BES: Dover: Dion Ciccarelli race notes

Late-Race Accident Hurts Dion Ciccarelli's Dover Finish Dover, Del. (Sept. 22, 2006) - Dion Ciccarelli had high hopes entering the next-to-last NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series season. The race, at Dover International Speedway,...

Late-Race Accident Hurts Dion Ciccarelli's Dover Finish

Dover, Del. (Sept. 22, 2006) - Dion Ciccarelli had high hopes entering the next-to-last NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series season. The race, at Dover International Speedway, was the closest to his Severn, Maryland home and at the track where he's logged hundreds of laps as an instructor at the Monster Racing school. But high hopes turned into disappointment when Ciccarelli was spun out by another competitor and then collected by a second car, doing damage to the rear suspension of the No 84 Star Sales Ford. The Jamerson Motorsports team made quick repairs so Ciccarelli could finish the race, and he did, although he was back in nineteenth place.

Taking the composite-bodied car to Dover for the first time, Ciccarelli found it loose in practice. The team made changes in preparation for qualifying but they may have been too much as the car was tighter than expected in his time trial run.

"Yesterday it was a little free, so we tried tightening it up for qualifying and it was a little too tight," he said before the race. "We're going to try and free it up a little during the race. We learned a lot yesterday, working with the car to get it freed up and get the balance right. It's the first time here with a drop-snout, composite-bodied car and I like it so far, we just have to get it going a little faster."

Ciccarelli's first attempt to fix the car's handling came under a lap 33 caution when he was the first car on pit road. He returned on lap 70 for tires and fuel, restarting the race in sixteenth position. Things were looking up for the second-place driver in the Rookie of the Year competition as the leader in those standings was already retired from the event.

On lap 126, Ciccarelli was in the low lane in turn three when another car tried to pass even lower. It tapped Ciccarelli in the right rear and he spun up the track into the path of oncoming traffic. A third car struck the Star Sales Ford in the left rear, severely damaging the rear suspension.

"I thought I was going to recover but then I got slammed," he explained. "It knocked a spring out of the car and bent the track bar. I can't believe the crew got me back out there. They grabbed whatever big spring they could fine in the truck in there and got me back out there so we got a finish."

After losing only ten laps, Ciccarelli returned to competition and ran the remaining laps to record a nineteenth-place finish.

"We started off tight and we kept trying to make adjustments. We were nowhere near as fast as I wanted to be, but we were looking at the points and the Rookie of the Year standings, and having fun," he said. "I'm very disappointed that this happened at my home track, but this year we've been so lucky at missing the wrecks. It's too bad our luck had to change here."

The composite body has been fantastic this year at not taking on damage in previous accidents, and looked no worse for wear after the Dover race. But the real damage was hidden underneath.

"It's a lot worse than it looks," Ciccarelli said. "If you look at the body you'd think it wasn't that bad. I got hit so hard that it knocked the spring out of the car and shoved everything over, and the body bounced right back. All the panels between the body and the frame are wiped out, though."

Ciccarelli has just a few days to replace the rear end housing and make other repairs to be ready to go to the last race of the East Series season, which takes place at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. It will mark the driver's first time out on a road course.

-credit: ajc

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