BNS: Thompson: Fred Skaff race summary

Fred Skaff makes season debut with seventeenth place run. Fred Skaff, driving in his first NASCAR Busch North Series race of the season at the Thompson International Speedway, ran as high as fourth in his SNF Crane/Gordon Lumbering Ford Taurus....

Fred Skaff makes season debut with seventeenth place run.

Fred Skaff, driving in his first NASCAR Busch North Series race of the season at the Thompson International Speedway, ran as high as fourth in his SNF Crane/Gordon Lumbering Ford Taurus. An incident on the track left Skaff wary of his car until he was assured it was going to finish, and once he knew this he resumed the race, finishing seventeenth.

With Woodworks Racing driver Mike Gallo serving as crew chief, the No. 33 Ford team was put through its paces throughout the afternoon's practice sessions. Next came qualifying, where Skaff recorded the 22nd fastest time, 20.837 seconds (107.981 MPH) around the 5/8 mile oval where Skaff used to race at on a weekly basis.

"When I first got into the car this morning, it was like everything was in slow motion on the track," he said. "That's always good because you can always think. It was excellent, excellent. All day things went nice and calm. The guys did a wicked good job. We are in good shape, real good shape. I ran here on Wednesday nights for five years so I'm familiar with the track, especially at night."

Skaff's race started out smoothly and he kept his nose clean through the early laps. Trying a bold strategy, he stayed on the track when most of the field pitted under a lap 84 caution, and moved all the way up to fourth with just over fifty laps to go.

The lap 95 restart was messy and Skaff got shuffled out of the lead pack after making contact with another car and doing damage to the car's front end. He pitted to have the crew attend to that under a lap 108 caution, and again following a lap 124 caution. He continued through to the end of the race, winding up seventeenth, one lap down.

"The last fifty laps was a real fight," he said. "I pitted a couple of times because I was afraid the oil lines were rubbing on the center link. On the Fords, they're right above the center link forward, and all I could feel was a double click. I wanted them to open the hood and just look for a second, but I couldn't tell them to do that because I had no radio. I could hear the spotter and hear the team, but they couldn't hear me. I came in and was screaming at Steve Webster to come over and talk to me, but he couldn't go over the wall. They never did open the hood, but Vinny Ferrero did look in from the side and it wasn't rubbing bad, so I picked the pace up again. I was just afraid, I didn't want to break an oil line.

"We were up to fourth at one point," Skaff continued. "I was very happy with it and it was driving well, it was just a little free. I just had to run the top of the track where it was fast. It's the first race of the year for me, and I'm trying to get the team going with Mike and myself. People noticed us tonight, and we worked like dogs to get this car ready."

Skaff noted that getting established in Busch North is difficult when running a limited schedule.

"It's tough to get recognition in this sport when you only run a few times, you have to try to run as well as you can," he said. "But just to be able to run with Andy Santerre and Dale Shaw and Tracy Gordon, they're seasoned veterans, just to run with them and pass them, that's great."

The Woodworks Racing team will be back next week as the Busch North Series goes to the New Hampshire International Speedway for a 125-lap race held the day before the track's Winston Cup race. Mike Gallo will be behind the wheel for his third race of the season.

-fsr/ajc-

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