By David Reininger - motorsport.com RICHMOND, Va. (September 7, 2001) â€“ Jimmy Spencer won the Autolite Fram 250 at the Richmond International Raceway, earning his third Busch Grand National victory this season. Spencer led 169 of 250 laps on...
By David Reininger - motorsport.com
RICHMOND, Va. (September 7, 2001) – Jimmy Spencer won the Autolite Fram 250 at the Richmond International Raceway, earning his third Busch Grand National victory this season. Spencer led 169 of 250 laps on the way to his 11th career Busch Series win.
“It’s the ultimate short track,” said Spencer. “It’s fast for a short track and it puts on a good race. I liked it before I won here. You can race people here. It’s one of the few race tracks we go where you can really race hard.
“You saw it tonight and you’ll see it tomorrow night.”
Spencer, who won the Busch race at this track in May said, “I’ve had bad days here, but I’ve never had any regrets, and that means a lot.”
Jeff Green pulled away from his pole position to lead the first lap with Ryan Newman in tow. While Green pulled away at the point, Newman came under intense pressure from Jimmy Spencer, who started on the inside of the second row. By the time Spencer moved into second place, Green enjoyed a six-car length lead.
Four-car lengths back, Harvick circulated unchallenged in third place.
The top-three run comfortably, pulling away from the field by nearly half the front straightaway.
With 15 laps complete, Spencer caught Green just as the pair began to close on the back of the field.
Just before the leaders moved into lapped traffic, Jay Sauter spun coming off turn two to bring out the first yellow flag of the evening. Geoffrey Bodine spun while successfully avoiding Sauter, but had to report to the pits to replace his flat spotted tires.
Jeff Green lined up at the point for the restart followed by Spencer, Harvick, Ron Hornaday and Greg Biffle.
On lap 33, Green stuttered in turn two allowing Spencer to take the lead down the back straight. Green regrouped to hold onto second place.
Spencer, Green and Harvick sliced through typical short track traffic, pulling away from Hornaday in fourth place.
Contact between Kelly Denton and Brad Baker, which caused a huge fireball in turn two, produced another caution flag, sending the field to the pits for their first round of pit stops. Of those that made their pit stops, Green returned to the track first, followed by Spencer, Harvick and Matt Kenseth, who started 16th.
When the frontrunners returned to the track, they found Geoffrey Bodine, who did not pit, in the lead.
Bodine slipped back as soon as the green was waved, leaving Green at the point facing intense pressure from Spencer.
The third caution came on lap 73 when Josh Richardson spun on the back straight.
Harvick made an unscheduled stop at the pits, allowing his crew to change right side tires and have a quick look under the hood. Problems persisted for Harvick, reporting back to the pits one lap later, just as the field took the green.
Spencer immediately made a move for the lead, passing Green on lap 80. Green stayed in second under threat from Kenseth in third.
A caution period for the spinning car of Randy Lajoie closed the field on the trio of Spencer, Green and Kenseth, who were pulling away in a race of their own.
Nemechek, with help from Randy Tolsma, spun in the same place as Lajoie a few laps later, postponing Green’s bid for the lead.
Once under green, a four-car break away developed with Harvick, three laps down, dicing with Spencer, Green and Kenseth.
Kenseth moved around Green in the traffic, but Spencer was well clear with plenty of cars behind him providing a cushion to second place.
With 80 laps to go, Spencer’s car starting flirting with the turn two wall, allowing Kenseth to draw closer.
In obvious need of a fresh set of Goodyear tires, Spencer got the yellow he was waiting for when Jay Sauter and Greg Biffle tangled once again. Sauter’s car veered to the left coming off turn four, striking the middle of Biffle’s car, sending both into the front stretch fence.
“We ran a lot of laps” on those tires Spencer said. “They had over a hundred-some laps on them.”
Kenseth’s pit crew put him out first, followed by Spencer, Kevin Grubb, Geoffrey Bodine, and ASA standout Johnny Sauter.
Green and Hornaday, who both lost a lap when they pitted under green, started from the inside lane. When the green flag waved, Green and Hornaday moved around the leader, onto the tail of the lead lap. When Green started pushing towards the turn two wall, he lifted causing Hornaday to make contact from behind. The pair spun in front of the leaders bringing out the caution once more.
Four separate caution periods between laps 185 and 214 kept the field under yellow for 25 laps. Just before the last caution period, Spencer slipped under Kenseth, taking the lead on lap 209.
“It’s rhythm race track,” Spencer said. “That’s what happened to Matt. On the restart, when Matt drove down into the corner, he car took off. The Yellow Chevrolet had a lot of rhythm today. The car would really roll into the corners, and that would help me carry the speed down the straight.”
With 30 laps top go, Spencer and Kenseth decided to make it a two-car shoot out, easily pulling away from Bodine in third.
Spencer sailed across the finish line 1.345 seconds ahead of Kenseth. Kevin Grubb finished third, nearly seven seconds behind second place. Grubb, who was in sixth place with 25 laps to go, moved around Chad Little for fifth when Little tried to dive under Johnny Sauter for position. Grubb saw an opening to the outside, where his car was best, and was able to capitalize.
Grubb made quick time of Sauter for fourth and set his sights on Bodine in third. Grubb’s fierce determination combined with his extensive short track experience put him on Bodine’s rear bumper with three laps to go. Grubb made his move to the outside once again, sealing third place as he took the white flag.
Bodine finished just ahead of Johnny Sauter who claimed fifth place in his first Busch race. “Man, it’s going to be exciting to drive for this team next year,’ said the youngest Sauter, who has been tearing up the competition in the ASA Series. “This is a super team. I thought, for a little while, we might have a chance for victory tonight and we sure tried hard enough to pull it off, but it just wasn’t to be.”
Chad Little was sixth, followed by Ryan Newman, Elton Sawyer and Jeff Burton in ninth.
Notes from the Monte Carlo 400 at Richmond International Raceway:
Tomorrow night’s race marks the midpoint of a 20-week consecutive streak that began in mid-July at the brand new Chicagoland Speedway. The late season stretch lasts until the final round in the Winston Cup Championship at Atlanta Motor Speedway in mid-November.
For more information on Richmond’s D-shaped race track visit their website at: http://www.richmondracewaycomplex.com.