BNS: New Hampshire III: Tracy Gordon race notes

Tracy Gordon wins New Hampshire 125 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Tracy Gordon returned to victory lane in a NASCAR Busch North Series race when he won Saturday afternoon's New Hampshire 125 at the one-mile New Hampshire International...

Tracy Gordon wins New Hampshire 125 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Tracy Gordon returned to victory lane in a NASCAR Busch North Series race when he won Saturday afternoon's New Hampshire 125 at the one-mile New Hampshire International Speedway. Gordon's win, the twelfth of his Busch North career but his first at the Loudon, New Hampshire track, came after he led the final four laps of the race, holding off series point leader Andy Santerre, Brad Leighton, and Kelly Moore in a green-white-checker finish that extended the race distance to 137 laps.

Gordon's weekend did not get off on a good start, though. In the Thursday afternoon practice session, engine problems were discovered and another engine was sent from the team's base in Maine. The Gordon Racing crew pulled together and changed the engine, but not without working late into the night.

"We sheared a key off on the drive for the oil pump," Gordon said. "I don't think I hurt the motor too bad. I owe it to the crew for staying up until three in the morning getting the motor changed. The motor wasn't designed to fit in this car, but it's my best motor so I wanted to get it in the car so we did everything we could to get it in the car."

Gordon's Tic Tac Chevrolet returned to the track for a half-hour practice session on Friday morning, and set the eleventh fastest time. Up next was the qualifying session, and Gordon was eighth quickest after turning a time trial lap of 30.796 seconds (124.695 MPH).

"I left a little bit out there, I should have drove it in a little bit deeper," he said afterwards. "I whoaed it up a little too much getting in since I had awesome brakes from AP Brakes. I slowed up too much getting into the turns there. I knew I was dead in the water there, but luckily I've got a Horsepower Engineering motor to pull me up off the corner so it didn't kill me. We've got a good top-three car for tomorrow.

"Hopefully the track doesn't change a lot," Gordon continued. "We were fourth fastest in yesterday's practice without doing a sticker run and blowing the motor. Today we only got four laps on the track and we were eleventh fastest. I think we've got a good car, hopefully I can get the monkey off my back at this place and finish in the top three here."

In the opening laps of the race, Gordon quickly moved to fifth place from his eighth starting position. As laps clicked off under green, he ran down the balance of the top five and took fourth place on lap 33 with an inside move going into the first turn.

The first caution of the event came out on lap 38 and this sent the entire field onto pit road. Gordon's crew added gas to the car but did not change tires, and this picked Gordon up another position as he was now third on the restart. He fell to fourth when the race returned to green but picked that position up quickly on the next restart, and wasted no time moving up further as he passed Kelly Moore low in turn one to take second place.

The race continued under green and Gordon was on the move, making up ground on the leader, Brad Leighton, as the race approached the hundred-lap mark. The top four drivers were all in a line on lap 100 and Gordon, with perhaps a little nudge to Leighton in turn four, got alongside the race leader and completed the pass for the lead going into the first turn. Andy Santerre followed but Gordon kept him at bay.

Caution came out with just ten laps to go. The restart, which would come with four laps to go in the race's scheduled distance, was single-file with lead lap cars in the front of the field. Matt Kobyluck, who took the restart in sixth, jumped to the outside and passed everyone before the start-finish line, relegating a surprised Gordon to second. Caution was out again for a separate incident the next lap and, even after reviewing the restart, Kobyluck was allowed to keep the lead.

The race was now past its original distance so the finish would be decided with a green-white-checker finish. Gordon got a run on Kobyluck on the restart and looked high, but Kobyluck blocked him. Gordon looked low and Kobyluck again tried to cover the move, but the two made contact and Kobyluck spun out of the lead, with Gordon taking over.

"I had the spot right there and I wasn't going to lift for him," Gordon said after the race. "I was in there, and what's fair is fair. He jumped that restart, and he should have known that I wasn't going to give him a break. He blocked me. He was protecting the bottom and I had a wicked run on him. I tried to drive around him on the outside, I went high, and he went high so I dove down low. He saw me going low and he tried to protect the bottom. I was already in there."

After another green-white-checker restart, Gordon held Santerre off and took his first series victory in a year and a half, moving him up two places in the series championship standings to fifth.

"We started this race and I had a great race car," he said after the race. "A win was in my mind right from the get-go. I knew we could do it, we were real fast in practice. I definitely we knew we could win here, I just needed a little luck. Today, I had the best race car here. The only time Andy would gain on me was when I would go into the turns too deep, because I was excited about leading at New Hampshire, and drive in past my marks a little bit.

"Steve May and the whole Tic Tac crew just did an awesome job this weekend," Gordon continued. "I wanted this win so bad, when I passed Brad for the lead and I saw Andy back there, and I knew he had some tricks up his sleeve. I wanted this win so bad I was going to drive my tail off to get this win. If Andy got by me I would have tried to drive around him, I wanted this win so bad. I would have drove it into the wall trying to get this win. Second at this place wouldn't have done it for me. To have the car that I had to win the race today, is just a tribute to what hard work can do. It's just a great win."

Gordon dedicated the win to Bunk Sampson, who was the series director of Busch North when Gordon was a rookie. Bunk passed away two weeks ago after a heroic two-year fight with cancer.

"I want to dedicate this win to Bunk, he's the one who led me to Tic Tac. He gave me Clayton Murphy's number, told me to give him a call, the whole nine yards. We miss him here."

The Tic Tac team will try to make it two wins in a row next Friday afternoon at the high-banked Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware, where Gordon finished ninth last year. He'll be taking a different car than that in which he won at New Hampshire, but using the same strong engine.

-tgr-/ajc-

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Matt Kobyluck