Kip Stockwell Opens Busch East Season With Hard-Earned Top-Ten (Greenville, S.C., June 10, 2006) - Kip Stockwell started the 2006 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series season with a tenth place finish in Saturday night's American ...
Kip Stockwell Opens Busch East Season With Hard-Earned Top-Ten
(Greenville, S.C., June 10, 2006) - Kip Stockwell started the 2006 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series season with a tenth place finish in Saturday night's American Revolution 150 at the historic Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville, South Carolina. The top-ten finish certainly didn't come easy, though, as Stockwell and his short-handed team had to overcome a broken exhaust that filled the car with fumes as well as a late-race spin that forced a pit stop with less than just 25 laps to go.
Stockwell tackled the track, which was a new addition to the Busch East (formerly the Busch North Series) schedule in a pair of practice sessions on Friday and Saturday afternoons, and in his final run on the track before the race, ran a qualifying lap that put him 20th on the starting grid.
The plan for the 150-lap race on the half-mile oval was to run without pitting for tires, mostly out of necessity as the Stockwell Racing Team was made up of only three guys, one of which was driving the car. The strategy paid off as other drivers pitted, and while that got Stockwell into the top ten, a well-handling car kept him there within sight of the finish, running tenth with forty laps to run. The worn tires were becoming a factor, though, and after a situation where there were too many cars in too small a space left Stockwell spun out in the first turn, the call was made to pit.
"We needed to put tires on and we held off for so long because we didn't have people here to do it, but when I got spun in turn one I was just holding on for dear life," Stockwell said after the race. "I got spun in turn one and I pleaded with my father to find someone to put tires on for me. I don't even know which team did it, but one of the teams pitting near us did it, they put our new right-side tires on for us. I went back out and instantly gained four seconds a lap. It was unbelievable the difference."
The pit stop came on lap 125, and the race went green with 22 laps left to run. Stockwell took advantage of the fresh tires as much as he could, though three late cautions robbed him of green-flag laps to make further progress. He was eighth and trying for seventh through the last turn of the last lap, but, Stockwell explained, "it was going to be a drag race down the frontstretch between me and another driver and he turned right on me, I had to lift or pound the fence, so I lifted and lost two spots."
The biggest problem for Stockwell came after the race, where the effects of the exhaust breaking early in the race left him exhausted. He was treated by the track's medical staff and returned to help the team pack up after being released.
"The exhaust broke on lap seven. I started whining on lap seventeen. After a while I couldn't get a deep breath of fresh air because I was sucking in exhaust. Then it got really really hot, and normally I do really well with the heat, but for some reason between the heat and the exhaust I got whipped." he said.
"It's a payoff when we run good. We're eighteen hours from home, we'll get home mid-day Monday and the thing that bothers me the most is that my boy is there. That's the hardest thing at this point, I don't get to spend as much time with him when we're this far from home."