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NASCAR Busch North Series Race Report: Thompson Sunoco 300

9 September 1997

NASCAR Busch North Series, Grand National Division
Thompson Sunoco 300 Race Report
Thompson International Speedway
Thompson, CT
September 7, 1997

THOMPSON, CT - Mike Stefanik of Coventry. R.I. decided to turn up the heat 
in the NASCAR Busch North Series, Grand National Division Championship battle 
by dominating the longest event on the 1997 schedule - The Thompson Sunoco 
300. Stefanik led from start to finish, relinquishing the lead for a total of 
ten laps while pitting.

While Stefanik danced at the head of he field, several others put up a fierce 
battle to decide who would win the runner-up honors. In the early stages of 
the race, pole sitter Martin Truex of Mayetta, N.J chased Stefanik around the 
five-eighths mile high-banked track while Andy Santerre of Cherryfield, Me. 
methodically picked his way through traffic. 

Santerre slipped past Truex on Lap 117. Even though Santerre was distancing 
himself from his followed, he could not close on Stefanik. 

The lead pack, including Stefanik, made their first pit stop during a lap 126 
yellow flag. Jerry Marquis of Broad Brook, Conn. beat Stefanik out of the 
pit, but just four laps after the lap 132 restart, Stefanik had again 
established himself at the head of the field. 

While Santerre chased Stefanik, Jamie Aube of N. Ferrisburg, Vt. was turning 
in one of his best efforts of the year. On lap 159, it was Aube in second.

By the second hundred lap mark, Stefanik had lapped all but a dozen starters, 
and was beginning to appear invincible. He ducked in for his final pit 
service on lap 212, handing the lead over to Herb Drugg for safekeeping, then 
blasted by Drugg on lap 216 with nary a thank you.

As the race began to wind down, Rick Fuller of Auburn, Mass. - brother of 
1996 Thompson Sunoco 300 winner Jeff Fuller - mad his presence known, but 
admitted in post race comments that the only time Stefanik could not pull 
away from him was during caution periods.

Santerre put on a spirited battle with Kelly Moore of Scarborough, Me., 
taking over the third slot with fewer than 20 laps remaining on the books 
when Moore had to pit to service a leaking tire. At that point Brad Leighton 
of Center Harbor, N.H. moved into the fourth position, but Moore had worked 
his way back to fifth by the checkered flag.

With only 45 laps being run under caution, ten cars were running on the lead 
lap in spite of Stefanik's dominant green flag runs, and nearly 
three-quarters of the 41-car starting field were running at the end.

Stefanik's win was worth nearly $18,000, but more importantly, his win 
coupled with a 17th place finish by Dave Dion of Hudson, N.H. narrowed the 
NASCAR Busch North Series Championship battle down to a slim nine-point 
margin with Dion leading Stefanik 2744-2735 with only two races remaining on 
the 1997 schedule. 

By NASCAR Public Relations