Kelly Moore Employs No-Pit Strategy To Win At Stafford Motor Speedway (Stafford Springs, Conn. - June 18, 2004) - Kelly Moore added to his series-leading career win total in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series on Friday night...
Kelly Moore Employs No-Pit Strategy To Win At Stafford Motor Speedway
(Stafford Springs, Conn. - June 18, 2004) - Kelly Moore added to his series-leading career win total in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series on Friday night when he led 149 of 150 laps of the Aubuchon Hardware 150 at the half-mile Stafford Motor Speedway and took the checkers first.
"The first win of the season is always gratifying," the series veteran said after recording his 26th win to extend his win record lead to three over Brad Leighton. "We had a good chassis, good horsepower from PCCW, and I'm proud of all these guys, I'm happy to be in victory lane at the end of the night."
Moore worked on his race setup through practice, never putting fresh tires on his NAPA Of Maine/Bill Dodge Auto Group Chevrolet. When he did put on new tires it was for qualifying, and he came up just a little short of adding to his series-leading number of Busch Pole Awards, taking the second starting position.
"We just didn't quite make it," he said before the race. "But I'm pretty happy with it, even if I'd much rather be on the pole. We've got a good car for the race, we've got a real good car. We tested here and the car felt good. I think we can hang around the front and give them a run."
Moore entered the race with the game plan of not making any pit stops.
"That might surprise a lot of these guys because I think a lot of them are planning on stopping for tires," he said. "Guys stayed out last year and won, but it's a different tire this year."
Moore had the lead from pole sitter Bryon Chew by the time the field hit the third turn of the first lap, and he quickly found out that his biggest challenge would come from two-time champion Andy Santerre. Following a lap 33 restart, Santerre got a nose underneath Moore and pulled off the pass for the lead, but Moore showed he wasn't about to give up as he changed lanes and passed Santerre back after a lap.
The turning point of the race came on lap 87 when the third caution of the race came out and teams faced a decision of whether or not to pit. Santerre did, as well as the fourth and fifth place cars, but Moore stayed on the track, followed by Matt Kobyluck who also did not pit.
"We knew what our tire wear would be," Moore explained. "We got in the race and the plan was to not pit unless the car was not good. But the car felt decent. We did some tire management early in the race. I ran hard, but I tried to run the corners in a way that wasn't that tough on the tires."
Santerre led the charge of those who had fresh tires back through the field starting with a lap 93 restart. As Moore fended off challenges by Kobyluck for the lead, Santerre quickly came to third. On lap 116, Santerre was again behind Moore and started looking for a way by. Moore held his ground as the race ran green to the checkers, even surviving a bump from Santerre with less than five laps to go.
"Andy was a gentleman to race with," Moore said after the race. "That was the best thing about it. We had to buckle down at the end of the race as he was really hounding me. I figured if he was going to get me, he'd have to go around me on the outside of me. I wasn't going to let him inside of me and beat me. He pounded on me a couple of times but it was good, hard racing. He wanted to win just as bad as I did."
At the end of 150 laps, Moore had his first win of the season, and his first win since taking two in a row last summer at Waterford Speedbowl (July 26th) and Seekonk Speedway (August 2nd).
"When the rest of the field pitted, I didn't really have a second thought about whether or not I should have pitted until Andy came back from his stop and was right in back of me," he said after the race. "I thought maybe I should have pitted, but I didn't, and I couldn't at that point so I had already decided which road I was going down. I either had to buckle down and pull this thing off or we were going to finish second to Andy because he put on tires. I wasn't going to roll over and play dead, these guys from NAPA Auto Parts of Maine, Bill Dodge Auto Group, and Maine Lubrication stand behind me and I'm going to do the best I can for them. The crew's worked real hard and they worked some long nights so the least I could do for them was to try and pull off this race for them. That's what I was trying to do. If Andy would have beat us after taking on tires, then the tires were what were going to beat us. But tonight the way that things turned out, we wound up pulling it off even though we didn't take on tires.
"We haven't won in almost a year, and we haven't been running in the top five all this year," Moore continued. "We've had some good runs, but they've been spoiled by mechanical failures so we haven't got anything to show for it. This will boost the morale for both me and the team. It's not about the money and it's not about getting the points because we've done all that. It's about earning the respect of the other competitors. They might be saying that I'm laying down, I'm just filling the field and that I'm paying more attention to Ryan's racing more than my own. But I'm paying attention to my own program as well, and we showed tonight that we're paying pretty good attention to our own program."
Moore leapt seven positions in the season championship standings to seventh with this win, which was broadcast live on HDNet television and will be rebroadcast on SpeedTV Saturday, July 3rd at noon. He'll try for two in a row next Saturday night at the Holland International Speedway in western New York.