BNS: Stafford II: Don Wagner race notes

Don Wagner Matches Year's Best With Fourteenth At Stafford (Stafford Springs, Conn. - Aug. 10, 2005) - Don Wagner equaled his best NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series finish of the season when he finished fourteenth in Wednesday...

Don Wagner Matches Year's Best With Fourteenth At Stafford

(Stafford Springs, Conn. - Aug. 10, 2005) - Don Wagner equaled his best NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series finish of the season when he finished fourteenth in Wednesday night's TSI Harley-Davidson 150 at Stafford Motor Speedway. Wagner, driving the No. 41 Mannings USA/Snacketizers Chevrolet for James Pritchard Motorsports, picked up three spots in the points standings to run 22nd after making only his fourth series start of the season.

While the car was damaged at its previous race at the Waterford Speedbowl, it looked as good as new when unloaded at Stafford thanks to the hard work of the crew in the days following Waterford. Wagner drove it to the twentieth-fastest time in practice, but picked up time in time trials to qualify seventeenth.

"The car's handling very good. I just can't get down this qualifying thing down," he said. "It's not advantageous to work on a qualifying setup because we're not allowed to change anything after qualifying, so we spent our whole practice session working on the race setup. We want to get in the field with a good starting spot, but we're not going to go crazy trying to shoot for the pole.

"I'm very happy with the car, it feels good, and we've got 150 laps to get it where we need to be," Wagner continued. "Mark [crew chief Mark Durgin] has got some good ideas about what to do to the car within the limits of what we're allowed to change before the race. We'll make some minor adjustments and we'll be good."

At the beginning of the race, the Mannings USA Chevrolet was loose and before a caution could come out to give the team a chance to work on the car, Wagner was put a lap down by the leaders. When an accident happened to bring out the yellow on lap 82, Wagner was in the midst of it as he got banged around trying to get through the accident scene. He pitted with damage to the car's left front corner as well as a flat left rear tire. After repairs, he was allowed to pass the field and go back on the lead lap, though he had to pit again before the race restarted as the left front tire was cut and had gone flat.

As the fifteenth and last car on the lead lap, Wagner resumed racing and, despite the damage, was still up to speed. A pair of pit stops under the race's final two cautions allowed the crew to fine-tune the handling as well as further check on the crash damage, but he stayed on the lead lap and finished the race in fourteenth.

"We didn't want to be in the position where we needed the free pass, but the car was just too free in the beginning and we went backwards and got a lap down," he said after the race. "We fixed it and it was beautiful, we were on our way back to the front, but we got into a little bang-up. We lost the left front fender and a couple other important things, got some flat tires, but these guys are the best and they got me back out there without losing a lap, and we stayed on the lead lap for the rest of the race.

"We'll take it," Wagner continued. "We'll go home, lick our wounds, and we'll be back for Loudon. We've got a lot of damage to the car and we need some time to get it all back together, but we'll get it done and we'll be ready to race."

The next Busch North race for Wagner will be at New Hampshire International Speedway on Friday, September 16th, and that race will be broadcast live on HDNet.

-www.jamespritchardmotorsports.com.

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