Bourque Recovers For 26th At NHIS "Diversity Driver Makes Gallant Effort" Loudon, New Hampshire (July 16, 2006) - - In the largest field of the season, Pierre Bourque had high hopes for his debut at the famed New Hampshire International Speedway...
Bourque Recovers For 26th At NHIS
"Diversity Driver Makes Gallant Effort"
Loudon, New Hampshire (July 16, 2006) - - In the largest field of the season, Pierre Bourque had high hopes for his debut at the famed New Hampshire International Speedway (NHIS) but an early race incident would force the Fast Track Racing (FTR) team to play "catch up" for the remainder of the event forcing a solid 26th place recovery Friday evening.
The NASCAR Busch East Series kicked off a long weekend of racing at NHIS as the opening show for the NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. The teams endured practice and qualifying on Thursday with a final practice in the picture for Friday to be followed by the main attraction later in the day.
In the first practice, Bourque struggled to get a grip on the track. Bourque turned the 35th fastest lap (33.440 seconds, 113.900 mph). "We're struggling with the handling of our No. 10 Chevrolet Monte Carlo," Bourque expressed. "I'm trying to adapt to the track and it's a little bit of a struggle. I think we have a good car, we just have to get the car traveling a little better, but I think we'll be okay."
Rolling into qualifying, the Fast Track Racing team, led by crew chief Dave McClure, made several adjustments to Bourque's machine, hoping to aid him to improve his career-best qualifying effort of 19th last weekend at Lake Erie Speedway. It didn't happen.
Time Trials saw the Andy Hillenburg owned machine turn a lap of 33.659 at 113.158 mph, placing him a shocking 39th on the rundown. "Qualifying was a mess," said Bourque. "We went out third after the modifieds practiced and the car was ultra-loose on entry. I nearly spun the car three times during my two-lap qualifying attempt. I have to get this qualifying thing down. The car is fast, I've just got to get at it. To my surprise, I was three-tenths faster on old beater tires in practice the following morning than I was in qualifying with brand new stickers."
Despite the huge task that was ahead for the FTR team, they were prepared. Before the race, the goal was to put Bourque in position to gain some points and muster another solid finish for the rookie team.
Just as quick as everything was good, things turned upside down just as fast. At the start of the race, Bourque was using patience and began making his charge to the front before the unthinkable happen. On lap two, two NBES competitors made contact in front of Bourque. He tried to check up but there wasn't enough time or room and the Rookie-of-the-Year candidate made contact with the spinning car forcing immediate trips to pit road to repair the damage.
The Fast Track Racing made three successive pit stops trying to correct the front end of Bourque's machine with success. "Good job on repairing the car guys. I know we're down but were' not out. Let's go out there and finish this race," Bourque stated.
Staring down a long tough evening, Bourque tried to turn his misfortune into a learning experience, given the NBES will return to NHIS in the fall. Despite falling a little off the pace, Bourque brilliantly tucked in behind a group of cars running in the top-15 and kept glued to them for 30 laps, which was encouraging to the Canadian driver, given the massive damage to the nose of his car.
In the end, Bourque finished the race, bringing home a disappointing 26th place finish, but good enough to keep him 18th in the Championship and 4th in the Rookie chase.
[IMAGE]"Just another race of unfortunate circumstances," Bourque said after the race. "I think we really had a good car. I was learning the track. We were going to be okay. I really wanted to use this race as test for our next race there, but the incident really took that out of the picture. I'm proud of the Fast Track Racing crew for all their hard work tonight despite the circumstances we were in. It was one tough night of racing, but every team goes through this and we'll just have to keep our heads high and bounce back in two weeks. I'm stoked for our return here in the fall. I learned a heck of a lot out there today, a heck of a lot. I learned how to drive this flat mile track and to run hard despite a damaged car. We're going to be okay."
Even though the finish wasn't what the team was looking for, it was an exciting week for Pierre Bourque. Thursday afternoon, he met NASCAR president Mike Helton. Helton expressed his appreciation for Bourque running in the NASCAR ranks as the only full-time Canadian driver. That meant a lot. "It was a real honor to meet Mr. Helton," recalled Bourque. "He is exceptional man and I won't ever forget meeting him."
Friday morning, Bourque met New Hampshire Governor John Lynch at a special fundraising breakfast at the track. Bourque spoke to him for about ten minutes about where he was from and how he enjoyed being in New Hampshire and the track. The two consulted about the Governor taking the wheel of a racecar as a driver and passenger in the future. "It was pretty cool to meet Governor Lynch. That's a rare moment to meet someone like him, especially with his hectic schedule. I'm looking forward to hopefully seeing him again this fall, I'll be glad to give him a ride in my hot rod anytime".
While meeting the two dignitaries was a treat, Bourque's greatest weekend souvenir was having his wife and two children at his side for this sixth race on the 2006 schedule. "They loved the experience, so we're knitting together as a racing family and that means the world to me," Bourque added.
The NASCAR Busch East Series will take a weekend off before returning to competiton at Adirondack on July 29th.
There will be little off time for Bourque as he will fly to Calgary (Canada) on Tuesday and prepare for a test with his CASCAR ride on a road course on Wednesday. Bourque will practice and qualify on Friday and race on Saturday in the Champ CarGrand Prix of Edmonton, his first of three CASCAR events this season.
"I'm getting really pumped about competing in the road course event. It's another challenge for me, but I'm up for it. Hopefully we can have a good weekend all-around and let everyone know that our Whitlock Motorsports team is the real deal."
In addition to running the full NASCAR Busch EastSeries in 2006, Pierre Bourque and Fast Track Racing will make limited starts in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. Bourque will also make three CASCAR Series races later this year with Whitlock Motorsports.