BNS: Waterford: Don Wagner race notes

Don Wagner, racing the Mannings USA Chevrolet for James Pritchard Motorsports in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series, made his fourth race of the season in Saturday night's Waterford 150 at the Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl and ...

Don Wagner, racing the Mannings USA Chevrolet for James Pritchard Motorsports in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series, made his fourth race of the season in Saturday night's Waterford 150 at the Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl and recorded his best result in the series, a fourteenth place finish. Wagner overcame a tight race car that required a pit stop for adjustments, then ran the balance of the event constantly moving up and missing the numerous wrecks to post a fourteenth place finish.

Wagner's first visit to the Waterford Speedbowl was only a few laps old when he brushed the outside wall in practice. The team brushed this off and continued working to set the car up, but a flat tire suffered in the unpaved pit area forced them to postpone further setup work for qualifying. This was reflected in a 21st place starting position.

"We got a flat in one of our practice tires and that cut our practice short," he said before the race. "This made things a little rough since we lost the time where we were going to work on our qualifying setup. I didn't want to scuff in a set of brand new tires just to practice. The qualifying time shows that we didn't get to work on our qualifying setup. But everybody's in the show. We're starting in the back, but that's all right. We'll have 150 laps to get to the front."

At the start of the race, the Mannings USA car's handling was tight. The team hoped to catch a caution so the car could be adjusted without losing a lap, but Wagner was lapped by the leaders before caution came out on lap 30. Undaunted, Wagner pitted and the crew, led by crew chief Jim Matalenas, made the required adjustments and sent Wagner back on the track.

The car was significantly better after being worked on, and Wagner lined up for the lap 35 restart on the inside of the front row, in an attempt to get his lap back. He was unsuccessful in doing so, but did get some valuable television time which will be seen when the race is broadcast on Speed TV on August 16th.

From a low point of eighteenth after the pit stop, Wagner continued moving up, taking advantage of misfortune on the part of other drivers, and kept his nose clean through numerous yellows and close calls to take the checkers in fourteenth place. His night wasn't over, though, as a driver who was in the top ten spun off turn four on the last lap, then drove across traffic to cross the line, causing at least five other cars spun or crashed in his wake. Wagner almost snuck through, but was tagged and collected, inflicting damage to the car's right front corner.

"The car was terribly tight from the center off and, honestly, I don't know what crew chief Jim did to fix it," he said after the race. "I explained what the car was doing and he made the adjustments. After that, the car was fantastic. Unfortunately we had gone a lap down early on, and I tried to get the lap back, but couldn't do it. But we're not here to experiment anymore, we're here to race. We're going to get banged up a little bit from now on, but that's what happens when you get to racing.

"But all in all we're pretty happy, it's our best finish with me and Pritchard racing together," Wagner continued. "It's nothing to write home about yet, but every time we go out we get better. Everybody's happy, though we've got a lot of bodywork to do before we go to Seekonk next weekend. The guys on this crew are volunteering their time during the week to hammer it out. It might not look very pretty, but it'll be ready to race. We've got some time after Seekonk to our next race, which will be Dover, so we'll make it pretty for Dover."

Wagner and James Pritchard Motorsports will return to the track next Saturday night at the third-mile Seekonk Speedway, located just outside of Providence, Rhode Island, for a 150-lap event that was originally scheduled for May 24th. For more information on the team, visit its website at www.jamespritchardmotorsports.com.

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