BNS: Thompson: Don Wagner race notes

Don Wagner races his way to seventeenth in first Thompson Race Don Wagner, who drives the No. 41 Mannings USA Chevrolet for James Pritchard Motorsports in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series, celebrated his best finish in his...

Don Wagner races his way to seventeenth in first Thompson Race

Don Wagner, who drives the No. 41 Mannings USA Chevrolet for James Pritchard Motorsports in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series, celebrated his best finish in his brief career in the series when he finished seventeenth in Saturday night's Pepsi Racing 150 at Thompson International Speedway, the third BNS race attempted by Wagner and the team this year.

The race at Thompson reflected a shift in philosophy for the Mannings USA team. The two previous races were used as test sessions to help the team learn a new car and to introduce the driver to new tracks. But at Thompson, the tactics were changed into straight race mode. The results of this philosophy first showed up in qualifying, where Wagner qualified nineteenth out of thirty-three cars.

"I've never seen this place before, so I need some laps," he said before the race. "We'll have 150 of them now that we've qualified. Every time we've gone on the track today we've gone faster, so we're going in the right direction. Jim Matalenas, the crew chief, has done his homework and did a lot of reading up on this car and this track, and he has a whole different setup than he's ever used before, and it seems to be working good today.

"Our plan is to run the whole race this time," Wagner continued. "At Stafford we pitted a lot, made a lot of adjustments during the race, and we weren't as concerned as to where we were finishing. We were more concerned with setting the car up. Now it's time to race. Now it's time to be competitive and try to get a decent finish out of it."

Wagner's plan to race rather than work on the car proved to be the right tactic as he stayed out on the track through the race's first half, running as high as fourteenth. He remained on the lead lap through that stretch and pitted with other lead lap cars under a lap 79 caution, taking on right-side tires. He made only one other stop during the race, for a wedge adjustment, shortly after the lap 100 mark.

Wagner's bid to finish on the lead lap was scuttled just a few turns before the end of the race, as he was battling for position with Carey Heath. The leaders were approaching, forcing Wagner and Heath to give up their battle and give the leaders room to race. Race winner Tom Carey, Jr. passed Wagner, putting him a lap down, just before the start/finish line as the checkers waved. Wagner was seventeenth, the first car one lap down.

"We ran all the laps but one, and we ran them with no major problems," he said after the race. "The car's still not there, I'm still not there, and this was the first time I'd run on this track. It's good to finish in one piece, and I can't wait to come back here again. I wish they raced here a few times each year.

"This is the best finish that James Pritchard Motorsports has had with me as a driver," Wagner continued. "Not that we want to run seventeenth, but it was a strong field today. We're making sure we can walk before we can run. We raced this race, we weren't here for R&D anymore. We wanted to run in the top twenty, and we've done that, so now we're shooting for top tens. We'll go to Waterford looking to get that first top ten."

The race at Thompson was taped by Speed TV and will be broadcast on July 26th.

The next appearance for the Mannings USA Chevrolet will be in two weeks, when the Busch North Series visits the Waterford Speedbowl for a 150-lap event on Saturday, July 26th. For more information on the team, visit its website located at http://www.jamespritchardmotorsports.com.

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