THOMPSON, Conn. - Martin Truex Jr. scored his second career Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring victory Saturday night by dominating the Pepsi Racing 150 at Thompson International Speedway. Truex, who turned 21 years old just three weeks ago,...
THOMPSON, Conn. - Martin Truex Jr. scored his second career Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring victory Saturday night by dominating the Pepsi Racing 150 at Thompson International Speedway. Truex, who turned 21 years old just three weeks ago, started fourth and took the lead from series point leader Mike Olsen on lap 52. Olsen won the Bud Pole, finished second in the race, and dramatically extended his point margin over Mike Johnson, who dropped out early and was scored 33rd.
Jamie Aube, Bryan Wall, and Dale Quarterley completed the top five, with Kelly Moore, Greg Schaefer, Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Race Joey McCarthy, Ted Christopher, and Brad Leighton making up the balance of the top ten.
The first win for second-generation New Jersey driver Truex had come one year and one week earlier, at New Hampshire International Speedway. For his first short track victory, Truex averaged 71.626 miles per hour while leading he last 99 laps. He scored the win without pitting for tires, and without shifting gears for the last half of the race when his gearshift lever broke off and fell on the floor. He was able to hold off Olsen on restarts at lap 99 and lap 115 while staying in fourth gear. Olsen closed on Truex in traffic with 25 laps to go, but in the final stages the tables were turned and Truex pulled away to win by over a second.
Strategically, the decisive moment came on lap 83, when Leighton, Aube, Quarterley, Moore, and Schaefer pitted for tires while Truex, Olsen, Wall, and surprise contender McCarthy chose to hold track position. Aube and Quarterley were the most successful in coming through the field on their fresh tires, but the caution they needed in the final stages never materialized.
Nine caution periods for 43 laps were concentrated in the middle stages, as 26 of 36 starters took the checkered flag with the top 12 on the lead lap. Truex earned the Gatorade Front Runner Award, and Tom Bolles received the Flowmaster Star of the Race Award for advancing from 30th on the grid to 12th at the finish.
Thompson's new asphalt produced a full second improvement in Bud Pole Qualifying times. Olsen's new track record stands at 109.776 miles per hour, as every driver making the field on time broke Dave Dion's former record. It was Olsen's second straight Bud Pole.
Mike Johnson entered the Pepsi Racing 150 trailing Olsen by only 19 points, but an early tangle left him with damage to the right front corner which forced him to park after only 49 laps. The difference between Olsen's second and Johnson's 33rd place points expanded Olsen's unofficial point lead to 125, while Moore moved to within 46 points of Johnson.