Salem II: Phillip McGilton race report

Radiator Damage from Track Debris Sidelines McGilton; Ends Night Early at Salem Finishes a disappointing 28th but retains 5th place in points Salem, Ind. (September 17, 2007) - Phillip McGilton was running in the fourth position and turning...

Radiator Damage from Track Debris Sidelines McGilton; Ends Night Early at Salem
Finishes a disappointing 28th but retains 5th place in points

Salem, Ind. (September 17, 2007) - Phillip McGilton was running in the fourth position and turning laps faster than the leaders Saturday night at the Salem Speedway. Just when it seemed that nothing could stop No. 47 SI Performance Ford Fusion, McGilton reported that he had a "hot" car. Unfortunately, the driver was not referring to the rocket of a racecar that he had underneath him. A piece of asphalt from the track caused damage to the radiator, resulting in peaked water and oil temperatures and the demise of the engine. McGilton was forced to retire early and finish in a disappointing 28th position.

"We should have won this," McGilton said shaking his head as he watched the end of the race from the top of the pit box. "We were so fast out there. I was wearing my brakes out trying to keep off of people. We just can't seem to shake this bad luck no matter what we do."

McGilton was looking forward to this weekend's return to the Salem Speedway. In his previous start at Salem, McGilton qualified the No. 47 in the sixth position and brought it home in the seventh position. With the additional track experience gained since his April visit, McGilton anticipated a strong show at the 0.555 mile track.

During the 1.5-hour practice session, McGilton and his Brewco Motorsports teammates worked on the car's handling. It was a little on the loose-side, particularly coming out of turn two. However, as the sun went down and the track cooled off, the team expected the car's condition to tighten up slightly.

"We were really free in practice," said McGilton. "We figured it would tighten up for the race as and that's exactly what it did. We were loose when we went green, but after about 30-40 laps she came in. The balance on the car was really good and we were able to carry tremendous speed. It was a rocket ship."

McGilton qualified the No. 47 SI Performance Ford Fusion in the seventh position with a lap time of 17.936 seconds. With the adjustments and cooler track, McGilton gained shaved 0.469 seconds off his best practice lap. The early qualifying draw hurt the team slightly as drivers following McGilton continued to pick up time. Still looking for that first SIM Factory Pole Award, the rookie was disappointed but happy to be starting near the front of the field that would beat and bang on each other's bumpers for 200 laps.

As the sun dropped to the horizon, the green flag flew for the Eddie Gilstrap Motors ARCA Fall Classic by Advance Auto Parts began at the Salem Speedway. With the faster line being on the outside at this short track and McGilton starting on the inside, spotter Ken Christerson worked to get his driver into the high groove as quickly as possible. McGilton slipped back to the 12th position as he shuffled to get to the high side by lap two. Once in place, McGilton took off and began to pick off the cars ahead of him.

The caution flag flew for the first time on lap 19. McGilton reported back to the team that the car was "a little on the free-side, but not bad at all." The last couple of laps prior to the caution, McGilton's lap times were dropping and he claimed with a chuckle that "either it [the car] was coming in or I was getting better out here."

McGilton restarted in the tenth position on lap 23. Running behind lap-down cars, McGilton was heavy on his brakes trying to stay off their back bumpers.

McGilton maintained the tenth position for the next 35 laps. Advancing into the ninth position around lap 69, McGilton set his sights on the No. 39 car. Pulling within car's length, both cars passed the No. 2 car on lap 84, moving McGilton into the eighth position. Trapped behind lapped traffic, McGilton was finally able to move past the lap down cars and begin the hunt on the No. 39 who had opened the length of the straightaway as a lead. Twenty laps later, McGilton was back on his bumper.

On lap 106 the fourth caution of the night came out with McGilton running in the eighth position.

Crew Chief Shawn Parker radioed to McGilton, "tell me what you got there, buddy."

McGilton replied "a hot race car." Unfortunately he was not referring to the rocket he was driving, but rather to the water and oil temperatures.

"Water's bad," McGilton reported. "The gauges are pegged boys."

Parker told his driver to turn on his fans and that "as soon as pit road opens we'll get you down here and take all the tape off." Trying to come up with ways to keep the car as cool as possible, Parker also suggested that McGilton keep his RPMs up as he coasted around the track under caution.

When pit road was opened, McGilton brought the No. 47 SI Performance Ford down to his team. The over-the-wall crew quickly put four fresh tires on the car, added fuel, and ripped all the remaining tape off the grill. They sent McGilton back onto the track in the fourth position.

Parker radioed McGilton to tell him that "you got a little bit of grill damage there." With no major front contact with anyone, the team scratched their heads trying to figure out where the damage could have come from.

McGilton restarted the race in the fourth position on lap 112. The No. 47 was turning lap times faster than the three cars in front of him. The excitement was short lived. On lap 124 the motor began to fail due to the high temperatures.

"We've blown up," McGilton reported with heavy frustration and anger in his voice.

As the power in the car continued to decrease, McGilton fell further back in the field. Within ten laps, the No. 47 was passed by the leaders.

"It's laying down even more," McGilton radioed to the team.

After completing his 136th lap and unable to hold a speed that wasn't a detriment to the other cars on the track, McGilton brought the car down pit road.

The team quickly put the hood up on the No. 47 to look for the source of the problem. It was quickly determined that the problems with the motor were internal.

Parker reported over the radio to the team that "something went through the radiator. You can see in the lower duct work, it's got a valve broke."

Fishing around in the duct work, the team pulled out a six by six-inch piece of asphalt that had gone through the radiator.

"This is ridiculous!" exclaimed McGilton, with frustration all over his face as he stared at the chunk of asphalt. "After that last step we went back out and it was a rocket ship. We should have had our win here. We just can't get any luck. No luck at all."

He did add after a while with a smile, "Man, did I have fun when we were running, though! I was grinning from ear to ear. I love it here!"

Completing 136 of the 200 laps, McGilton finished the race in the 28th position. McGilton held his fifth place position in the 2007 ARCA RE/MAX Series Championship points, with the unofficial post-race points reported at 4190, 145 points behind 4th place Justin Allgaier. Quickly gaining on McGilton is Justin Marks at 4160 points, unofficially. The battle will continue at the Talladega Superspeedway.

-credit: brewco

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Shawn Parker , Justin Marks , Justin Allgaier , Phillip McGilton