NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, BUSCH NORTH SERIES POST-RACE NOTES Sylvania 125 presented by Lowe's, New Hampshire International Speedway, Friday, Sept. 16, 2005 The Sylvania 125 presented by Lowe's was the first Busch North Series race since...
NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, BUSCH NORTH SERIES POST-RACE NOTES
Sylvania 125 presented by Lowe's, New Hampshire International Speedway, Friday, Sept. 16, 2005
The Sylvania 125 presented by Lowe's was the first Busch North Series race since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf Coast areas in one of the worst natural disasters to hit the U.S. in modern times. Support for the victims of Katrina was widespread in the Busch North garage area. A few examples among many-
*Andy Santerre and Grizco Racing opened the doors of their Harrisburg, N.C., shop to the American Red Cross as a drop zone for contributions from the Charlotte area.
* Brian Hoar carried the Red Cross "800" hurricane relief number in prime TV signage space on the hood of his Goss Dodge Intrepid, and several other competitors displayed the number on their cars as well.
* Mexican driver Rogelio Lopez, whose homeland is even more vulnerable to tropical storm devastation than the U.S. Gulf Coast, donated his entire Sylvania 125 winnings to Hurricane Katrina relief.
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Racing can be a game of "ifs" and "buts". The question of the day at NHIS was, "If the rain had retreated and the race gone to a green-white-checker finish, could Brad Leighton have retaken the lead from Ted Christoher?"
Both principals think that's an unlikely scenario.
"Leighton had a better car for the long runs, but I had a better car for the short runs," Christopher said "There was no doubt Ted had a better car for the short runs. I don't think the result would have changed," Leighton concurred.
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Christopher's last Busch North Series win, at Watkins Glen, N.Y., in August 2003, was also stopped short of its scheduled distance by rain. That event ran only 41 of 62 scheduled laps due to a cloudburst. At NHIS the rain was never more than a drizzle, but that was enough to prevent a green flag finish.
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Leighton was naturally disappointed not to have the chance to try for his ninth NHIS win, but the competitive run gave a psychological lift to his Tom Carey-led Irving Oil team. "We haven't finished in the top ten all year, and this is a great boost to everyone's confidence," he noted. It's unfortunate that the suddenly-strong Leighton won't be running the next two races at Dover and Lime Rock. The only race left on his partial schedule is the season finale at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway on Saturday, October 8. Brad has won at least one race in nine consecutive years, a record he shares with Kelly Moore (1987-95).
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Tracy Gordon is back. After a practice crash in July at NHIS left delayed his 2005 debut, the diminutive Maine driver left no doubt he can be competitive with Fred Skaff's Woodworks/Archer Corp. Ford by charging from 34th to seventh, earning the POWERade Power Move of the Race Award despite Christopher's win from 21st and Leighton's second from 23rd. "It was an awesome car. I could pick cars off at will if I caught them one at a time, and sometimes I didn't even have to wait for them to get in single file," exclaimed the former NHIS winner. Unlike Leighton, Gordon will get the chance to build on his momentum at Dover, where he scored his only top-10 finish of the 2004 season.
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Joey McCarthy had a successful weekend in New Hampshire. Returning to Busch North Series action with Trim Spa sponsorship on the STI Motorsports Chevrolet after missing Oxford for lack of an engine, McCarthy drove a steady race on Friday to claim eighth. Then he qualified his Trim Spa Dodge 39th for Sunday's Sylvania 300 and stayed out of harm's way to record a 32nd place finish in his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event.
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Milestones... Andy Santerre and Mike Stefanik are both a perfect "10"- 10 top-10 finishes in 10 races... Ryan Moore has nine straight top-10's, while Mike Olsen missed for only the second time in 2005... John Salemi was the top finishing Sunoco Rookie contender for the third straight race... Four drivers made Busch North Series debuts. Clair Zimmerman was 26th, Donny Lia 28th, Robby Benton 34th, and Bill Duggan 37th... Duggan is the most "local" driver ever to compete in a NASCAR race at NHIS. His home in Belmont, N.H. is six miles from the track.