Kip Stockwell Uses No-Pit Strategy To Finish Twentieth At NHIS Loudon, N.H. (Sept. 16, 2006) - Kip Stockwell went into Saturday's Sylvania 125 at New Hampshire International Speedway with the plan to pit later in the race than his NASCAR Grand...
Kip Stockwell Uses No-Pit Strategy To Finish Twentieth At NHIS
Loudon, N.H. (Sept. 16, 2006) - Kip Stockwell went into Saturday's Sylvania 125 at New Hampshire International Speedway with the plan to pit later in the race than his NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series competition. That strategy got him as high as fourth in the race and in the top ten through the race's first half. But with cautions and a race shortened due to time constraints, Stockwell wound up not pitting at all, finishing twentieth.
Stockwell remains eleventh in series points, just fourteen points out of the top ten, with two races to go in the East Series season.
Qualifying was rained out, and the race's starting lineup was made from the series points standings. Starting eleventh, Stockwell took advantage of many leaders making pit stops on lap 20 to move up to sixth place. He picked up a pair of spots after the restart to run fourth, but faded to tenth as the leaders made their way through the field.
"None of us expected that we were going to run in the top ten for the first fifty laps," the Braintree, Vermont driver said. "For us, that's never been done here. We had one car back in 1998 that was good here, but it wasn't as good as we had today, we've never had anything as good as what we had here today. We're really happy with this car, it drove like a dream. I've never driven a car like that here."
With cautions filling the race and a time limit to consider, it looked like the race was going to be shortened. That put a wrench in Stockwell's plans to pit later in the race.
"We wanted to wait until lap 80. We didn't do it then because NASCAR told us there was going to be a time limit on the race, they were going to cut it off, and it was too late to come in at that point," he said.
The race was shortened to 102 laps, with fifteen laps' warning given to teams. This cemented Stockwell's no-pit decision despite the fact that a stop would have helped the car's handing.
"We needed rear weight back in the car at the end of the race. We went a long way on one tank of fuel and I needed some drive off the turns. I could drive into the turns better than I ever have here before and I could get through the center of the turns, but I couldn't get up off the corners as well and I just needed some fuel in the back of the car to help it turn, just to get us going straight."
Through the balance of the race, Stockwell had trouble on the restarts but was better once he got some heat in the tires. He finished twentieth, just edging Jeff Anton for the spot at the finish line.
"Next time, knowing what we know now, we'll pit with everybody else, get in and get out, and save what we have at the beginning of the race," he said. "They just kept beating us up coming off the turns on the restarts. Once we got going, they couldn't touch me. But when the tires cooled off I wound up spinning the tires coming off the turns. They drove by me on the restarts, but nobody drove by me under green. The problem was that there were a lot of restarts. The only way they got by me was on restarts, and that was because we should have pitted with everybody else, and we elected not to. But we worked well as a team and we're happy because the car's in one piece and we can go to Dover with it."
Dover (Del.) International Speedway hosts the next Busch East Series race next Friday, with practice and qualifying to be held Thursday and the race late Friday afternoon.