BNS: New Hampshire: Dale Quarterley race notes

Dale Quarterley makes late charge to finish tenth at NHIS. Westfield, Massachusetts driver Dale Quarterley, who runs in the NASCAR Busch North Series, took home his seventh top ten of the 2002 season when he finished tenth at New Hampshire ...

Dale Quarterley makes late charge to finish tenth at NHIS.

Westfield, Massachusetts driver Dale Quarterley, who runs in the NASCAR Busch North Series, took home his seventh top ten of the 2002 season when he finished tenth at New Hampshire International Speedway in Saturday's New England 125. Quarterley's tenth place finish was not earned easily, as he had to come back from tire and handling troubles that left him deep in the field late in the race, and he passed eight cars in the final fifteen laps to get tenth.

Quarterley's Land O Lakes/Edart Truck Leasing Chevrolet was fast from the start of practice on Thursday, winding up fourth in the first practice session. In qualifying, he was only seventeenth, which he chalked up to other drivers pulling out all their stops to qualify while he stuck to his battle plan.

"The car handled good the whole first practice, then we went out in the second round and we were just fine-tuning it, playing with some race setups," he said. "But we got caught in qualifying, because a bunch of the other guys went out and tried to put their cars on the pole. They went for the zero-weight fluids in the motors and rears, went through a couple sets of tires in practice making mock qualifying runs, and it just really snookered us.

"Seventeenth isn't as bad as it appears when you look at it that way, but starting seventeenth, I don't care if you're half a second faster, getting to the front here is near impossible," Quarterley continued. "Everybody here is so equal, you can't just motor by everybody. In the race, we're going to bide time to get to the front, stay out of trouble, and hope the leaders mess each other up so we can get to them. We're going to go as fast as we can go so we're not going to worry about that anyway."

Quarterley's drive from seventeenth to tenth was noteworthy because it came after he made no less than four pit stops through the race's 125-lap distance. He had moved up to fourteenth when caution came out on lap 43 and brought most drivers to pit road. Quarterley pitted for a chassis adjustment, returning to the track in seventh. Back under green, he held his position to the next caution, which came out on lap 53. Race officials had some concern over damage on his right rear quarter panel. When the one-to-go sign was given, Quarterley ducked down pit road where the crew changed the right rear tire, pulled out a spring rubber and bent back the damaged fender.

Returning to the race in 24th, the last car on the lead lap, Quarterley found the handling of his car difficult and wearing the right front tire away, a condition that was relieved with a third caution flag pit stop on lap 91. A final opportunity to adjust on the car came on a lap 101 caution, and when he exited the pit, Quarterley was riding eighteenth with just 24 laps to go. A final yellow robbed him of more race laps, and when the final restart arrived at lap 112, he was still eighteenth. When the checkers fell, he had passed his way to tenth.

"We started seventeenth and got up to fourteenth, and that was as far as I could go," he said after the race. "Everybody in front of me was so competitive I just couldn't pass, I couldn't do anything. I think the only guy who ran me down was Andy Santerre and he got one or two guys past me and he couldn't go anywhere, his car fell off too. So we all drove around for a while and we just ran together. Then we pitted, made a change, put fuel in, went back out and it was even worse, it didn't get better.

"We came in and made another change and it was ten times worse, you couldn't even drive the car then," Quarterley continued. "I was driving it so hard I blew the right front tire right off the car. The thing was starting to thump, like pieces were missing, and I was praying for a caution. It was about ten laps later when we got a caution. So we came in, went completely the other way on the changes we made, went back out and the thing was flying. I went from last to tenth, so it was a good day."

Quarterley will now turn his attention to the team's short-track car for the next race on the Busch North Series schedule, to be held Friday night at Connecticut's Stafford Motor Speedway.

-ajc-

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Dale Quarterley