Alternator Failure Slows Dale Quarterley At Stafford To Sixteenth Place Finish Dale Quarterley had a fast car during the running of Sunday's Carquest Fall Final, the next-to-last NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series race of the ...
Alternator Failure Slows Dale Quarterley At Stafford To Sixteenth Place Finish
Dale Quarterley had a fast car during the running of Sunday's Carquest Fall Final, the next-to-last NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series race of the season, but three problems worked against him. An early pit stop to work on his Bully Hill Vineyards Chevrolet robbed him of track position, then an overheating problem caused him to make an additional pit stop. Finally, while making his way through the field for a third time, alternator failure left his car with a weak battery that robbed the engine of power. He managed to finish the race, but in sixteenth position.
Driving the same car he raced at New Hampshire International Speedway twice this year, Quarterley adjusted it to short-track racing for the half-mile Stafford track. He got it close in practice, and qualified it in twelfth. He wasn't totally happy with the car after qualifying, and expected to make some changes to it before the race.
"The thing gets into the corner great," he said, "but right in the center it just does not want to turn, and by that I don't mean it's a little tight, it just does not want to turn. We're going to look at some of the front end geometry and see about moving some stuff. Time-wise, when the other guys untape and go back to the race setup, we're only around two tenths off of where we need to be. If I can cure that one little bit in the center, we can be where we need to be. Even if I don't fix it, as it stands now, it's still a top ten car, maybe even a top five car. It won't blow the tires off it, it just won't win."
Quarterley caught a break when the race was rained out the next day, and, on the first rain date the following Saturday, teams were given a half-hour practice session before going racing. That helped fine-tune the car after making major changes during the week between qualifying and the race.
When the race started, Quarterley went from his thirteenth place starting position back to seventeenth in the first fourteen laps, and knew something needed to be done. He brought the car to pit road where the crew made some suspension adjustments, and sent him back out. He worked traffic back to fourteenth by lap 45, but came in on the next yellow to put on right-side tires as well as an adjustment to the Panhard bar. He resumed the race in 22nd place.
Back on the charge, Quarterley worked his way up to thirteenth as the 150-lap race approached two-thirds distance. But he had bumped a slower car and damaged his car's nose slightly, closing up air ducts that supply cool air to the radiator. He had to pit under a lap 108 caution to have tape removed from the lower grille to prevent overheating, but the car wasn't running right. Temperature wasn't the problem; it was the alternator which failed, causing the battery to drain and keeping the engine from achieving optimum performance. Quarterley could only ride around the bottom of the track through the final laps before finishing in sixteenth, one lap down.
"At the beginning we were a little loose," he said, "we overdid it, which we knew we'd do after practice. We made some changes, we just didn't know how far to go. We stopped and fixed it, and went back out and the thing was going good. A little while later, it was starting to run a little hot because I poked the screen in running with the lapped cars. It was running hot so I stopped again to take some tape off. When I came back out, that's when the engine started running unevenly, and it progressively got to the point where it barely ran all the way around. I was the first guy a lap down luckily, but we still ended up sixteenth.
"Chassis-wise, I actually had a good piece that could run the same lap times as the leaders. I just couldn't ever get to the front since I had to pit so often and start from the back. At first I thought the motor was running hot so I came in and took some tape off, because I didn't want to ruin the motor, but later I realized that the battery was going dead. By that time, it was too late to do anything about it."
Quarterley will finish the Busch North season next Saturday at the 1.53-mile Lime Rock Park road course. The Westfield, Massachusetts driver won Lime Rock two years ago, and won the pole there last year, so hopes are high that the return to the road course will reward the team with its second victory of the 2003 season.