Saturday night saw the Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring make its first ever appearance at Connecticut's Waterford Speedbowl for a 150-lap event. Bill Penfold, driver of the ...
Saturday night saw the Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring make its first ever appearance at Connecticut's Waterford Speedbowl for a 150-lap event. Bill Penfold, driver of the #0 VIP Charter Coaches Chevrolet, made a cautious run avoiding the many wrecks in the event and, after starting 16th, finished 8th for the second consecutive race. This good result moved Penfold up three notches in the season standings to 15th place in points.
The Penfold Motorsports team elected not to test at the third-mile track in advance of this race, but Penfold was quickly up to speed in practice and found the track to his liking.
"It's a nice little track," he said after practice. "It's challenging. It's tight coming off the corners and you've got to be a little careful with the throttle, but it's really a nice little track.
"It's a lot like the old Monadnock Speedway, the tightness coming out of the corners," he continued. "The corners are kind of like Wiscasset Speedway, with a Lee or Star type of mix in it. I like the track, it's got a real good character to it."
Qualifying left Penfold starting a bit farther back than where he wanted to, lining up 16th for the race after recording a lap of 15.483 seconds (77.504 MPH). "Being that far back bothers me because I had a lot more in the car," he said. "I tried to drive it easy and I drove it way too easy. We probably had a 15.3, maybe a 15.2 in the car. I kind of psyched myself into undriving it. With 150 laps I can still get through traffic and get up there."
The race turned out to be a slow, crash-filled affair, with many cars being too damaged to continue. Penfold picked his way through the wrecks, incurring just slight body damage on the right front fender and back bumper. When the checkers fell, Penfold was in the lead group, taking his second consecutive eighth place finish. In a race where it would have been good enough to escape with a whole race car, a top ten finish was icing on the cake.
"It was dodge-ball," Penfold said afterwards. "The guys up front were hammering each other. The worst part was that you couldn't run side-by-side, there was no outside groove for these cars. If you did get outside, the guy ran you right out into the wall coming out so you couldn't run out there. You're supposed to have faith on the guy on the inside, but on this track tonight you couldn't. I tried to pull outside of some of the more respected drivers and they darn near ran me into the wall, I had to get on the brakes.
"The VIP Charter Coach Chevrolet was on the move today," Penfold continued. "We qualified sixteenth and got our second top ten in a row. We're getting there, we're on a roll. I've got to thank Bob Harrison and the rest of the crew. They busted butt and it showed. We finished up there and got lucky making it through the wrecks."
The Penfold Motorsports team now turns its attention to next weekend's race at Watkins Glen's historic road course. The race, to be held on the Saturday of the Glen's Winston Cup weekend, will be televised live at noon on ESPN. Penfold qualified 8th for this race last year and followed that up with a third-place qualifying effort at the other road race event of 1999, the season finale at Lime Rock Park.
"I'm not a road racer," he said with a laugh, "I just go out and wail hell out of the car and enjoy it. We've got some better brakes this time and maybe we'll be able to run a little better."