BES: Waterford: Dion Ciccarelli race notes

Dion Ciccarelli Scores First Top Ten In Busch East Series Racing Waterford, Conn. (Aug. 19, 2006) - A little advice and a little test session may have turned the season around for Jamerson Motorsports and driver Dion Ciccarelli. The Severn, ...

Dion Ciccarelli Scores First Top Ten In Busch East Series Racing

Waterford, Conn. (Aug. 19, 2006) - A little advice and a little test session may have turned the season around for Jamerson Motorsports and driver Dion Ciccarelli.

The Severn, Maryland driver got some pointers from four-time NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series champion Andy Santerre and put those ideas to the test at a mid-week test session to prepare for Saturday's Big Y World Class Markets 150 at the Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl. Between those, Ciccarelli turned a car that was tight all year into a car that was loose for the race, ending the night with a tenth place finish. It was his first time in the top ten for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate.

With Santerre's notes in hand, Ciccarelli took his composite-bodied Star Sales Ford Fusion to Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, Virginia last Thursday and spent six hours at the track with the Jamerson Motorsports crew trying a number of different chassis configurations. When they unloaded at Waterford, they found the car to be loose, which was a big change from all the other races they raced this car at. The car was a bit too loose in qualifying, though, with Ciccarelli timing in sixteenth fastest.

"We got to spend the day trying to fine-tune the car rather than work on big issues like we've had to in the past," he said. "In qualifying, had I not gotten the car loose I think I would have had a pretty good run. I broke the car loose coming off the corner and it cost me a little bit of time. But I think we've got a good car for the race. I'm excited about it."

While Ciccarelli was glad to have the car freed up, at the beginning of the 150-lap feature race it was too loose. This necessitated a trip to the pit area under an early caution for a quick chassis adjustment. Returning to action at the tail of the field, he was up to thirteenth at the race's two-thirds distance mark, battling lapped traffic and, late in the race, his main rival in the Rookie of the Year standings, Ruben Pardo. Entering the final restart of the race in eleventh position, he used the final three laps of racing to take tenth place away from John Salemi and get his first top-ten finish in series competition.

"What a night," he said after the race. "I've had a car that's pushed for half the season and we finally fixed that and now we've got a loose car. I felt like I was a real top-ten racer tonight racing with drivers who are usually in the top ten. I had a great battle with my primary competitor for Rookie of the Year, had a real good battle with him and we had a good time.

"We're making progress, and that's what we're here for, to figure this car out and make it faster every time we get on the track," Ciccarelli continued. "At the beginning of the year we thought we should be competitive, and we were disappointed with our runs early in the season. We went and tested and we've got a good car, we just have to get it dialed in. We also needed some good help, and Andy was great. He gave me some great advice and that's what turned things around for us this week."

With nearly a month until the next series race, there won't be the scramble to try and fix the car before going to New Hampshire International Speedway, which happened in July and resulted in the team taking an older car to the one-mile track. This time around, there's plenty of time to make repairs and change over the newer car in preparation for the Sylvania 125 on Saturday, September 16th.

"The composite body car will be there, and we're looking forward to how it's going to perform there," Ciccarelli said.

-credit: ajc

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