Don Wagner Twenty-First at Stafford with Tight Race Car (Stafford Springs, Conn. - June 18, 2004) - Don Wagner's third NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series race of 2004 turned out to be a struggle with his Mannings USA Chevrolet ...
Don Wagner Twenty-First at Stafford with Tight Race Car
(Stafford Springs, Conn. - June 18, 2004) - Don Wagner's third NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series race of 2004 turned out to be a struggle with his Mannings USA Chevrolet handling on the tight side at Stafford Motor Speedway in Connecticut. The Wharton, New Jersey driver of James Pritchard Motorsports' Chevrolet pitted under each of the three caution periods to try and fix the condition, but had to settle for finishing twenty-first Friday night.
Ninety minutes of practice was not enough for the crew, which tried a number of different suspension combinations to try and alleviate the car's pushing condition on the slightly banked half-mile track. When that time ran out, all that was left was to prepare for qualifying. In time trials, Wagner posted the nineteenth fastest time, assuring himself a starting spot in the middle of the field.
"We're having a good time, we're nineteenth but the field is fast," he said after qualifying. "Everybody qualifies, so we've been playing with the chassis in practice. We're getting some good help from the guys and Jim Matalenas has some really good ideas so we're going to give it hell in the feature. We've got 150 laps to pass people."
Despite the changes made to the car before the race, the tight condition prevailed and Wagner was fighting to get the car to turn at both ends of the speedway. Pit stops on laps 29 and 37 gave the crew opportunities to try and tweak the car into handling better, but despite the changes, Wagner was put a lap down by the leaders just before halfway. Under the next yellow, Wagner pitted one more time and the crew replaced right-side tires, and Wagner soldiered on to the finish in twenty-first.
"We had to pit early to work on the car because it was just super tight," he said after the race. "We went back out there and we wound up going a lap down, and once you go a lap down it's hard to race because you're trying to make sure you stay out of the way of the guys who are racing on the lead lap. It wasn't a great night, but even a bad night of racing is still better than a good day at work. We're a little dejected, we wanted to finish better than we did, but we'll be back.
"It all comes down to the fact that we need to test on these tracks more, we need laps at these tracks" he continued. "We're going into these races with a good base setup, but there's only an hour or so of warmups to try and get the car dialed in. Some guys might be happy with the way we run, but we want to run better than that and we will. Stafford's always been a tough track for us, but we're in one piece, the car's not all banged up, so we'll be at Waterford."
The Stafford race was broadcast live on HDNet television, and will be rebroadcast on SpeedTV at noon on Saturday, July 3rd. The next Busch North race Wagner will compete in will be at Waterford Speedbowl on July 17th. That race will be aired August 28th at noon.
For more information on the No. 41 team, visit www.jamespritchardmotorsports.com.