BES: Loudon II: Dion Ciccarelli race notes

Dion Ciccarelli Shows Improvement At NHIS, Finishes 24th Loudon, N.H. (Sept. 16, 2006) - Dion Ciccarelli admitted that his previous NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series efforts at the one-mile New Hampshire International Speedway...

Dion Ciccarelli Shows Improvement At NHIS, Finishes 24th

Loudon, N.H. (Sept. 16, 2006) - Dion Ciccarelli admitted that his previous NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series efforts at the one-mile New Hampshire International Speedway were not up to par. Things are changing for the Severn, Maryland driver as he brought his composite-bodied Ford Fusion to the Magic Mile and ran as high as fifth in Saturday's Sylvania 125 before the handling went away and he finished 24th.

Ciccarelli got to start the race from the twelfth position after qualifying was rained out and the field was lined up by points. He hung tough in that position through the race's early laps and picked up a number of positions when he chose to stay on the track while most leaders came to pit road on lap twenty.

Restarting fifth, Ciccarelli's Star Sales Ford held its own as the leaders started working their way back to the front. He was eleventh on a lap 46 restart, but the car needed tires and gas to make it to the finish. He made it to pit road on lap 52, under caution, taking on tires and fuel but falling to the tail of the lead lap cars and set out to make it back through the field.

The race was filled with caution periods interrupted by short green-flag runs, leaving Ciccarelli little time to make progress. As he dodged wrecks and tried improving his position, time was running out as the race had to be done within a certain timeframe. With 87 laps on the scoreboard, it was announced that the race would go another 15 laps, making it a 102-lap race rather than 125. Ciccarelli was still mired back in the mid-twenties as caution came out for the final time on lap 93. Ten of those final fifteen laps were run under caution, leaving the race to end with one shot at a green-white-checker finish. He wound up 24th at the end.

"The actual finish didn't show it, but this was the best I've ever run here," he said after the race. "It was fun to ride in the top ten for a little while. The composite-bodied car was great, although we're struggling with the setup a little bit here. But it was a lot of fun. I actually got to race cars. The last few times I'd been here with my old car, all I was doing was running around in the back of the pack. Now I got to race other guys.

"We came in for fuel and tires but we didn't have enough time to get back up through," Ciccarelli continued. "We were able to pick up a few positions, but we couldn't get that last green-flag run to take advantage of the fresh tires. We waited too long before coming in. We didn't know how things were going to go time-wise, so we stayed out and waited as long as we could, and by the time we did it was way too late and there weren't enough laps left."

While he'd have liked to have finished better than 24th, Ciccarelli left New Hampshire with a smile.

"We're happy to finish on the lead lap with minor damage," he said. "It's nice to not have to rebuild the car since we only have a few days to get ready. I got hit pretty good in the right rear corner. All it did was crack it, so we'll re glue it, paint it up and we're all done. If it was a metal-body car it'd be all caved in. Once again, the composite body is going to save us a lot of time."

-credit: ajc

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