NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series Post-Race Notes
Toyota All-Star Showdown, Irwindale Speedway, Irwindale, Calif., Sat., Nov. 13
NASCAR's scoring review of the Grand National Division at the Toyota All-Star Showdown produced several changes in the top ten positions when the official results were posted on Monday. Tim Woods III of the West Series was penalized 45 seconds for failure to reduce speed during a caution period, dropping him from 5th to 13th in the official results. The other changes, which moved Mike Duncan of the West Series ahead of Bobby Dragon and placed Mike Olsen behind Kelly Moore, reflected positions on the track at the finish and did not involve penalties. The official finish for the NASCAR Grand National Division, Toyota All-Star Showdown appears at the end of these notes.
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During the 2000 Busch North Series season, Mike Johnson and Martin Truex Jr, dueled all summer long for the rookie title. Both ended their freshman season with a race win and a Busch Pole, with Johnson edging Truex for the first-year honors.
On November 13, 2004, both Johnson and Truex achieved their greatest success so far, as Johnson won the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway in southern California while Truex clinched the NASCAR Busch Series championship at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.
Congratulations are in order to Mike and Albert Johnson, Jason Janvrin, and everyone at Johnson Racing as well as Martin Truex Jr., Kevin 'Bono' Manion, and the staff at Dale Earnhardt Inc.
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It was a big improvement over the inaugural Toyota All-Star Showdown for both Johnson and runner-up Matt Kobyluck. Last year Johnson left with a wrecked car and 27th place money after an accident on lap 71, while Kobyluck was 12th.
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While Johnson and Kobyluck were at the head of the class on Saturday night when the money was on the line, both had a dismal qualifying night on Friday. Johnson, who had been third fastest in Thursday practice behind David Gilliland of the West Series and Ryan Moore, could do not better than 12th, while Kobyluck, who halted Thursday's second session by coating the track with rear-end lubricant, finished just behind. They would advance to seventh (Kobyluck) and eighth (Johnson) during the first 100 laps. The draw of an eight-place inversion gave them the front row for the final 50 laps. Kobyluck won the POWERade Power Move of the Race Award (26th to second) by one place over Johnson (24th to first).
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Joey McCarthy made no secret of his desire to improve on 2003, when he led all 100 laps of the first segment but finished sixth in the final results. This time he was the biggest mover of all in the closing laps. He spun in turn one with less than 15 laps to go while running sixth but came all the way back to get third. McCarthy's car for the Showdown, first as the STI Motorsports #8 and later as the Trim Spa #64, ran 12 of the 13 regular season races, missing only Dover.
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Bobby Dragon's fifth place in the Showdown, following a fifth in his qualifying race, came in the first race west of Indianapolis in his 40-year career. It was also a major success for Mark Willoughby's Waste Management/BG Environmental team, which ran the full Busch North Series schedule for the first time in 2004.
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Dale Quarterley was a prime pick for victory after his Busch North regular season-ending win at Dover and his strong second in the West Series finale at Irwindale two weeks ago. He battled West Series driver Brett Thompson side-by-side for second in his qualifying race, losing by half a car length. Then the problems began. Metal found in the oil filter meant an engine change, which of course meant dropping to the tail of the field on the pace lap.
Racing in heavy traffic on the second lap he spun without drawing a caution but was lapped by leader David Gilliland on the 20th circuit. The rest of the first segment was a series of pit stops and attempts to regain the lead lap on restarts, without success. The final segment began with lapped cars behind everyone remaining on the lead lap, so Quarterley was effectively resigned to one-lap down status. The heavy attrition up front helped him finish 10th.
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Mechanical disaster slapped two of the Busch North Series' best teams within minutes of the start. Mike Stefanik slowed and pitted after just seven laps. Then, incredibly, odds-on favorite Andy Santerre dropped from the lead after 13 circuits. Both pulled directly behind pit wall with the same failure- the rear end gears. Santerre had not failed to finish a race since his return to full-time Busch North action in 2002.
Friday night Santerre won his qualifying race from the 15th and final spot in the lineup, taking 25 laps to advance from worst to first. Last year he accomplished the same feat in 18 laps before taking second to Austin Cameron in the Showdown.
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Santerre will attempt to qualify for this Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the MacDonald Motorsports Chevrolet #71. By the way, that's the MacDonald family from Canada, not the Busch North MacDonalds from Massachusetts. Santerre's last Busch Series start was at NHIS in 2002 where he finished 38th.