Burnham Boilers 200, Lime Rock Park, Lakeville, Conn., Sat., Oct. 26 The Burnham Boilers 200 finally went into the books on the third try, albeit in shortened form, thanks to the patience and effort of the Busch North Series teams and officials,...
Burnham Boilers 200, Lime Rock Park, Lakeville, Conn., Sat., Oct. 26
The Burnham Boilers 200 finally went into the books on the third try, albeit in shortened form, thanks to the patience and effort of the Busch North Series teams and officials, as well as the Lime Rock Park staff. The Connecticut Valley BMW Club, who had rented the track for the day, did their part to help the drying process, reminiscent of the role played by the Flying Tigers at Thunder Road back in 2000, the most recent edition of "The Busch North Race That Would Not End".
Three weekends to run one race tied the Lime Rock record set in 1995, but the race seven years ago was actually run in November. For a while, it looked like that record was in jeopardy...
Andy Santerre's championship margin over Matt Kobyluck- nine points- is the third closest in Busch North Series history. Joey Kourafas edged Chuck Bown by just five points in the series inaugural year of 1987, and Dick McCabe topped Joe Bessey by six points in 1992.
That favorite topic of Allen and Benny and Wally, "If the race ended now, X would take over the point lead from Y," can be applied to the Lime Rock event as well. If the race had ended with the lap 28 red flag, there would be no points scored because it would not have been an official race. Realistically, if it had ended at the halfway mark, Santerre (16th) would have led Kobyluck (13th) by 29 points. At the last green flag on lap 57, Kobyluck was ninth and Santerre 14th; giving Santerre a hypothetical 21-point margin.
Since Kobyluck moved to sixth in the final green flag segment while Santerre didn't advance, the Mohegan Sun team would certainly have liked to see more laps run, but daylight was fading even faster than the 6:00 p.m. curfew was approaching. In the interests of both safety and fairness to all competitors, NASCAR officials set a limit before the final green was shown.
The 2002 Busch North Series King of the Road is Denny Doyle. The Sta-Rite Chevrolet driver, a short track racer in the best NASCAR tradition, was second at Watkins Glen and first at Lime Rock. Since 1993, eleven drivers have won the 20 Busch North road course events, led by Bryan Wall with five.
Doyle is the eleventh Busch North Series race winner in the 19 race sesaon, but only the second to score his maiden win in 2002. Eddie MacDonald, at Beech Ridge, is the other.
Less than half a second from his first win was Bryon Chew. A year ago, Chew was known for his qualifying prowess. This season, the team put its emphasis on race performance, and his race finishes improved dramatically.
Statistics don't lie, but sometimes they don't tell the whole story, either. The race report shows one caution period from laps 25 to 49 of the Burnham Boilers 200. In fact, the caution was displayed on lap 25 for debris on the track, specifically, a lead weight on the uphill portion of the track. It began raining during that caution, and the red flag was called with 28 laps completed. Track drying consumed laps 29 through 49.
While the drying process was nearing conclusion, NASCAR officials were in lap-to-lap contact with drivers regarding the track conditions. Of note, the drivers consulted repeatedly were front-running veterans who were not in contention for the championship or the race win, i.e., drivers who had little or no vested interest in hurrying up or delaying the return to green flag to improve their own chances.
Mike Olsen clinched the seasonal Gatorade Front Runner Award of $7,500 when Andy Santerre didn't lead the most laps. Olsen finished with 14 Gatorade points to 12 for Santerre.
The outgoing Busch North champion also made two remarkable saves in the early laps at Lime Rock. Spinning in the esses, he kept the car going in reverse across the wet grass, staying on the lead lap and not drawing a caution. Moments later, he changed lines exiting the downhill turn to miss a spun out Liane Lombardi.
Kip Stockwell wrapped up the Flowmaster Star of the Race honors for 2002 and its $7,500 check when Greg Schaefer was not among the three top position-gainers at Lime Rock. Schaefer picked up four spots, but Denny Doyle advanced 22 places, Paul Wolfe 21 spots, and John Wall Sr. 16 positions. Stockwell edged Schaefer in Flowmaster points, 12-11.
Two qualified teams did not appear at Lime Rock this weekend due to prior commitments- the #22 of Joey McCarthy and the #45 of Brian Hoar. By NASCAR rules, they were scored 35th and 36th with zero laps completed, and were awarded prize money and points for those positions.
Billy Ryder's last scheduled race before retiring as Busch North Series chief starter saw him spending many laps on the track, just like the old days. This time, Billy was directing cars where to run through the wet spots.