First Lap Accident Ruins Jeff Anton's NHIS Race Loudon, N.H. (Sept. 14, 2007) - Jeff Anton entered Friday's NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series race at New Hampshire International Speedway more confident than he had been in his ...
First Lap Accident Ruins Jeff Anton's NHIS Race
Loudon, N.H. (Sept. 14, 2007) - Jeff Anton entered Friday's NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series race at New Hampshire International Speedway more confident than he had been in his previous six visits to the one-mile oval. Qualifying didn't go according to plan, but he was prepared to make up ground. An innocent victim of a first turn, first lap accident quickly put a stop to those thoughts, leaving Anton to try and get as good a finish as he could with a damaged car, and finished 29th.
Anton, who finished fourteenth at NHIS in June, reworked some of his Baran Institute of Technology/Engineered Floors Inc. Chevrolet's chassis to run better, but practice showed that those changes didn't help. He was 30th-fastest in practice but improved to 25th in qualifying.
"We knew what we needed to get the car working better here, and we made a bunch of changes in the shop," he said. "It turns out that they didn't help. We came here with a good setup for the June race when it's a little warmer than now. We missed it a little bit this weekend. We were struggling in practice and the car wasn't really responding to any changes. We made some truck arm adjustments before qualifying, and that freed up the car quite a bit, going from too tight in practice to really free in qualifying. That surprised me on my run. The car's on the free side, but that'll make it a good car for the race. We aren't really sure where it's going to go, but it'll be good to start."
While Anton's car may have been good to start the race, the start of the race was not good to Anton's car. Trouble actually started behind him, but it quickly caught up to him. One car that started two rows behind Anton jumped the start and entered the first turn alongside Anton. The two banged doors, Anton went up the hill and then collided with a third car.
"The 16 car jumped the initial start like an idiot, thinking he was going to win the race on the first lap," Anton said. "He made us three-wide going into the first turn and that was it."
The damage was severe to Anton's No. 30 car. The toe was knocked off and the left front fender was heavily damaged. He pitted for repairs and while the car was still driveable, it was hurt.
"After we pitted a couple times, we weren't that bad," Anton explained. "We put a new left front tire and got off pit road just before the leaders took the restart, and it took them thirty laps to catch me. But every time I got on the brakes the car would jump all over me so it was still messed up. But on the watch we were only three-tenths off the pace, so the car really was a pretty good car.
"We just didn't need that first lap to happen," Anton continued. "It's a shame. I thought we were going to have a real good race. I know this kind of racing and we can bump and bang with the best of them, but on the first lap that shouldn't be happening. It's completely unnecessary. I'm upset because I had a lot of optimism going into this race and right off the bat I had a junk car."
Anton will fix the car during the week and return to salvage a good finish to the Busch East Series season at its final regular season race, the Sunoco 150 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Friday's race will start at 4:30 p.m. with a live broadcast on HDNet.