Jeff Anton Leads 22 Laps At New Hampshire, Finishes 21st Loudon, N.H. (Sept. 16, 2006) - Russell, Massachusetts' Jeff Anton led his first laps in NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series competition on Saturday when he put his No. 30 ...
Jeff Anton Leads 22 Laps At New Hampshire, Finishes 21st
Loudon, N.H. (Sept. 16, 2006) - Russell, Massachusetts' Jeff Anton led his first laps in NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series competition on Saturday when he put his No. 30 Engineered Floors, Inc. Chevrolet out front for 22 laps of the Sylvania 125 at New Hampshire International Speedway. But after his pit stop the handling characteristics of his car changed and he was left to fight for a 21st place finish.
Anton, racing his second full season in the Busch East Series, started the Sylvania 125 from the ninth spot after rain washed out qualifying and a good portion of scheduled practice.
"I got ten laps total of practice at speed," he said before the race. "We have a good car this weekend, the best that I've had here yet, so I'm excited. We're starting ninth, and that's a good starting position for us. We've got a good car and some new guys on the team helping out and the improvement is showing already. The car's a little tight in the center and off the turn, so we need to free it up a little and we'll be right on the money."
Anton's car took off at the start of the race, quickly moving up to seventh place in the opening laps. When those ahead of him pitted under caution on lap 20, Anton stayed on the track and inherited the lead. After the restart, he not only held the lead, but stretched it out.
"I was surprised when we were up front that we pulled away from all the rest of the cars and built a ten car-length lead and we just kept pulling on them," he said. "It's too bad that we ran into those cautions."
After pacing the field for 22 laps, Anton gave up the lead to make a pair of pit stops. On the first stop, the Anton Racing crew added fuel and changed right-side tires. On the second stop, they went under the hood to top off the power steering fluid as the cap to that container fell off and Anton was losing power steering. When the race resumed, Anton found himself driving a different car.
"When we changed tires the car just got way too tight. It was hard to drive and we had to try and come up through the field," he said.
Being cautious as the race was crash-filled, Anton tried to pick his way through traffic on his way to a 21st place finish in a race that was cut down to 104 laps due to time constraints.
"I don't have a backup car," he said. "This is my only car and I have to take it to Dover next week. Everyone was driving pretty crazy out here, but I knew to calm down and take what I could get."
While the finish didn't reflect Anton's performance, there were plenty of positives to take from the ninth of eleven 2006 Busch East races.
"It was awesome at the beginning of the race and it was great to run up front," he said. "I know that we can do it week-in and week-out, we just have to tie up a few loose ends. The Engineered Floors car ran great, all our sponsors were here this weekend so it was good to get the car up front for those guys. It's just too bad that the race got cut short."
Anton returns to the track next weekend for a 150-lap race at the fastest venue the series races on, the high-banked Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware. The race will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and will be broadcast live on HDNet television.
"We're looking forward to Dover. Hopefully running up front here will psyche up the crew and we can have another good run there," Anton said.