BNS: New Hampshire III: Bill Penfold race notes

Handling problems slow Penfold's Mandeville Chevrolet at NHIS. Bill Penfold was an optimistic driver heading into Saturday afternoon's New Hampshire 125 at the one-mile New Hampshire International Speedway. Carrying new sponsorship from...

Handling problems slow Penfold's Mandeville Chevrolet at NHIS.

Bill Penfold was an optimistic driver heading into Saturday afternoon's New Hampshire 125 at the one-mile New Hampshire International Speedway. Carrying new sponsorship from Mandeville Chevrolet, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary at its location in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, Penfold had even more fans in the stands cheering him on and wishing him well.

An ill-handling car, whose aerodynamics were disturbed by minor front-end damage sustained after the event's halfway mark, left Penfold having to make a pair of green-flag pit stops to make repairs, and left him 22nd in the final rundown.

Penfold had been fighting a tight car through two pre-qualifying practice sessions, a condition that continued into the qualifying session. Penfold still posted a time trial time that was only good enough for the 23rd starting position.

"We've been fighting a push getting into the corners the whole weekend," he said before the race. "We've been making changes and gaining on it a little bit and then we'd lose a little bit. We've made another change to the car for the race and hopefully we've hit it. Other than that, the Mandeville Chevrolet/VIP Charter Coach Monte Carlo is running well. We're starting a little farther back than where we wanted, but I've done it before and got to the front, so look for us to be on the move."

Twenty-five laps into the event, Penfold had moved into the top twenty. He was running in twentieth position when the race's first caution came out and the field came to pit road for a planned pit stop. Penfold's crew had trouble on the right front, but got him out of the pit before a lap was lost, even if he had to restart the race deep in the field.

There was slight contact with another car on the track after the restart, but it opened up a one-foot diameter hole in the right front headlight area of Penfold's car. This affected both straightaway speed and downforce, and the car's handling degraded. Penfold pitted once under green to have a tape patch applied over the hole on lap 85, but the patch didn't stick and he had to come in a second time, again under green, on lap 98. By this time he was many laps down, and could just run laps until the finish where he was classified as 22nd overall.

"I'm disappointed," he said after the race. "The car didn't go after the front end got messed up, it didn't handle worth much. All I could do was ride around and try to finish. It's a shame. I'd go in the corner but I couldn't even touch the gas pedal because it was about to come around sideways. We might have broke something, or a shock let go, but something's bad. It just wasn't a very good race, and that's a shame because we had a sponsor here today. I hope we got some coverage for Mandeville Chevrolet, and I can't thank them enough for being on the car. We're better than we showed out there. I'm real disappointed because I wanted to do a good job for them. We'll leave them on the hood when we go to Dover to say thanks to them, I hope that will make up for here a little bit."

Penfold Motorsports will now head to Dover, Delaware to run at the high-speed Dover International Speedway. The race will be held next Friday afternoon. For more information on the team, visit its website at www.penfoldmotorsports.com.

-ajc-

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Series NASCAR