BNS: Watkins Glen: Bill Penfold race summary

Bill Penfold eighth best at Watkins Glen after late pit stop. Yarmouth, Maine's Bill Penfold, driving the No. 0 VIP Charter Coaches Chevrolet on the NASCAR Busch North Series, took his fifth top ten finish of the 2002 season when he finished ...

Bill Penfold eighth best at Watkins Glen after late pit stop.

Yarmouth, Maine's Bill Penfold, driving the No. 0 VIP Charter Coaches Chevrolet on the NASCAR Busch North Series, took his fifth top ten finish of the 2002 season when he finished eighth in the Little Trees 150 held Saturday afternoon at Watkins Glen International's road course. With this finish, Penfold returns to the top ten in the series points standings, now running tenth.

Penfold's weekend began with a sixteenth-best qualifying effort.

"We were playing with brakes and stuff and the car felt comfortable in practice," he said. "The good road racers are out flying as usual, but our car was real steady like it was last year. We've got a good top ten car and all we have to do is take care of it, not break it, and we should be right up front at the end of the race."

Penfold detailed what he expected to accomplish in Friday's final practice.

"We might go out and make a couple laps just to seat some brake pads in," he said. "The more laps you run here, the harder it is on the transmission. We're going to go out and just try running in third and fourth gear, and see if our lap times aren't too far off running like that in the race. Maybe we'll go for a fuel mileage deal and try to beat them on that. We love pulling tricks on people."

Penfold, ahead of a first lap accident that red-flagged the race for an hour, abandoned his no-pit strategy on lap 19 when he ducked onto pit road for refueling. He was too fast leaving, though, and was brought back in to serve a drive-through penalty. He remained on the lead lap, but lost significant track position.

A second red-flag for an accident without injury, just after the race's halfway point, brought the field to a halt on the backstretch, and gave the drivers the unusual opportunity to meet the fans in the middle of the race.

"We had a hell of a party out there with the crowd out there on the backstretch," he said after the race. "That was probably the most fun we had, they should have something like that at every race we have here. Stop the race halfway through so we can go party with the fans. It was a blast."

When the race resumed, Penfold started to work his way back through the field. With just five laps to go in the scheduled distance, Penfold entered the top ten. despite a quick spin ten lap earlier. Caution with two to go meant the race would be extended due to the series' green-white-checker finishing rule, and Penfold's car started sputtering with low fuel. When the field took the lap 63 restart, Penfold went to pit road to top off his gas, and rejoined the race well behind. Caution was out again, though, and he had the opportunity to catch back up. As other drivers pitted, Penfold moved up to tenth for the final restart, and passed two more cars in the final two laps to get eighth.

"We ran out of gas but we got lucky when that yellow came out," he said after the race. "We had a good car. We weren't the fastest, but we had a top ten car and with the way things were going we could have ended up second or third, but eighth place, with the car in one piece, that's good. Some of the guys were making some dumb moves late in the race. It's a shame, they took out some good cars.

"I'm happy with eighth, the team's happy, I'm happy, and this is the first time I've finished a race here with a transmission still in the car," Penfold continued. "Nothing's hurt, we'll be able to just go through it and it'll be ready for Lime Rock."

While Lime Rock Park's road race will wind up the Busch North season, that's still two months away. The next race for Penfold and the series is next Saturday at the new Adirondack International Speedway in Beaver Falls, New York.

-ajc-

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