James Pritchard, Jr. An Accident Victim At Thompson Thompson, Conn. (July 14, 2007) - James Pritchard, Jr. was looking forward to racing at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway, which has been one of the better tracks for his James Pritchard...
James Pritchard, Jr. An Accident Victim At Thompson
Thompson, Conn. (July 14, 2007) - James Pritchard, Jr. was looking forward to racing at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway, which has been one of the better tracks for his James Pritchard Motorsports team in years past. His first impression driving a NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series car at the .625-mile oval was "awesome", but his race was a disappointment as he was involved in a crash not of his doing, ending his race prematurely.
Pritchard, 18, took his No. 41 Mannings USA Chevrolet to the track for practice on Saturday and quickly found the track to his liking. He lost practice time, though, when the car bottomed out and repairs needed to be made before he could resume.
"The track is awesome," he said. "You can get some good speed going into the turns and then there's a lot of banking to hold you in. In practice we started out pretty good until we put a hole in the oil pan. There was too much suspension travel and the car bottomed out pretty good, it ground a hole in the oil pan and cracked the exhaust, so we had to spend some practice time fixing those problems.
"The car's right where I want it for the race, but it was too loose for qualifying," Pritchard continued, after qualifying 26th. "In the race, the car will come around and we should be good. We're all optimistic and Grandpa's not here, so we should be in good shape."
In his brief Busch East Series career, Pritchard has become very good at avoiding accidents. He proved this ability again when he missed the first two accidents in the Pepsi 100. But when another car blew a rear end and greased down the track, he found himself in an incident he couldn't avoid.
"A car blew a rear end and NASCAR didn't throw the yellow flag," he said. "A bunch of cars piled up, and I went low. I was clear until I got clipped by someone coming across the nose. I hit the wall and it destroyed the whole nose of the car."
The accident forced Pritchard into the frontstretch inside wall and did enough damage that the Mannings USA Chevrolet had to be towed from the scene. The damage was too severe to repair in the pits so he was done for the day with his first DNF of the year and a 29th place finish. The next task is to assess the car's condition before making a decision over whether to go to the next series race, which takes place next Sunday night in Nashville, Tennessee.
"Hopefully the front clip isn't damaged, but we won't know for sure until we get to the shop and start taking things apart," Pritchard said. "If we're going to go to Nashville, we've got a long week ahead of us."
Pritchard expressed frustration over the number of wrecks that have been plaguing East Series races recently.
"I don't like wrecking race cars," he said. "I can take my tire bill and go run a car and have less damage on it at a quarter-mile short track than I do here. The Cup guys can start 43 cars on a half-mile track and they don't wreck nearly as much as these guys here do. It doesn't take talent to wreck race cars, I can put my little brother in and he can go wreck my race car if we wanted to do that, and it seems like that's what some of these guys are doing. NASCAR has to change something because it's getting ridiculous.
"It's tough to run when there are guys out there just slamming into each other," Pritchard continued. "It's the wrong way to race with hundred-thousand-dollar race cars. It's not fun for the drivers who actually want to drive and not play bumper cars, and it's not fun for the spectators to watch. Everything comes back to NASCAR. They want to run double-file restarts and keep the field bunched together, and they don't want to penalize guys who slam into each other and jump restarts. What are you going to do?"