Mike Johnson takes lead early, holds on to win PTM Racing 150 at Beech Ridge; Kobyluck's second place stretches Busch North Series point lead. SCARBOROUGH, Me.-- Mike Johnson started outside the front row, took the lead on the 19th lap, and won...
Mike Johnson takes lead early, holds on to win PTM Racing 150 at Beech Ridge; Kobyluck's second place stretches Busch North Series point lead.
SCARBOROUGH, Me.-- Mike Johnson started outside the front row, took the lead on the 19th lap, and won Saturday night's PTM Racing 150 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway without benefit of a pit stop. Choosing track position over fresh tires, he avoided a series of incidents behind him to win his first Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring race of the season, and the first for a Ford Taurus in 2002. It was the fourth win of his career and his second at Beech Ridge.
Johnson became the fifth different winner in five races, which have also produced five track qualifying records and five races sent into overtime to achieve the green flag finish required by Busch North Series rules. Busch North Series point leader Matt Kobyluck made a late charge to grab second, extending his margin to 58 points, while Maine natives Andy Santerre and Kelly Moore were third and fourth. Eddie MacDonald scored his first top-five finish after holding second until two laps remained, while Brad Leighton recovered from a late-race spin to capture sixth. Dave Dion, Dale Quarterley, Tracy Gordon, and Gary Shackford completed the top ten. A total of 13 cars were on the lead lap, with 24 of 30 starters running at the finish.
Johnson averaged just 40.783 miles per hour as six caution periods consumed 62 laps. The only lead change came when Johnson swept past Moore in the early laps. He immediately pulled away and spent the middle stages on self-described "cruise control", opening a lead of nearly half a lap during a 50-lap green flag run. The closing laps were punctuated by accidents that eliminated the cars of Jerod Robie, Carey Heath, and Robbie Harrison, while destroying the chances of good finishes for Bill Penfold, Bryon Chew, and Martin Truex Jr. An earlier chain-reaction tangle on a restart put defending champion Mike Olsen and Bryan Wall many laps behind. No injuries were reported in any of the incidents.
Brian Hoar won his first career Bud Pole Award with a record lap in 15.402 seconds, a speed of 77.912 miles per hour. Hoar redrew fourth in the lineup but spun out early in the race and finished 15th. Johnson was the overwhelming winner of the Gatorade Front Runner Award, leading 133 laps. Gary Shackford enjoyed the best day of his three-race-old Busch North Series career, gaining his first top-ten finish, his second Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Race honor, and the Flowmaster Star of the Race Award for improving 18 positions from start to finish.
Unofficially, Kobyluck's fifth consecutive top-five finish gives him 830 points to 772 for Leighton. Despite a 17th place result at Beech Ridge, Dale Shaw is third with 729, followed by Santerre with 718 and Penfold with 703.The Busch North Series takes a week off before resuming at Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday, June 21.