Spokane’s Chad Little took another giant step on his path back to Winston Cup racing Saturday, winning the Chevy Dealers of New England 250 in front of 26,000 at New Hampshire International Speedway.
It was the third Busch Grand National win of the season for Little, who started the season with two victories. He took over the lead on a restart on Lap 173 and never gave it up, winning with an average speed of 104.972 miles per hour. Elton Sawyer finished second, Mike Wallace third and pole-sitter Mike McLaughlin fourth. Series points leader Johnny Benson was fifth to keep his record of Top 10 finishes intact for all nine races on the series. Little, who collected $40,402 for the win to move above $200,000 on the season, remains second in the standings behind Benson.
Driving a car he didn’t think was fast enough to win, Little found a groove late in the race. Little, who started fifth, took the lead from Larry Pearson after his crew made an adjustment to the Ford during a pit stop on 167.
“I really didn’t think we had the car to win today. I was shooting for a top-five finish,” Little said. “The car wasn’t right when we started. There were some faster cars out there. But after the second pit stop, things started happening.”
After the adjustment, Little said he found a groove around the track, “and once I found that it was real comfortable.”
Little entered the Busch series last year after failing to make a dent on the Winston Cup tour. He didn’t win last year, but has been a powerhouse this season.
“Chad was just too strong today,” Sawyer admitted.
Driving a car co-owned by NFL quarterback and Spokane native Mark Rypien, Little followed his fast start with finishes of second, third and fourth in the next six races before visiting victory circle again.
Jeff Green was the early leader Saturday, covering the 1-mile oval 65 times in front of the pack. But his chances faded when he came in contact with three cars on separate occasions and succumbed to a valve problem.
There were 11 lead changes in a race that started 20 minutes late because of a brief drizzle.
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