Bill Penfold overcomes engine problems to post top ten finish. Bill Penfold and the VIP Charter Coaches Chevrolet team came to New Hampshire International Speedway looking to bounce back from a disappointing season opener three weeks ago at Lee...
Bill Penfold overcomes engine problems to post top ten finish.
Bill Penfold and the VIP Charter Coaches Chevrolet team came to New Hampshire International Speedway looking to bounce back from a disappointing season opener three weeks ago at Lee USA Speedway. Despite suffering header and exhaust problems through practice and qualifying, Penfold's pit strategy got him near the front of the pack and in a position to get a good finish, which he did by finishing tenth in Saturday's Busch 125.
The broken header cost the team speed late in Friday's practice and when qualifying rolled around, the car was significantly down on power. Penfold was only able to muster a 25th-best qualifying performance.
"The header broke right off it just before time trials and we just didn't have time to get it off and get it fixed in time for time trials, so we lost a lot of horsepower," he said afterwards. "We welded that piece but we think we've got something else broke in the exhaust. So we're losing some power and we're struggling trying to get a handle on the car. We had it going so it could run the second groove, but if you can't run down low on the new groove, you're going to be in danger out there. If the guy inside hits the berm down there it shoots him up and he'll take you out. You've got to be able to run on the bottom out there.
"We've got a fight cut out for us today, but we're not giving up," Penfold continued. "Bob [Harrison] and Bryan [Thompson] are working their butts off trying to get the car going, and I'm going to go out there and give it everything she's got. I'm out there trying to win, and we'll do the best we can."
Penfold's race had just barely begun when he made his only pit stop just thirteen laps in. The Penfold Motorsports crew added fuel and made a wedge adjustment before sending Penfold on his way, in thirtieth position. A large number of drivers pitted during subsequent cautions, bringing Penfold to fourteenth on lap 40, then to second place on lap 70.
Penfold surrendered the second position on the lap 72 restart but only fell to fifth as the race was entering its final laps. With less than fifteen to go he got shuffled back to thirteenth but had to contend with Dennis Demers, who was running an unusual line. Penfold made a move to go around Demers, but contact was made and Demers spun.
"It's a shame that I got tangled up with the 86 [Demers] there, but I was up to his door," Penfold said. "He was cutting the corner diving in and going out, slamming the 61 [Mike Olsen] in the door. He opened a lane for me and I pulled in, I guess he thought he could turn left again and unfortunately he went around, but I was going to the front too."
Through the two late-race restarts, Penfold moved up to tenth and survived some scrambles to keep that position as the race finished.
"We lost that cylinder gasket again and we were just trying to hang on," he said after the race. "Then I got shuffled out to the outside, and they kind of freight-trained me. The guys were diving in and just pushing you out, so you just had to let them go and once you got back at the end of the line you were all right.
"I'm happy, we needed a top ten to boost the morale," Penfold continued. "VIP's been with me a long time, and we got a top ten here. I think if we didn't have those cautions there, we'd have been a fifth place car. We got in fifth and pulled away from them once we got going, we had the car set for long runs, but short runs is what got us at the end."
The next race for Penfold is at Nazareth Speedway in Nazareth, Pennsylvania next Saturday afternoon. Last year at Nazareth, Penfold finished twelfth. For more information on the Penfold Motorsports team, visit its website at www.penfoldmotorsports.com.