DESPITE A LOOSE RACE CAR, O'QUINN JR. CONTINUES TO LEARN, GET EXPERIENCE IN FONTANA FONTANA, Calif. (February 25, 2006)- Danny O'Quinn Jr. and the entire No. 50 TransAmerica team came into the Stater Bros. 300 weekend once again with qualifying...
DESPITE A LOOSE RACE CAR, O'QUINN JR. CONTINUES TO LEARN, GET EXPERIENCE IN FONTANA
FONTANA, Calif. (February 25, 2006)- Danny O'Quinn Jr. and the entire No. 50 TransAmerica team came into the Stater Bros. 300 weekend once again with qualifying as their first and foremost goal. As was the case in Daytona, the team was required to qualify on time, and they set the car up going into California to qualify well.
Throughout the practice sessions, O'Quinn Jr. and the team worked on qualifying runs. O'Quinn Jr. ran best in turns three and four and felt the car to be too tight off of turns one and two. Drew Blickensderfer and the TransAmerica crew loosened the car, and O'Quinn Jr. ran a best time of 40.375 seconds.
The team was comfortable that the car was good enough to qualify in the field. Unfortunately, in qualifying O'Quinn Jr. fought the tight condition again, and it slowed his run. When qualifying was said and done, O'Quinn Jr. was to start in the 38th position.
Going into the race, the teams' goals for the Roush Racing Raybestos Rookie contender were for O'Quinn Jr. to run solidly and smoothly, continue to learn about the race car, the race track, and build chemistry with his team. The game plan was similar to that of Daytona, as the team discussed pre-race that they were to get a feel for the car first, find out what adjustments needed to be made, and then mount a charge to the front of the field in the closing laps of the race.
In the first few laps, O'Quinn Jr. gained a few positions before a caution on lap four. He radioed the crew and told them he was fighting an extremely loose race car. The crew pitted him on lap five, topping off the fuel tank and adjusting the track bar in order to tighten the car.
Crew chief Blickensderfer and spotter Ross Shattuck were continually encouraging to O'Quinn Jr. over the radio, telling him to be patient, learn as much as he could, and stay out of trouble.
That's exactly what O'Quinn Jr. did.
However, his car was still too loose. On lap 51, O'Quinn Jr. was put a lap down by the leader, his Roush Racing teammate Greg Biffle.
At the mid-point of the race, O'Quinn Jr. found himself in the 38th position. He raced somewhere around the 30th position all day.
O'Quinn Jr. continued to fight the loose race car for the rest of the day, and the TransAmerica crew made adjustments on each pit stop to make it better. Each adjustment helped little by little, and he looked the best he had all day in the final 20 laps of the race.
O'Quinn Jr. finished in the 31st position, and although he was disappointed, he understands that he is a rookie, and one of his primary goals right now is to learn as much as he can about the race cars and get comfortable with his team.
"Well we definitely didn't get off to a good start today," said O'Quinn Jr. " I never got the car where I wanted it but Drew and all the guys on the TransAmerica crew worked hard to try to get it where it felt comfortable to me. We were tight and loose and we just never found that happy medium."
It was certainly not the finish anyone would hope for, but it wasn't a disaster either. Spotter Shattuck said that a clean finish is definitely something to be content with when you are working with such a young driver and team all around.
"In my opinion with us being a rookie team, a good day is when we learn, finish cleanly and solidly, and roll the car without a scratch back onto the hauler," said Shattuck. "After we have had some time to establish ourselves, our idea of a good day will certainly change."
O'Quinn Jr. had similar sentiments, is aware that he is learning, and that it's not all going to happen perfectly right away.
"I'm learning as a rookie and it's a tough deal here in the Busch series. There aren't any slackers out there and you've got to go wide open every lap," O'Quinn Jr. continued. "We'll go back to the shop, sit down and talk about it, and we'll make it better. I have no doubt about that."
O'Quinn Jr.'s Roush Racing teammates finished well, with the No. 16 Fusion of Greg Biffle in Victory Lane, the No. 17 of Matt Kenseth in sixth, the No. 60 of Carl Edwards in third place and the No. 06 of fellow rookie driver Todd Kluever in 12th.
O'Quinn Jr., Kluever and Edwards head to Mexico City next weekend for their first road-course race of the season.
The World Financial Group (WFG) colors return to O'Quinn Jr.'s No.50 Ford Fusion in Mexico, after hosting the special paint scheme for the California based Transamerica AEGON member company in the Stater Bros. 300.