John Salemi Gets Best Finish Of 2008 At New Hampshire Motor Speedway Loudon, N.H. (June 28, 2008) - John Salemi left the NASCAR Camping World East Series race at South Boston (Va.) Speedway with a battered car and a changed attitude. He wound up...
John Salemi Gets Best Finish Of 2008 At New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Loudon, N.H. (June 28, 2008) - John Salemi left the NASCAR Camping World East Series race at South Boston (Va.) Speedway with a battered car and a changed attitude. He wound up skipping the next race on the schedule, and he stopped taking prisoners on the racetrack. In his first race back, that attitude paid off with his best finish yet at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as he finished eighth in Friday's Heluva Good! Summer 125.
"It was a good day," the Nashua, New Hampshire driver said after the race. "It's our best finish at our home track, and to finish in the top ten here is good. To finish in the top ten here after losing a lap is even better. I owed it to the team and I owed it to the sponsors."
Salemi started the race from the 24th position after qualifying was rained out. He had made a pit stop and was restarting deep in the field on lap 41 when NASCAR officials thought he moved too quickly to pass as the green flag waved. It cost him a pass-through penalty on pit road and a lap on the racetrack.
"They said I jumped the restart," Salemi said. "I don't think I did, but you can't argue with them. I thought you could pass after you pass the commit cone. Maybe they thought I started the pass before that. It's over and done with, but they brought us in and we lost a lap because of that."
Receiving the 'free pass' on the next caution, Salemi returned to the lead lap with 55 laps left to run in the 125-lap race.
"After that," he said, "I was on a mission. I wasn't going to quit, I was going to get back everything I could."
He did that by racing into the top ten with less than twenty laps to go, and he did it the hard way, both by dodging accidents while being aggressive himself. He finished the event by outracing two-time champion Brad Leighton to the finish line on the last lap.
"We were in the right place at the right time," he said. "I almost got into a big wreck coming off turn two, we really threaded the needle on that one. We also went three-wide a few times where I was the meat in the sandwich, and I decided I wasn't going to lift. We've had some bad luck here in the past, particularly on the last lap, but I just decided to drive as hard as I could drive and it paid off.
"I'm happy. It's not first place, but it's good enough to be on the scoreboard," Salemi continued. "It was nice to pass the 55 [Leighton] on the last lap, that was pretty sweet."
Many interested parties were watching Salemi race at New Hampshire, including representatives of the companies that help the John Salemi Racing team get to the track and field a competitive effort there.