Nashville, TN — Jeff Anton has strung together consecutive top-ten finishes for the first time this year, following up last weekend’s tenth place finish at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway with a seventh on Sunday night in a 150-lap NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series event at the Music City Motorplex in Nashville, Tennessee.
Anton, driving the No. 30 Baran Institute of Technology/Engineered Floors, Inc. Chevrolet, entered the Music City 150 in a tight points battle that involved drivers running sixth through thirteenth in the standings, so every position gained or lost on the track was important. The venue was new to the series, but Anton liked it.
“It’s a fun track, I like it,” he said. “This track is perfect for this series. It has a bottom groove and a middle groove. At Stafford or Thompson, you’ve got one groove and that’s it. This track is perfect for what we do.”
Fresh tires meant a lot at Music City, while the race procedures did not allow teams to change tires during the course of the event. Anton worked on making his car good on old tires to take advantage of this, which meant his qualifying suffered. He turned a lap fast enough to start the race 22nd.
“I thought we were going to qualify better than what we did, but we still picked up a half a second from practice,” he said. “I left a little on the table in qualifying as well, something was telling me not to push the envelope. I don’t like where we’re starting, but we’re consistent, and we’re pretty quick once the tires start to fall off. We’re one of the faster cars after the first few laps. We ran down the 44 [polesitter Sean Caisse] in practice when we were on old tires, and when you run him down, you’re doing all right. Once these tires wear a little, we’re going to be in a good spot.”
Anton was right about his being able to make up ground as the race wore on. It took him till after halfway through the 150-lap event to get to the top ten, but once he was there, he wasn’t slowing down. He joined a battle with Jerry Marquis for eighth, but that race was put on hold due to caution on lap 103. Cautions were Anton’s friend as he could take advantage of his cooled tires on each restart.
“When the caution came out, the car would tighten up a lot,” he said. “That would really help me drive on the inside on the restarts. A lot of cars couldn’t run down there but we were really good there. After a few laps, once we got some heat in the tires, the car would free up a lot. I’d step on the brake pedal and the tail would get really light on me. I’d let it coast up the hill but I couldn’t get off the turns that well, and that was my big problem.”
Despite the car’s loose condition, Anton continued racing towards the front, running as high as seventh before falling to ninth with 25 laps to go. In those final 25 laps, Anton returned to seventh before running out of time. Despite getting his third top ten of the year, he did not pick up any ground in the points standings, now sitting in a tie for seventh, just sixteen points out of fifth.
“At the beginning of the day I thought we had a real good day race car, even though we didn’t qualify well,” he said. “The thing was great, but I’d have liked it to be a little tighter off so I could get onto the gas sooner. But it turned out to be a great car, a top-five car. Things turned out a little different but it was still a great run for us. We haven’t been having good runs with this car, but now it’s showing what it’s capable of.
“All in all, we stayed out of trouble, we had a great race, we got through the field constantly knocking cars off, and I’m happy for all the guys,” Anton, of Russell, Massachusetts, continued. “We’ve got two top-tens in a row so we’re doing better in the points heading to some tracks that I’m really looking forward to. I’ve been looking forward to this part of the season and now that we’ve got some momentum, I think we’re in position to really do well.”
Anton will try for a third straight top-ten finish when the Busch East Series makes its annual visit to Adirondack International Speedway in upstate New York on Saturday, July 29th.
Sources: Alan Claffie/Jeff Anton PR