Bill Penfold's pit strategy gets him fifth at Watkins Glen. Bill Penfold, driving the No. 0 VIP Charter Coaches Chevrolet in Saturday's Mohegan Sun 150 Presented by Pepsi, a NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series race held at Watkins...
Bill Penfold's pit strategy gets him fifth at Watkins Glen.
Bill Penfold, driving the No. 0 VIP Charter Coaches Chevrolet in Saturday's Mohegan Sun 150 Presented by Pepsi, a NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series race held at Watkins Glen International, used smart pit strategy to earn a fifth place finish in the rain-shortened race. This was Penfold's first top-five finish of the season, in which he has only run five races.
Penfold, who claims not to be a road racer despite having many top-ten finishes at the two road courses that the Busch North Series runs annually, was thirteenth in the first and only practice session before qualifying. In the time trial session, Penfold posted the seventh best time, but as he was finishing up his run, a mechanical failure beset the Penfold Motorsports team.
"After qualifying, the transmission blew up," he said. "I crossed the line at the end of my qualifying run, got off the gas and was just letting it roll, and high gear blew right out of it. We had to put another transmission in and didn't get a chance to get it out for practice. We changed the gear around and hopefully have it set the way it was before. The car's good, consistent; and consistency can win this race."
Saturday's race began under threatening skies and talk of rainy weather was the buzz in the pits. Penfold moved up to sixth place in the opening laps, holding that position through a number of early yellows. Starting on lap 21 of a scheduled 62, leaders started making green-flag stops as the cars did not start the race with enough gas to make it to the finish. Penfold made his stop for gas only on lap 24, coming out deep in the field. But his strategy worked when caution came out the next lap. Not only was he caught up with the field again, but many of those ahead of him pitted under green, allowing him to move up to fourteenth.
Rain visited the track with 30 laps, or two fewer than needed for the event to be considered official, showing on the scoreboard. After a brief delay for the passing shower, the race resumed though cautions continued coming. During the brief episodes of racing between yellows, Penfold worked his way to fifth place, including passing two cars on the final lap before rain caused the race to be declared over.
"We rolled the car off the trailer and it was fast, so we never changed much except for a couple of shocks," he said afterwards. "Dale Quarterley was the fastest out there, and there were a couple other cars that were real fast, but we probably had a top five car and that's what we got. If we could have had maybe five or ten more laps, and then had it rain, we probably could have won it. That's what we were hoping for, that other guys would pit and we'd get back to the front after pitting early. But we got a top five, and the VIP Charter Coach Monte Carlo was excellent. The crew worked hard, they did an excellent job changing the transmission.
"Hopefully we can get some sponsorship money up so we can go to the next race," Penfold continued, citing the team's lack of sponsorship. "It's kind of heartbreaking to think this might be our last Busch North race. Hopefully we can land a little bit of sponsorship so we can go to another one. If that doesn't happen, it was fun to race in this series."