Kip Stockwell Records Best Of Season Ninth At Oxford Plains Speedway (Oxford, Maine - Aug. 27, 2005) - Kip Stockwell has top-ten finishes in two of his last three NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series races after finishing ninth,...
Kip Stockwell Records Best Of Season Ninth At Oxford Plains Speedway
(Oxford, Maine - Aug. 27, 2005) - Kip Stockwell has top-ten finishes in two of his last three NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series races after finishing ninth, his best results of the 2005 season, in Saturday night's Fisher Snowplows 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway. With this finish, Stockwell picks up another place in the season points standings to thirteenth.
In the first visit to the historic speedway since the 1992 season, Stockwell and the rest of the Busch North competitors found the track slick. Following 90 minutes of practice, qualifying was held and Stockwell could only muster the eighteenth-best time.
"The racetrack was real slippery," said the driver of the No. 16 Sabil & Sons Service Chevrolet. "We went a lot better than that in practice. There's a lot of cars that are pretty good tonight, so there's no big advantage anywhere. It's going to be tough sledding the first fifty or sixty laps, then it's going to come down to pit strategy, who puts tires on and who doesn't. Tonight we're planning on changing tires. That should help us in the last fifty laps, depending on when we put them on. If we can stay out of trouble and stay on the lead lap, we should have a good day."
Running sixteenth when caution flew on lap 54, Stockwell felt it was too early to pit and stayed on the track while many front-runners came to pit road for tire changes. This moved him up to ninth, though after the restart he fell back out of the top ten as those cars came back on fresh tires. He was back in the top ten after avoiding a lap 90 accident, and while sitting under a red-flag condition, he made the call to abandon their plan on pitting for the balance of the race.
"We decided that we had such good track position that we weren't going to give it up," he said. "It looked like the guys who did pit didn't gain much by pitting. They struggled so much after they got tires that they lost the track position they gave up to get the tires. They couldn't run on the outside and make any kind of charge. This track is so smooth and so slick that there wasn't any advantage to putting tires on. We decided at that point that unless we were last on the lead lap and didn't have anything to lose, then we'd come in and put tires on and see if that would help, but we had track position and we were going to try and keep as much of that as we could."
The race resumed on lap 106 and Stockwell went to work defending his position. He had his hands full holding off series champions Brad Leighton and Andy Santerre. And after 150 laps of hard work, Stockwell had his best finish of the 2005 season with ninth.
"We stayed out of trouble and had a good enough car to just stay up where we needed to be," he said after the race. "I had a good car all day, but we don't qualify well. I've got enough laps here to know what it's supposed to feel like in practice, but we didn't have that real quickness in qualifying. In the race, once we got up there, we held our own. If we'd have put tires on when everybody else did and had the same track position, things might have been a little different. I was even comfortable on the outside lane, I didn't lose anything restarting on the outside. I restarted eighth on the last restart, but I only lost one spot and then I gained one spot. It's a good night for us."
Stockwell and team will enjoy a couple weekends away from the track until the next series race, the second of the year to be held at New Hampshire International Speedway. That race will be held on Friday, Sept. 16th on the Magic Mile in Loudon.