BIG 10 PLAYOFFS UNDERWAY AND QUERY SCORES FIRST by Matt Kentfield
Jones Nearly Sucks the Life Out of the Field Before Sucking Fumes
A driver doesn’t become multiple time track champion without a little bit of good luck every now and then. Freddy Query can attest to that and may be able to point to his good fortune as one of the reasons he’s well on his way to his second straight Super Late Model Big 10 Series Championship at Concord Motorsport Park. Query jumped to the lead when rookie driver Clay Jones ran out of fuel with just three laps remaining and went on to take his fifth win of the 2005 season in the first round of the Big 10 Series playoffs on Saturday night.
Peltier dominated the first 50 laps of the 200-lap event, but under caution on lap 54 Peltier’s car lost power going into turn three. His No. 5 machine came to a stop on the frontstretch as flames began to shoot out from under the hood. Peltier escaped unharmed and would wind up returning to the track just a few laps later after repairs.
Query is used to winning at Concord. (51 Photos)
Peltier’s misfortune put the lead in the capable hands of Freddy Query. A caution on lap 109 for the spun car of Clete Caywood brought most of the frontrunners to pit road. Pit strategies varied, as Query took four tires and fuel, while drivers such Schoenfeld took just two new Hoosiers and a full tank of gas. Clay Jones elected not to pit under the caution and would restart from the top spot. Jones was able to pull away from the field for several laps but it did not take long for Query’s four fresh tires to catch him. Query maneuvered his way beneath Jones on the bottom in turn four to retake the lead on lap 126 and would continue to lead for the next 50 laps.
Peltier dominated until fire erputed on the #5.
(Matt Kentfield Photo)
After a wild finish to the Big 10 Series’ seven race regular season earlier this month, the top-10 in points were locked in for Saturday’s first playoff round and given new point totals with just two points separating each position. Freddy Query held a familiar post – atop the points sheet. Dennis Schoenfeld, Query’s toughest competition all season, was right on his heels two points back.
While the points were the big story before the green flag dropped, attention quickly turned to the front of the field as the lead seemed to be the unluckiest place on the track all night. Preston Peltier started from the pole position and immediately checked out on the 19-car field.
With about 25 laps remaining, Jones regrouped and started chasing down the three time champ. By lap 185, Jones and Query were racing side by side. Jones could drive under Query going into the corners but Query was able to motor ahead on the straightaways. Three laps of door to door racing ensued, but it was the rookie Jones who took the advantage with only 10 laps to go.
Just when it looked like Clay Jones was on his way to his first career victory, his no-pit strategy backfired. Jones’s machine slowed off four with just three laps remaining and he pulled to pit road for a quick splash of fuel to make it to the end. Freddy Query inherited the lead and took another Big 10 Series win, keeping him in the top spot in points with just two playoff rounds remaining.
“I had to have some luck to win that one that’s for sure,” said a happy Query after the race. “My guys kept telling me that he didn’t stop and I know you can’t make it 200 laps without stopping for gas. He might have had a little carburetor or little motor or something to try to make it the whole way on gas. At the end of the race it was so slick that his little motor worked. I just couldn’t get grip out there and it was killing me and the guy had me beat.”
If the king of Concord Motorsport Park admits you had him beat, you know you had a good car, and that’s exactly what young Clay Jones had but he wound up just a mile and a half short.
“We knew from the beginning that we were taking a big chance by not pitting,” said Jones. “We were just trying to save gas and save tires. We were able to save the tires but we were just three laps short on gas.”
Query’s victory gives him the upper hand as he chases his fourth track championship and second straight Big 10 Series crown.
“The thing you have to do from the first time out here is be focused on that championship if you really want it,” said Query. “That’s where the money is. Ten thousand dollars for the championship is a big deal to keep you going. We stay home here all year long and try to win these races and the championship and nights like tonight only help get us there.”
Unfortunately for second place points man Dennis Schoenfeld, Saturday’s good luck for Freddy Query was the polar opposite from his. A broken motor just 50 laps from the finish relegated the Fort Smith, Arkansas driver to a 12th place finish and dropped him to sixth in points.
“The motor was running fine until all the sudden it started acting up so I just shut it off,” said a dejected Schoenfeld. “There was no sense in blowing it up any worse than it is. We checked all the wiring and that’s all alright so it must be something inside, who knows.”