Ashton Lewis has tough weekend at Lowe'S Motor Speedway. Concord, NC (October 12, 2002)-- Ashton Lewis, Jr. and the Civil Air Patrol Chevrolet racing team had a surprisingly difficult weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Entering the weekend,...
Ashton Lewis has tough weekend at Lowe'S Motor Speedway.
Concord, NC (October 12, 2002)-- Ashton Lewis, Jr. and the Civil Air Patrol Chevrolet racing team had a surprisingly difficult weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Entering the weekend, the team felt confident they had a top ten car, but it quickly became apparent they were going to have to work hard to pull off a great finish.
The car that the team brought this weekend is a brand new car that had only been run once, in a test session at Kansas Speedway in September. At that test session, they were so pleased with the car's ability to adapt to changes, the decision was made to bring the car here instead of running it in the Kansas race.
On Thursday inspection went well for the team, and they were only required to make a few minor changes. On Friday it was a different story. Rain delayed the first practice session of the morning, and when the cars finally got on the track they only had one hour to practice, instead of the normal two hours. The CAP Chevrolet began the first practice session in race trim. After a few laps, Lewis knew some changes would have to be made, but with time limited he also knew they needed to run the car in qualifying trim. At the end of the practice session they had run a total of 15 laps, which was more than most teams.
In qualifying Lewis had a time of 30.445 (177.369 mph) which placed him 36th on the starting grid. The pole speed of 29.943 (180.343) was set by Michael Waltrip. Eighteen cars failed to qualify for the race, and 11 cars went home. While Lewis was glad he made the field with his time, he was disappointed to be starting so far back in the lineup.
In' Happy Hour' on Friday afternoon, the team knew they had a lot of work to do. They made a lot of changes to the CAP Chevrolet to see how it would react to different setups, and by the end of the practice they had learned a lot that they would be able to put to use during the race.
On Saturday in the Little Trees 300 Lewis radioed his crew on lap 5 to let them know the car was"very free". Crew Chief Charlie Lewis told Ashton to hold on, that they would make the necessary changes in the first pit stop. The first caution flag flew on lap 9, but Charlie knew it would be a quick caution and did not want to go a lap down. The second caution flag of the day came out on lap 35 and provided the opportunity for their first pit stop. The crew put on four tires, topped off the fuel and made track bar and spring rubber adjustments.
As Lewis started making his way through the field, he let the crew know that the car was still just a little free. On lap 95 the caution flag came out for oil on the track. Lewis brought his car to the crews attention, where they put on two tires and made a wedge bolt adjustment. Lewis restarted the race in the 15th position, with a car that he knew would continue to work through the field towards the top ten. Unfortunately for the CAP racing team, there was trouble on the restart which Lewis could not avoid getting caught up in.
He brought the car down pit road and the crew quickly determined that the damage would have to be repaired behind the wall. They cut away as much of the body damage as possible, replaced the radiator, and sent Lewis back out on the track. When the race ended Lewis was 33rd and had dropped two positions in driver's points.
"I am just so frustrated that because of another driver's error I lost so much. A new car, a top ten finishing position, and points. I know he caused nine or ten cars trouble there, and I think one was even hurt. It just doesn't make any sense," Lewis said.
The next race on the schedule is the Sam's Town 250 at Memphis Motorsports Park on October 19th. The race will be aired live on NBC and MRN starting at 1:30 ET.