STEFANIK IS UNTOUCHABLE IN NHIS BUSCH NORTH RACEby Justin St. Louis
Hoar Comes in Second After Interesting Pit Stategy
Like the Whelen Modified Tour race, the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series' New England 125 was lined up by points, due to Thursday's storms. Series leaders Matt Kobyluck and Mike Stefanik made up row one for the start, but didn't run together for long. Stefanik sped off to the early lead, stretching out to a 10-car length advantage by the time the yellow flag flew for the first of seven caution periods on lap five.
During the first caution, Brian Hoar used a bit of an odd pit strategy, coming in to top off the fuel tank, subsequently restarting near the back of the field. As the race restarted, Stefanik pulled away again while Hoar sliced his way through the field. Another caution on lap 18 for Ryan Seaman's spin into the wall allowed many of the leaders to pit, handing the point to Dave Dion, who elected to stay out.
Dion pulled away from second-place man Joey McCarthy, much as Stefanik had pulled away from Kobyluck earlier. Dion's time out front was short-lived, however, as a lap 26 caution for Ted Christopher's hard
hit into the Turn 4 wall bunched the field. Hoar's strategy quickly began to look brilliant, as the Goss Dodge #45 restarted in the Top 5, and snatched the lead from Dion's Berlin City #29 Ford on lap 31.
Hoar held the top spot until Stefanik powered underneath him in Turn 2 on lap 54. The eight-time NASCAR Touring champion never looked back after that, taking his second Busch North Series win in three races.
"The car was really good all day long," Stefanik said of his Burnham Boilers Chevrolet. "I knew I'd have to hold off Brian for the win. When he'd catch up to me, I had to drive it a little harder, but we ran 30.90s and 31-flats at the end. That's really moving around this place."
Ryan and Kelly Moore crossed the line in third and fourth place, ahead of Andy Santerre. Mike Gallo won out in a long battle for sixth with Mike Olsen, while Eddie MacDonald, Mike Johnson, and James Civali filled out the balance of the Top 10.
It seems that Stefanik's new partnership with the Grizco Racing organization has been exactly what each party needed. While many people had written the #55 team off as a championship contender over the last season or two, it looks as though the tables have turned back in Grizco's favor.
Stefanik knows it. When asked if he was looking forward to Connecticut's Waterford Speedbowl next week, he confidently replied: "Waterford? I'm looking forward to the whole rest of the season."
Mike Stefanik sets up the winning pass on the #45 of Brian Hoar. (Leif Tillotson Photos)
The two-time Busch North champion then grinned, took a drink of water, and walked to his hauler. Given his performance at NHIS, there’s a good possibility that Stefanik’s competitors won’t be grinning too much in the races to come.
Stay tuned to Speed51.com for Busch North Leftovers this week.