ES: Greenville-Pickens: Dion Ciccarelli race notes

Accident Spoils The Start To Dion Ciccarelli's Busch East Season Greenville, S.C. (April 28, 2007) - What Dion Ciccarelli wanted from the first race of the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series was a solid top-ten finish in his Let...

Accident Spoils The Start To Dion Ciccarelli's Busch East Season

Greenville, S.C. (April 28, 2007) - What Dion Ciccarelli wanted from the first race of the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series was a solid top-ten finish in his Let Freedom Roar/Star Sales Chevrolet. What he got, though, was a heavily damaged race car and a 22nd place finish.

Starting the 2007 season with a new car make, new paint and a new cause - Operation Gratitude - Ciccarelli took on the track for the first time this year. Practice found him 21st fastest, and he backed that up in qualifying with a 22nd-best time trial effort. He knew, though, that there was more in the car.

"It's disappointing, honestly," he said. "We looked pretty good early in practice but as the day went on we just couldn't pick up any more speed. I made a change before qualifying that I thought would help us but it didn't work out that way. The changes helped me a great deal exiting the corners but hurt me in getting through the middle. I had higher expectations for qualifying but we're looking forward to the race as always."

While the handling wasn't great, Ciccarelli was diagnosing the car and forming a plan for what to adjust when he got an opportunity under caution. But he never got the chance, as he was the caution. Entering turn three on lap 37, Ciccarelli was sent spinning by a rookie and backed into the outside wall. He was quickly back under power and drove away from the accident scene, but once he was on pit road the damage report was disheartening: the rear clip was bent.

"I'm very disappointed," he said. "The car wasn't working the way I wanted it to, but we got taken out before we had a chance to work on it. The 4 car got under me and turned around. I wound up backing it into the fence, bending the rear clip. The car's pretty torn up but we just stayed out there to finish the race the best we could to get some points. What a rough way to start the year.

Ciccarelli's next race will take place in the shop.

"The car's as bad as it was when we left California last year," he said, alluding to the last race of 2006 where another accident required replacing the rear clip. "We had all winter to fix it then, but now we've only got a couple weeks. We've got a pretty good crew, though, so one way or another we'll be ready."

-credit: ajc

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