Engine Woes Thwart Alex Garcia's Impressive Performance In Montreal "Alex Garcia Shows Strength Despite Finish At Circuit Gilles Villeneuve" MONTREAL, Quebec (August 7, 2007) - - NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) rookie driver Alex Garcia showed ...
Engine Woes Thwart Alex Garcia's Impressive Performance In Montreal
"Alex Garcia Shows Strength Despite Finish At Circuit Gilles Villeneuve"
MONTREAL, Quebec (August 7, 2007) - - NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) rookie driver Alex Garcia showed incredible improvement with his Transnet Racing team this past weekend in Montreal, despite an engine failure early in the NAPA Auto Parts 200 presented by Dodge.
The Transnet Racing team headed to the inaugural event looking to show the recent personnel changes would improve the performance of the team. While they didn't earn the finish they were capable of, the team wowed the crowd before the engine expired.
The NASCAR Busch Series activities at the famed Circuit Gilles Villeneuve began with an "open" practice session on Thursday morning. While Transnet Racing had intended to head immediately onto the racetrack, as they unloaded the transporter it became apparent that there had been a problem during the 1,200 mile journey from the team's shop in Atlanta, Georgia.
Upon inspection, it was revealed that the car, which had made its debut in Mexico City, Mexico, had come loose in transit, and had rolled forward into the team's backup car, damaging both machines. The team would be forced to spend two and a half hours repairing the primary car while competitors such as Patrick Carpentier, Scott Pruett, and Boris Said perfected their lines.
With little time to spare, the crew, led by crew chief Danny Gill, went to work on chassis No. 004, repairing the nose just in time to make a single lap at the very end of the first open practice session. The second session was far more productive, as the team was able to make 13 laps, running 30th quickest with a time of 107.372. Unfortunately, the session also resulted in a broken transmission, which would put the team behind once again.
"For our first practice, we are pretty decent," said Garcia, the first Venezuelan driver to compete in the NASCAR Busch Series. "We had some problems when the primary got loose and had some damage. The guys did a great job repairing it. We missed the opportunity to participate in part of the session today, but I think we'll be okay. Danny (Gill) is going to make some further adjustments and we hope to have a better practice run on Friday."
Working straight through the next day's morning session to replace the transmission, the team began to witness the fruits of their labor when Garcia put down the 21st fastest lap of the afternoon session, circling the 2.71 mile road course in 105.828 seconds, improving upon their previous top speed by over a second and a half. This solid time put the team in the fifth of ninth qualifying groups, pitting the 98 against Busch Series points leader Carl Edwards, and road course expert Jorge Goeters.
Qualifying saw even more speed for Venezuelan driver Alex Garcia, laying down a lap time of 105.419, earning Transnet Racing the 24th starting position.
When the green flag dropped for the NAPA Auto Parts 200 presented by Dodge, it appeared that Transnet Racing's problems were over. Garcia quickly picked off his competitors, passing Busch Series veterans and road course ringers alike: In less than 20 laps, the 98 Dixien/OmniSource rocket ship had improved 16 positions.
On lap 17, running in the eighth position, the team was thinking pit strategy, planning to remove spring rubbers to give the impressive racecar even more speed and handling. Regrettably, the Transnet Racing team was unable to make those changes, as white smoke poured out of the engine. "The engine is missing," said Garcia, as he coasted the car into the garage.
However, veteran crew chief Danny Gill still believed that all was not lost. Determined that repairs could be made, the team worked feverishly on the engine. After missing 14 laps of competition, Garcia was able to fire up the 98, and he was quickly back on the track. Unfortunately, as the car entered turn one, the engine expired for good, billowing smoke in front of the Allison and Pearson grandstands.
After the yellow flag was waved for Garcia's stopped racecar on lap 31, a wrecker returned the Dixien/OmniSource Chevrolet to the pits, its Canadian debut over. Transnet Racing's 98 was scored as finishing in the 36th position.
Despite the weekend's many struggles and disappointments, the team still leaves Montreal with a positive attitude. "This weekend really showed what our team is capable of," said Alex Garcia. "We had an incredibly competitive car, and it was only going to get faster with the changes we planned on making. Even though we weren't able to finish the race, we definitely made an impression. We proved that we're a force to be reckoned with on the road courses."
Garcia continued "I'm very proud of my team. This weekend was a struggle, but we met every challenge and overcame it. We worked really hard, and I'm excited for the next race. I think we'll be able to earn the finish we weren't able to get this weekend."J