ES: Lime Rock: John Salemi race notes

Clutch Problems End John Salemi's Lime Rock Race Early Lime Rock, Conn. (August 16, 2008) - John Salemi Racing went back to its roots by rolling out a yellow car for the running of the NASCAR Camping World East Series race at the 1.53-mile Lime...

Clutch Problems End John Salemi's Lime Rock Race Early

Lime Rock, Conn. (August 16, 2008) - John Salemi Racing went back to its roots by rolling out a yellow car for the running of the NASCAR Camping World East Series race at the 1.53-mile Lime Rock Park road course on Saturday. But a faulty clutch ruined the fun for the Nashua, N.H. driver just nine laps into the race, leaving him 31st in the final rundown.

Salemi, who raced a yellow No. 63 Pontiac in 2005, his rookie season on what was the NASCAR Busch North Series, brought out a yellow No. 63 Chevrolet for the annual stop at Lime Rock Park. Brake problems kept the Nashua, N.H. driver from taking to the track in the first practice session, though.

"The car was ready to race when we got here," he said. "We'd never run these brakes before so we didn't really know what we had till we put them on the car. When we were bleeding them, we saw a puddle and we knew that had to be fixed, so we never even made it on the track for the first practice."

Salemi got track time in the second practice session but started feeling something amiss in the clutch while on the track.

"We still had to get our brakes figured out, and we ran out of time before we could look at the clutch," he said. "We went into the race knowing it might last the whole race, but you never know, especially on a road course. We had a plan to just stay on the track and get to our fuel stop, and then race from there."

Salemi's first order of business once the race started was to assess the repaired brakes. Once he had confidence in the brakes, he could start getting up to speed.

"I spent the first few laps riding it out, feeling out the brakes mostly," he said. "They were good. They didn't go away so we knew we had that problem fixed. We started putting in some good laps, running a little harder each time. Setup-wise, the car was good."

This lasted until lap nine, when Salemi found mechanical trouble going into the first turn.

"That last time I went into turn one, I went to grab third gear and it wasn't there," he said. "It smelled like clutch, so I think we blew the clutch up. I didn't hear any rattling like it broke the transmission or rear gear, so we should be good there. It didn't blow under acceleration, which is good because that saved the engine from over-revving and doing damage there."

Salemi was forced to retire from the race, and he was classified as 31st in the field.

"Our EastSeries.com Tribute Car wasn't so good to us this weekend," he said. "I'm not as disappointed as I think I should be, just because it's been that kind of weekend. We've had such bad luck at this track, and I really like this track. We'll throw a new clutch in the car and we'll take it to Dover.

"I have to thank Middlesex Gas, Kustom Vinyl, and EastSeries.com," Salemi continued. "Everybody at John Salemi Racing works so hard to get here and we only got a few laps on the track, but I have to thank the guys for what they do. It could be worse, though. We have a car to race so we'll fix the clutch and race it again."

-credit: johnsalemiracing.com.

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Series NASCAR
Drivers John Salemi