ES: Loudon: Dion Ciccarelli race notes

Dion Ciccarelli Overcomes Fire, Crash At NHIS Loudon, N.H . (June 29, 2007) - After a weekend that would send most race teams considering a vacation, Dion Ciccarelli and the Jamerson Motorsports team can be proud of what they accomplished at New...

Dion Ciccarelli Overcomes Fire, Crash At NHIS

Loudon, N.H . (June 29, 2007) - After a weekend that would send most race teams considering a vacation, Dion Ciccarelli and the Jamerson Motorsports team can be proud of what they accomplished at New Hampshire International Speedway. They had to endure a lack of sleep, a gas leak in the owner's motorhome, a penalty in practice, and the race car catching fire during qualifying. Some teams might have considered throwing in the towel after all that, but the Jamerson team got the No. 84 Star Sales/Operation Gratitude Chevrolet fixed and into the race, where, despite a late-race accident, they finished 22nd on the lead lap.

While the hauler made it to NHIS in time for preparations for the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series tech inspection, the crew was still getting their bearings as their flight to New Hampshire was delayed five hours, with their not getting in until three o'clock Thursday morning. Team owners Larry and Beth Jamerson came up in an RV that developed a propane leak on the ride north.

The team got together in time to get through tech and into practice, where Ciccarelli was 35th fastest. In qualifying, he was only allowed one lap due to a practice penalty, but he never got to take the green on his qualifying attempt. An electrical short in one of the brake blowers started an under-hood fire that caused quite a bit of damage under the hood. Ciccarelli was unhurt as the car was towed back to the garage area for diagnosis and repairs. The team set to replacing many electrical components and wiring, as well as the distributor and radiator fan. Also needed was a thorough cleaning of everything under the hood as everything was coated with residue from fire extinguisher. Throughout the process, there was never any talk of loading up and going home without racing.

"We do this because we love it, and we're not going to give up," Ciccarelli said.

The Severn, Maryland driver started the New England 125 from the tail of the 43-car field. While he did go a lap down early in a long green-flag run, the beneficiary rule restored his lead-lap status just after halfway. From taking the next restart back in 28th place, he moved into the top twenty with less than twenty laps to go and looked to improve even further. But after dodging several accidents late in the going, Ciccarelli's luck ran out and he got tagged by a spinning car with just five laps to go.

"I saw the wreck happening and I thought I was going to have it missed, but I think the 88 car got hit in the back and that made him spin into me and tore up the whole right side," he said. "It went up over the tire, tore the windows out of the car, bent all the interior sheet metal, cut a tire, and I think maybe the rear axle is bent as well. But we came in, changed that flat tire and went out and finished the race."

Despite the disappointment of the late wreck, Ciccarelli finished 22nd, which is a lot better than if he hadn't started at all.

"I thought we were done when I got out of the car as it was burning up, but we had a lot of help getting the car going, we even had Carl Wegner helping out," he said. "Andy Santerre's teams gave us a bunch of motor parts so we could get going as well. We got in the race and started dead last and I just wanted to feel it out, but we wound up having a good race. I got up to thirteenth before that last caution and that was just unbelievable after everything we'd gone through.

"We should be happy that we even got into the race considering where we were yesterday, but we're greedy and we'd have liked to have finished where we were before that last wreck," Ciccarelli continued. "My crew is just unbelievable to take a totally burned-up, melted-down car, and get it running. Beth and Larry didn't want to see anybody quit so they bought whatever we needed to rebuild it and we raced."

There's some work to be done to get the car ready for the next race, which is in two weeks at Thompson International Speedway in Thompson, Connecticut.

"We've got some work to do to fix the right-side, there's some pretty significant damage there but we'll get it fixed up and we'll be at Thompson," Ciccarelli said.

-credit: ajc

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