todd Souza learned Lime Rock's secrets quickly and was running seventh when he was involved in a turn 1 restart tangle that peeled the sheet metal away from his right rear wheel. He lost two laps and finished 16th.
* * *
Another excellent but unrewarded performance was turned in by Long Islander Doug Krpata. The occasional Busch North competitor was briefly as high as sixth but engine trouble left him stranded in Lime Rock's outback with less than ten laps to go, bringing out the final caution.
Milestones... Runner-up Mike Olsen joined third-place Joey McCarthy in recording their best finishes, and first podium finishes, of the year. In the road racing tradition, Lime Rock really has a podium in victory lane for the top three... Eddie MacDonald's sixth place broke a string of three races outside the top 20... On the other hand, Mike Johnson's streak of woe continues. After starting the year with six straight top tens, the Johnson Lumber team hasn't seen a single-digit finish in six races... Bryon Chew took over sixth place in the point standings, the best ever for the Chew Crew this late in the season... Sean Caisse is now eighth in points. The last Sunoco Rookie to finish that high was Mike Johnson in 2000... Ryan Moore was out of the top ten for the first time since the season opener. He did keep alive his streak of leading seven straight races... Kip Stockwell was the first car out of the race and paid for it in the standings, dropping form 12th to 15th. He still leads Scott Bouley and Jeff Anton by over 100 points for the final invitation to the 3rd annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale (Calif,) Speedway in November.