Talladega: Phillip McGilton race report

McGilton Qualifies 4th at Talladega; Spun in Final Laps Finishing 21st Talladega, Al. (October 9, 2007) - Phillip McGilton took the grid for qualifying on Thursday afternoon with confidence and ran a lap to start 4th in Friday's ARCA RE/MAX...

McGilton Qualifies 4th at Talladega; Spun in Final Laps Finishing 21st

Talladega, Al. (October 9, 2007) - Phillip McGilton took the grid for qualifying on Thursday afternoon with confidence and ran a lap to start 4th in Friday's ARCA RE/MAX Series 250 at Talladega Superspeedway. After several incidences that required the No. 47 SI Performance Ford to drive from the back to the front, McGilton was poised to finish in the top-10. Six laps shy of the checkered flag, McGilton's rear tires were lifted into the air by the car drafting behind him and the No. 47 spun through the grass. Pitting quickly for tires, McGilton remained on the lead lap and finished a very disappointing 21st.

"It's just extremely frustrating to leave the track like this," stated McGilton. "We put so much effort into this speedway car, the guys worked extra hard on it. Our Roush-Yates guys worked to give us a stout motor for today. We just really thought we were going to be there up front at the end. And we should have been."

McGilton and his Brewco Motorsports teammates entered this weekend, confident that they had a car that could make it all the way to Victory Lane. The 33rd car to qualify, the McGilton's second lap was a 52.003 second effort that earned him the fourth starting position for the ARCA RE/MAX Series 250. The car was incredibly fast in the draft, on its own, and in qualifying trim so the team elected to skip final practice on Friday morning.

Not long after the green flag dropped for the ARCA RE/MAX Series 250, cars were already running two and three-wide around the infamous superspeedway. McGilton moved on the outside where he had started the race. By lap four, spotter Ken Christerson cleared McGilton to move down into the inside line of cars which was moving faster around the track. Less than ten laps into the race, there was a six-car breakaway with McGilton running in the fifth position.

Feeling the momentum, McGilton pulled out of the line of six cars just slightly to see if he had enough speed to make a pass on the outside of the group. However, the door quickly closed, leaving McGilton on the outside and all alone, not how you want to be while racing at a superspeedway. McGilton rapidly slid backwards to the 14th position.

For the next ten laps, it seemed that the outside line might retain the momentum to catch the lead pack, however, by lap 25 McGilton was in the 21st position.

On lap 29 the first caution of the day came out. As the cars slowed to pace speed and circled waiting for pit road to open, McGilton suddenly came on the radio exclaiming, "What the [heck] was he thinking? Why did he come into me like that?"

The No. 2 car had inexplicably made contact with the No.47 SI Performance Ford following the yellow flag causing damage to the left rear quarter panel. McGilton made three trips down pit road as the team worked relentlessly to repair the damage and restore some aerodynamics to the car. Also while on pit road, the team put on four fresh tires and fuel, topping off the fuel load on the third and final pit stop for the caution.

A costly situation, McGilton restarted the race on lap 35 in the 35th position.

Nine laps later, the No. 23 car spun on the track and brought out the afternoon's second caution on lap 44.

Running around the 2.66-mile speedway under caution, McGilton came back on the radio and asked again, "does anyone know what he was thinking? Why did he just turn into me like that? We were already under caution!"

The frustration mounting as it was evident that the rocket ship of a race car that had taken the green flag was now hindered by the damaged side, suddenly McGilton bellowed over the radio again.

"What the!? The 12 car just hit us, too! What is this out here?" McGilton exclaimed.

Spotter Ken Christerson relayed to his driver what he had been told by the No. 2 car spotter. "He said that he could hardly see out his windshield. At least that's his excuse."

To regain track position, when pit road opened, Crew Chief Shawn Parker instructed his driver to stay on the track.

McGilton restarted in the third position on lap 46, nearly the halfway mark of the race.

A lap later, the No. 31 car squeezed to the inside of McGilton, shuffling the No. 47 into the high line again. Without help, McGilton fell back, running three and four-wide at times.

On lap 54, another caution came out for debris on the track. Parker reported to his driver that the damaged rear quarter panel was ballooned out, resembling a parachute and giving the car the same effects.

"We gotta get you in and get that parachute fixed," agreed Parker, also adding that "you need to find a friend and move to the front together."

McGilton brought the car down pit road and the team worked to beat the fender back where it belonged and secure it with more tape.

Back on track and running around under caution, Parker and McGilton discussed the afternoon.

"I was fast and able to move up there until the end of that run," McGilton told his Crew Chief. "That rear end was killing us. We'd pull out and slow way down. If I get out of line I got backward"

Christerson added that there was a car "looking to go to the front and will work with you if he can get to you. He'll tuck in behind you or look for you to tuck in if he is going."

McGilton restarted in the 30th spot on lap 60. The Roush-Yates power boosted McGilton up to the 11th position by lap 69. Often running three-wide, McGilton was able to thread his way through traffic and move forward.

On lap 72, another caution came out when a multi-car wreck occurred. Despite the day's bad luck, the No. 47 was not involved in the carnage.

McGilton took the time again to chat on the radio and reflected that, "it's just frustrating. And I haven't had a lot of plate racing experience until now. At Daytona we just ran around in a single file. I'll tell you this much, I'm learning a lot out here!"

With the debris on the track finally cleaned off, the race restarted on lap 82. McGilton took the green flag this time in the tenth position. Tucked into the line of leaders, McGilton held his line to finish the race. On lap 87, the No. 40 car was shuffled to the high-side and McGilton moved to the ninth position.

One lap later, the No. 21 car suddenly sucked up onto the rear bumper of McGilton. However, he didn't stop. Both rear tires of the No. 47 car were lifted high into the air, with the rear spoiler of the SI Performance Ford nearly even with the roof of the No. 21. As McGilton's car slid off of the hood of the No. 21, the No. 47 went for a spin in the grass on the backstretch.

Without hitting anything, McGilton quickly got the car moving and came down pit road to get four tires. Quickly back on the track under the caution, McGilton remained on the lead lap, however in the 25th position.

Frustrated and very disappointed, the race restarted with only four laps to go. Still driving a fast car, McGilton moved up four spots and took the checkered flag in the 21st position.

"The car was really fast. We had a ton of horsepower out there. I had to race from the back to the front several times and we did it every time," said McGilton, shaking his head and trying to think of the appropriate thing to say about the on track incidents. "I guess it's just a racing deal, but it's unfortunate that all our hard work got ruined because someone tried to bump-draft us and failed and someone else didn't see us under caution. It's hard not to be mad, but I guess we all make mistakes sometimes out there."

McGilton slipped to the sixth place position in the 2007 ARCA RE/MAX Series Championship points, with the unofficial post-race points reported at 4315, 35 points behind 5th place Justin Marks.

Next Stop: The ARCA RE/MAX Series will wrap up the 2007 Season at the Toledo Speedway on Sunday October 14th, 2007.

-credit: PhillipMcGilton.com

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