PHOENIX, Arizona (5 p.m. EST) -- In their first-ever visit to Phoenix International Raceway, Paul Wolfe and the Tops Racing Team ran in the top ten for most of the Bosch Spark Plug 150 NASCAR Winston West race, but had to settle for a 17th place...
PHOENIX, Arizona (5 p.m. EST) -- In their first-ever visit to Phoenix International Raceway, Paul Wolfe and the Tops Racing Team ran in the top ten for most of the Bosch Spark Plug 150 NASCAR Winston West race, but had to settle for a 17th place finish after cutting a right front tire and hitting the wall exiting turn one hard with only 25 laps to go.
Despite battling a very loose racecar early in the race, Wolfe kept the team within striking distance of the lead throughout the day. The team pitted three times, and each time Wolfe drove his way back into the top ten. When the tire went down, Wolfe was in fourth, and in position for a run at the leaders.
"The Tops Dodge was loose in the first part of the race, but we kept working on it during pits stops, and it was getting better and better," Wolfe said. "We were running well before the bad luck."
The hit caused extensive damage to the car, which had to be towed back to the garage.
"It was an unfortunate end to our day," Wolfe said. "I have never hit the wall that hard, but when the tire went down, the car would not turn at all. It was a pretty hard hit."
Wolfe impressed his new team, who gave him credit for battling to stay in the race.
"The problems with the car really held up Paul today," said car owner and crew chief Tommy Baldwin. "We are a new team, and this was a learning experience for all of us. I am confident Paul will show everyone just how good he is this season, and we will continue to work together better as a team."
Wolfe and the Tops Racing Team, who will race full-time in the NASCAR Busch North Series in 2003, are one of two Busch North Teams who made the trip out west for the first time. Matt Kobyluck, the other BNS driver, also had his day end with a cut tire that caused his car to hit the wall.
For updated information about Wolfe and the Tops Racing Team, visit www.paulwolfe.net.