Joey McCarthy turns career best qualifying effort at NHIS; backs it up with thirteenth place finish. Joey McCarthy continues to show improvements in his qualifying performances when driving the No. 22 Trim Spa Chevrolet Monte Carlo for J.T.
Joey McCarthy turns career best qualifying effort at NHIS; backs it up with thirteenth place finish.
Joey McCarthy continues to show improvements in his qualifying performances when driving the No. 22 Trim Spa Chevrolet Monte Carlo for J.T. Mase MotorSports, improving his best time trial effort with a fifth place run in qualifying for Saturday afternoon's New Hampshire 125 at New Hampshire International Speedway. In the race, he ran strongly through an event that eventually stretched to 137 laps to finish thirteenth, picking up a position in the NASCAR Busch North Series championship standings.
Practice did not go smoothly for the Randolph, New Jersey native, as he could only muster the 33rd fastest time of all entrants when the first 90-minute session was over. The crew set to fix that and improvement was seen. In the second practice, McCarthy was 30th fastest in the second session, having picked up eight tenths of a second.
The field was set through time trials, and in his qualifying attempt, McCarthy surprised many, including himself, when he posted the fifth fastest time, that being 30.471 seconds (124.998 MPH) - over two seconds faster than his first practice's best time.
"We've been having some serious problems with the front of the car wandering," he said after qualifying. "We still have that problem; it's not fixed. It's better, but it's not fixed. I just had a real smooth lap. I didn't get many practice laps so I just wanted to keep the thing off the wall, I guess it was just smooth enough to be fast enough. The guys did an incredible job, they changed everything. I still don't know what exactly is wrong. We're going to go over the whole car and find out why it's doing what it's doing. We have to fix it so it's comfortable to race. But this is great for the team, it shows what kind of team I've got."
In the final practice before race day, McCarthy was more comfortable in the car and was 22nd fastest.
McCarthy's race started out strongly, as he settled into a comfortable twelfth place and rode there through the first quarter of the race. A lap 38 caution brought the field onto pit road where the crew got him back on the track in fifteenth.
The field was back to racing only briefly before another caution slowed the pace and McCarthy ducked down pit road a second time, this time so the crew could make a wedge adjustment and look at the right front fender, which had been bent in due to contact with another car. He returned to the race, but now in eighteenth, though there was still over half the race to run.
Another long run of racing took the race from lap 54 to lap 115, and during this time McCarthy showed he had a good long run setup under the car as he to thirteenth at the time of the yellow. He was a lap down, having been passed by the leader just before caution came out, but the first lapped car. The remainder of the race was a trio of brief runs, including a pair of attempts to end the race under the green-white-checker restart rule, and at the end of what became a 137-lap race, McCarthy was thirteenth. He now sits nineteenth in the series points standings despite missing a race.
"I'm very happy," he said after the race. "The team really came together this weekend. We missed a lot of practice and we're still behind in the aerodynamic portion of the package with the body we have on this car. I think that really hurt us during the race in the long runs. Not having the downforce that everybody else has, once the tires got old, I just lost a lot of grip.
"But it was a great weekend for the whole team," McCarthy continued. "I can't say enough about the guys on the whole team. They work their tails off and they do it the right way, and it's very impressive to watch. I'm very happy with how we ran, I wanted to get the car home in one piece with a decent finish, and we pretty much backed up our qualifying run. I'm very happy, and I get to go to Dover next week. We carry a lot of speed around there and I love the race track. I think that's going to help us out tremendously."
The fast, concrete one-mile Dover International Speedway is next on the Busch North schedule, and it's a track that McCarthy has more track time at than many of his competitors. Last year, he ran in the top ten until a late mechanical problem dropped him to sixteenth.