St. Louis/DuQuoin: Phillip McGilton race report

McGilton Settles for Top-15 Finishes at Gateway and DuQuoin Lost Gears Handicap the No. 47 SI Performance Ford DuQuoin, Ill. (September 3, 2007) - Labor Day weekend is full of family tradition. For Marion, Illinois resident Phillip McGilton...

McGilton Settles for Top-15 Finishes at Gateway and DuQuoin
Lost Gears Handicap the No. 47 SI Performance Ford

DuQuoin, Ill. (September 3, 2007) - Labor Day weekend is full of family tradition. For Marion, Illinois resident Phillip McGilton it was full of racing with the ARCA RE/MAX Series. Under the Friday night lights and with only fourth gear, McGilton drove his No. 47 SI Performance Ford to an 11th place finish at Gateway International Raceway.

"This was just a long, hot, frustrating weekend," McGilton reflected. "We had much better cars than our finishes show. Our Gateway car was a rocket! We should have easily had a top-5 there but we got killed on those last couple restarts with only having high gear."

McGilton started the Gateway ARCA 150 in the ninth position. McGilton reported under the first caution on lap 21 that the car was "a little snug in the center and a little free off but pretty good."

On lap 52 the caution came out when two cars made contact on the backstretch. One of the cars came down into the grass where 12th place McGilton had gone low to avoid the wreck, making contact with the No. 47 in the right-side door.

When pit road opened, McGilton brought the No. 47 SI Performance Ford down pit road for four tires and fuel. The damage from the contact with the No. 4 car was examined. The team agreed to address it on the next pit stop. McGilton restarted in the 13th position.

A frightening crash on lap 62 brought out the red flag. As cars went sideways and the No. 25 of Ryan Fischer tumbled several times, McGilton powered through the action to emerge "clean as a whistle" as he reported to his team.

When the field returned to a yellow flag, McGilton brought the No. 47 SI Performance Ford down pit road for fuel only. The over-the-wall crew quickly bonded the hole in the door from the contact earlier in the race and sent McGilton out to restart the race on lap 67 in the 15th position.

On lap 77 McGilton came over the radio to report "we're broke, we're broke. I just felt a bad, bad vibration. It feels like we lost the transmission." A moment later McGilton keyed the radio to report, "we lost third [gear]" and then shortly after that, "negative on second gear." McGilton regained his rhythm and kept his speed as one of the fastest cars on the track.

On lap 96 the caution came out, much to the frustration of the driver and his team.

"We need a long green run," McGilton lamented. "I know I can get them."

On lap 100 the race restarted with lead lap cars passing McGilton on the high side and the lap-down cars on the low side. McGilton with his foot to the floor crossed the scoring line on the restart in the 16th position and continued to get passed through the first turn. Coming out of turn two, the No. 47 began to gain momentum and McGilton set to work, fingers crossed for green flag racing all the way to the checkers.

McGilton worked his way through traffic, passing Frank Kimmel on the final lap to take the 11th place for the finish.

"Man we just have no luck!" McGilton commented after the race. "That car was the fastest car we've had. I know we had a top-five, maybe even a top-three out of that car. And that last caution killed us. That's ok, we'll go play in the dirt on Monday at DuQuoin and then head up to Chicago next weekend."

On Saturday, McGilton signed autographs at the Illinois Secretary of State and DuQuoin State Fair's 1st Heartland Classic Cruise-In. The event was sponsored by Peoples National Bank in conjunction with McGilton's ARCA RE/MAX Series car sponsor, SI Performance. Joining the driver of the No. 47 were drivers Michael McDowell, Justin Marks, and Gabi DiCarlo

Bright and early Monday morning, Phillip McGilton and his Brewco Motorsports teammates rolled into the dusty infield of the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds Magic Mile. The team unloaded the car and their equipment and parked the hauler outside of the track.

In the heat and dust, McGilton ran his qualifying lap in 35.370 seconds and put the No. 47 in the 13th position to start the Southern Illinois 100. The crowd cheered as the Marion, Illinois resident was introduced standing next to his No. 47 SI Performance Ford.

Under caution, McGilton brought the No. 47 down pit road on lap 16 for his only pit stop of the race. The team gave the car fuel only and sent him back on track in the 22nd position.

"That's pretty much a cluster there," McGilton commented about the chaos on a very tight and narrow pit road.

Restarting behind a large number of cars that did not pit during the caution, McGilton worked his way up to the 17th position, passing cars on the outside with confidence.

"We're getting better as the run goes," McGilton reported when the next caution came out on lap 34. "It's a little hairy but I can make it work [the outside groove]."

At the halfway point of the 100-lap race, McGilton was running in the 7th position. When the caution came out on lap 58, McGilton commented over the radio with frustration in his voice, "What's this caution for? Every time I get a rhythm we get a caution."

McGilton restarted in the 8th position on lap 64. McGilton spent a couple of laps chasing down the No. 4 car, and rubbing fenders, passed him for the 7th position on the front stretch.

McGilton keyed the radio and reported to his team that "it's hard to pass clean out here. I couldn't help a little rubbing on that pass."

Following the cautions on laps 70 and 77, McGilton reported to the team that "we're not very good on restarts. We keep losing a couple of spots. We're just not good on cold tires. It [the car] won't stay under me until the tires get some heat in them."

On lap 81 McGilton restarted in the 9th position. He was passed a couple of laps later by series points leader and former DuQuoin winner, Frank Kimmel. McGilton spent the next several laps battling for position with 10 to go. McGilton moved into the 9th position when the final caution of the day came out on lap 92. The cars drove around under caution for six laps.

The race restarted on lap 98 with the No. 6 car tight on the rear bumper of McGilton. When the green flag dropped the No. 47 didn't appear to go. McGilton keyed the radio and reported that "we don't have gear. No clutch. I have it in and the RPMs are up but we're not moving."

McGilton moved through the gears and when he reached high gear, was ok and he was able to get the car up to speed. Powering past a few cars on the final lap, the slow start cost him five positions as he crossed the finish line in the 14th position.

"That was just frustrating," McGilton commented after the race. "We ran so well the whole race. We were strong and able to pass cars. We had a top-10 for sure. The clutch had been soft all day and it just wasn't there on that last restart. I finally got it going in fourth, but it was costly and we ran out of laps before we could make up for that restart. Just frustrating."

McGilton remains only 5 points behind 4th place Justin Allgaire in the 2007 ARCA RE/MAX Series Championship points. McGilton is in the 5th position with 3750 points to Allgaire's 3755.

-credit: brewco

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Frank Kimmel , Michael McDowell , Justin Marks , Phillip McGilton , Ryan Fischer , Gabi DiCarlo