Kip Stockwell Encouraged By Stafford Performance Despite Mechanical Failure (Stafford Springs, Conn. - June 17, 2005) - While the box score shows Kip Stockwell retired from the first NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series race of the...
Kip Stockwell Encouraged By Stafford Performance Despite Mechanical Failure
(Stafford Springs, Conn. - June 17, 2005) - While the box score shows Kip Stockwell retired from the first NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series race of the season after 81 laps, the bigger picture is that Stockwell, driving the No. 16 Sabil & Sons Chevrolet, got his car handling well enough to run comfortably through the race's first half and in position to be a top-ten car had it gone the distance.
Stockwell and his team made steady progress through the 90-minute practice session, and then took on qualifying where he recorded the 21st fastest lap in time trials.
"We're pretty happy," he said before the race. "We're gaining time all day. We came with kind of a conservative setup and it wasn't as fast as we needed to be, it was tight both in and out of the turns. We gained on it all day and we were good, but when we put new tires on, it tightened the car up on us again and we took a step backwards. We've loosened it up to help us in the beginning of the race, but near the end of the race I think we're going to be pretty free. We won't know for sure until we actually get there. If we have to, we'll come in and make a chassis change under caution around lap 100. We don't have the people here to do a tire change but we'll do a chassis change to snug it up a little bit. Starting 21st, we're happy. We're only a couple tenths off of where we need to be, and that beats last year when we were seven tenths off. If we can get everything together for one night, I think we'll have a good run."
Stockwell took it easy in the opening laps of Friday night's 150-lap event, settling in the top twenty and riding until he could make his planned late adjustments. He moved up to fifteenth by staying on the track while others pitted under the second caution of the event. That strategy paid off later in the race as he was inching closer to the front as more drivers pitted, moving him up to thirteenth just before halfway. But mechanical troubles struck and Stockwell slowed, pitted, and retired from the race due to a broken rear end.
"Something happened in the rear end, maybe the locker broke, we'll have to take it apart to find out," he said after the race. "Coming out of turn two I mashed the gas like I had 80 times before, and it broke.
"We were awesome as far as I was concerned," Stockwell continued. "We were just riding, trying not to abuse anything or anybody. We had good track position. I got by Sean Caisse on the restart and I still was just riding. I had a better car than Brian Hoar who was ahead of me, and I know we were going to have a good car at the end of the race. For the first time in a while we had a good race car, but I can't catch a break with the thing. We were just excited to run as well as we were, knowing that we had a good car."
Stockwell will return for the series' second race, which will be held next Saturday at the high-banked Holland International Speedway in western New York.