Leighton holds off Gordon's last lap bid to win Pepsi 150 at Thompson; Kelly Moore takes Busch North Series point lead; Truex dominates but falters. THOMPSON, Conn.-- Brad Leighton held off Tracy Gordon in a run to the checkered flag to capture...
Leighton holds off Gordon's last lap bid to win Pepsi 150 at Thompson; Kelly Moore takes Busch North Series point lead; Truex dominates but falters.
THOMPSON, Conn.-- Brad Leighton held off Tracy Gordon in a run to the checkered flag to capture the Pepsi Racing 150 Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring event Saturday night at Thompson International Speedway. Leighton's second win of the 2002 season was the 19th of his career and vaulted the two-time champion to second in the standings, just 13 points behind new leader Kelly Moore. Moore was fifth at Thompson, trailing third place Mike Johnson and fourth-place Jamie Aube.
Dale Quarterley, Dennis Demers, Bryan Wall, Martin Truex Jr., and Dale Shaw completed the top ten. Leighton started second, averaged 68.278 miles per hour, and won $10,975. Seven caution flags slowed the race for 44 laps, with three drivers exchanging the lead four times. Of the 32 starters, 28 were running at the finish with 15 on the lead lap.
For most of the night, the Pepsi Racing 150 seemed to belong to 2001 winner Martin Truex Jr. Truex set a track record in Bud Pole Qualifying, led the first 85 laps, and quickly returned to the top spot after mid-race pit stops were completed. A deteriorating tire allowed Leighton to pass for the lead on lap 115, and Truex would eventually pit again and drop out of contention.
Meanwhile, Gordon had been making his way to the front from 21st on the grid. For the last 35 laps he dogged Leighton, and made a supreme effort going into turn three on the final lap, nearly drawing even on the inside. A lapped car impeded Gordon's progress, and he nearly lost control in turn four, but made the save to take second, .14 seconds behind.
Truex won the Gatorade Front Runner Award, Robbie Harrison was the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Race, and Gordon copped the Flowmaster Star of the Race Award for his 19-position improvement.
Moore's fifth place, combined with previous leader Andy Santerre's 13th, left Moore 13 points ahead of Leighton. Santerre now trails by 27 markers. The Busch North Series continues next Saturday with the New England 125 at New Hampshire International Speedway, the first of four times the series will support the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 2002.