BNS: Thompson: Joey McCarthy race notes

Joey McCarthy Finishes Sixth at Thompson After Starting From Outside Pole (THOMPSON, CONN. - May 22, 2004) - Joey McCarthy's unlikely 2004 success story continued into the second race of the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series ...

Joey McCarthy Finishes Sixth at Thompson After Starting From Outside Pole

(THOMPSON, CONN. - May 22, 2004) - Joey McCarthy's unlikely 2004 success story continued into the second race of the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series season as he qualified second-fastest for Saturday's Pepsi Racing 150, raced in the top five for most of the event despite making an early pit stop, and finished in sixth position.

After a month passed following the first race of the season, McCarthy returned to the track at Thompson and found Thompson not agreeing with his STI Motorsports/RV Tech team. In the two practice sessions, the No. 8 car was only fourteenth and fifteenth fastest. But things turned around in a hurry in qualifying, when he took the second starting after posting a fast lap of 20.683 seconds (107.915 MPH).

"It was really surprising, since we were pretty slow in practice," McCarthy said before the race. "We're just fortunate that the track conditions worked out in our favor, and the guys worked real hard today. I'm glad to have that track position, but I'm kind of worried that there were guys who were faster than us in practice starting behind us, and we've got a pretty tight car to start the race.

"It was a good lap, a clean lap, and I hit my marks," he continued. "If we had a little more horsepower we definitely would have had a shot at the pole. But we can't complain about second place, even though winning the pole is much better."

At the start of the race, McCarthy fell to tenth place with leg cramps setting in. A dual-purpose pit stop - to put new right-side tires on the car and to allow the driver to try and stretch his legs - was made under the race's first caution on lap 23. This seemed to be just what the doctor ordered as McCarthy returned to the race at the tail of the field but raced to twelfth place when the second caution came out on lap 86. Returning to pit road for some chassis adjustments while other teams changed tires, McCarthy was the first car off pit road and lined up second on the lap 93 restart.

McCarthy held the second position until he was passed by two-time series champion Andy Santerre on lap 107. Through a series of late-race restarts, though, McCarthy held his ground, in fourth place, until lapped cars forced him up and out of the groove, pushing him back to sixth when the race ended after 156 laps.

"We were real tight at the beginning of the race, and my leg started cramping up," he described. "My leg cramped up before we even went out, but I got that worked out. But on about the third lap of the race, my leg cramped up so bad I almost had to pull off the track. I was trying to get it fixed, and we pitted early so I could try to get it stretched out. We changed two tires and loosened the car up. I used the car up pretty good coming up through the field, though.

"We got real loose towards the end, I was just hanging on for dear life," McCarthy continued. "I bounced it off the wall a couple times, and I got into Matt [Kobyluck] a little bit towards the end. I was just doing all I could to hang on. Once again, lapped cars got me, one of them drove me up the track and into the side of my car, which probably cost me four spots overall. I think if I could have kept it in the groove I could have held second to the end."

After two successful races, McCarthy and the STI Motorsports team are continuing to take the season one race at a time. The next race in the Busch North season will be held next Saturday at the 1.53 mile Lime Rock Park road course.

"All in all it was a good day," he said. "We started off real slow, but we had a good day. We can't not be happy with a top-ten finish and having the car pretty much in one piece. Hopefully everything will be all right and we'll be at Lime Rock."

-ajc-

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