Robbie Harrison finishes twenty-first at Thompson Speedway. NASCAR Busch North Series Rookie of the Year points leader Robbie Harrison came close to achieving his goal of finishing on the lead lap in a series race at Thompson International ...
Robbie Harrison finishes twenty-first at Thompson Speedway.
NASCAR Busch North Series Rookie of the Year points leader Robbie Harrison came close to achieving his goal of finishing on the lead lap in a series race at Thompson International Speedway, but once again bad luck intervened and a late-race accident prevented him from accomplishing this, relegating him to a twenty-first place finish, two laps down to the leaders.
The Lux Enterprises Chevrolet driver had a good start to his race day following a couple hours of practice on the high-banked 5/8 mile oval in Connecticut, and in time trials he managed the 20th best starting position. His first lap was the lap of record as he spun in the fourth turn of his second time trial lap.
"I drove it in way too hard," he said. "I tried to pick up an extra couple tenths. I'll admit to driver error. It was pretty good though. I thought we were going to have a good lap but I screwed up.
"We were running consistent with the rest of the guys in practice," Harrison continued. "I guess everyone was running a 20.8 or 20.9 second laps, and we were 20.9 or 21.0. I talked to Andy Santerre and he said he was running 20.9s or 21s and he was comfortable so I figured we were pretty close. We should have a good race, I think."
Harrison did have a good race, staying on the lead lap despite having a tight race car. He pitted for two tires and a chassis adjustment relatively early, under a lap 28 caution. He ran in the top fifteen and ahead of the leaders through the race's longest stretch of green-flag racing, although he had to spin to avoid a spinning lapped car on lap 84. He resumed, still on the lead lap, and joined the field on pit road for another chassis adjustment.
NASCAR officials claimed that Harrison, and others who pitted with him, entered a closed pit road when they made their stops, and forced them to restart at the back of the field. Despite this, Harrison was fourteenth when the green flew on lap 95. He was running in thirteenth with just 25 laps to go when he collided with another competitor and slid up to the third turn wall with a damaged race car. Having fallen off the lead lap while trying to get the car restarted, Harrison eventually resumed, pitted for repairs and soldiered on in the race to finish 21st, still good enough to win his fourth Rookie of the Race award.
"We almost got there," he said after the race. "I guess I cut down on someone, but I don't know. I heard 'he's there', then 'bang'. There's a lot of bodywork to do on the car now. Everything but the right side needs to be changed. That's racing, I guess.
"It was going all right, but it was tight," Harrison continued. "We tried to loosen it up, but it only loosened up a little bit and then it got tighter. We tried to pit early and get a jump on guys, but that didn't help. We got screwed after pitting when they put us back five or so cars. We came out ahead of Andy Santerre and Dale Shaw and all those guys, because we just changed the wedge and went out, but they put us back five spots. But there's no sense in complaining now."
Harrison hopes to turn around his luck in the series' biggest race, to be run next Saturday night at New Hampshire International Speedway. Harrison finished 23rd at NHIS in May, and looks to improve on that while building his substantial lead in the Rookie of the Year standings.