Napa 150 June 22 1997 NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National North Division Thompson International Speedway, Thompson, CT
Thirty six NASCAR Busch North cars took the green on a hot but otherwise pleasant evening at Thompson Speedway for their eighth event of the 1997 season, led by 1995 BGNN Champion Kelly Moore and 1994 Champion Dale Shaw, with fast time-trialer Jerry Marquis starting in sixth due to the traditional re-drawing of starting positions among the top qualifiers.
Streaking off to an early lead was Moore with Shaw in tow, followed by Martin Truex, Andy Santerre who soon lost fourth to Marquis, Dave Dion, Mike Stefanik, Mike Olsen, Jeff Barry and Brad Leighton. ON lap ten Marquis took third from Truex and set off after the lead duo. This battle lasted to lap 19 when the first yellow of the night flew for a tangle in turn three between Tom Fox and Lee Sherwood, with Dennis Demers getting slightly involved trying to work his way through. As the caution flew, Tom Carey Jr. pitted with the crew checking out the rear axle. Also pitting under this yellow were Sherwood, Fox, Robbie Crouch, Demers, Phil Rondeau, Eric Bodine and Tim Zock. The running order under yellow was Moore, Shaw, Marquis, Santerre, Truex, Dion, Stefanik, Olsen, Barry, and Leighton.
Racing resumed at lap 23 and taking advantage of the restart was Dion who took fifth from Truex, and Olsen taking seventh from Stefanik. Three laps after the restart the yellow would fly again for Jason Manafort's spin in turn three, and under this yellow Scott Bouley pitted.
On the lap 29 restart Shaw stayed on Moore's outside for an entire lap and coming out of turn two on lap 30, Shaw was pinched against the outside wall and hit hard. He drove to the pits but was done for the day, and Moore was black-flagged to the pit area where he reported, only to return to the race at the end of the pack. Also pitting were Bouley, Manafort and Gege Gravel. The running order up front was shuffled so now it looked like: Marquis, Santerre, Dion, Truex, Olsen, Stefanik, Barry, Leighton, Tom Bolles and Bob Dragon.
Lap 34 saw the next restart and Marquis ran off with the lead followed by Santerre and Dion, while behind those Olsen and Stefanik were fighting for fifth, with Stefanik getting it. On lap 39 Joe Barnes hit the wall down the front straightaway and pitted with broken right front suspension, done for the night. A couple laps later Jamie Aube pitted and the crew went under the hood. Back in the pack there was a side-by-side battle for ninth, with Dragon taking the position from Bolles.
At the fifty lap mark Marquis was still leading Santerre, with Dion, Truex, Stefanik, Olsen, Dragon, Leighton, Bolles, and Barry in tow. Bolles took eighth from Leighton shortly afterwards, and Barry surrendered tenth to Ricky Fuller. Truex and Stefanik engaged in a race for fourth, and Bolles was also battling Dragon again for eighth. Next move was Fuller's, moving Leighton to tenth, and then on lap 66 Truex took third place from Dion.
It took a while, but at the halfway mark Kelly Moore resurfaced in the top ten after his penalty, and while he was making that move Dion started going backwards, first being overtaken by Stefanik and then Olsen, while Fuller got by Dragon for ninth.
This great racing was halted by a yellow flag on lap 83 for an altercation going into turn one that left Bob Dragon with a bent-up nose on his Pontiac. He pitted along with Lou Rettenmeier, Leighton, Dion, Gravel, Tracy Gordon, Barry, Herb Drugg, Demers, Bryan Wall, Sherwood, Rondeau, Bodine, Crouch, Jarred Robie and Gravel. The running order under yellow was Marquis, Santerre, Truex, Stefanik, Olsen, Bolles, Fuller, Moore, Stub Fadden and Dennis Doyle.
On the lap 88 restart Truex battled Santerre for second and took the position, while behind these two Stefanik and Olsen were battling when Bolles jumped into the battle and passed Olsen for fifth. Leighton re-entered the top ten as the 90 lap mark passed.
On lap 98 Mike Olsen slowed in the Little Trees Pontiac and headed pitside, where he retired with a broken engine. Ricky Fuller took his place in sixth, followed by Moore and Leighton. At the lap 100 mark the front of the field was Marquis, Truex, Santerre, Stefanik, Bolles, Fuller, Moore, Leighton, Dion, and Barry who then lost tenth to Rondeau.
On lap 108 yellow flew again for Glen Brehio's solo spin in turn two. Pitting were Doyle, Crouch, Bodine, Gravel, Brehio, Sherwood, and Fox. The running order under yellow was Marquis, Truex, Santerre, Stefanik, Bolles, Fuller, Moore, Leighton, Dion and Rondeau.
The restart on lap 112 saw the front of the pack stay static but behind them there was a scramble as Rondeau moved from ninth to seventh, mixing it up with Moore, Leighton and Barry. Gege Gravel coasted to the pits with a broken engine, and soon Leighton was pushed out of the top ten.
A side by side battle between Fuller and Rondeau was interrupted on lap 124 by Jeff Barry's hard contact with the outside wall coming out of turn two, and Rondeau somehow spun in turn four as the caution waved. Barry was done for the night while Leighton, Doyle, Sherwood and Crouch pitted. The running order under yellow was Marquis, Truex, Santerre, Stefanik, Bolles, Fuller, Dion, Fadden, and Bryan Wall.
Back to racing on lap 129 found Bolles move around Stefanik for fourth, with Stefanik next falling to Fuller, as behind them Fadden moved around Dion for eighth, only to see Dion strike back and move all the way up to seventh at the expense of Moore. Tracy Gordon made his first appearance in the top ten, and with ten to go fought with Fadden for ninth, getting that and allowing Rondeau to sneak around Fadden as well for tenth. Eric Bodine relinquished his lead lap status when he suffered a flat right front tire.
With three laps to go in the scheduled distance Tom Bolles made a desperate dive to get under Andy Santerre for third in the third turn, pushing up into Santerre's door and sending Santerre spinning into the fourth turn wall. Caution came out as Santerre refired and joined the field as the last car on the lead lap. Bodine pitted under this yellow along with Russ Hersey.
The green-white-checker finish was pretty much anticlimactic as Marquis and Truex streaked off away from Bolles, and the two finished first and second. The unofficial finish was as follows:
1. (6) 15 Jerry Marquis, Broadbrook CT, Chevrolet 2. (3) 56 Martin Truex, Mayetta NJ, Chevrolet 3. (13) 76 Tom Bolles, Ellington CT, Pontiac 4. (32) 84 Ricky Fuller, Auburn MA, Chevrolet 5. (5) 51 Mike Stefanik, Coventry RI, Chevrolet 6. (8) 29 Dave Dion, Hudson NH, Ford 7. (23) 74 Tracy Gordon, Strong ME, Pontiac 8. (1) 47 Kelly Moore, Scarborough ME, Pontiac 9. (21) 19 Phil Rondeau, Baltic CT, Chevrolet 10. (22) 16 Stub Fadden, N. Haverhill NH, Chevrolet
----------------------------------- Information on this race and a whole lot more about the NASCAR Busch Grand National North (BGNN) Series can be found on the web at http://www.bgnn.com
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Alan J. Claffie PARSIMONIOUS PRODUCTIONS aclaffie 'at' bgnn.com Southern New England Correspondent for "The Racin' Paper" Unofficial NASCAR Busch North Site: http://www.bgnn.com