Fike Fights Loose ...
Fike Fights Loose #43 California Pizza Kitchen Dodge All Day Long At California Speedway's NASCAR Busch Series Stater Bros. 300
FONTANA, Calif. (Saturday, Feb. 25, 2006) -- From his early-afternoon qualifying run all through today's NASCAR Busch Series Stater Bros. 300 at California Speedway, Aaron Fike fought a seemingly unending battle with loose conditions with the final result meriting a 36th-place finish at the checkered flag for he and his #43 California Pizza Kitchen Dodge of Curb Agajanian Performance Group (CAPG).
Fike, the 23-year-old out of Galesburg, Ill., started the afternoon by laying down a fast qualifying lap of 176.095 mph (40.887 seconds) around the 2-mile tri-oval despite a wickedly loose race car. That netted a 20th-row starting spot for the 150-lap main event and no chance to remedy the condition before race time due to NASCAR's post-qualifying impound rules.
The early race strategy was to stay out of trouble before significant chassis and tire pressure adjustments could be made on the first pit stop, which came under yellow after a Lap-19 caution with Fike having moved up to the 33rd position.
Loose conditions prevailed, however, through the next two fuel-and-tire runs, and changes made on subsequent pit stops could not rid Fike and the California Pizza Kitchen Dodge of the problem. He soldiered home 36th while he and the CAPG crew wrote it off as a frustrating day in every respect.
Next up for the NASCAR Busch Series competitors is next Sunday's second annual road circuit event at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.
"There's not a whole lot you can say after a day like that. It was definitely frustrating. That's a good car we brought here ... probably my favorite one in the whole shop ... so we certainly didn't expect to be leaving here feeling this way. I think the car was at its best when we rolled it off the truck. Somehow, I don't know if it was the changing track conditions or what, but we seemed to take it in the wrong direction. We're still very much chasing after the sponsorship we need to do this at the highest levels, so because of that, we weren't able to participate in the (recent) Las Vegas test with everybody else. I think that would have helped matters for us this weekend, considerably. On a positive note, I think when we sit down and analyze all the data, we'll be able to pinpoint what might have gone wrong. There's also a new tire we've been running on and I think maybe we need to get a little more familiar with it. Overall, we gave it our best shot but it just wasn't there this weekend. It's on to Mexico City to show what we can do on a world-class road circuit."