Mike Gallo Enjoys Career Weekend at NHIS: Qualifies Second, Finishes Fifth (Loudon, N.H. - Sept. 20, 2004) - Mike Gallo had the best NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series race of his career at New Hampshire International Speedway in...
Mike Gallo Enjoys Career Weekend at NHIS: Qualifies Second, Finishes Fifth
(Loudon, N.H. - Sept. 20, 2004) - Mike Gallo had the best NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series race of his career at New Hampshire International Speedway in the rain-delayed Sylvania 125 Presented by Lowe's. The weekend started on Thursday with his qualifying on the outside pole in his unsponsored JBR Racing Ford Taurus, and it finished at noon on Monday as he crossed the finish line in fifth place.
In the only practice session held before the race, Gallo recorded the sixth fastest lap of the 39 cars entered, despite never making a test qualifying run with fresh tires and taped-up grille. When the qualifying session rolled around, Gallo's success in the Jim Burgess-owned Ford, whose crew was led by Steve Bird, continued with an outside pole run.
"We had four messed-up shocks that were just totally throwing us a curve ball in practice, and we were chasing a bad-handling car not knowing what the problem was," Gallo said afterwards. "Then we got another set of shocks on it, and the car came alive. We had the same setup we had in July with just a couple of changes in the front end from last time, and the car responded excellent. I gave it all I had in time trials. I drove it in deep and she stuck, and I'll tell you I didn't leave anything on the table.
"I'm looking forward to the race," he continued. "I think we're going to have a great race car and I think we can surprise a lot of people if we can get the top-five finish I know we're capable of. These next two weeks are very important to this race team. I hope we run well enough to attract a sponsor. We're a team of volunteers and with very little backing, and we beat a lot of high-dollar race teams. We really showed what we're made of, and we're not done yet."
Saturday's race day started out with steady rain that first washed out the final practice scheduled for that morning, then eventually caused the race itself to be postponed to Monday.
Gallo started the race in second but fell to third in the opening laps, settling in until a competition caution was thrown on lap 35. He returned to the race in that position with fresh right-side tires and enough gas to get to the finish. He moved up to second following a lap 49 restart, and started hounding the leading car of Kelly Moore. On lap 82, he got his opening and took the lead from Moore heading into the first turn. He held that lead until lap 107, when eventual race winner Andy Santerre passed him in turn three.
Despite losing second gear and a car that was becoming very loose, Gallo held his ground through a pair of yellows in the race's closing laps, giving up a handful of spots in the race's final six laps but remaining in the top five, finishing fifth.
"It's just a career day," he said after the race. "I led laps at Loudon, drove by Kelly Moore and Paul Wolfe cleanly, and leading those laps in front of this field it reminded me of the good old days when I used to win features at Lee USA Speedway every Friday night. To run up front with these guys, with no sponsors and no full-time guys, was fantastic. I really thought we had a shot there for a while. It's real tough staying focused up there, though. This is only my second race this year, but we qualified on the outside pole and finished fifth. I really think we opened some eyes to this team.
It gets me really excited to go to Dover next week, where Birdie's got eight wins," Gallo continued. "We've got a better piece to take there, too. The engine ran absolutely flawless today, the crew did a magical job, too. The car got real loose with ten laps to go, though, and I was just hanging on at that point. I couldn't race under those conditions, but to be that bad at the end of the race and still come home fifth, that's fantastic. I was smart, I made sure I kept my cool because I wanted to show that I could run up front at a track like this in front of a field like this. I just wanted to run everyone clean and let them know that I could run with them. We're going to go home, get ready for Dover, and get them there. We've got some good momentum going to Dover, and I'm excited to be going there."
Dover International Speedway hosts the next Busch North race, with practice and qualifying scheduled to take place this Thursday and the race going green late Friday afternoon.