Transmission Failure Shortens Dion Ciccarelli's Road Course Debut Lime Rock, Conn. (Sept. 30, 2006) - After ten NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series races on a variety of oval race tracks, Dion Ciccarelli's rookie season ended on...
Transmission Failure Shortens Dion Ciccarelli's Road Course Debut
Lime Rock, Conn. (Sept. 30, 2006) - After ten NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series races on a variety of oval race tracks, Dion Ciccarelli's rookie season ended on the 1.53-mile road course at Lime Rock Park. Ciccarelli's first road racing effort ended prematurely, though, as his No. 84 Star Sales Ford's transmission broke just a few laps short of the race's conclusion.
The Severn, Maryland driver took to the twisty track's curves during Friday's practice and qualifying sessions and ended the day with a 22nd-place time trial effort.
"I was very conservative in practice and qualifying, I can't afford to run off-course," he said before the race. "But I'm really enjoying it. We came here hoping to have a fun race with no pressure. We're still keeping an eye on the rookie points though, we still want that.
"Our practice and qualifying times show that we're not quite up to speed yet, but there's a lot more left in the car," Ciccarelli continued. "I know there's more I can use in the race, but my goal in practice and qualifying was to stay on the track. In the race I'm going to run as hard as I can and see how our day turns out."
Once the race began, Ciccarelli went to school, riding behind more experienced drivers and learning their braking and turn-in points. He also learned that he should have been more aggressive in practice.
"The more laps I ran behind the more experienced drivers, the more I was learning," he said. "And the more I learned, the more I realized our car was not set up right for the race. In practice I was being so careful and so patient, but in the race I was really trying to run hard and duplicate their lines and that's when I realized the car was bottoming out and doing all kinds of things."
While road courses ask a lot of drivers, they're also demanding on equipment. Lime Rock took its toll on Ciccarelli's transmission, leaving him stranded on the course with just a few laps to go in the race. He wound up finishing nineteenth.
"It was a great time, a great experience, and I had no real expectation of a great finish other than just finishing the race," he said. "Unfortunately, the transmission broke just a few laps from the end and that was really disappointing. We knew we were a couple laps down but we just wanted to finish.
"I'm actually looking forward to getting back on a road course," Ciccarelli continued. "I have a lot to learn, but I really enjoyed it. Prior to this, I've never been a road course fan, even just watching them on TV, but now I have a different outlook on road course racing. It's fun and exciting, and I look forward to coming back."
While the Jamerson Motorsports team has one more race on its 2006 schedule - October's Toyota All-Star Showdown in California - its first season of Busch East Series racing is over. Ciccarelli competed in every race, finishing twelfth in points overall and second in the rookie of the year standings.
"We had a good season," he said. "We finished in the top fifteen in points and that was our goal. We tried to be really patient and earn the respect of the other competitors. We wanted to come into this series and be a part of it, and I love the series and can't wait to come back next year. Beth and Larry Jamerson are finishing their first season as owners and they're excited. We've met some great people and made a lot of new friends."