Dale Quarterley Finds Positives In Difficult Dover Weekend Dover, Del. (Sept. 22, 2006) - The six-day stretch between the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series races at New Hampshire International Speedway and Dover International ...
Dale Quarterley Finds Positives In Difficult Dover Weekend
Dover, Del. (Sept. 22, 2006) - The six-day stretch between the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series races at New Hampshire International Speedway and Dover International Speedway may look forgettable for Dale Quarterley and the entire 1/4 LEY Racing team. But during a stretch where the Westfield, Massachusetts' driver's No. 32 Chevrolet was wrecked three times, he saw how hard his team could work and still produce a fast race car under difficult circumstances.
The 2004 Dover race winner left New Hampshire with a crashed Van Dyk Baler Chevrolet Monte Carlo. In the few days between arriving home and having to leave for Dover, Quarterley replaced the car's left side sheet metal and repaired the damaged parts underneath. When the team arrived at Dover for the start of practice on Thursday, they still had to paint and letter the left side of the car, but still had it ready to go when green flew over the first practice session.
Quarterley was fifteenth-fastest in that opening session, and had picked up two tenths of a second in the second session. But a cut tire sent him into the turn four wall hard. The brake rotor disintegrated, leaving him to ride in the damaged car until it finally came to a rest halfway down the backstretch. He was unhurt, but the car wasn't.
"We were going at a decent clip," he said. "It blew coming out of four, where I had only made three-quarters of the turn, I hadn't hit the straightaway yet, so I went more straight-in rather than sideswiping the wall, and it was a major wreck. It pushed the upper A-frame mount in about three inches and crushed the header tubes. One of the header tubes had to be cut and a filler piece made to fix it."
While some teams might have thrown in the towel after a practice crash like that, Quarterley wasn't about to give up. With two tow trucks and a torch he straightened the frame in the garage area so the A-frame mount was where it was supposed to be. All of the right front suspension and brake components were replaced as well as the Panhard bar mount in the rear. The crew cut off the right-side sheet metal and hammered it straight so it could be welded back on when chassis repairs were complete.
The crew worked until 1:00 Friday morning, and Quarterley resumed work at 6:30 a.m. to get the car ready for qualifying. It passed tech inspection and took its run in time trials at its scheduled time. In the first laps since the wreck, Quarterley put the car in the show with the 21st fastest time.
"I wasn't worried about it making the show," he said. "I wasn't worried about the repairs, either. When I got out there I found that I could have driven it way harder than I did, and we were in such a hurry to get it together that we never taped up the grille either. So I left at least two or three tenths on the table just because of the grille, and when you put that back in the equation it could have put me around twelfth on the grid."
Overcoming great odds, Quarterley had the Van Dyk Baler/Bollegraaf Chevrolet in the top fifteen and threatening to run in the top ten early in the race.
"In the race the thing was easily a second- or third-place car without any problem at all. I went by the 06 before he had his problems, and I went by the 61 and 48 like they were stopped. And I wasn't even driving yet, that's how awesome the car was," he said.
That all changed just 33 laps into the race when something in the back of the car broke. It sent Quarterley high exiting off turn two and into the outside wall. He spun down the backstretch and wound up against the inside wall with a severely damaged machine.
"At this point the car's pretty much destroyed," he said. "We were joking yesterday that we weren't sure if the car was junk after the practice crash; now we're sure. We'll take a couple of pieces off of it and throw it away."
Quarterley, though, said the weekend proved that the 1/4 LEY Racing team could pull together and get the job done under difficult circumstances.
"It's been a tough week," he said. "We had to put a side on the car after Loudon and got that done to come here. We struggled a little in practice and then we had the tire blow out and hit the wall. We thrashed on it till the middle of the night and at the break of dawn to get it back together, and even after all that it was still a top-five car. We don't have anything to show for it, but we proved something to ourselves."
Quarterley will finish the season at familiar ground, the 1.53-mile Lime Rock Park road course where he's won East Series races in 2003 and 2001. Practice and qualifying will be held on Friday, September 29th with the 200-kilometer season finale going green the next day.