Steven B. Wilson
Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest
Joey Coulter and the No. 18 team went "All In" for Friday night's N.C. Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) but "busted" just past the halfway mark in the 134-lap event, relegating the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) driver to a 32nd-place finish in just his third start at the 1.5-mile tri-oval.
"It was definitely a tough night at the office for everyone on this No.18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation team," Coulter said. "I was really happy with my Tundra for the first part of the event. We came down pit road for fuel only under the first caution and must have picked up debris at some point because we ended up having a slow tire leak. I realized it early enough and made it to pit road before it completely blew. Unfortunately when that happened, it broke a fender brace and when we put the second set of tires on it cut the right front tire halfway down the backstretch and that pretty much ended our night. The guys did a really good job getting this Toyota Tundra fixed and back out so we could finish the race and didn't lose any more points. We will re-group on this week off before Dover and I know we will come back strong."
Starting 17th, Coulter maintained his position inside the top 15 before the first caution of the evening was waved at lap 17 for oil on the backstretch. Crew chief Harold Holly brought the No. 18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation Toyota Tundra down pit road for fuel only and when service was completed Coulter returned to the track in the 11th position for the lap-23 restart.
Battling a tight Toyota Tundra in the center of the corner and on exit, Coulter once again maintained a top-15 position on the track. As the run progressed, Coulter settled in and was battling the No. 7 Tundra of John Wes Townley for the 12th position. However, at lap 70, just prior to green-flag pit stops Coulter realized he had a flight right front tire going down. Making his way to pit road, Coulter's right front tire finally gave way, and blew just eight stalls away from the No. 18's pit box.
The over-the-wall crew bolted on four fresh Goodyear Eagle's and sent Coulter back out on the track scored 31st. Unfortunately, a broken fender brace cut the right front tire just one lap later and sent the No. 18 Tundra hard into the frontstrech wall.
Ultimately, the 18 machine was forced to the garage for an extended period of time for repairs. After replacing the right front suspension on the Darrell Gwynn Foundation Tundra, Coulter returned to the 1.5-mile tri-oval scored 32nd, 44-laps down which is where he took the checkered flag at lap 134.
Kyle Busch owner-driver of No. 51 entry for Kyle Busch Motorsports won the 11th Annual N.C. Education Lottery 200, his 31st victory in 107 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts, first victory of 2013, and fifth win at CMS. Brendan Gaughan (second) posted his fourth top-10 finish in eight races at CMS. Max Gresham (third) posted his career-best finish in 21 series starts. Matt Crafton and Ty Dillon rounded out the top five. Rookie teammate, Darrell Wallace, Jr. was involved in an accident on lap 121 and relegated to a 27th-place finish.
The field was slowed eight times during the 134-lap event for 40 laps and the lead was exchanged seven times between five different drivers.
The unlikely results in Friday night's fifth race on the 2013 schedule forced the No. 18 down two spots in the NCWTS driver point standings to 11th - seven points behind 10th-place Darrell Wallace, Jr., 34 markers behind fifth-place James Buescher and 65 points behind series leader Matt Crafton.
The NCWTS will take another week off before heading to Dover (Del.) International Speedway for the Lucas Oil 200 on Friday, May 31. Coulter has two starts at the "Monster Mile" including one top-10 finish (sixth, 2011). Live television coverage begins at 5 p.m. ET with the NCWTS Setup Show on SPEED.
James Buescher and the No. 31 Rheem team came into Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) looking to continue the momentum they started to build last month in Kansas. Starting the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 from the 12th spot, Buescher quickly worked his way up to inside the top five. During a late race restart, Buescher came into contact with another competitor when running three wide close to the wall, which caused Buescher to suffer slight damage. Dropping as far back as 19th in the running order, Buescher masterfully picked his way through the field to bring home the team’s second consecutive top 10 in 2013 with a sixth-place finish.
With nearly six hours of practice time for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) on the weekend at CMS, the Rheem team took advantage to fine tune their chassis that took home four victories in 2012. It was undoubted that Buescher was going to be one to contend with, as during the first practice the Rheem team finished in the 2nd spot on the charts. When it came to qualifying, Buescher just missed placing the No. 31 Chevy Silverado in the top 10, setting Buescher to roll off the grid in the 12th position for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.
When the green flag released the 36-truck field for the 134-lap main event, Buescher immediately went to work picking his way through the field. By lap two, Buescher had already cracked the top 10 and he didn’t quit there. By lap 18, he was hunting down a top-five running spot. The race saw its first of eight yellow flags on the night, and during this yellow crew chief Michael Shelton called his driver down to pit road to top the Rheem Chevy off with Sunoco race fuel. When the race went back green, Buescher went back to work trying to pick his way through the field. On lap 30, Buescher reported to the crew that the truck was too tight, and Shelton radioed back to his driver that the team would fix him up on the next stop. After stalking the top five for many laps, Buescher finally cracked it on lap 53 and was running lap times quicker than the trucks in front of him.
Just as Buescher was scheduled to hit pit road for a green flag pit stop on lap 73, a yellow flag once again covered the 1.5-mile CMS, saving Buescher from having to pit under green-flag conditions. During this pit stop, Buescher came down and took four Goodyear Wrangler tires, Sunoco fuel and made a host of chassis adjustments in hopes to loosen up the No. 31 Rheem machine.
Continuing to run solidly in the top 10, Buescher was called on to make another great restart on lap 108. Hoping to make up some ground, Buescher saw a hole open up on the top side of the track and went for a three wide pass. During the attempt at the pass, a couple trucks below him got loose and slid up into the No. 31 Rheem Chevy, resulting in slight damage to the left front fender. During the second-to-final caution of the night, Buescher brought the Rheem Chevy back down pit road to the attention of his crew to take four tires and fix the damage on the left front fender.
Restarting the event back in the 19th spot, Buescher had his work cut out for him to make it back up to the top 10. Despite there being just under 20 laps remaining, that didn’t stop the team’s determination to bring home a second-consecutive top 10 as Buescher swiftly worked his way through the field and brought home a solid sixth-place finish. In the process, James Buescher and the Rheem team had a good points night, moving him up to a tie with fourth place in the championship standings.
“I’m really proud of my guys this weekend,” said Buescher. “It was a long weekend with lots of practice and they continued to work really hard right to the very end. We had a great truck here, and I’m happy that we were able to bring the Rheem Chevy Silverado home in the sixth place and continue our charge up the point standings. I can’t wait to get to Dover and continue our momentum.”
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is off next weekend but returns to action again on May 31, when they visit the high-banked 1-mile oval of Dover International Speedway.
- Richard Childress Racing teammates finished second (Brendan Gaughan) and fifth (Ty Dillon).
- Dillon is third in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver championship point standings, 27 markers behind the leader; while Gaughan ranks fourth in the standings, 31 points out of the top spot.
- The No. 3 Chevrolet team is fourth in the Camping World Truck Series owner championship point standings, with the No. 62 team fifth in the standings.
- According to NASCAR's Loop Data Statistics, Dillon earned the second-highest Driver Rating (118.9), while Gaughan ranked fourth with a rating of 109.5.
- Dillon spent 94 percent of the 134-lap affair in the top 15.
- Combined, Gaughan and Dillon posted the Fastest Laps Run 27 times during the event, ranking them second and third, respectively.
- Dillon scored the second-highest Average Running Position of 4.970, while Gaughan ranked 12th with a 12.776.
- Gaughan was the Fastest Driver Late in a Run and ranked third in the Closers category.
- Kyle Busch took the checkered flag at Charlotte Motor Speedway and was followed to the line by Gaughan, Max Gresham, Matt Crafton and Dillon.
- The next scheduled Camping World Truck Series race is the Lucas Oil 200 at Dover International Speedway on Friday, May 31. The sixth race of the 2013 season is scheduled to be televised live on SPEED beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on Motor Racing Network.
TY DILLON QUOTE:
Gaughan Battles to a Second-Place Result at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Start - 23 Finish - 2 Laps Led - 15 Points - 4th
BRENDAN GAUGHAN QUOTE:
"We did not have a textbook night. Shane (Wilson, crew chief) tried some pit strategy in the beginning of the race that ended up not working in our favor, and then I thought I had an issue with the South Point Chevrolet and we fell back in the field both times. We continued to work hard all night and in the end I was up front running down Kyle (Busch). Unfortunately, we just didn't have enough time to get the job done. This is our third top-five finish in a row, so I can't be happier with the entire South Point Hotel & Casino team so far this season."
If at first that doesn't seem like much of a reward for the No. 13 Mattei Air Compressors Toyota crew, consider that it unofficially gained Bodine two positions in the standings. He came into Charlotte 16th and heads to Dover in almost two weeks in a tie for 14th, only 15 points outside the top 10.
"That truck just wasn't lead-lap material," Bodine said of his second free pass of the race, which came on the last caution with 11 laps left. "But Jeriod and our guys never give up, they never stopped trying and the way circumstances played out, we were able to race onto the lead lap at the end, and even pick up a couple spots."
Bodine pitted and went back several spots but in the end he had the satisfaction of racing well with rookie Brennan Newberry, who lost control and wrecked Bodine at Kansas in their last race together, in very similar circumstances. Newberry was ahead of Bodine on the last restart with eight laps left, but finished just behind him.
But Bodine's career-long Truck Series frustration at Charlotte, NASCAR's high-speed showplace, continued from the moment his ThorSport Racing team unloaded their Tundra and sadly, it wasn't finished when they loaded it back up late Friday night.
"Nothing we did to the truck all weekend long did anything to change it," Bodine said. "It was too tight when we unloaded it Thursday and it was too tight when we put it back into the trailer Friday night -- but at least we put it back in there in one piece so we'll be able to work on it, and try to make it better.
"But it was pushing so badly we never could get any speed out of it, and that made it really hard to compete."
While his ThorSport teammates, point leader Matt Crafton and current sixth-place holder Johnny Sauter, mostly danced around in the top 10 in all three practices, Bodine struggled to get out of the 20s, which was an issue that continued in Friday afternoon's qualifying session, when he clocked the 32nd-best lap.
"I think there's just something wrong with the chassis, because we even tried to run the same set-up as Matt," Bodine said of Crafton's No. 88 Fisher Nuts / Menards Tundra, which came on at the end Friday for a fourth-place finish that extended Crafton's points lead to 22 over Jeb Burton. "But when we did, our truck didn't run as good as Matt's was, so that made us think something was wrong with it, so we'll have to figure it out."
One thing Bodine didn't have to think much about during the race occurred at lap 95, when the veteran Ron Hornaday had a tire go down on the backstretch. When Hornaday got to Turn 3 that caused his truck to go straight up the banking, where it wrecked two rookies, Ryan Blaney and Jake Crum. Bodine, who was a few car lengths behind that pair, knew what to do.
"I saw it coming and I knew what was happening," Bodine said. "I saw the truck sparking and I knew he wasn't gonna make the corner. Those guys were trying to go around him (on the high side) but I knew I wanted to go below him, because of it."
Crum was eliminated and Blaney, who had one of the fastest trucks all weekend, was knocked outside the top 20.
Charlotte was the first of five races this season in which Bodine and Prince couldn't find a competitive set-up with which to alter their truck. But it still has Bodine looking forward to the series' next race, which opens with two practice sessions at Dover International Speedway on Thursday, May 30.
Sauter, who had rebounded to fifth place with 31 laps to go after nearly going a lap down due to a lengthy pit stop to open the No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota's hood to make a severe chassis adjustment, was knocked out of the race on the 115th lap when defending series champion James Buescher ran into the back of Sauter's truck exiting Turn 4 and knocked it into the outside wall.
Sauter crossed the start/finish line, then limped the truck through the quarter-mile short track on Charlotte's frontstretch and directly into the garage area to retire with extensive damage.
The poor finish broke a string of four consecutive top-five finishes -- including winning the first two races of the season -- by Sauter and his team. Even worse, it dropped him from a tie for second in the standings, 13 points behind ThorSport Racing teammate Matt Crafton, to sixth, 37 points behind.
Sauter had practiced fairly well, turning 75 laps in the three sessions spread across Thursday and Friday. But in qualifying he was the middle of three ThorSport Toyotas, lining up two spots, in 16th, behind Crafton, who was 14th. They were well ahead of teammate Todd Bodine, who started 32nd.
Sauter actually started 15th when rookie German Quiroga, who qualified 10th, had to drop to the rear of the field on the pace laps, for the start. But Sauter was unable to advance very far before he began dropping back before he made a pit stop under the second yellow, at lap 28, when his crew, led by a pair of interim crew chiefs, 2013 truck chief Jesse Saunders and Dan LeMasters, who had served as Sauter's truck chief for Sauter's first four years with ThorSport, made their major front-end adjustment.
Sauter fell back to 28th for the restart at lap 30, but it appeared to make his truck much better. Sauter drove back into the top 10 in less than 40 laps, and remained there until a restart at lap 109, with 25 laps remaining.
Sauter was fifth under that yellow flag but on the restart the field shuffled-up and Sauter got caught in the middle of a three-wide scrum in which he made contact with Dakoda Armstrong's truck on his right and Darrell Wallace Jr.'s truck on his left. Armstrong then appeared to move down onto Sauter's truck, which caused it to lose control and pinch into Buescher's truck, which was on the outside in the next row.
Less than five laps later, Buescher drove into the back of Sauter and ended his race. Sauter, when he was in fifth, was in a position to retake the championship lead he'd lost to Crafton, who was then running 18th. Buescher went on to finish sixth and is unofficially fifth in the standings, six points ahead of Sauter.
The Truck Series is now off for 12 days until it resumes at Dover International Speedway, with practice on Thursday, May 30.
Matt Crafton only finished fourth in Friday night's North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but he extended his lead in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' championship standings by nine points in the process.
Friday night's event was only the fifth of 22 this season, but later this year Crafton and crew chief Carl "Junior" Joiner might look back on Charlotte -- a track at which Crafton scored his eighth consecutive top-10 finish even while he registered his fifth consecutive top-10 this season -- and realize it was "a championship night."
Crafton was a lap down twice during the 201-mile race, but used sharp pit work, crisp aggression on a couple restarts and a solid No. 88 Fisher Nuts / Menards Toyota fielded by ThorSport Racing to unofficially widen his points lead to 22 over rookie Jeb Burton.
At one point in the last third of the race, as the trucks ran Crafton's ThorSport teammate Johnny Sauter would've taken over the point lead if the race had ended then. But Sauter got wrecked by another competitor and finished 28th, and his points deficit to his teammate -- 13 points coming into the race -- is now 37.
Crafton actually took the green flag in 13th after rookie German Quiroga, who was supposed to start 10th, went to the rear on the pace laps for making unapproved adjustments after he wrecked on his second lap in qualifying.
But Crafton's initial run to third just after one-third distance was strong, his pit crew gained him a spot on his first visit to the service alley and despite losing one lap when he was caught out during a green-flag pit cycle interrupted by the race's third caution flag, Crafton did some hard-charging on restarts -- particularly after he had a flat tire in the second half of the race.
"We got a lap down (caught by the yellow) and we got the wave-around," Crafton said of getting his first lap back. "Then we got the right-rear (tire) flat on the wave-around so we got another lap downhaving to pit under green."
But Crafton never gave up, and neither did Joiner and his team.
"We stayed focused and we just never gave up," Joiner said. "We never give up because Matt never gives up on us. And putting in the effort we do is easy because we've got a bad-ass wheel-man."
For Crafton, the feeling is surely mutual. Through the mid-portion of the race, when the sparks from some of the eight cautions were flying, he tried to lay low. But when Crafton allowed another youngster, Ross Chastain, to out-position him for the free pass with 39 laps left, Crafton knew he had to turn up the proverbial wick.
"I finally got back on the lead lap with about 20 to go and drove back to fourth, so it was not a bad night," Crafton said. "That's a championship team right there. We didn't make a ton of changes, but all the adversity we fought through... It was just awesome.
"This Menards Tundra was so good -- I just wish we had some track position right there so we could have actually worked on it rather than digging ourselves out of the hole with all our laps down."
But in the end, Crafton said he wouldn't really have changed too much about his night.
"That's just Charlotte," he said of the advantages he was able to gain on several green flags -- such as five spots on the first lap of the race or the next-to-last restart with 14 laps remaining where he started 12th and was eighth after one lap. "Charlotte is just so awesome. In Turns 1 and 2 you can run through there wide open (but) everybody would get loose under each other and it's chaos.
"I just had to try to be smart (because) I knew they were going to keep busting their butts. I was just trying to be cautious and the 19 (Chastain) got by me for the (free pass) so I was like, 'OK, I can't do this anymore, I just have to go.'
"I can't thank all these guys enough for how hard they work."
Crafton, who with wife Ashley became first-time parents on April 26, six days after he won the Truck Series' last race, at Kansas, now has 12 days to enjoy daughter Elladee before he has to be back on track at Dover International Speedway on Thursday, May 30.
They’re three of the most recognized faces on race weekend. They wear fire suits. They sign autographs. They always make it to Victory Lane.
But until now, they’ve never had their own race car.
Today at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Lionel Racing and Sprint unveiled the first-ever Miss Sprint Cup paint scheme!
Designed by Lionel Racing, The Official Die-Cast of NASCAR, the Miss Sprint Cup car is a first for the famous trio and the die-cast makes a fun NASCAR collectible for fans.
"The Miss Sprint Cup representatives are tremendous ambassadors for both Sprint and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Since the program began in 2007 they have amassed a large fan following on social media and at the racetrack,” said Kimberly Meesters, Sprint’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sponsorship Manager.
“Thanks to Lionel Racing, they now have a great-looking die-cast as the first piece of collectible merchandise ever produced featuring the Miss Sprint Cup team.”
Designed on a Generation 6 stock car, the Miss Sprint Cup die-cast is just like the die-cast of any NASCAR Sprint Cup series driver – from the Goodyear tires and window net to the “Miss Sprint Cup” name on the windshield.
Miss Sprint Cup Brooke Werner is already a big fan of the die-cast car. "The Miss Sprint Cup die-cast really is one of a kind,” said Werner. “And I think fans are going to get a kick out of the fun design Lionel came up with for our first-ever die-cast! Kim (Coon), Jaclyn (Roney) and I are looking forward to this collectible."
Howard Hitchcock, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Lionel Racing, anticipates the Miss Sprint Cup car will not only be a hit with die-cast collectors, but also more casual fans of the sport who may not have purchased die-cast before.
“We’re always looking for ways to reach the next generation of NASCAR fans and engage new fans in the hobby of die-cast collecting,” Hitchcock said. “Each member of the Miss Sprint Cup team is a star of the sport and fans of all ages love them – no matter who their favorite driver is. This may be the first die-cast that truly appeals to every fan at the track.”
The Miss Sprint Cup die-cast is available for pre-order through the NASCAR.com Superstore, LionelRacing.com and authorized dealers. The die-cast will be available to purchase at track in July. The car is produced under Lionel’s Action Racing Collectable brand and is available in 1:24 scale.
Sprint Motorsports PR
NORTH CAROLINA EDUCATION LOTTERY 200 NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES QUOTES
BRENDAN GAUGHAN (SECOND PLACE, No. 62 South Point Chevrolet): “(Gesturing to the name plate in front of him) First, I’m glad to know they still make these with my name on ‘em. It’s been a decade since I’ve been able to see one. You know, we did not have the textbook night. This is Charlotte. It’s a 3- 4- wide race track. Qualifying 23rd did not scare us at all; of course, I’d like to qualify better than 23rd. I’ve got to work on that. But the high groove that I like to run doesn’t usually lend itself to a great qualifying run. At the start of the race, we went for it; everything was going good. (Crew chief) Shane (Wilson) did a strategy move; we off-pitted everybody, and it looked like it was gonna work great. We came in, we got a green-flag stop, and I think we were within one lap of lapping the whole field. And I think the 18 broke something and gave everyone else the caution. So then it was kind of a work-for-it night. We thought we had a problem with about 30 to go, came in to check our Chevrolet; the boys said it checked out fine, so I believed my boys, and in the end I was catching Kyle (Busch). That’s why he’s Kyle Busch. He knows I like the high side, he knows these trucks all have an aero push, so he moved up to my groove for one corner of one lap and took the air off of my nose and just killed my momentum enough that I was only gaining on him again at the end. So great job by him. To come home second, this is our third top-5 in a row now, so I’m happy as I’ve been in a decade.
(Is that what you expected Kyle to do?) Stevie Reeves is my spotter, and Stevie Reeves is truly a veteran spotter. We all knew he was gonna do it because he did it earlier. He knows he’s gonna do it, and I know he’s gonna do it, but I just didn’t think he’d do it at that point, so I wasn’t ready for it. And that’s a little bit of rust on me, so to speak. I haven’t been in that position lately. So the rust is knocked off, and I will remember next time, and I’ll make sure when he goes to do that move, I go to the bottom to keep air on mine and try to keep gaining.
(You said you were mad as hell when you got on the truck; can you elaborate on that?) It feels great to be mad as hell. For the last eight years, I mean… you look at Kevin Harvick get out of the race car pissed off because he finished second, and I’m thinking I’d give anything to get a second place finish right now. But when you’re driving Chevrolets that are this good, you can be mad, because I had a truck that was gaining on Kyle Busch. And if I were a little more on my game when he goes to take my air, and I go to the bottom and I continue to gain on him and make a race out of it … that’s what I was mad about. I do know how to do these things. It’s been a while since I’ve done ‘em, but it feels good to be mad about second place.”
MAX GRESHAM (THIRD PLACE, NO. 8 AMWINS CHEVROLET): “We couldn’t be any happier with how tonight went. It was a great run for us to night. We started off kind of far in the back and worked our way forward, and that last pit stop really just came to life. It was kind of humming there at the end. This is justification for us that we’re going in the right direction, getting better every week. That’s all we can ask for. We had a lot of close calls there at the end. It seemed like on all the last restarts we were on the outside, which was hectic.”
NASCAR SPRINT ALL-STAR RACE SHOWDOWN QUALIFYING: Martin Truex Jr. won the pole for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Showdown, an event consisting of two 20-lap segments with an optional pit stop between. The top two finishers will transfer to the main event, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
“It was a good day. The guys did a good job, made good adjustments for qualifying there and looking forward to tomorrow night,” Truex said. “Unfortunately I do have a lot of experience in this race. We do understand a little bit about how the race works, how it’s probably gonna play out. We made a mistake last year by not pitting on the 20-lap caution and got beat by it, so I think this year we’ll be ready for anything.”
Truex was distracted throughout his post-qualifying media interviews, hoping to catch a glimpse of the All-Star race qualifying on the TV monitors dotting the room.
“I want to watch this,” Truex said. “I texted Mark (Martin), and I said how was it practicing for this qualifying. I was like, it looks awesome; I’m jealous. And he said it was insane, so I’m looking forward to watching it for sure. I’m definitely jealous I’m not out there. And I have to go to a wedding now, so I can’t even watch it. I would rather not go to the wedding and be in this. It’s not my wedding.”
THEY NEVER ‘TIRE’ OF SUPPORTING OUR TROOPS: It’s just one more way Charlotte Motor Speedway and its corporate partner Goodyear salute our armed forces. In addition to the usual “Goodyear” branding, this weekend’s tires for both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will sport special “Support Our Troops” decals.
RAVE REVIEWS: Before NASCAR All-Star qualifying had even concluded, polesitter Carl Edwards was already raving about the three-lap, one-stop, no-pit-road-speed format. In fact, he was campaigning for it.
“I vote we do this at every race track! This is so fun,” Edwards said, who will sit on the pole in tomorrow night’s Sprint All-Star Race.
Clint Bowyer emerged from his qualifying run slightly breathless and with a wide grin, also singing the format’s praises.
“Man, that’s a wild deal,” Bowyer said. “It’s amazing coming off pit road like that. It’s interesting, it’s exciting … that’s a fun event right there.”