Kip Stockwell Nineteenth In NASCAR Showdown After A Little Help From His Friends
(Irwindale, Calif. - Nov. 12, 2005) - Kip Stockwell's odyssey of competing in his first Toyota NASCAR All-Star Showdown, the season-ending invitational race for drivers in the NASCAR Grand National Division series (Busch North Series and West Series), started the day after he came home from the Busch North season finale with a wrecked race car. It ended with his finishing nineteenth in Saturday night's nationally-televised race, but what happened between those two events speaks volumes about the Stockwell Racing Team and its competition in the Busch North Series.
Stockwell thought he was done after the Thompson crash, which destroyed what was realistically the team's only car. They had a second car, but it last raced two years ago and had been stored outside where it was subject to Braintree, Vermont winters. But Stockwell wasn't about to accept defeat, and started working on that old Pontiac to get it race ready.
With help from Mark Willoughby's team, Stockwell's car made it to California. The Sabil & Sons Service Pontiac got onto the track for Friday's practice but disaster struck - again - when the engine let go. Stockwell thought he was done, but that's when the Busch North Series competitors stepped up to the plate.
Willoughby offered Stockwell his backup engine if his driver, Dale Shaw, got through Friday night's qualifying race without any trouble. Shaw did just that, and Saturday morning the work to put the backup engine in Stockwell's car began. Mike Olsen's team provided an engine hoist, and many of the other fourteen Busch North teams in attendance volunteered crew members, tools, parts, anything that was needed to get Stockwell back on the track. NASCAR officials allowed Stockwell as much time as he needed to get the work done and get the car through inspection, and he accomplished both with time to spare.
Since he didn't run a qualifying race, Stockwell started Saturday night's 150-lap feature event at the tail of the field. The lack of practice time hurt him in the race's early going, and he went a lap down shortly after the one-third distance mark. Then he had other trouble, in the form of an on-track spin.
"I lifted for another car after he got by me. I let him go because he was under me and he got all out of shape. I lifted and got punted from behind, spun out and lost a lap," he said.
Under that yellow, Stockwell pitted for a track bar adjustment and returned to the race in search of getting his lap back and returning to contention. But two laps after the restart, he suffered a flat right rear tire that required a green-flag pit stop to replace. He was back in the race, but now four laps down, but he didn't quit. Through the balance of the event, he took advantage of NASCAR's beneficiary rule to make up a lap twice, and wound up nineteenth at the finish.
"We had a lot better car than where we finished, especially with the amount of cars that were there," he said. "We also might not have finished if we were on the lead lap, we might have been in the infield wrecked like a lot of other cars. So I guess you have to look at it two different ways. I'm happy that the car came out of this all in one piece. Our car looks clean compared to a whole bunch of these guys out here. That means a whole bunch to me and my guys.
"With what we've gone through this weekend, I guess I'm happy finishing where we did," Stockwell continued. "I'm not unhappy with finishing in the top twenty because that's where I wanted to finish, but I guess I'd have liked to have done it by going for it instead of just trying to stay out of trouble. But you have to stay out of trouble to finish, and that's what we did tonight."
Stockwell extends his sincere thanks to those teams that pitched in to make sure he got to race this weekend, without them he'd have been a spectator and not helped the Busch North Series win the team competition portion of the Showdown for the third consecutive year.