With a new crew chief at the helm of the No. 14 Hefty®/Reynolds® Racing team, Eric McClure headed to Daytona (Fla.) Int’l Speedway looking to improve on the team’s successes of 2012. Taking the green for his 200th-career Nationwide Series start from the 28th position, the Virginia native ran as low as 31stbefore finishing the DRIVE4COPD 300 as follows:
8th-Eric McClure, No. 14 Hefty®/Reynolds® Toyota Camry
- Starting the 120-lap event from the 28th position, McClure quickly settled into the draft, working primarily the middle lane around the 2.5-mile superspeedway. By lap four, the 34-year-old driver had worked his way up to the 18th position.
- A caution on lap seven allowed McClure to bring his orange and blue Toyota Camry to pit road for fuel only. When the race resumed on lap 11, McClure was scored in the 20th position since some drivers elected not to visit pit road during this period.
- Shortly thereafter, McClure again found himself in the middle lane working the draft. This lane seemed to work best for the Virginia native as he worked himself up to the 12th position by lap 20. However, one lap later, he was shuffled out of the middle groove and slid back to the 28th position.
- When the event’s second caution flag waved on lap 30, McClure brought the No. 14 Camry to the attention of his crew. The call was made for four tires, fuel, and a slight air-pressure adjustment to help the car’s handling off of the turns. When the race resumed on lap 35 McClure again settled into the draft and by lap 40, he had once again found himself in the 12th position.
- Two laps later, McClure informed the crew that the water temperature gauge had pegged and water was spewing out of the car. Not wanting to hurt the engine, McClure elected to abort the draft and allow the car to cool down before working his way back to the front of the field. By the halfway point of the race, the orange and blue Camry was scored in the 22nd position.
- After several laps of allowing the temperatures to cool, McClure again pushed his way up to the 11th position. After visiting pit road twice under the lap 64 caution period, McClure was scored in the 24th position when the race resumed on lap 70.
- Over the next 20 laps, McClure continued to utilize the draft and found himself at the front of the field on lap 99. One lap later, while running in the fourth position, the event’s fifth caution flag waved. Pleased with the handling of the car, McClure decided to stay on track and not visit pit road for service. When the race resumed on lap 106, McClure was scored in the fourth position.
- With the laps winding down, McClure slipped to the 18th position as a byproduct of the draft. However, he didn’t stay there long as he found a “dancing partner” with the No. 30 car, driver Nelson Piquet Jr. The duo quickly began working the middle lane around the speedway and found themselves in the 15th and 16th positions respectively when the first “Big One” occurred on lap 115.
- After a brief red flag to clean up the debris, the race resumed for a green-white-checkered finish. Restarting in the 11th position, McClure advanced one position when the white flag waved. However, when the field exited turn four to take the checkered flag, another multi-car accident occurred. Although the Hefty®/Reynolds® Camry received minor damage in the accident, McClure was still able to cross the finish line in the 8th position, a career best finish for him.
- As a result, McClure sits in the sixth position in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver standings heading into next weekend’s event at Phoenix (Az) Int’l Raceway.
Driver, Eric McClure Quotes: “First of all, I hope all the fans are okay. Certainly, our prayers are with them. You want everybody to come and have a good time and be safe. For me, this is the best day of my life professionally. We’ve raced for a lot of years and never had a whole lot to show for it statistically. But we raced up front all day, survived and had a great day. I will never forget it. This is the best place you can have your best day. Daytona has so much history. For a NASCAR driver, this is the ultimate place. For my family, they won so many races here and gave me the opportunity to start the series and compete and so many people have helped me over the years -- Hefty Brand, Reynolds Wrap, TriStar, Toyota -- I don't think I'll ever get over it.”