Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring Post-Race Notes True Value 150, Thunder Road International Speedbowl, Saturday, Aug. 31. Any number of metaphors could be used to describe the closeness of the Busch North series point race, but let this ...
Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring Post-Race Notes True Value 150, Thunder Road International Speedbowl, Saturday, Aug. 31.
Any number of metaphors could be used to describe the closeness of the Busch North series point race, but let this statistic speak for itself. If any of the top three contenders had finished a total of four places higher or lower in the first 14 races of the year, the entire order could be scrambled. (The smallest increment between positions is three points, so four positions is a minimum of 12 points, and the gap from first to third is ten points.)
The last time a Busch North Series race was officially led flag-to-flag was also Mike Olsen’s last victory, at Star Speedway in June 2001. The caveat "officially" is added to account for Dale Quarterley’s win at Beech Ridge in September 2001, when he wasn’t credited with leading two laps on double-file restarts, but was never passed under the green.
Mike Olsen has not only won the last two Bud Poles at Thunder Road, but he has redrawn the pole position both years. After leading the first 116 laps in 2001 and all 150 laps Saturday night, he has paced 266 of the last 300 Busch North Series laps at Thunder Road. Grandfather Stub Fadden, who was absent on other business Saturday, taught him well.
The 34 circuits Olsen hasn’t led the last two Labor Day weekends were of course paced by Dave Dion, whose credentials with the Thunder Road faithful are second to none. The last outsider to lead a lap on Quarry Hill was Brad Leighton at the checker in 2000.
In the same vein, three of the top four finishers in the True Value 150- Olsen, Dion, and Brian Hoar- were Thunder Road graduates. The six year history of the event now shows three wins for the home team- Kip Stockwell in 1997, Dion last year and Olsen in 2002- and three for the visitors- Tracy Gordon in 1998, Dale Shaw in 1999, and Leighton in 2000.
By scoring three points for leading the most laps, while no one else led any, Mike Olsen tied Andy Santerre for the Gatorade Front Runner Award lead. He also moved within two Bud Poles of Martin Truex Jr., who could have virtually put the Bud Pole title on ice (pun intended) by going 1/100 of a second quicker in time trials. Although Olsen now has three Bud Poles to Truex’ five with five races remaining, only two of those are short tracks where Olsen’s qualifying prowess lies, so the odds still favor Truex for the $10,000 Bud Pole championship.
Unfortunately, with 28 cars for 26 starting spots, somebody had to go home, and loading up early were Thunder Road favorites old and new- Bobby Dragon and Rich Lowrey. Neither could waste much time on regrets, as Lowrey was driving in the 100-lap late model race which followed the Busch North event, and so was Bobby’s son Scott.
Also disappointed was Carey Heath, whose fuel system failed during the pace laps. Since her car was inspected and on the grid, Carey gets credit for an official start and 26th place points and money.