Long Weekend For Kip Stockwell Ends With 22nd Place Lake Erie Finish North East, Penn. (July 8, 2006) - It was already a trying weekend for Kip Stockwell and his family-owned NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series team, and that was...
Long Weekend For Kip Stockwell Ends With 22nd Place Lake Erie Finish
North East, Penn. (July 8, 2006) - It was already a trying weekend for Kip Stockwell and his family-owned NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series team, and that was before they even got to Lake Erie Speedway, nearly 500 miles away from Stockwell Racing Team's Randolph, Vermont base of operations. Needing to rent a truck just to get to the track after blowing the engine in their transporter, Stockwell arrived at the track to qualify twelfth and run as high as ninth before becoming a victim of another driver's mistake, forcing him to retire from the event in 22nd place.
With his first DNF of the season, Stockwell dropped from seventh to tenth in the series point standings after five of eleven races.
Racers have come to expect the occasional engine problem in their race cars, but they're much less frequent in their tow rigs. When the engine in Stockwell's transporter broke, he was left scrambling for a solution far from home.
"We corked a motor in our truck on our way here, just three and a half hours into our trip," he said. "We hired Sabil & Sons to tow our truck back. We spent all day, from ten in the morning to 7:30 at night, trying to get back on the road. We rented a Penske truck with a tremendous amount of help from Mark Willoughby and his wife Robbin at Willoughby Motorsports. We'd never tried to rent anything like that before; we had no experience, but gracefully Mark was able to help us out and make that happen. We wouldn't even be here right now if we didn't have Mark's help.
"It came down to the family atmosphere that the Busch East Series has with everyone willing to help each other out," Stockwell continued. "[Series Director] Lee Roy had a part in it, and a lot of people made it special for us. Mark went above and beyond anything he had to do and my team is grateful and appreciative of that. My team's here, my little boy's here for the first time this year, and it's a great weekend in that respect."
At the track, Stockwell turned the seventeenth-fastest practice lap on old tires while working on a setup that would work late in the race. On fresh tires, Stockwell qualified twelfth.
"I think we've got a good top-ten car again this weekend, I don't see why not," he said. "I think we could have pushed it a little harder in qualifying, I didn't want to wad it up in qualifying. We're happy with what we've got and we'll see what we've got at lap 100. We're in good shape, the car feels good."
Running ninth under caution at the one-third point of the race, Stockwell felt tire trouble and pitted as the field was lining up for a restart. The tire needed changing so it was replaced and Stockwell rejoined the race a straightaway behind the field as green flew. He ran down the backmarkers and that's when his trouble began.
"I got in with those guys and tried driving by them," he said. "There were five or six cars in the back that you just can't race with, they caused three-quarters of the wrecks tonight, and I don't have much good to say about them.
"I felt like I got robbed by the 25 car," Stockwell continued. "I was all over him, he knows I was faster than him, and he wouldn't give me a lane. Every time I got outside him he'd pinch me, and every time I got below him he'd cut down on me. He ran me all over the place. I did get a good run on him on the frontstretch and got under him, I was clearly up to his door, and he chopped me coming into the turn. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and backed out of it as much as I could, but he was already gone."
The race only got worse from that point.
"Then the 10 car drives way up the racetrack, doesn't lift, bounces off the fence and turns a hard left while I was underneath him."
Stockwell drove to the pits where terminal front suspension damage was assessed, and he retired from the event after completing 65 laps.
"It only takes two seconds to get out of the throttle and lift, save your own race car and save someone else's race car," he said. "I had an awesome race car. Probably one of the best ones I've ever had at this track and probably one of the best I've had all summer. We worked on it all day and it's a shame that we got put out so early. I think we should have been in the top ten, maybe even in the top five the way it all shook out. But I got hit and it tore the front suspension all to pieces, tore the steering box right out of the frame, the car's basically a mess because of dumb racing.
"What really bothers me is that the same guys are creating the same problems every week," Stockwell continued. "And I hate it because we're a lead lap car, while these were five or six cars that were laps down, and I never once saw the passing flag from NASCAR to help me by them. We didn't get a fair shot and it probably took us back to tenth in points or worse. It's a shame because there isn't a team in this series that works any harder than we do. There are some that work as hard, but none that work harder. This race just compounds the rest of the problems that we've got this weekend."
Things won't get easier for Stockwell as there's only a few days to get ready for next Friday's New England 125 at New Hampshire International Speedway.
"We've only got a couple of days to get the car ready for Loudon, we leave for there on Wednesday night," he said. "B the time we get home tomorrow night, we still have to return the truck to Albany on Monday, so there's a lot involved that we've got to do. We're going to be busy. We've got the car to straighten out, the speedway exhaust that we've got to build and put in the car, and of course the shop is jumping business-wise so we also have that to take care of."