Determination Yields Podium Finish For A.J. Frank At Concord
Topics: A.J. Frank
August 31, 2010
CONCORD, North Carolina (August 31, 2010) - - No one said becoming a champion is easy. Veteran racecar driver A.J. Frank knows that. However, he also knows that determination can lead you almost anywhere, and for the Mac Hill Motorsports (MHM) driver; the “d” word blasted the Bluffton, South Carolina native to a third place finish in the Cabarrus Boys & Girls Club 250 at Concord (N.C.) Speedway this past Saturday night.
Frank returning to the wheel of the No. 56 Speedco, Inc. / Lucas Oil / 3 Wide Apparel Chevrolet Impala for the first time since Iowa Speedway earlier this month knew that Concord was no easy task but he was hoping that with the minds and mentality surrounding his Mooresville, North Carolina-based team, their confidence would turn into ability on the track.
Mac Hill Motorsports rented the legendary short track up for a private test session on Friday which allowed the MHM operation to shake down their Impala and prepare for Saturday night’s contest. While the team made strides throughout the day, Frank was optimistic heading into the one-day show under the North Carolina moon.
In the first practice session on Saturday, Frank mounted the eighth fastest lap after whipping his Chevrolet bowtie around the track in 17.367 seconds at 103.645 miles per hour. Looking for a pick-up in the final practice session, Frank went to work with new crew chief Todd Myers, the duo put their heads together to try and improve the handling of their No. 56 Jack McNeilly-owned automobile.
In happy hour, or the final practice session before qualifying, the team found a little more speed by producing a lap of 17.212 seconds or 104.578 miles per hour, good enough for ninth fastest overall. For Frank moving in the right direction was positive but knew that his team would have to kick it up a notch heading into the first of five USARacing Pro Cup Series championship events this season.
“We’re just trying to find some grip,” said Frank. “We’re itching away at it and making some progress. It’s a close; tight field, which is the norm for the USARacing Pro Cup Series. I’m confident though that once the green flag drops, everyone will see a familiar spectacle; our No. 56 heading to the front.”
Despite being disappointed with eighth in qualifying, Frank didn’t have time to worry about his starting placement for the 250-lap contest as quickly as qualifying ended; the green flag was about to drop.
From the waive of the green flag, Frank quietly made his move towards the front. His movement towards the lead pack though would be diminished during the first caution of the night when Frank had to enter pit lane for some chassis adjustments. Frank continued to make trips to pit road to help the handling, on the second caution unfortunately, that was the least of his worries upon the completion of service, Frank accidentally left pit road with the gas catch can still attached to his racecar.
The penalty would force Frank to make an unscheduled trip back down pit road and restart the race from the back of the lead pack. Frank’s No. 56 became a bookmark in the event in the second-half of the race as he quickly and quietly recovered from the penalty to burst his machine back into the sixth position when the caution waived on lap 143. After some additional hiccups on the pit stop; the Mac Hill Motorsports crew would still keep Frank in contention for the win.
Shortly after the restart, Frank made his charge into the fifth position lap 170 passing fellow USAR colleague J.P. Morgan. Despite still battling some handling woes, Frank was able to battle past the No. 16 of Clay Rogers on lap 209 to take the third spot, where he would finish the race.
“I first would like to thank Speedco, Lucas Oil and Mac Hill Motorsports for giving me the opportunity to still do what I love to do,” offered Frank after the race. “Our third place finish was a great way to start the championship series playoff and I’m looking forward to the rest of the races. Our finish was a true testament to how hard my team has worked all year to get our race cars consistently up front.”
Frank wasn’t shy to talk about how intense his race really was, “I tell you what man, Concord Speedway is a handful,” said Frank. “We adjusted all night. We came in every chance we got and made adjustments. I had fun, it was good to race with Clay [Rogers] and beat him. It shows that we are making gains on him.”
He added, “I have to give props to Todd (Myers, crew chief). He did a fantastic job calling the shots and working with myself and some of the crew for the first time. I feel like with what we accomplished at Concord, it can give us a little momentum and leverage to go to Bristol in a couple weeks and tear the field apart.”
Frank’s finish on Saturday night capped him his 23rd career top-five and 42nd top-10 finish of his career in 74 starts. Frank will return behind the wheel of the No. 56 Mac Hill Motorsports Chevrolet at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on Saturday, September 11 for the second of five championship races for the USARacing Pro Cup Series tour in the USAR Bristol 200.
Join A.J. Frank on Facebook by visiting, Facebook.com/ajfmotorsports.
Visit the USARacing Pro Cup Series on the web at, USARProCup.com.
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About SpeedCo Truck Lube & Tire:
SpeedCo Truck Lube &Tire is the only national network to specialize in quick lube and tire service for heavy-duty trucks. We don't preach speed. We live and breathe it. Every second of our time, every inch of our stores is dedicated to one simple goal: getting your trucks back on the road faster than anyone else.
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NAME: Chris Knight
PHOTO CREDIT: Laura Ward / USARacing Pro Cup Series
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