Dion Ciccarelli Tied For Busch East Rookie Lead After Finishing Adirondack Thirteenth Beaver Falls, N.Y. (July 29, 2006) - After being the top-finishing Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate in NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series ...
Dion Ciccarelli Tied For Busch East Rookie Lead After Finishing Adirondack Thirteenth
Beaver Falls, N.Y. (July 29, 2006) - After being the top-finishing Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate in NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series competition for the third time in 2006, Severn, Maryland's Dion Ciccarelli is now tied for the rookie points lead following a thirteenth-place finish in Saturday night's 150-lap race at Adirondack International Speedway in Beaver Falls, N.Y.
Ciccarelli, driving the No. 84 Star Sales Ford for Jamerson Motorsports, had another reason to be proud at Adirondack. He got to race with his brother Ray, who made his series debut at the central New York half-mile.
"My brother came out for the first time and he did great," Dion said after the race. "His goal was to make it in the race and run the whole race, and they helped him out a lot and got him in the show. We enjoyed working with him and racing with him."
Dion's day was a struggle with a composite-bodied Ford Taurus that was not getting through the turns well - a major challenge on a track that is almost circular.
"It's a very unique track, one like I've never experienced, and I've never been to a track where I was always, always turning left. I had to reposition my hands on the wheels because I was always turning," he said.
The handling problems continued through qualifying and into the race despite the hard work of the Jamerson Motorsports team. Starting 22nd, Ciccarelli's race was only 21 laps old when trouble struck and he spun high in the fourth turn and fell off the lead lap. He gained that lap back as NASCAR's beneficiary when caution flew on lap 72. With changes to the car made under a pair of earlier pit stops, Ciccarelli never stopped racing, picking up a position during the final green-white-checker dash to the finish to get thirteenth.
That finish, combined with mechanical problems for Ruben Pardo who had been leading the Rookie of the Year standings, allowed Ciccarelli to pull even with Pardo in the rookie points chase.
"We're still struggling," he said after the race. "In practice we were struggling pretty bad, and I had a problem getting into the corners in qualifying. In the race I started out just trying to make the best of it. I wound up having a pretty good time. I stayed out of trouble and ran my race and had fun. It turned out to be a good night for us."
Ciccarelli knows that a rookie driver and a rookie team face a big learning curve with a car that was new at the beginning of the season and racing on tracks they hadn't been to before. The car's handling problems have been a constant concern all year but they're going to the experts and trying a variety of possible fixes.
"Each time we try something different and we're going to different people trying to get advice at what we should be looking at," he said. "We've been working at it a little bit at a time, but it's a slow process. We'll try to get some more help and figure it out.
"It was tough because I was trying to work the track with a car that wasn't turning very well," he continued. "If I got on the outside it would just kill me, and if I got too far inside there are rumble strips that would kick the car off the bottom. I could use those to help turn the car but mostly I was working on getting into a rhythm."
Ciccarelli and team have a couple weekends off before the Busch East Series resumes on August 19th at the Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl.