EAST MONTPELIER, Vt. – Frustrated with contact from a lapped car late in the race and being sent to the rear of the pack for the restart, Emily Packard was able to channel that frustration and drive her 9x Northstar Fireworks/Packard Fuels car back up through the field to finish in eighth place at Oxford Plains Speedway this weekend. “We were just clearing a pack (of cars) and headed for the leaders,” said the 19-year old driver, “when a lapped car just drove right through us and spun us out. Unfortunately, ACT didn’t punish see the need to punish him, but instead I was sent to the back for the restart. Luckily there were enough laps for me to recover and get a top-10 finish.”
Earlier in the day, Packard and the team spent the morning preparing the car for practice, reviewing notes from their test and changing the car back from the New Hampshire Motor Speedway test. It was obvious when she hit the track for the first practice that the team had made all the right changes as Packard was the 6th fastest car on the track. “We were ok during practice, pretty quick actually” said Packard. “We ran some very consistent laps, within a tenth of each other every lap, whereas other guys were going out and running a fast lap and then would drop right off.” Packard would continue to get faster each practice, with her fastest lap in final practice when she went out to scuff in new tires.
Lined up in the sixth starting spot for the heat race, Emily needed to make her way into the top-5 in order to qualify into the feature. Finding herself caught in a three wide battle in the early laps, she was forced to back out and drive hard the last couple laps to get into that final transfer spot. “In my heat race, one of the other drivers decided to take it three wide with me and another guy,” said Emily, “and I got the short end of the stick on that one. Once I got it collected and going again, one of them ran into the back of me and got me sideways, causing me to lose a couple positions. I was able to save it and make my way forward enough to get into 5th.”
As race time rolled around, the East Montpelier native would take the green flag from twelfth, and set out to make her way forward. As the initial laps ticked off Emily found herself stuck in the outside groove losing a spot before the caution came out, but this allowed her to restart in the inside line. By the halfway point in the race she had moved up into tenth place, looking to continue her forward progress. While battling for ninth she got spun between three and four bringing out the caution but remained on the lead lap for the restart. As the laps continued to wind down, Emily would once again find herself spinning again this time at the hands of a lapped car on lap 79, and was sent to the back of the pack with 21 laps remaining. Starting from the rear of the field, Packard would make a late race push, passing a number of cars to bring the car under the checkers in eight place. “We had a really good car and a great run going,” said the young driver. “At the start of the race we got stuck on the outside and lost a couple positions. We finally got down and I was moving forward until I got hit and spun out. On the restart, it was crazy; I passed like seven cars in a lap and a half. The car was really working well and then I got spun out again and had to start from the rear. Overall, I am really happy with the race I drove and proud of what we overcame to have a top ten finish.”
“A huge thank you goes out to Scott Coburn and Kasey Collins; they did an awesome job this weekend with the car. I really want to thank my cousins Jaden and Jacob (Perry) for the help at the track and all their support. Of course a big thanks to my mom and dad who make all of this possible for me. A thank you goes out to Joe Sr., Joey Jr, Mike, and Nate, whose help both at the track and at the race shop is really appreciated. Lastly, I want to thank all my sponsors; Northstar Fireworks, Packard Fuels, Be The Match, Creative Visions, Vermont Country Campers, Berlin Optical Expressions, Rutland Regional Medical Center, Yipes! of Barre, GossCars.com and Fecteau Homes.”