Don Wagner Finishes Seventeenth In New Hampshire International Speedway Debut (Loudon, N.H. - Sept. 20, 2004) - Don Wagner overcame troublesome tires, a lack of practice time on an unfamiliar track and a two-day wait to post a seventeenth place...
Don Wagner Finishes Seventeenth In New Hampshire International Speedway Debut
(Loudon, N.H. - Sept. 20, 2004) - Don Wagner overcame troublesome tires, a lack of practice time on an unfamiliar track and a two-day wait to post a seventeenth place finish in his first NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series race at the 1.058-mile New Hampshire International Speedway in Monday's late morning hours.
Wagner, driving the No. 41 Mannings USA Chevrolet for James Pritchard Motorsports, came to the track with a newly acquired car that had just been shaken down at the quarter-mile Mahoning Valley Raceway a week before. On the significantly larger NHIS oval, Wagner set the 24th fastest time in practice. He was also 24th in qualifying, turning a fast lap of 120.459 MPH in time trials.
"The weekend's gone good for us so far," he said before the race. "The car's working good and everybody's happy with the performance of the car so far. It's a new car, and we got the setup pretty close right out of the box. The biggest thing is that I still have to learn how to race on this track. In practice you try to follow the fast guys, and that's not real easy to do. But we're happy so far. We'll be good. We've got 125 laps to run, so we'll have plenty of time to figure this out."
Wagner and team, though, had to wait a couple days to get those 125 laps started, as rain forced the event to be washed out on Saturday and rescheduled to 10AM Monday.
In the opening 35-lap run of the race, Wagner showed he had figured the track out in a hurry, getting into the top twenty and settling in there. At lap 35, a caution was thrown to allow crews to change tires, add fuel, and adjust on the cars. Wagner continued where he left off, but the tire change proved costly as the replacement tires weren't as good as the originals, and the car tightened up on him.
A second pit stop under a lap 45 caution allowed the crew to try and adjust to compensate for the replacement tires, and Wagner was sent out to resume in the race. He continued to race on the lead lap, avoiding trouble, and moving up to finish seventeenth.
"It seems that when we go to these races we don't a good selection of tires," he said after the race. "It seems like the good tires go to the series regulars and we get the leftovers, and it's tough to get the same size tires all the way around. We did the best we could with a bad set of right-side tires that were just too small.
"The car was fantastic in the first part of the race, I passed on the outside and the car was sticking really good," Wagner continued. "But the car got tight after the pit stop, and we figured we probably should have left the original set of tires on it, since they probably would have gone the whole race, but who knew. We've got a car in one piece for Dover, and everybody's smiling, so the whole team's happy with our first race here. We ran the whole race, finished on the lead lap and didn't put a mark on the car. We'll try again at Dover."
Dover International Speedway hosts the next round of Busch North racing and will be the sixth and final 2004 race that Wagner will attempt. Practice and qualifying will be held on Thursday (Sept. 23), while the race will be late Friday afternoon. For more information, visit www.jamespritchardmotorsports.com.