Vanderwyst Delaware report

LONDON, ON - Pete Vanderwyst's 2001 racing season came to a conclusion on Sunday afternoon at Delaware Speedway. The EXIDE Batteries / National Fast Freight Pontiac driver battled a bad back, an untried chassis setup, and a broken clutch to come...

LONDON, ON - Pete Vanderwyst's 2001 racing season came to a conclusion on Sunday afternoon at Delaware Speedway. The EXIDE Batteries / National Fast Freight Pontiac driver battled a bad back, an untried chassis setup, and a broken clutch to come home 16th in the 'Great Canadian 300'. The final Castrol Super Series race weekend of the season featured a pair of 100 lap qualifying sprint races on Friday night, a Final Qualifier race on Saturday evening (for those who still needed to secure a starting position in Sunday's 41-car starting field), as well as Sunday's 300 lap feature event. Coming into the race, the St. Thomas, ON driver was bothered by a bad back, which had been aggravated by a run-in with the concrete retaining wall during practice for the Vancouver Indy, in early September. But after a successful sixth-place run in his 100-lap Sprint race on Friday night, Vanderwyst was convinced that he could participate in Sunday's main event. The EXIDE Pontiac lined up 13th on the grid for the final race of the summer. A day that started with so much hope, however, soon turned into a struggle just to finish as Vanderwyst lost his clutch in the young laps of the event. "On the first restart, very early in the race, we lost the clutch and had no way of shifting gears," said Vanderwyst. "After that, it just got bogged down so much on all the restarts. And one time, when it did get going and I went to shift, it got knocked out of gear and I couldn't get it going. From there, I had to turn it off, put it into second, and start bumping it to get going again. That's when we went down a lap." The challenge from that point was to score the best possible result for EXIDE / Nat'l Fast Freight team. "From there, we just tried to ride around as best we could. For pit strategy, we went as long as we could to see if the leaders would pit and maybe we could get a caution flag and get back on the lead lap. But we didn't have anything left in the tires after a while, and the chassis was way too loose to make any more progress. We looped it once and it was impossible to get going because I didn't have a clutch." A problem with the team's motor, during practice, left Vanderwyst and crew with a clean sheet of paper in their quest for a good setup for Sunday's race. "We broke a motor in practice, early in the weekend, so we had to go back to our 'old faithful' Smuck's motor. We had to make some pretty drastic setup changes to accommodate it. We came here pretty blind in terms of the changes we made and wondering how the car would react." Asked about how his back felt after the race, Vanderwyst put it bluntly, "Sore as hell. It wasn't so bad in the car because you get the adrenaline going. But once I got out of the car, it felt like my hip was dislocated. I imagine I'm going to be feeling it for the next few days. But it's a long off-season to get my back healed and in shape for next year. I was just happy that I could race for the guys on the team. They've worked hard all weekend, just like they have all year. I want each of them to know how much I appreciate it. Without the support of my team, I wouldn't be able to be out there. I'd also like to thank EXIDE, National Fast Freight, Kubota, Elgin Cartage and all of the people who helped support us in the 2001 season." Turning to next year, Vanderwyst - who finished ninth in the final Castrol Super Series standings - is confident that he can do better in 2002. "We'll take the result and go from here. It was 'one of those years' for us, this year. But we still know we can run well. At the end of the race, we had the chassis dialed in and were running three-tenths [of a second] quicker than Gibbons and Kennington [Peter Gibbons and DJ Kennington finished first and second, respectively, in the 'Great Canadian Race']. We were pretty happy with that." Vanderwyst would like nothing better than to fly the EXIDE Batteries colours again next season. "Hopefully, we can put together a deal with EXIDE for next year and try to get rid of this monkey on our backs. I honestly believe we can come out and challenge for the championship the way we did in 1999."

-pvm-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Canada
Drivers Peter Gibbons , Pete Vanderwyst