Wolfe spun out twice; recovers for impressive 7th place finish at Lee. LEE, NH - Despite being spun out two separate times and nearly taken into the wall in a third incident, Paul Wolfe and the Tops Friendly Markets Racing Team fought their way...
Wolfe spun out twice; recovers for impressive 7th place finish at Lee.
LEE, NH - Despite being spun out two separate times and nearly taken into the wall in a third incident, Paul Wolfe and the Tops Friendly Markets Racing Team fought their way through the field for a seventh place finish in the Freedom 150 at Lee USA Speedway on Sunday, April 27. The race was the first of the 2003 season for the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series.
Wolfe's determination to stay in the top 10 earned him the Powerade Power Move of the Race Award, given to the driver who gains the most spots over the course of the race. Battling a poor handling racecar, Wolfe qualified 16th in mid-afternoon time trials with a time of 15.956 seconds and gained nine spots at the checkered flag on the 3/8 mile short track.
The most impressive of Wolfe's moves came with only 10 laps to go. Wolfe took an inside line to pass four cars in one lap: the No. 96 of Mike Johnson and the No. 8 lap car of Jeff Spraker coming out of turn 2 and the No. 32 of Dale Quarterly and the No. 61 of Mike Olsen between turns 3 and 4. "They told me it was time to go," Wolfe said. "We were able to take the inside line and get by some people who could not run on the bottom."
The race was far from a clean one, with several cars causing problems for Wolfe all day. In fact, very few cars escaped without at least some significant sheet metal damage. A total of 62 laps were run under nine caution flags.
"It was a mess out there," Wolfe said. "Coming from the back so many times made for a challenging day. The Tops Dodge was very good on long runs though, and we had a great car at the end. Considering what happened, we are pretty happy with our finish. It is a good way to start the season."
On lap 78, the No. 33 car of Fred Skaff failed to recognize a spin in front of the pack and slammed full speed into the rear of the Tops Dodge, sending it into the grass infield on the front stretch. Wolfe recovered quickly and spun 360-degrees to immediately continue on with the race. On lap 103, the lap car of No. 26 Scott Bouley lost its line and came down on the Tops Dodge, causing the No. 96 of Mike Johnson to drive into Wolfe's left rear quarter panel. Wolfe again recovered quickly, spinning his way through the grass on the infield between turns 3 and 4 to keep the Tops Dodge with the lead lap cars. Wolfe later avoided an accident three-peat by going extremely high to narrowly avoid the sliding car of No. 5 Barney McRae near the track entrance between turns 3 and 4.
Defending Busch North Champion Andy Santerre captured both the Bud Pole (15.675 seconds) and the victory Sunday. The rest of the top five finishers were Kelly Moore, Joey McCarthy, Tim Andrews and Mike Stefanik.
Next up for Wolfe and the Tops Racing Team is the New England Dodge Dealers 150 at Stafford Motor Speedway in Stafford Springs, Connecticut on Friday, May 9. For updated information, visit www.paulwolfe.net.