(Seekonk, Mass.) - Yarmouth, Maine's Bill Penfold, driving the No. 0 VIP Charter Coaches Pontiac on the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series, returned to the twice-postponed Budweiser 150 at the third-mile Seekonk Speedway in...
(Seekonk, Mass.) - Yarmouth, Maine's Bill Penfold, driving the No. 0 VIP Charter Coaches Pontiac on the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series, returned to the twice-postponed Budweiser 150 at the third-mile Seekonk Speedway in Seekonk, Massachusetts. Penfold suffered with a car that had handling problems to make many pit stops on his way to a sixteenth place finish in his fourth race of the 2003 season.
Penfold felt he had a good setup under his car when the series got practice in on the first rescheduled date of the race, which was held on May 31. But under different weather conditions on Saturday, the Penfold Motorsports team was basically starting over from scratch. Seventeenth fastest in the first practice and fourteenth best in the second session, Penfold took to qualifying where he was nineteenth fastest.
"We're chasing the track, which has been greasy all day for us and making the car loose," he said. "We got it tightened up quite a bit in time trials and should have a good car for the race. I could have pushed it a little harder, but I was just seeing what we had for a race setup. We went out with a spring change, shock change, everything changed before time trials for the race setup to see what we got, and we picked up three tenths from what we were practicing at. I think we'll have a good car for the race. I'm happy with it, and hopefully we can do what we did at Waterford: start in the rear and go to the front.
The car was still not quite right from the start of the race, and, starting with the first caution which came out inside the race's first ten laps, Penfold visited pit road for adjustments. He also did so for each of the next six cautions, but managed to stay on the lead lap up until the very end of the race. Despite all the setup changes made during the pit stops, though, the car never got to where it was comfortable and Penfold soldiered on to finish sixteenth.
"We just didn't get it," he said. "The car was tight and I couldn't stay on the bottom. If I tried to stay on the bottom, the rear would come out from underneath me so I had to run the high side. I did the best I could with it and raced who I could. We had motor trouble at the beginning, and that put us behind. Then the chassis just went away, I don't know if we blistered a tire or what, but it was so bad that I was just trying to keep it pointed straight and that was a handful. But the car's in one piece, it's not stoved up and the guys worked so hard trying to get it going for me. It's just one of those days where we didn't make a good run. The VIP Charter Coach Pontiac was out there but it wasn't quite a contender."
Next week, Penfold returns to Watkins Glen's road course, and at the mere mention of the track's name, his face lights up.
"I can't wait to get back to Watkins Glen and the fans there," he said. "I've been working on the road course car for a month just to make sure it's right. I had a blast there last year. I want to say hi to the whole backstretch crowd, I'll be back, and I'll see them before the race and after the race. I might even see them during the race if we have another red flag. I love signing autographs for the fans because they're just terrific. I'm probably more excited to go to that race than any other race. I love running on the road courses, and we run good on them. It's exciting for me, and it gives me a chance to see the guys out in 'Animal Camping', I'll be out there Saturday night."