Tire problems plague Moore at Lee USA Speedway. Lee, NH -- The 2002 Busch North Series season opener at Lee USA Speedway was an extremely frustrating experience for Kelly Moore and his NAPA Auto Parts/Village CandleÂ® team. One week ago before...
Tire problems plague Moore at Lee USA Speedway.
Lee, NH -- The 2002 Busch North Series season opener at Lee USA Speedway was an extremely frustrating experience for Kelly Moore and his NAPA Auto Parts/Village Candle® team. One week ago before the 150-lap race, Moore completed a very successful test at the .375 mile oval and was optimistic about his chances for winning a second time at Lee. Moore did his part during the afternoon qualifying session where he sat atop the leader board until Mile Olsen dropped him to second fastest by scorching the previous track record and winning the Bud Pole award. The traditional redraw for the top qualifiers placed Moore fourth on the starting grid.
Dale Quarterly and Mike Olsen were the early race leaders, but Moore's Chevrolet Monte Carlo was keeping step with them as he raced by Quarterly and began to close quickly on race leader Olsen. Just as Moore prepared to pass the race leader, Moore felt a vibration in the right rear which forced his attention back to his race car and not on race leader Olsen. Moore circled the track a couple more laps before it became obvious that the team would have to pit to change the right side tires. Just as Moore approached his pit stall, the yellow flag was thrown. Crew chief Jamie Lorfano quickly advised Moore to continue through pit lane and get back on the racing groove. Unfortunately, bad luck hit the team twice within a few minutes as Olsen was able to beat Moore to the finish line and put the 1995 Busch North Series champion a lap down.
Once pit lane was opened for lapped traffic, the NAPA Auto Parts/Village Candle® pit crew promptly removed right side tires and replaced them with a set used for pre-race practice earlier in the day. Moore returned to the track and resumed his challenge to the front but as luck would have it, he cut another tire on the right side. This time Moore was able to pit under caution and once again changed the right side tires.
After fighting his way back through traffic, Moore felt he earned a break when a majority of race cars on the lead lap pitted just past the halfway point. The round of pit stops moved Moore closer to the front and in a better position where he could challenge the race leader and move back onto the lead lap. Crew Chief Lorfano attempted to cut a deal with race leader Kobyluck's team, allowing Moore to race past him on the next restart but that never materialized due to miscommunication. Within three laps of the restart, another caution flag was thrown and Moore's opportunity to get his lap had vanished. "If we were able to get past Matt Kobyluck on that restart, we would have pitted and put on our one set of stickers," said Moore. "We ran the entire race of used right side tires and never really got a chance to show how stout the car was."
Eventual race winner Andy Santeree, Olsen and others who had pitted for right side tires were able to get past Kobyluck, who decided not to pit. Moore, stuck with his worn tires for the entire afternoon ended up posting a 12th place finish, one lap down to the field.
"We had some bad luck today, while I'm not pleased with the outcome, I am pleased with what our team accomplished," Moore said. "We've got a couple of new team members and they all worked together really well, we had an excellent setup and probably one of the best race cars that I've ever had here at Lee, but due to circumstances we just couldn't show it."
Moore was among several competitors that encountered tire problems and offered his opinion on the debut of the Goodyear racing tires. "The tires are softer and pick up debris easier then the tires we've used in the past," stated Moore. "We cut two tires today, right in the center of the tire. Were not to happy about that."
After a few weeks off, the Busch North Series teams will tackle the 1-mile superspeedway at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, NH on May 11.