BNS: Penfold forced out by rough Thompson track

(Thompson CT - Aug. 27 2000) - Bill Penfold of Yarmouth, Maine went to the Thompson International Speedway in northeast Connecticut this past Sunday to run the Sunoco 150 for the Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring. Coming off strong performances...

(Thompson CT - Aug. 27 2000) - Bill Penfold of Yarmouth, Maine went to the Thompson International Speedway in northeast Connecticut this past Sunday to run the Sunoco 150 for the Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring. Coming off strong performances in the last four oval track series races, Penfold looked forward to continuing his recent success in the Penfold Motorsports VIP Charter Coach Chevrolet.

Near the end of the hour-long practice session early Sunday afternoon, the right front shock absorber mount broke. This was actually a good break. If the team quit practice early, the part would have failed in qualifying or the race when there wouldn't be any opportunity to make repairs. The shock mount was welded together before qualifying and Penfold recorded the eleventh quickest lap out of 42 cars in attendance, despite having a tire going flat during his qualifying attempt.

"We went out and turned a decent lap, but I was just surprised to see I got a flat tire," he said after qualifying. "I was wondering why the car was getting a little loose. We probably had a little bit better in the car but with the tire gonig flat it slowed us up a little, but not much. We've got a good car for the race, it'll be another day of trying to stay out of trouble, and try to win."

Contact with Tracy Gordon for the second consecutive week left Penfold with the right front shock broken early in the going, but even with damaged suspension Penfold was holding his own. After falling back to 13th position, Penfold started moving back up as other drivers made pit stops and found himself in second place just before the race's halfway point.

The rough Thompson track, which has been in need of resurfacing for some time, eventually took its toll on Penfold's car. Racing over the bumps at over 100 MPH, the frame crossmember which the rear shock absorbers are mounted to separated from the frame and the car's handling went away totally. Penfold pulled the car behind the wall on lap 123 and retired from the event, winding up 27th in the final rundown.

"The car was still going pretty good after Tracy hit me," Penfold said after the race, "and we fought our way back through. We got into second but cut a right rear tire so we had to pit to fix that. Running with three shocks on the car, I guess we got back to seventh or eighth, and the whole shock mount in the rear of the car was ripped right off the frame. It basically ripped the crossmember right out of the car, that's how rough this racetrack is. I know my right side frame rail's all stove up because it's bottoming out so bad, and it actually makes for dangerous driving. We shouldn't have to race under conditions like these. We've got too much money in these cars to be beating them up on these rough race surfaces. If they can't give us good race surfaces, we shouldn't be out there.

"It's a shame, we had a good car, but parts breakage got us again," he continued. "We were in the top five and broke again. I just don't have the money for good equipment, but I'm trying."

The condition of the track continued to receive harsh criticism from Penfold. "If it's like this next year, I won't come back," he said. "You're ripping frames apart right now. That's dangerous. Every car out there was sparking going over the bumps. We shouldn't have to race over garbage like that. I know they're doing the best they can, but that's not good enough. Either fix it, or don't run the racetrack.

Despite the track conditions, Penfold showed considerable strength after driving a car with a tire going down in time trials, and with a broken shock during the race. "You can't quit," he said. "In time trials I had a flat tire but you can't stop, you've got to run what you got, run the wheels right off it. I ran it till the frame was falling apaprt. What else can you ask for from a driver?"

The next outing for Penfold Motorsports is Saturday, September 2nd at Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, VT for the True Value 150. For more information on Penfold Motorsports, visit its website at http://www.penfoldmotorsports.com

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