Beaver Falls, NY — In just his sixth NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series race, James Pritchard, Jr. has his first top ten finish. Pritchard, driving the No. 41 Mannings USA Chevrolet for James Pritchard Motorsports, finished tenth in Saturday’s Edge Hotel 150 at the Adirondack International Speedway in Beaver Falls, N.Y.
Pritchard, 18, found the half-mile circular track to be similar to Mahoning Valley Speedway, where he raced prior to moving up to the NASCAR touring series.
“Mahoning Valley Speedway is pretty similar to this place, except for turn four,” he said. “Here, turn four sneaks up on you a lot more, that’s the main difference. Through one and two, though, it’s just a grown-up Mahoning.”
Despite that familiarity, Pritchard was still slow getting up to speed in practice with a small substitute crew. By the end of the session, though, he was happier. Qualifying was not a worry as rain showers caused that session to be cancelled with the field lined up by the series’ points standings.
“We have a small crew here with a couple of my uncles and an old friend while some of our regular guys are on vacation,” Pritchard said before the race. “The car wasn’t that great in practice, but we were eighteenth fastest, just a half-second off. I wasn’t sure if we were going to be any good in the race, but now I’m pretty optimistic.”
Pritchard’s optimism might have taken a hit early in the race as he was hit and spun in the fourth turn, and was passed by the leaders before he could fall back in line. On the next caution he was put back on the lead lap, but that was temporary as he was put a lap down during the next long green-flag stretch of racing. Fortunately, he was the first car one lap down, and that was good enough to send him around and get back on the lead lap again. Following a second spin on lap 94 that again knocked him off the lead lap, the beneficiary rule once again kicked in and he was back in competition.
“I came around to restart at the back of the pack and there are all the lapped cars running each other all over the track and I knew I was going to get wrecked,” he said. “So I hung back and on the next caution I lined up with the rest of the lead-lap cars.”
In the last twenty laps, Pritchard moved from thirteenth to tenth in a field that was playing rough all around.
“I gave it all I had and took what I got, and we wound up tenth. The car was awesome and it kept getting better as the race went on,” he said. “This was a great night for the whole team, it’s a shame Paul and Jeff had to miss it because they wanted to go fishing.”
Pritchard’s next challenge is to wheel the Mannings USA Chevrolet around Lime Rock Park’s road course in Connecticut. A two-day show features the Busch East Series practicing and qualifying on Friday, August 17th with the 200-kilometer, 82-lap feature event going green at 12:30 p.m. the next day, live on HDNet television.
For more information, visit http://www.jpm41.com.
Sources: Alan Claffie/James Pritchard, Jr. PR