James Pritchard, Jr. Twenty-First At NHIS Despite Spin Loudon, N.H. (June 29, 2007) - After struggling through his first three NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series races, rookie James Pritchard, Jr. enjoyed being competitive at one...
James Pritchard, Jr. Twenty-First At NHIS Despite Spin
Loudon, N.H. (June 29, 2007) - After struggling through his first three NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series races, rookie James Pritchard, Jr. enjoyed being competitive at one of the biggest tracks the series faces, the 1.058-mile New Hampshire International Speedway. During the running of Friday's New England 125, The eighteen year-old ran as high as thirteenth before being spun out, leaving him to finish 21st.
Pritchard, driving the No. 41 Mannings USA Chevrolet, was running his first race equipped with a new spec engine. While he didn't find it didn't have as much torque as what he was used to, the power available once the car got off the corner was much more impressive. It took some getting used to, though, as he tested with his old engine in May.
While he qualified 35th, Pritchard was not intending to stay in the back for long. He passed the biggest hurdle, which was staying on the lead lap during the longest green-flag stretch of the race. When caution finally waved, he joined the field on pit road for a gas stop and resumed racing. Over the course of the next twenty laps, he moved up to fourteenth as the race passed halfway.
Trouble struck on lap 81. Running thirteenth, Pritchard ran into trouble when he was spun out by a former series champion.
"I was taking my time, getting laps in and picking off cars one at a time," Pritchard said. "We came in and made a fuel stop and the car was really good. We got up to twelfth or thirteenth and still not really working it that hard, but Kelly Moore took us out."
The spin flat-spotted all four tires but that was the extent of the damage. Pritchard came to pit road but the rules specified that only two tires could be changed, and two fresh tires mixed with two flat-spotted tires wasn't a recipe for a smooth ride. A final hurdle to overcome was a penalty for pulling to the left too quickly after a restart, but the team took advantage of that pit stop to make an adjustment to the chassis that paid off at the end, allowing him to come back through the field in the remaining laps to finish 21st.
"I just held onto the end," the Wharton, N.J. driver said. "I got black-flagged and that didn't really help, but we took the penalty and came back strong after making a couple of adjustments. We missed some of the wrecks and brought the car home with hardly any damage. I can't wait to come back."
Pritchard compared racing at a one-mile track with racing at the short tracks he's run on up to this point.
"Things happen a lot faster here," he said. "There's a big difference between the slow cars and the fast cars here and I found myself having to try and be patient with some of the slower guys because you didn't really know where they were going to go next. We didn't have a good setup for South Boston so we struggled there, but we've got a good setup for here and it showed by the way we ran. We'll be even better next time."
Pritchard will race next at Thompson International Speedway on Saturday,