Bill Penfold A Dover Accident Victim
(Dover, Del. - Sept. 24, 2004) - Bill Penfold lives to go fast, which makes the high-banked one-mile Dover International Speedway, with its 140-MPH average lap speeds, one of his favorite stops on the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series schedule. But with that speed comes danger, and in Friday's running of the MBNA America 150, Penfold found himself in a lap 99 wreck, forcing his retirement from the event only two-thirds of the way into the race.
Following an eighteenth place finish the Monday before at New Hampshire International Speedway where he didn't put a mark on the car, Penfold brought the same VIP Charter Coach Chevrolet to the concrete mile in Dover and started putting it through its paces in practice. Thirteenth fastest in the first two practice sessions, Penfold slipped to nineteenth in qualifying due to his car's being loose entering the turns.
"We're fighting a loose condition getting in and I can't get into the corners the way I want to," he said. "We're coming off the turns real strong, and getting through the middle real good, but I'm loose on entry so I'm chasing the car up the track. We're really not that far off. The car's real consistent on long runs. I was the first one out for qualifying and I guess I backed out a little soon. But it's a long race, and you can race your way to the front here. Starting position isn't important, putting yourself in position to make the passes is. I'm going to take my time, take what the track will give me, and try to get the VIP Charter Coach Chevrolet up front and do the best that we can."
Penfold raced to as high as fourteenth through the first fifty laps of the event, during which time the race went through its longest green-flag stretch of the day. He was still fourteenth, though a lap down, after a pair of pit stops under a lap 81 caution, but he was set to run the rest of the race without further stops as he had fresh tires and a full tank of gas. But the car was still loose, and that caused problems twelve laps after the race restarted.
"The car was loose coming up off turn four, and Jamie [Aube] got outside of me," he explained. "I started to lose the back end, we touched, and I started going around. I almost had it saved but then it snapped around on me. It did more body damage than mechanical damage, and I started it up and drove it into the trailer, so it's not hurt too bad. It's a shame, we probably would have ended up sixth or seventh or eighth, somewhere around there. We went from having a top ten finish again to twenty-first. That's the way our whole year has been. Jamie came over and apologized, but it wasn't his fault, so I wasn't mad about it."
The last Busch North Series race of the year will take place next Saturday, Oct. 2nd, at Wall Township Speedway in Wall, N.J., a track that the series will be making its first-ever appearance at. Penfold will return to the short-track car to try and finish the season strong, with his goal of remaining in the top fifteen in points when the last checkered flag falls.