The Callahan Report: LaJoie Grabs Busch Victory At IRP
2 August 1997INDIANAPOLIS: Buy your sheet metal now. The demand for the thin alloy will be high this week after the running of the Kroger 200 Busch Grand National race at Indianapolis Raceway Park. The eventual winner was the only car without bangs and dents. Randy LaJoie won his second consecutive BGN race last night and added to his series points lead.
LaJoie won dominating fashion. The defending champion led for 172 of the 200 laps. The only other car able to share the leading privileges was young Wayne Grubb in the Link Belt Construction car. Grubb was running in only his third Busch Grand National event. He finished the race in fifth place. LaJoie was the class of the field, leading the final 80 laps.
The series points race was tight before the race started. Todd Bodine had battery problems during the IRP event, dropping him to twenty-fifth position. LaJoie now leads Bodine by 150 points (almost a hundred point gain).
Speaking about Bodine, LaJoie said, "He was struggling right off the truck. They said it was the (crashed) car they had at Milwaukee. Obviously, something's still bent in that car. He had a terrible week.
He announced his Winston Cup deal over at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and it may have taken some of his focus off what he has to do here in the Busch Series.
LaJoie continued, "It ended up being a big gain. We'll take it, but we can't give up. We want to win another three or four races."
With the win, LaJoie put himself in some very elite company. The win tied him with Winton Cup driver Mark Martin for victories in the season (five). LaJoie has finished in the top three at every outing since March, 96.
Elliott Sadler came across the line in second place with a smoke stream coming out the back of his car. He had suffered sheet metal damage 16 laps from the end. The metal was grinding the left rear tire for the rest of the caution filled race.
Elton Sawyer, Tim Fedewa and Wayne Grubb rounded out the top five. They were followed by Matt Kenseth, Buckshot Jones, Steve Park, Jeff Krogh and Jason Keller. Nearly half the race was run under the yellow (80 laps).