Mechanical failure stops Jimmy Thiel bid for first top ten Ann Arbor, Michigan (Wednesday June 18th, 2003) - - The Whitney Racing team with rookie driver Jimmy Thiel felt that their best chance for the team's first top ten finish in the ARCA ...
Mechanical failure stops Jimmy Thiel bid for first top ten
Ann Arbor, Michigan (Wednesday June 18th, 2003) - - The Whitney Racing team with rookie driver Jimmy Thiel felt that their best chance for the team's first top ten finish in the ARCA RE/MAX Series was to come last weekend at Michigan International Speedway.
Rain washed away the first practice session for the diverse field of competitors on Thursday, leaving the pressure on the 24 year old driver, who had never turned a lap at the speedway before. "We could have really used that practice session," said Thiel. "I've never turned a lap here and our open practice session was swept away by rain as well, so I am a little bit optimistic about Friday."
In the first practice session, under overcast skies Friday morning, Thiel clocked 27th on the speed charts with a lap of 41.169 seconds which equaled a speed of 174.889 MPH. "It was a good session for us, I know that we weren't the fastest, but we're making adjustments for qualifying."
Jimmy added, "I like the track, it's huge and should provide a great deal of racing on Saturday. But, we have to worry about qualifying, before we even start to look ahead to the race."
In time trials, Thiel once again backed up, why he's been impressive thus far this season as he ripped a lap of 40.405 seconds amounted to a speed of 178. 196 MPH, placing him 19th on the starting grid. "This is what we were looking for, we're solidly in the show, and we posted a great time, we just have to get a few more things worked out with the car and I think we'll be fine," he said.
In Happy Hour, Thiel battled a overheating problem with his No. 06 CCIMNet powered by Cataylist Pontiac Grand Prix. The water temperature had climbed to an incredibly hot 250 degrees leaving Jimmy to park his machine early in the session, while the team discussed how to correct the problem.
"We've got to correct this overheating problem," noted Jimmy. The team was 24th quickest in the final practice session pacing around the track in 41.193 seconds which transferred to 174.787 MPH. "The car is pretty good, but I am not going to cook the engine like we did in Toledo, we're going to fix this radiator problem, I want to go racing."
The team was confident before the green flag waved on Saturday, that the overheating problem had been fixed as the team did extensive cleanly and made some adjustments in order to keep the car cool, yet competitive at the same time.
Several cars dropped to the rear of the field before the green flag putting Thiel in the top 15 when he took the green flag. When he crossed the line for the first lap, he was in the top ten. Several of the faster cars were coming from the back to the front in a hurry, leaving the rookie driver using patience and impressive driving skills to maneuver his machine during the course of three, and four wide racing.
While he was battling a little bit of a handling problem, he was still running in the top 15. The cautions were quickly coming out leaving the team able to make some adjustments to the car.
The car had improved, but so did everyone else. However, keeping his line and while learning the track, Thiel was still able to battle with ARCA's top veterans in the top 15.
Nearing lap 64 a six car melee involving happened in front of Thiel causing him to battle his way through the rumble of wrecked machines. The team thought that they escaped a potential disaster, but it would be a lap later that transmission problems developed forcing the No. 06 to the garage for the day.
The team was credited with a 28th finishing position completing 68 of the scheduled 100 laps. "It's a shame, we had a really good race car, I felt that we could have had our first top ten finish if the transmission wouldn't have failed, said Jimmy Thiel following the race.
"We were able to learn a lot this weekend and the next time we race here, I think we'll have something for those leaders, as we continue to improve week in and week out, we just have a little bit of bad luck in between."
The remainder of the team's 2003 ARCA RE/MAX Series plans are still up in the air at this point, but the team is hoping to compete in at least three more events this year. "We're looking at Chicago, and Nashville for sure right now, after that we'll see," said car owner Dusty Whitney.
"Jimmy has done an incredible job driving this CCIMNet powered by Cataylist Pontiac Grand Prix." Whitney, who is a local late model racer added "He is respected by his competitors both on and off the track, and I think by year's end we could steal a victory."