McGilton Wraps Rookie Year with Top-10 Finish at Toledo; 6th in Points Toledo, Ohio (October 17, 2007) - Phillip McGilton climbed out of the No. 47 SI Performance Ford Fusion for the last time this season following Sunday's race at the Toledo...
McGilton Wraps Rookie Year with Top-10 Finish at Toledo; 6th in Points
Toledo, Ohio (October 17, 2007) - Phillip McGilton climbed out of the No. 47 SI Performance Ford Fusion for the last time this season following Sunday's race at the Toledo Speedway. McGilton fought hard for the tenth place position in the Hantz Group 200 by Belle Tire following a spin early in the race that trapped the No. 47 a lap down to the leaders. McGilton completed his rookie year in the ARCA RE/MAX Series in the sixth position in the 2007 ARCA RE/MAX Series Championship points.
"Well, it wasn't what we wanted out of the weekend, but we had a great car," said McGilton. "I want to thank the guys for all their hard work this season. I know I learned a lot this year. This car was much better than tenth place today; I just wish we could have put it in victory lane."
McGilton was looking forward to this weekend's return to the Toledo Speedway. In his previous start at Toledo, McGilton qualified the No. 47 in the 3rd position. With the additional track experience gained since his May visit, McGilton anticipated a strong show at the 0.50 mile track.
McGilton qualified the No. 47 SI Performance Ford Fusion in the 15th position with a lap time of 16.910 seconds. McGilton was poised for a fast second lap during qualifying. Flawless through turns one and two, the No. 47 bobbled in turn three and nearly connected with the wall in turn four. Still looking for that first SIM Factory Pole Award, the rookie was disappointed with the final lap.
"I just wanted that pole so bad this week," stated McGilton following SIM Factory Pole Qualifying. "We have a really fast car for the race. I was hoping to start us on that front row, but we'll still be contenders tomorrow. I just got a little greedy after getting through turns one and two so well. That was going to be a fast lap, but I overdrove it a little at the end there."
McGilton rolled off the grid on Sunday in the 15th position. He quickly ran up to the 11th position when the caution came out on lap eleven. McGilton reported that the car was "a little bit free" and that he was "trying to be safe out here and get a rhythm going."
McGilton remained in the 11th position when the second caution was brought out on lap 22 when a car went around in turn two. Again, McGilton radioed his team that he was "free in the center and off."
Settling into a smooth rhythm and focusing on driving the loose car as smooth as possible through the turns, McGilton ran just outside of the top-10 for the first quarter of the race. At lap 56, the No. 47 SI Performance Ford Fusion ran up a little too fast on a slower car and was turned around in turn two. McGilton tried to quickly spin the car get back into traffic, but was also cautious not to make contact with other competitors. Unfortunately due to the nature of the short track, the leaders got back past McGilton under caution and trapped the No. 47 a lap down.
Unlike NASCAR rules that freeze the field in the running order when the caution flag is thrown, the ARCA RE/MAX Series leaves the drivers to respectfully take their place in line as the pace car slows the field. Because of this, McGilton slid all the way back to the 23rd position and one lap down to the leaders.
McGilton continued to battle a loose race car on the day's first set of tires. Trying to gain track position, Crew Chief Stewart Cooper told his driver to stay out on the track when the leaders came to pit road on the caution that came on lap 108.
"I know you're loose but stay out," Cooper radioed McGilton. "We need to take the chance. Hopefully we'll get us another caution quick."
McGilton, who had radio problems throughout the majority of the race, remained on the track and was unable to reply to his Brewco Motorsports teammates.
The race restarted on lap 112, with McGilton on lap 111 and in the 15th position. McGilton fought the loose car, trying to keep it from snapping around in the turns. On lap 124 another caution flew and the driver of the No. 47 was very relieved to come down and get four tires and a track bar adjustment to aid the loose conditions.
McGilton returned to the track and restarted the race in the 17th position. Moving up in the field, McGilton picked off two more positions. After several cautions, the No. 47 came down pit road under caution on lap 162. Having sustained some right fender damage, McGilton came down pit road once for right-side tires and fuel. At this time the team pulled the fenders off the tires to prevent it from rubbing and possibly cutting a tire down. Still under caution, the No. 47 made a quick catch-up lap and came down pit road a second time for the left-side tires.
The No. 47 SI Performance Ford Fusion restarted the race on the leader's lap 168 in the 17th position. With new tires, McGilton moved up lap by lap, moving into the 13th position with ten laps remaining in the race.
Cooper tried to offer his frustrated driver encouragement, "good job, Phil! You're running faster that the lead car."
With only six laps remaining, a caution came out. McGilton was running 13th at the time. Restarting on lap 198 in the same position, McGilton picked off the remaining two cars that were also a lap down to the leaders. A lap later, one of the top-10 cars was involved in an altercation and McGilton slid past the melee finishing the day in the tenth position.
"It's not what we wanted out of today, but we had a really great car, much better than tenth," stated McGilton after the race. "I was loose-loose on that first set of tires. I was hanging on for dear life! The second set was great. Now it's time to focus on 2008."
McGilton finished the season in the sixth place position in the 2007 ARCA RE/MAX Series Championship points, with the unofficial post-race points reported at 4745.