Dale Quarterley foiled by rain at Watkins Glen, fastest car on the track finishes fifteenth. Westfield, Massachusetts' Dale Quarterley, for the third consecutive year, had the car to beat in the annual NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North...
Dale Quarterley foiled by rain at Watkins Glen, fastest car on the track finishes fifteenth.
Westfield, Massachusetts' Dale Quarterley, for the third consecutive year, had the car to beat in the annual NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series visit to the Watkins Glen International road course. And, for the third consecutive year, circumstances beyond his control prevented him from taking his Bully Hill Vineyards Chevrolet to victory lane.
Unlike last year's race, which was extended beyond its scheduled distance by late cautions and saw Quarterley run out of fuel in those extra laps, this year's race was shortened by rain so Quarterley's pit strategy could not run its course and put him back in front of the field, where he was when he pitted on lap 32.
Quarterley, for the second year in a row, won the Bud Pole Award in qualifying on Friday. His attempt to find more speed in the final practice session was washed out by rain just a few minutes into that session.
In the race, Quarterley drove away from the field after the initial start and after every restart. He led the first 30 laps, at which point rain showed up and caused the race to be stopped briefly. While waiting for the race to resume, he huddled with his crew about their strategy once it did go back green.
"We were sitting during the first red flag and decided that if it looked like it was going to dry up, and the sun was going to come back out, we'd pit and we'd have the rest of the race to get back to the front," he said. "We were fast enough and we'd have plenty of time. On the pace lap before the restart, we were going down the back straightaway towards the inner loop and the sun was coming out. On the other side of the straightaway, there were black clouds over there but the wind was blowing them away from the track."
The race returned to green on lap 31, and the next time around, Quarterley hit pit road for enough gas to get him to the finish. He returned to the track in 25th position. The race wound up only going green once more, for one lap before another crash brought out the caution. Quarterley moved up ten spots in that one brief period of racing, to fifteenth, but while under yellow, the dark clouds returned and enough rain fell on the track to force the cancellation of the balance of the event.
"When the race restarted, and we had our strategy set, the wind changed direction and the clouds rumbled right over the track," he said. "In seconds we were getting rained on."
The first four finishers in the race gambled on rain and did not pit. Many of the cars that ran in the top five early had also pitted, and also finished deep in the field.
"You're playing a double-sided gamble," he said. "Ted Christopher just shows up to win, and he had no shot at winning with us racing. He needed to beat us if it rained or something happened to us. His decision to stay out was an easy decision to make. If it didn't rain, he'd finish tenth. We were just the opposite. We were going to finish tenth either way. If it stayed green and I had to pit late, I'd be tenth. If I pitted early like I did, and it starts raining, I'd still get tenth. So we went with the more guaranteed deal, to pit and get fuel, since it looked like it was going to stay green. I thought we had a better shot at it staying green than raining."
Quarterley commented on how good a car he had on Saturday.
"On actual speed, even on the first couple of laps when I'd go full speed and gap the field, that still wasn't warp speed. That wasn't all out, 'I've got to win this thing' speed, that was just good consistent speed. John McKenna was my crew chief and he'd be telling me to slow down, and I'd slow down, and he'd say I was going too slow. I was a second and two-tenths faster than them before, and now I'm three-tenths slower, and I'd have to pick it up again. I had a hard time going slow because it was so easy to drive going fast. At any speed below that, it felt like it was stopped.
"Points-wise, we took a major hit," he continued. "A good run at the Glen would have put us right back in contention for the championship. Instead it made it so we're struggling again. The races at Watkins Glen, Loudon, Dover, and Lime Rock are where we expect to pick up points. These are the races that I need to capitalize in points at. Those are all my good tracks, but we let one of them slip away."
Quarterley returns to short-track racing with the running of the Dealmaker 150 at the Adirondack International Speedway, a half-mile oval, next Saturday night.