Wharton, New Jersey's Don Wagner, making just his fourth NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series start for James Pritchard's Mannings USA-sponsored team, struggled with an ill-handling car in Friday night's Carquest 150 at Stafford ...
Wharton, New Jersey's Don Wagner, making just his fourth NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series start for James Pritchard's Mannings USA-sponsored team, struggled with an ill-handling car in Friday night's Carquest 150 at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway, finishing 24th.
The team had just installed a new engine from Horsepower Engineering the week approaching the race, replacing the 9.5:1 compression engine with a 12:1 compression engine that meets the new specifications. With a pickup of fifty horsepower, optimism was abundant with the No. 41 team.
Practice found the team working hard to find a balance in the car. When time trials rolled around, Wagner was not one of the 26 fastest cars, and was set in the field by the team's provisional status, and would roll off 28th in the 30-car field.
"We've had better practice and time trial sessions here in the past," Wagner said before the race. "We want to get faster, we won't be happy until we're running up front, so we tried a bunch of different things today, and we're still not there yet. It's not great, but we've got 150 laps of practice in the feature tonight, we're going to make some changes and see what those do for us.
"The engine feels good, it's fine so far," he continued. "I just wish I could get on the gas soon enough to use it to its full potential. You've got to make the straightaways as long as possible, and I haven't been able to do that yet."
The race found the Mannings USA Chevrolet still struggling to find the setup where it could run competitively. Wagner passed some cars through the early laps, but couldn't hold back the leaders that were setting a fast pace, and he fell off the lead lap 25 laps into the race. The team turned the race into a testing session, and took advantage of almost every yellow to bring the car in and make adjustments that gave them insight that will help them in future races. At the end of the race, Wagner was 24th, having finished the race without putting a mark on the car.
"Well, the car's in one piece, though we didn't fare so well in the final rundown," Wagner said after the race. "I guess we'll chalk it up to experience here. We tried some things with the chassis and we just didn't hit it. We weren't consistent all night, the car was either tight or it was loose. We made a lot of pit stops to make adjustments and see how the car reacted and to see how I felt them.
"Until we're ready to run up front, we have to experiment and try things and see what makes the cars fast," he continued. "NASCAR keeps the rules so equal we can't just put a giant carburetor on it and blow everybody away on the straightaways. You've got to make it work. Jim Matalenas, the crew chief, will get it going. He's got the experience and he made some changes tonight that I definitely felt. We're getting close, and until the car feels really good I'm not going to push the thing. When you're racing in the back there's no sense to pitch the thing in sideways trying so hard to try and pass the guy for 28th position. You drive around and get experience. We'll be back, we're not giving up."