DOVER, DE (Sept. 24, 2004) - How dominating was Paul Wolfe at Dover International Speedway on Friday night? By lap 77, the Central New York native was able to pull a half-a-mile ahead of his nearest competitor. After starting from the outside...
DOVER, DE (Sept. 24, 2004) - How dominating was Paul Wolfe at Dover International Speedway on Friday night? By lap 77, the Central New York native was able to pull a half-a-mile ahead of his nearest competitor. After starting from the outside pole, Wolfe led 105 of the 150 laps in the MBNA America 150. He was seemingly on his way to his first career NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series victory.
Then, while maintaining a consistent three-to-four car length lead over Dale Quarterley in the final quarter of the race, Wolfe suddenly became extremely loose. Quarterly quickly caught up and passed, and Wolfe had his hands full to just keep the Racing for a Cure Chevrolet on the track.
The post-race inspection revealed the culprit. The mount holding on the track bar was nearly broken off. As a result, the rear of the racecar was shifted to the left over three inches. It took a tremendous amount of driving skill to keep the Racing for a Cure Chevrolet going.
"We originally thought we had a bad set of tires or that our setup was wrong," Wolfe said. "I was so loose that I had to back down to keep from spinning out. At least we know what the problem was."
Wolfe powered his way to the lead on lap 7 and put several cars a lap down while leading the next 78 laps. Brad Leighton briefly took the lead from laps 85-93 after taking only two tires on lap 84 pit stops (Wolfe took four). After passing Leighton on the inside, Wolfe looked as dominant as ever and was easily setting the pace. On lap 120, the track bar mount apparently gave way. With Wolfe wiggling around the track and slowing down, Quarterley was able to make the pass and stay in front for the rest of the race.
Wolfe now has two consecutive second place finishes in the Busch North Series (he finished second last week at New Hampshire), and he has strung together six straight BNS top-10s. The second place finish was Wolfe's fourth of his career and second career at Dover.
He was understandably disappointed after the race.
"Finishing second is usually a reason to be excited," Wolfe said. "However, we had the most dominant car and this race should have been ours. I guess I was lucky that the track bar did not fully break off because our day would have been over."
While Wolfe was out front for most of the day, the action behind him had most of the 28-car field looking like they just competed in a demolition derby. Six caution flags consumed 36 laps of the race and there were two green-white-checker finishes. Only six cars finished on the lead lap.
After Quarterley and Wolfe, the rest of the top 10 were Eddie MacDonald, Mike Stefanik and Andy Santerre. Santerre's finish garnered him enough points to capture his second straight Busch North Series points championship.
This was the final race of the season for Wolfe and the Racing for a Cure program. Through its sponsorship of Wolfe, the program raised over $60,000 for cancer research at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York. The program was sponsored by the Salhen Packing Company, Wegmans Food Markets and the West Herr Automotive Group.