Handling Problems Keep Jeff Anton From Showdown Success Irwindale, Calif. (Oct. 21, 2006) - Jeff Anton had a successful 2006 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series season. He posted five top-ten finishes and ended the regular season...
Handling Problems Keep Jeff Anton From Showdown Success
Irwindale, Calif. (Oct. 21, 2006) - Jeff Anton had a successful 2006 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series season. He posted five top-ten finishes and ended the regular season ninth in series points - far better numbers than the single top-ten he got in 2005, his rookie year. He earned his second invitation to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, the end-of-year race between the top East Series and NASCAR Autozone West Series drivers, but handling problems throughout the event kept him from finishing as well as he'd have liked, winding up 22nd at the finish.
Anton, driving the No. 30 Engineered Floors, Inc. Chevrolet, first got on the half-mile Irwindale Speedway outside Los Angeles, California on Friday and posted the 23rd fastest lap out of the thirty drivers invited. But he wasn't happy with the car. The crew went to work on a night race setup for Friday night's fifty-lap qualifying race. In that race, the handling difficulties continued and Anton rode it out to a fifteenth-place finish.
"The car is not gripping the track in the front or the rear here," the Russell, Massachusetts explained. "It does two completely different things: if I let it coast it gets tight, and if I get on the gas it gets loose. We're going to work on it and I think we can get it to work better. We're a top-ten team, we've run well everywhere we've gone, so to come here and run like that isn't our usual level of performance. There's plenty of things we can do to try and make this better."
While the Anton Racing team was optimistic that the changes made to the car would improve its handling in Saturday night's 150-lap feature, that proved to not be the case. A pit stop under a lap 13 caution saw more setup options tried, but while on pit road NASCAR scoring said that Anton lost a lap to the leaders. Attempts to get on the lead lap through the "beneficiary" rule were frustrated by other drivers getting the free pass.
"NASCAR said we were a lap down," Anton said after the race. "We weren't, but even if we were, we were in position to get the lucky dog and get back on the lead lap but they gave it to another driver. We should have gotten the free pass and we didn't, so that changed how we drove for the rest of the night."
The chassis problems persisted, even after a ten-minute break at lap 100 allowed teams to change tires and make a variety of adjustments to their cars. But with the car not gripping the racetrack, Anton had to hold on to finish 22nd.
"The car stayed pretty much the same it had been through practice and the qualifying race," he said. "We still couldn't get down to the times we were practicing at, and it wasn't hooking up at all. After they said we were a lap down, we knew we had to keep on going, but it wasn't our night.
"We definitely don't run like this back home. We changed some stuff during the pit stop: hooking up the rear sway bar and making wedge and track bar adjustments. We changed pretty much everything they allowed us to change but it didn't have much of an effect on the car," Anton continued.
"If we're coming back here next year we're going to have to come out early and get some testing laps in to see what we should be doing different."