BNS: Penfold sixth at USA Speedway for season opener

(April 23, 2001) Yarmouth, Maine's Bill Penfold got his 2001 NASCAR Busch North Series season off to a promising start with a sixth place run in the Autotown 150 at New Hampshire's Lee USA Speedway. Penfold's day started with a sixth-best ...

(April 23, 2001) Yarmouth, Maine's Bill Penfold got his 2001 NASCAR Busch North Series season off to a promising start with a sixth place run in the Autotown 150 at New Hampshire's Lee USA Speedway.

Penfold's day started with a sixth-best qualifying effort out of the 34 cars that entered the race. The top six qualifiers redrew for starting positions and Penfold drew the third starting spot.

From that position the VIP Charter Coach Chevrolet driver settled into the top five early and through the first half of the race, battling with series veterans Jamie Aube and Dave Dion. As the race wore on and fewer and fewer cars remained on the lead lap, Penfold continued running a strong fifth. In the last fifteen laps he was passed by a car that had stopped for fresh tires but held his ground against all others en route to recording a sixth place finish.

"We picked up a wicked push about 85 laps into it," Penfold said after the race. "I didn't think we'd really be able to hold them off. But when the tires cooled off it would go like hell again. The last couple laps with Dave [Dion] on my butt I was doing everything I could to protect the inside. If he went to the outside I'd have let him go. He was going to have to go around. I was getting on the brakes pretty hard and I think, because I checked up so hard, that Dale got into him. It's a shame for Dave because he drove me really clean. "I think a lot of guys drove real clean today, I think it was one of the best races I've seen," he continued. "The lapped cars were courteous, it was a great show, and I don't have to do a whole lot of work. All we've got to do is a little touch-up and we're ready for the next one."

Penfold credits his crew chief Bob Harrison for both setting up the car and making the call to stay out and keep track position rather than chance coming in for fresh tires. "Just before I was about to pull down to commit to pit he said 'no' and I said 'are you sure?' and he said 'yup'. He's the one who made the call. The crew chiefs got it right, the car was on all day, we qualified sixth, finished sixth, that was a good run."

While the search for sponsorship continues for the Penfold team, finishing in the top ten is helping pay the way. "It gives us more money to race on," Bill said. "When you're racing to win the dollars so you can go racing next week, it's hard and that's what we were thinking about."

Next on Penfold's agenda is two days of testing at New Hampshire International Speedway during the week following the Lee race. Considering how important running at this track, which the series visits three times this year, is to a team's title hopes, testing is something this team is taking seriously.

-Alan J. Claffie

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