BNS: Thunder Road 2000-09-03

BARRE, Vt. - Defending Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring champion Brad Leighton took a major step toward a second straight title by winning the True Value 150 at Thunder Road International Speedbowl, which was completed Sunday afternoon after...

BARRE, Vt. - Defending Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring champion Brad Leighton took a major step toward a second straight title by winning the True Value 150 at Thunder Road International Speedbowl, which was completed Sunday afternoon after being halted by rain just short of the halfway mark on Saturday night.

Mid-race leader Dennis Demers finished second after Dale Shaw was penalized for rough driving on the final lap. Shaw was credited with third, followed by Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Race Martin Truex Jr. Dave Dion edged Jamie Aube by a bumper for fifth, with Mike Olsen, Bryan Wall, Louie Mechalides, and Matt Kobyluck completing the top ten.

Leighton lined up second to Demers for Sunday's restart with 69 laps complete, and immediately went to the outside, nearly taking the lead on lap 75 and again on the 88th circuit. When he succeeded in wresting the top spot from Demers on lap 94, he would never be challenged, but he would need to survive a major scare with less than 20 laps to go. Bill Penfold lost the handle at the start-finish line and chose to power through the resulting spin, raising a cloud of tire smoke and nearly collecting Leighton as he returned to the track.

The same sequence of events proved the final link in a chain of misfortune for Tracy Gordon, Leighton's closest pursuer in the Busch North Series title race. After winning the Bud Pole at 69.225 miles per hour and leading the first 40 laps, Gordon was assessed a stop-and-go penalty for a restart violation. Later he spun on his own in turn three, and in the aftermath of the Penfold spin he was forced into the infield, leading to a pit stop and a 15th place finish as the last car on the lead lap. As a result, Leighton's point lead increased to 179 with three races remaining in the 2000 season.

Leighton averaged only 39.428 miles per hour as seven caution periods slowed the action on the high-banked, quarter-mile oval for 54 laps, including 13 laps related to Saturday night's weather. Gordon, Leighton, and Demers exchanged the lead five times, with Leighton capturing the Gatorade Front Runner award for leading the most laps. Dion's advance from 19th at the start to fifth at the finish earned him the Flowmaster Star of the Race Award.

The Busch North Series continues next Saturday night, September 9, with the second visit of the season to Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine.

<pre> BUSCH NORTH SERIES, NASCAR TOURING TRUE VALUE 150 - September 2, 2000 Thunder Road International Speedbowl, Barre, Vt. (.25 mile paved oval) UNOFFICIAL FINISH (finishing position, starting position, driver, hometown, manufacturer, laps completed, reason out if any, $ won)

1. (2) Brad Leighton, Center Harbor, N.H., Chevrolet, 150, Running, $13,795 2. (5) Dennis Demers, Shelburne, Vt., Chevrolet, 150, $7,324 3. (13) Dale Shaw, Center Conway, N.H., Chevrolet, 150, $4,689 4. (4) Martin Truex, Jr, Mayetta, N.J., Chevrolet, 150, $3,419 5. (19) Dave Dion, Hudson, N.H., Ford, 150, $2,019 6. (9) Jamie Aube, Manchester, N.H., Chevrolet, 150, $$1,719 7. (3) Mike Olsen, N. Haverhill, N.H., Chevrolet, 150, $1,619 8. (20) Bryan Wall, Plaistow, N.H., Ford, 150, $1,569 9. (16) Louie Mechalides, Tyngsboro, Mass., Chevrolet, 150, $1,419 10. (10) Matt Kobyluck, Oakdale, Conn., Chevrolet, 150, $1,369 11. (14) Mike Bruno, Castleton, Vt., Chevrolet, 150, $1,319 12. (21) Kip Stockwell, Randolph, Vt., Pontiac, 150, $1,269 13. (18) Rich Lowrey, Charlotte, Vt., Chevrolet, 150, $800 14. (23) Dale Quarterley, Westfield, Mass., Chevrolet, 150, $1,209 15. (1) Tracy Gordon, Strong, Me., Chevrolet, 150, $2,019 16. (11) Bill Penfold, Yarmouth, Me., Chevrolet, 149, $1,189 17. (7) Mike Rowe, Turner, Me., Chevrolet, 149, $1,719 18. (22) Barney McRae, Colchester, Vt., Chevrolet, 149, $1,169 19. (6) Bobby Dragon, Milton, Vt., Chevrolet, 147, $$1,159 20. (8) Mike Johnson, Salisbury, Mass., Ford, 132, Radiator, $1,249 21. (12) Paul Richardson, Georgetown, Mass., Chevrolet, 93, Overheating, $11,39 22. (26) Doug Hurst, Rockland, Mass., Pontiac, 72, Handling, $710 23. (17) Bryon Chew, Mattituck, N.Y., Chevrolet, 64, Rain, $$1,129 24. (24) Travis Benjamin, Merrill, Me., Ford, 63, Rain, $710 25. (25) Jeff Hawkins, Concord, N.H., Chevrolet, 31, Radiator, $710 26. (17) Brian Hoar, Williston, Vt., Chevrolet, 9, Overheating, $710

TIME OF RACE: 57 minutes, 44 seconds Average Speed: 39.428 mph MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.3 seconds CAUTION PERIODS 7 for 54 laps LEAD CHANGES: 5 among 3 drivers LAP LEADERS: Tracy Gordon 1-40, Brad Leighton 41, Dennis Demers 42-53, Leighton 54-55, Demers 56-93, Leighton 94-150 BUD POLE AWARD: Tracy Gordon, Tic Tac Chevrolet, 13.001 seconds @ 69.225 mph) GATORADE FRONT RUNNER AWARD: Brad Leighton, Sheraton Harborside Portsmouth Chevrolet RAYBESTOS ROOKIE-OF-THE-RACE: Martin Truex Jr., SeaWatch Chevrolet FLOWMASTER STAR OF THE RACE AWARD: Dave Dion, Berlin City/Continental Paving Ford CLEVITE ENGINE BUILDER OF THE RACE: PCCW Engines, Sheraton Harborside Portsmouth Chevrolet

UNOFFICIAL BUSCH NORTH SERIES POINT STANDINGS (wins)

1. Brad Leighton (3)            2253            
2. Tracy Gordon  (5)            2074            
3. Dale Shaw     (1)            2006
4. Mike Olsen                   1931
5. Dave Dion     (1)            1927
6. Bryan Wall                   1876
7. Dennis Demers                1873
8. Mike Johnson  (1)            1750
9. Bobby Dragon                 1660
10.Jamie Aube                   1658

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