Kip Stockwell Debuts New Car With Thirteenth Place Finish at Lee USA Speedway (Lee, N.H. - April 25, 2004) - Braintree, Vermont's Kip Stockwell started the 2004 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series season on a positive note when he...
Kip Stockwell Debuts New Car With Thirteenth Place Finish at Lee USA Speedway
(Lee, N.H. - April 25, 2004) - Braintree, Vermont's Kip Stockwell started the 2004 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series season on a positive note when he brought out a new Sabil & Sons Chevrolet Monte Carlo and raced it to a thirteenth place finish, the strongest start to a season as he's had in many years.
The car, purchased from Grizco Racing over the winter, has an impressive pedigree as two-time series champion Brad Leighton drove it to multiple wins at New Hampshire International Speedway and other tracks. Stockwell's team put its PCCW engine in it and painted it his trademark light blue before taking it to Lee.
"We're learning the car right now," he said. "We're finding little things, like the throttle pedal's not quite in the right position and it feels a little off to me, that we'll have to fix before the next race. But today it's responding well and we're working to get it to run better."
In Busch Pole qualifying, Stockwell found the car to respond to changes even better than he expected on his way to recording a 21st place starting position.
"We hit on something in qualifying, and the car was better than I was," he smiled. "I think the car's going to be pretty good in the race. We numbed it up, taking a little gear out of it for the race. We made a gear selection to get here, and it was the wrong one. It hurt us all the way through practice. In qualifying, we got something and it stuck. But I was driving it easy trying to be smooth and fast. I think we have a top ten car easily if I can stay out of trouble. I have to try to get to the outside and do the best we can. We want to learn some stuff, go back to the shop and see what we can do to make it better."
The key to good finishes in Busch North is to stay on the lead lap, and Stockwell did so successfully throughout the event despite the handling being off at the start. He was still working on making the car better, and pitted on several occasions - laps 41, 73, and 105 - for adjustments and once to change right-side tires. After that final pit stop he restarted 18th but worked his way towards the top ten, picking up a pair of positions on the last green-flag lap when two cars ahead of him tangled. He finished thirteenth, tying his best result (scored in 1999) at the third-mile track.
"We're a little disappointed because the car was so far off at the beginning of the race," he said afterwards. "We made three pit stops and finally got it so we could keep up at least, and then we got it so we had a pretty good car at the end of the race. I don't know why it was that much off, but my father said the left front was holed way up going into the turn, and after he said that, I could feel it, like a shock or something was binding up in the left front. It definitely wasn't dumping down on the left front like it had been earlier in the day. I lost two spots right at the end because the car was getting loose off the turns, and I was getting beat up a little bit. I hardly put a scratch on the car until about twenty to go, but we got the back of it beat up a little. But we've got enough to fix and take to Thompson, and we'll see what we can do there."
The series' second race of the year will take place at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway's 5/8-mile oval on Saturday, May 22.