Thompson, CT (July 12, 2003) -- Paul Wolfe and the Tops Friendly Markets Racing Team had a car to be excited about for the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series Pepsi Racing 150 at Thompson International Speedway on Saturday, July ...
Thompson, CT (July 12, 2003) -- Paul Wolfe and the Tops Friendly Markets Racing Team had a car to be excited about for the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series Pepsi Racing 150 at Thompson International Speedway on Saturday, July 12.
The Tops Dodge was handling extremely well early, and Wolfe moved from a 13th place start up to the eighth position a third of the way through the race. He was also running lap times faster than those of the race leaders and was primed for a move into the top five.
Unfortunately for the team, an accident on lap 57 turned the excitement into disappointment and eventually led to a 22nd place finish. In the middle of turn one, Wolfe and the No. 45 car of Brian Hoar made contact, and the Tops Dodge was sent spinning into the wall between turns one and two. The racecar, which backed hard into the wall, sustained extensive damage. The Pure Power pit crew was able to keep Wolfe on the lead lap, but the Tops Dodge was now near the back of the 32-car field.
"I was driving my line in turn one and the next thing I knew I was turned around and backing into the wall," Wolfe said. "This is especially disappointing to us because we had a top five car tonight."
The night became worse for Wolfe on lap 74 when the Tops Dodge was forced to come in for a green flag pit stop to remove a damaged track bar. The track bar broke loose from the crumpled rear end and was dangling on the track from the rear of the racecar. As a result, Wolfe was now a lap down.
If the spin was bad and the forced pit stop worse, then what happened next was the nail in the coffin for the Tops Racing Team's chance at a solid finish. While trying to get back on the lead lap on lap 90, Wolfe and race leader Tom Carey, Jr. made contact, and Wolfe backed off so Carey could continue on. However, NASCAR officials penalized Wolfe with a stop-and-go on the next lap, causing him to go down another lap.
"I was just trying to get my lap back," Wolfe said. "As soon as I rubbed a little with Carey, I pulled back several positions. The last thing I wanted to do was take out the race leader. It was unfortunate we had to come in because it took us out of a position for a decent finish."
Wolfe remains 15th in Busch North points. Carey won both the Bud Pole Award and the race. Andy Santerre, Martin Truex, Jr, Matt Kobyluck and Mike Johnson rounded out the top-five.
Tops Markets, LLC is one of six retail operating companies under Ahold USA, one of the leading supermarket operations in the U.S. Tops currently operates 159 Tops Friendly Markets and 204 convenience stores in New York, Pennsylvania and northeast Ohio. The Tops Racing Team's associate sponsors for the Thompson race were Georgia Pacific, Brawny, Dixie and Colton RV.
Tommy Baldwin Racing North (TBRN), a subsidiary of Tommy Baldwin Racing, operates the No. 9 Tops Dodge. TBRN is co-owned by Tommy Baldwin and Eddie D'Hondt.
For updated information about Wolfe and the Tops Racing Team, visit www.paulwolfe.net.