Cunningham Motorsports struggles at Madison
MADISON, Wis. (June 21, 2016) – As in most past seasons, Cunningham Motorsports, once again, had less than stellar performances this weekend at Madison International Speedway. There were glimpses of possibilities, but the final results didn’t pan out for the Big Tine No. 77 team of Chase Briscoe and the E3 Spark Plugs No. 22 team of Will Kimmel. For some unknown reason, the Cunningham organization seems to struggle with the half-mile track.
Briscoe made his first laps on the track during practice Saturday before bringing his Ford back into the pits for his crew to bleed the brakes. With the amount of brakes used to make a lap around the high-banked track, it was crucial to take up valuable practice time to make sure that the system was functioning properly. Briscoe posted the second and sixth quickest speeds during the two practice sessions, but was not comfortable with his No. 77. Crew chief Chad Bryant made adjustments to Briscoe’s car that allowed him to earn his fourth pole award of the season.
Before the race started, Briscoe was unsure about his car in race trim. He said, “I don’t know if we have what we need for the race. I can’t quite keep it down on the inside white line, where we need to run.”
After starting from the pole, Briscoe fell back through the long green flag run during most of the first half of the race. With caution coming out on lap 106 of the 200 lap event, Bryant called his rookie into the pits for four fresh General Tires and Sunoco Fuel.
Restarting in fifth, Briscoe quickly moved into fourth, riding there until the final caution on lap 178. Once again, Briscoe brought his Ford into the crew’s attention—receiving right side tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Briscoe left the pits with the wedge wrench still in his car, resulting in a drive-through penalty that positioned Briscoe at the tail-end of the longest line. With only 15 laps remaining in the race, Briscoe didn’t have enough time to make up his lost positions, resulting in a sixth place finish. Briscoe still holds the championship points lead one race shy of the halfway point.
Will Kimmel, driving his first of three races with the Cunningham organization this season, posted top-five speeds in both practice sessions before qualifying fourth on Saturday. Shortly after the green flag flew, Kimmel started falling back before calling into his crew chief Paul Andrews that he was having problems with the rear end or right side tires. Andrews brought him into the pits, under green flag conditions, changing four tires and filling him with fuel. Kimmel received a ‘pass-through’ penalty for entering pit road too fast, ultimately losing four laps on his green flag stop.
The new tires didn’t make any difference for Kimmel, as he soon realized that his problems were in the brake system. As he continued to run laps, it became more evident to Kimmel that he was quickly losing brakes. By lap 136, Kimmel told Andrews that he had “very little, if any, brake left.” Kimmel limped to the checkered flag, finishing 10th.
Both drivers will continue the quest for their elusive first ARCA Racing Series victory, when the tour hits the high-banks of the historic Winchester Speedway this weekend, June 25-26. Kimmel is approaching his 100th Series start (96th at Winchester), while Briscoe is making his 11th. Both drivers have knocked on the door of victory lane, but have yet to grab that checkered flag. Kimmel’s best career finish of second came twice--in 2014 at Pocono Raceway and at his home track of Salem Speedway in 2011. Briscoe’s runner-up finish came at Michigan International Speedway just a few weeks ago.
The Herr’s Potato Chip 200 has two scheduled practice sessions on Saturday, June 25 at 12:00 EST and later in the afternoon at 2:20. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell will begin at 6:00. Fans will have a chance to meet both drivers at an on-track autograph session Sunday from 12:00-1:00. The green flag for the 200-lap race will fly at 2:00 on Sunday, with live coverage on American Sports Network (ASN) and live streaming on their website, www.americansportsnet.com. Arcaracing.com will also cover all on-track events with live timing and scoring and live chat.
Follow Cunningham Motorsports on twitter @cunningham_race. Join Briscoe’s twitter @ChaseBriscoe5, while Kimmel can be found @willkimmel
~ Cunningham Motorsports Press Release ~