Mike Bruno had been looking forward to the Busch North Series visit to Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, VT for a long time. This was the site of the Jiffy Lube 150, the 15th event of the season and first at the track Mike refers to...
Mike Bruno had been looking forward to the Busch North Series visit to Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, VT for a long time. This was the site of the Jiffy Lube 150, the 15th event of the season and first at the track Mike refers to as his "home track." Mike has won many races at Thunder Road -- even a championship.
Mike was so excited about returning to his home track, he showed up almost 24 hours before the pits gates were even unlocked! The Vermont native and his wife took their motor home a day early to spend time with the many friends they have met in the area over the past six years.
The race day started with two practices, enabling Mike and the Summit Racing Team to get the car set up for qualifying. Mike was the first driver to make a lap in qualifying. Going out first meant the track would be very hot, as was the entire day. The cars going out later would get faster as the track cooled down. Mike made the best of it and ended up earning the eleventh starting position.
When Mike walked out to his car during driver introductions, he heard a thunderous applause from the thousands of fans in attendance. He was definitely a crowd favorite here tonight.
"I was excited from the time we arrived," Mike said. "I saw so many people I hadn't seen in a long time, it was a special night for me. Then to receive the Rookie award from last week here in front of everyone, they really made me feel good -- it pumped me up for the race."
Once the race started, Mike started working his #3 Summit Racing Chevy through traffic when he noticed a problem. The gauges were showing his engine was getting very hot. When the gauges began warning him it was getting to hot, he pulled into the pits. The crew was able to get him back out with out losing a lap -- which is quite a challenge at the ¼ mile track. The problem did not go away, and the temperature gauge continued to read 260 degrees, forcing him to go to the pits two more times -- still never losing a lap.
Even after three trips to the pits, Mike was able to work his way back into the top ten in the final laps, finishing ninth. It was the Summit Racing Team's fifth top ten of the year. Mike also won yet another Raybestos Rookie of the Race award, his ninth of the year. After the race, the team discovered the engine was not actually overheating -- the gauges were malfunctioning.
"We would have loved to win this one," the Vermont native said after the race. "Realistically we came here looking for another top ten and hopefully win the rookie award again. We did both so we were pretty happy with our race. It was really nice to see all the familiar friends and faces we haven't been able to see at the other Busch North races. We had a lot of fans here and we have received a lot of great support from them over the years up here. I'm glad we were able to do well for them and our sponsors. We might have been in the top five had it not been for the gauges. But we're very happy with the finish and look forward to next weekend at Beech Ridge. "
Mike and the other Busch North drivers will be at Beech Ridge Motorspeedway next Saturday night for the second event of the season there and the final short track event of the season. In the first race there, Mike drove the #3 Summit Racing Chevrolet to a tenth place finish. He and the team are hoping to better that finish on their second visit.
"We were just making our third Busch North start in our last visit to Beech Ridge," Bruno said. "We were still able to qualify in the top ten, finish in the top ten and win the Rookie of the Race award, which is our goal at each track now."