Don Wagner Suffers Brake Problems At Stafford; Finishes 23rd (Stafford Springs, Conn. - June 17, 2005) - Don Wagner launched his 2005 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series effort at Stafford Motor Speedway and found early success in...
Don Wagner Suffers Brake Problems At Stafford; Finishes 23rd
(Stafford Springs, Conn. - June 17, 2005) - Don Wagner launched his 2005 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series effort at Stafford Motor Speedway and found early success in his No. 41 Mannings USA/Snacketizers Chevrolet fielded by James Pritchard Motorsports. But brake problems struck the team at a track that requires a lot of brakes and after a spin caused by brake failure, the Mark Durgin-led crew had to take the car behind the wall for extended repairs. Wagner returned to the race to finish it, though he was many laps down.
The maiden outing for the Wagner-Durgin combination was paying early dividends in practice and qualifying. They started out running 20.8-second laps, and by the end of practice were down to 20.3s. Changes made before qualifying paid off as Wagner got his career best starting spot in series competition, qualifying thirteenth out of 35 cars.
"Starting thirteenth is great, but we want this to be our career best finish as well," Wagner said. "We've made all the right calls today, and Mark's been an asset to the team. They make us qualify in race trim now and impound the cars, and that definitely evens things up between us and the other teams, since we've never aggressively made changes for qualifying in the past. Now there's no advantage to make a ton of changes to the car to go for the pole, and that works in our favor. They make us qualify in race trim, and for a team like ours that pretty much has always qualified in race trim, that's a plus. I've got a car I can race here, it feels great, I'm not hanging on in the corners, and I can drive it."
Wagner settled into line as the race was just getting under way, as it had a quick caution at the start and then a long green flag run. But problems were developing in the car's braking system, and they deteriorated to the point where the brake pedal went right to the floor as Wagner was entering turn three. He spun the car high in the turn, avoiding contact with the wall, but something had to be done about the brakes and the crew took the car behind the wall to bleed the system and open up the cooling ducts. Those were successful fixes, and Wagner returned to finish the race, but he was 26 laps down and in 23rd place.
"The brakes overheated maybe thirty-forty laps into the race," Wagner said. "Going into turn three the brake pedal went right to the floor and I looped it up high, and it took everything I had to keep it out of the fence. We brought it in and spent about thirty laps working on the car, bleeding the brakes and opening up the brake cooling ducts, and we went back out there to finish the race. As fast as the race car goes, you have to have brakes to slow them down for the corners. And if you don't have good brakes, you're not going to be competitive. We had a really good car, we were running competitive times, but one little component goes wrong and that'll ruin your whole night."
Wagner was encouraged by the team's performance with its new crew chief.
"Mark Durgin is a great asset to the team," he said. "He fits right in as one of the guys, jumps right in and gets to work, and we're learning a lot from him. Jim Pritchard gave us a beautiful race car as always, with the best equipment we can get. We do our best, and we want to run well. And this year, we're going to run well."
Pritchard was also happy with Durgin's contributions to the team.
"We owe a lot to Jim Matalenas, he's what got us to this point and we couldn't have done that without him. But Mark's already made strong contributions to the team and we can't wait to see what effects he'll have on this team in the coming weeks," he said.
The Stafford race was broadcast live on HDNet television and will be replayed on SpeedTV on July 8th at 2:00 pm. The next series race will be Saturday night at Holland (N.Y.) International Speedway, which will also be broadcast live on HDNet and taped for later broadcast on SpeedTV.