SALEM, Ind. (July 23, 2001) - Joey Clanton and his talented No. 83 Zaxby's Real Chicken team cashed in at the high banks of Salem (Ind.) Speedway, capturing their eighth top-five finish of the 2001 season Saturday with a fifth place finish in the...
SALEM, Ind. (July 23, 2001) - Joey Clanton and his talented No. 83 Zaxby's Real Chicken team cashed in at the high banks of Salem (Ind.) Speedway, capturing their eighth top-five finish of the 2001 season Saturday with a fifth place finish in the American Speed Association's (ASA) Tecumseh 300. With a little additional sponsorship help from Tecumseh products maker, Trace Die Cast, the No. 83 Chevrolet Monte Carlo was able to score another strong finish despite mechanical difficulties. An ailing clutch forced Clanton to nurse the No. 83 around the half-mile facility for the last 175 laps of the 300-lap event.
Clanton's weekend started strong on Friday afternoon as the Georgia-native turned a 17.278-second (112.513 mph) lap in qualifying to start in the third position for Saturday night's race. On lap 28, Clanton claimed the top position and would set the pace for the 31-car field until relinquishing the lead on lap 50. The No. 83 wouldn't fall far back, keeping the leader in sight, swapping again for the lead at lap 101. A caution flag at lap 106 would allow the No. 83 to come down pit road for a right side tire change and added fuel. The Zaxby's Real Chicken pit crew didn't give anything up in the pits, putting Clanton back onto the oval in the lead.
Green flag racing resumed on lap 116 with Clanton beginning to slowly pull away from the field. In just a few laps, Clanton had gained a 20-car length lead over the pack when the fourth caution flag of the day was waved at lap 126. The yellow and blue No. 83 entered the pits for new left side tires before returning to the track for the restart on lap 134.
Despite having the fastest car on the track, Clanton radioed into Gene Roberts, crew chief of the No. 83, to let him know that his clutch was slipping. Hoping to keep the car in contention, Clanton focused on keeping time with his competitors. Clanton would exchange the lead for the third time on lap 169 and would keep the top position through a caution and a left side tire change on lap 196.
Unfortunately, the suffering clutch would eventually slow the No. 83 Zaxby's Real Chicken Chevrolet Monte Carlo, forcing Clanton to back off the gas and give up his lead to the eventual race winner at lap 195. Clanton would spend the last third of the race holding off his competitors and attending to the failing clutch. The No. 83 team kept their cool to the end, finishing with a solid top-five finish. Clanton holds on to his fourth place position in the standings, 90 points out of the lead heading into the 14th race on the schedule.
"We were hoping for a victory today, and we definitely had the car to beat. Unfortunately, we just suffered with mechanical problems," stated Clanton. "We have seven more races to make our move to the top of the points standings, and we hope to get started in that direction at Hawkeye Downs."
Clanton and the No. 83 Steve Dale Motorsports team will take a much-needed weekend off from racing, and return to the track for the Texas Roadhouse 300 scheduled for Saturday, August 4. The only track that is visited twice during the 2001 season, Hawkeye Downs Speedway, will host the short track series for the second time this year. The team will return to the Iowa, half-mile track with hopes of bettering their 12th place finish captured in April. The Texas Roadhouse 300 will begin at 9:00 p.m. EST on August 4 and will be broadcast live by The National Network (TNN).