Another Long Week, Another Good Race For John Salemi Thompson, Conn. (July 14, 2007) - Repeating a pattern began a few weeks ago, John Salemi had to take his NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series race car to North Carolina to get...
Another Long Week, Another Good Race For John Salemi
Thompson, Conn. (July 14, 2007) - Repeating a pattern began a few weeks ago, John Salemi had to take his NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series race car to North Carolina to get body repairs after a last-lap accident in the previous race. After a thrash to get the car ready for the next race, he arrived at the track to finish the car's preparation with the end result being a good finish.
It happened in the week between South Boston and Stafford, and it happened after the race at New Hampshire International Speedway and last Saturday's race at Thompson International Speedway. The end result was an eleventh-place finish in Thompson's Pepsi Racing 100, moving the Nashua, N.H. driver from seventeenth to sixteenth in the series points standings.
The first thing Salemi did when he got out of his car after the New Hampshire race was call Charlie Brunnhoelzl in Mooresville to arrange another trip down south to have significant body repairs made to his No. 63 Milwaukee Tools/Express Signs Chevrolet. The car was trailered to North Carolina and Brunnhoelzl went to work. Salemi returned to pick up the car last Sunday.
"I got back from Mooresville on Monday morning after picking up the car on Sunday and driving all night," he said. "The car went in the body shop on Wednesday to be painted and we picked it up Thursday afternoon, and, just like before Stafford a few weeks ago, we just thrashed on the thing straight through. We didn't sleep much so we're pretty tired, and when we got here we still had a few little things to do, but we feel good about tonight. Everybody worked hard and we improved our lap times every time we went out there. The only problem is that we ran out of time. I think we're going to have a good race car, so we have to stay out of trouble and bring the car home in one piece so we can go testing next week."
The goal of bringing the car home in one piece took a hit just twenty-five laps into the Pepsi 100, when trouble struck on the .625-mile track's frontstretch.
"The 96 was spinning on the frontstraight and there was nowhere that I could go," Salemi explained. "I went as low as I could go without going into the grass and he caught me hard. It blew the front tire out and ripped the whole right door off the car basically. We came in and put a new tire on and, for some reason, NASCAR put us a lap down. We never got passed by the pace car, and we never missed the paddle."
In fact, the entire John Salemi Racing team thought their car was on the lead lap until they were informed that they were the 'lucky dog' when caution flew on lap 55. They went from thinking they were running 14th to actually running twentieth.
"From there on, it was just a mission to get to the front," he said. "The car was already wrecked, it was just a matter of getting it to the front before the end of the race."
That was aided by a car that, despite its appearance, was very competitive.
"I couldn't believe how good our car got, even after it got wrecked," he said. "We came in maybe three or four times to pull the fender out and make some adjustments, each time going to the back and having to work our way back up. We passed a ton of cars because we definitely had a top-five car tonight."
The Busch East Series races again next Sunday in Nashville, Tennessee. Salemi's team has some work to do before it can leave for the 150-lap race at the Music City Motorplex, but he's confident that it can get done.
"We've got more work to do since I tore Charlie's door off, so we'll have to see if we can get this fixed in time to go to Nashville," he said. "We have another car almost ready to go but this one is just so fast, it's almost right where it needs to be and we don't want to park it for a week. This car worked high, worked low, anywhere I wanted to put the car on the track it would work. It was fun driving that car tonight.
"Dale Quarterley and the rest of the John Salemi Racing crew made it possible for me to run as well as I did, and I did it for those guys," he continued. "Their hard work isn't for nothing, and eventually we're going to give him the results they deserve. It looks good for everybody who helps us out: Milwaukee Tools, Express Signs, and EastSeries.com. Mom and Dad are happy even though we banged the car up. We raced hard with a very good race car underneath me and we're having a lot of fun. It's a lot of work, but it's starting to pay off."