HOLLAND, N.Y. - Two-times defending champion Brad Leighton picked the perfect time to break out of the spring doldrums which have plagued him in the early races of the 2001 Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring season. He won the Burnham Boilers 150-...
HOLLAND, N.Y. - Two-times defending champion Brad Leighton picked the perfect time to break out of the spring doldrums which have plagued him in the early races of the 2001 Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring season. He won the Burnham Boilers 150- his own sponsor's race- by passing Mike Olsen on a restart with 23 laps remaining. It was Leighton's 15th career Busch North Series victory, giving him sole possession of third place on the all-time list.
Olsen, who led the first 127 laps after redrawing the pole, held on for second, 1.6 seconds behind the winner. Olsen also won the Gatorade Front Runner Award. A strong finishing kick gave Dale Shaw third, while Mike Johnson followed in fourth and took the Busch North Series point lead for the second time this season. Greg Schaefer scored his best Busch North Series career finish by taking the checkered flag fifth after starting second and challenging Olsen for the lead near the halfway mark.
Bud Pole winner Martin Truex Jr. was sixth, followed by Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Race Brian Hoar, Bryan Wall, Paul Richardson, and Tracy Gordon. Gordon won the Flowmaster Star of the Race Award by advancing from 26th in the lineup, where he started after his qualifying time was disallowed.
The race went 80 laps caution free, with Olsen initially stretching out a large lead before Schaefer caught and challenged him in traffic. After Dave Dion's blown engine slowed the field, Olsen continued to lead over Schaefer, but Leighton had moved from his eighth starting spot to third. He overhauled Schaefer for second on lap 102 and set his sights on Olsen. The race's only major accident took place with 117 laps recorded as fourth-place Kelly Moore and the lapped car of Doug Hurst crashed in turn one. Moore's car took the brunt of the impact and the red flag was displayed to clean up spilled fluids.
Leighton made his winning move on the restart, using the low line in turn one to pass Olsen and immediately drawing away. At the same time, Shaw passed Schaefer for fourth with Johnson in his tire tracks, and the same tandem freight-trained Truex a few laps later, bringing Schaefer with them to set up the final order. A few drops of rain fell in the closing laps but the race stayed under green flag conditions to the checker, with 24 of 31 starters running and the top 13 cars on the lead lap. Leighton averaged 67.726 miles per hour, as three caution periods consumed 27 laps.
Mike Johnson, with his third top-five finish in four races, assumed the unofficial Busch North Series point lead with 645 to 629 for Olsen and 626 for Gordon. Leighton jumped from eighth to fourth in the standings with 588 points, while Truex is fifth with 586. Hoar's second straight top rookie finish extended his point lead in the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year standings. Hoar has 36 points to 34 for Eddie MacDonald and 32 for Joey McCarthy.