Joe Bessey Takes First BGN Win at Dover in the MBNA 200
22 September 1997DOVER, DE - If you wanted some real stock car excitement you had to look no further than the MBNA 200 Busch series race run September 20th at Dover Downs. The Busch series, for the second time in as many events, put on a riveting show that was door-to-door action from green to checkers. The results brought a first time winner in the form of Joe Bessey - pilot of the Power Team Chevrolet.
From the time the green flew, the Busch boys mixed it up hard and fast. On lap four the action got a little too close between Mike McLaughlin and Stevie Reeves and the pair came spilling out of turn one. The damage to both cars was minor and both were able to continue.
On the lap eight restart Ricky Craven took off trying to get some breathing room on Kevin Lepage. Lepage was all over Craven trying to get the top spot when the caution flew on lap 17 for a single car incident inolving Randy Porter.
After the clean up, Craven took the field to green on lap 21 again with Lepage right on his bumper. Roy 'Buckshot'Jones, who had started in the seventh place, started a slow drift out of the top-10 as series point leader. Randy LaJoie, started his move towards the front and made it into the top-five by lap 50.
Lap 85 brought a multi-car incident that was started when Lepage lost it coming out of turn four. As Lepage wrestled with his Chevrolet, the field started stacking up forcing Mark Krogh and Phil Parsons together. Krogh's attempts to right his car came to an abrupt halt when he plowed into Lepage's car. When the smoke cleared a total of six cars were involved.
It was during this caution that many of the cars dove to pit road for service. The BACE Motorsports team busted off the quickest stop of the lot and got Randy LaJoie out in the top spot. LaJoie was followed by Craven and Elliott Sadler.
The field was turned loose on lap 92.
Ricky Craven was able to hang onto LaJoie until lap 127 when the crank pulley blew off the #2 car and brought Craven's run to a screeching halt.
Roy Jones, whose team had made some adjustments, had worked his way back into the top-five running the high-line that 'High-Grove Harry' Gant used to run back when he was tearing up the Winston Cup trail.
The caution flew again for a single car incident involving Hal Browning on 138. This gave the teams another chance to dive to pit road for service.
It was on this stop that Mark Green and the #37 Brewco Motorsports team tried a two-tire stop. The move got them off of pit road first and the Timber Wolf Chevrolet would take the field to green on lap 141.
It didn't take long for LaJoie, who lined up behind Green on the restart, to get past and take the lead. The five laps that Green lead were a first for Green and the Brewco team in the Busch series. Elliott Sadler followed LaJoie and took the second spot. Roy Jones, using that high line, got into third spot.
The lead would switch between LaJoie and Sadler several times before Jones went up and grabbed second from Sadler.
The caution flag again flew on lap 162 when Hermie Sadler, brother of Elliott, lost control of his car coming out of turn four after the right rear tire blew out. Sadler's car hooked towards the outside wall and went in nose first. Hermie's ride was far from over as he ricocheted off the outside wall and headed for the inside wall. Sadler's car caught a cross-over gate on the inside wall and the entire left front of the car was sheared off right to the fire wall. The red flag was displayed for 45 minutes while track workers put the wall back together.
The field would take the green on lap 171 with LaJoie on the point. He was followed by Jones, Sadler and Joe Bessey.
Jones went to work on LaJoie while Bessey worked on Sadler. Jones was able to work over LaJoie and get the lead on lap 179, but the line that he was running was high enough to make folks wonder how long before he would either have to back off or meet the wall. Bessey, who had gotten by Sadler now shot past LaJoie and set sail for the #00 car of Jones.
Jones was driving the wheels off of his ride trying to keep Bessey at bay but the outside wall kept getting closer and closer. As Jones and Bessey exited turn two on lap 187 'it' happened - the rear end of Jones' car twitched and pitched and headed for the wall. Jones could only sit and hang on as his car pounded off the outside wall. Jones' car almost collected Bessey and LaJoie on its way back across the track where it slammed the inside wall. This brought out the seventh and final caution of the event and ended Roy Jones' day.
After a quick clean up the field was turned loose on lap 189 with Bessey on the point followed by LaJoie and Matt Kenseth. After the 11 remaining laps were run, the order remained the same and Joe Bessey notched his first Busch series victory by a 0.405-second margin.
Randy LaJoie's second place finish makes him look untouchable in the championship points standings and leaves Dover with a 231-point advantage over Todd Bodine.
Mike Snow -- The Auto Channel