Late Race Incident in Caution-Filled Pennsylvania 200 Robs McGilton of Good Finish Long Pond, Pa. (August 06, 2007) -- Phillip McGilton and his Brewco Motorsports teammates entered the weekend at Pocono Raceway with high hopes and a battle plan...
Late Race Incident in Caution-Filled Pennsylvania 200 Robs McGilton of Good Finish
Long Pond, Pa. (August 06, 2007) -- Phillip McGilton and his Brewco Motorsports teammates entered the weekend at Pocono Raceway with high hopes and a battle plan to finish up front in Saturday's Pennsylvania 200. However, McGilton's day came to an early end when a multi-car accident on lap 56 gathered up the No. 47 SI Performance Ford and brought out the red flag. McGilton was running in the 17th place following a yellow-flag pit stop when the incident occurred. Examined and released from the infield care center, McGilton hurried back to the garage where his teammates were quickly ascertaining the damage with hopes of returning to the track. Unfortunately, a damaged transmission prevented McGilton from rejoining the race and the No. 47 team finished the day in the 30th position.
"We just can't seem to catch a break these last couple of races," said McGilton, following the accident. "This could have been a good points day for us, too. The car was handling decently and I was working to run a patient and conservative race to take it easy on these tires. The plan was go 60 laps nice and calm and then race hard for the last 20 or so. I was watching the cars ahead of me after that last stop and it was just a matter of time before a pile-up happened."
McGilton started the day on the 7th row, in the 13th position after qualifying with a 54.999 sec. lap in Friday's time trials. The first 20 laps of the race quickly produced two cautions. Riding around under yellow during the caution laps McGilton reported that the No. 47 was a little tight in the center, but otherwise felt pretty good. Toward the end of the green flag racing McGilton reported the car to be loosening up.
When the caution flag flew again on lap 23, the No. 47 came down pit road for four tires and fuel. The over-the-wall crew ripped off a good, solid pit stop, positioning McGilton to restart in the 10th place. With several cautions resulting from blown left front tires, much like those that had plagued McGilton in the June race, McGilton raced conservatively, using the draft as much as possible in order to protect his tires. The team did not want a tire to cost them another good finish here at Pocono Raceway. After the crew examined the tires from the first stop, the strategy appeared to be working successfully.
McGilton remained in the top-10, racing up to the 6th position. When the caution flag came out again on lap 38, Crew Chief Shawn Parker asked his driver how things felt almost half-way into the race.
"It's still pretty good," returned McGilton. "A tick on the free side. Not freaky loose, just a tick. It's helping me get off [turn] three good, but I have to be careful in [turn] one."
Parker told his driver, "You're looking good out there. Just need to take care of those tires. Play the game until the end."
McGilton laughed and replied, "that's not easy when these guys are going three-wide out here."
The race returned green on lap 43 with McGilton remaining in the 6th position. When the next caution came out on lap 46, McGilton had slipped slightly to the 11th spot.
McGilton radioed that it was "hard to tell [how the car felt] because I'm not running the line I'd like to run."
Another yellow-flag pit stop would cycle him back to the 19th spot because some teams opted not to pit. The Brewco Motorsports team took four tires and fuel once again.
Restarting the race, an accident occurred in front of McGilton. He was able to successfully go low on the track and avoid it. However, immediately following the restart on lap 56, another incident in front of him would not find the 28-year-old Marion, Illinois resident quite as lucky. A multi-car pile-up in the Tunnel Turn occurred just in front of McGilton and gathered up the No. 47 Ford.
"Unbelievable," radioed McGilton. "I can't get a break out here."
McGilton, along with ARCA RE/MAX drivers Bobby Gerhart, Joey Miller and Tom Berte were taken to the infield care center. Each were examined and released while Gerhart was transported to Lehigh Valley Hospital where he remains under observation.
With the race under a red-flag, the team had not lost many laps. They quickly examined the car, ready to make fast repairs when the red flag was lifted. Unfortunately a closer look revealed that the transmission was damaged in the accident, delivering the fatal blow to the No. 47 and officially ending the day. The team was scored in the 30th position when the checkered flag was dropped.
"Well, we'll move on to Nashville next week," said McGilton with a sigh. "This is not how I had hoped Pocono would end, but we'll come back strong in Nashville. Our test speeds don't reflect it, but we have some things figured out for a strong performance there."
McGilton remains in the 6th position in the 2007 ARCA RE/MAX Series Championship points with 6510 points, the gap widening to 190 points behind 5th place Justin Allgaier.
McGilton and his Central City, Kentucky-based teammates will be returning to the Nashville Superspeedway next weekend for the Toyota ARCA 150. Practice is from 12:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday, August 10, 2007. Qualifying begins that evening at 6:30 p.m. The green flag drops at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 11th and will be broadcast LIVE on SPEED. All times are EASTERN.