Speedway Digest Staff
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With five laps remaining in the Michigan National Guard 200 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, it appeared that Kyle Busch - who entered the day with three runner-up finishes in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series action at the 2-mile oval - was finally going to get the monkey off his back and earn a trip to victory lane. The Las Vegas native led four times for 33 laps and was out front in the closing stages before he got slightly loose as he positioned his No. 51 ToyotaCare Tundra to cut off the momentum of then second-place runner Brendan Gaughan. James Buescher was able to slingshot past both trucks and remained out front for the final four laps en route to his first victory of 2013. Busch edged Ty Dillon at the stripe to pick up his fourth top-two finish in six Truck Series starts this season.
"I don't know where (James) Buescher came from, but he got by us, passed us, beat us, so that's all there is to it," said Busch, who has led double digit laps in all six of his Truck Series starts this season. "The Toyota Care Tundra was great today -- really, really fast. I figured that once I got out front, I felt like I could hold everybody off because it was hard to pass. The 62 (Brendan Gaughan) got a run on me down the backstretch and I pulled a little bit low to block and I heard that the 31 (James Buescher) was on the inside of him, so how the 31 can get a run on the 62 who's got a run on me is beyond me. It blows my mind. He got a run on all of us and I got down in turn three way too low on my entry to try to block and I got loose. I don't know if he was that close to me or not, but I had to save my truck and in doing so he just drove right on by."
Busch started from the seventh position and maneuvered his way into the top three by lap 12. When a stalled truck brought out the second caution of the race on lap 16, crew chief Rudy Fugle brought his driver down pit road for a fuel-only stop.
The No. 51 Tundra took the lap-20 restart from the third position and set his sights on the lead. He remained in the third spot when a three-truck accident slowed the field for the third time on 26. Under caution he described his Toyota as "aero loose into Turn 3," a condition that would remain throughout the 100-lap race.
Shortly after the lap-32 restart, "Rowdy" made his way to the front for the first time. The lead would be short lived, as Jeb Burton - who led a race-high 41 laps - made his way back around Busch one lap later. A determined Busch put the ToyotaCare Tundra back out front on lap 45, where he remained when a debris caution slowed the field on lap 56.
Busch brought his Tundra to the service of his over-the-wall crew, who administered a four-tire and fuel stop, along with a track bar adjustment to try and provide their driver more stability into Turn 3. The No 51 Toyota returned to the track scored in the second position, behind a truck that made a two-tire stop, for the ensuing restart.
After taking the lead for a one-lap stint, the Las Vegas native settled into the runner-up spot. After a one-truck spin on the backstretch slowed the field for the sixth time, Busch restarted second on the inside of race leader Miguel Paludo. "Rowdy" was able to muscle his way to the lead by the time the field got back to the stripe and remained out front when a debris caution occurred on lap 91.
Busch would hold serve on the lap-94 restart and remained on point until Buescher's slingshot move gave him the lead on lap 97. The No. 51 Tundra pulled to Buescher's bumper but was unable to get back by, leaving Kyle Busch Motorsports' owner-driver with his fourth runner-up finish in seven Truck Series starts in the Irish Hills of Michigan.
Buescher ended up finishing .546 seconds ahead of Busch. Dillon finished third, Joey Logano fourth and Paludo rounded out the top-five finishers.
KBM driver Joey Coulter finished 14th in a backup Tundra after cutting a tire and crashing into the wall during Friday's final practice session. Coulter's teammate, Darrell Wallace Jr., was involved in two separate accidents and relegated to a 21st-place finish after completing just 52 of the 100 laps.
There were seven caution periods for 29 laps. Five different drivers led, exchanging the lead 10 times. Twelve drivers failed to finish race number 12 on the 2013 Truck Series schedule.
The ToyotaCare Racing team moved up one position to second in the owner's championship standings after 12 races. The team now sits 45 points behind the series-leading No. 88 team. Busch will be back behind the wheel of the No. 51 Tundra when the series resumes action on Aug. 21 for the UNOH 200 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Live Television coverage on Fox Sports 1 beings at 7:30 p.m. ET with the NCWTS Setup Show.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) made its maiden voyage to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Mid-Ohio) for the inaugural Nationwide Children's Hospital 200. Track activity began on Thursday with a day of testing for the NNS. On Friday, Allgaier participated in both practice sessions and completed a total of 51 laps. Allgaier went out in group six out of eight for road-course qualifying, and he earned the 15th-starting position with a lap time of 85.629 seconds. After leading two laps and completing all 90 laps, plus the additional laps for the green/white/checkered finish, Allgaier brought his No. 31 AccuDoc Solutions/Nationwide Children's Hospital Chevrolet Camaro home in the eighth position for Turner Scott Motorsports.
The NNS took the green flag on Saturday afternoon at the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio road course in front of a large crowd for the inaugural Nationwide Children's Hospital 200. Allgaier quickly worked his way up to the 11th position by the third lap. Allgaier maintained the 11th position until the first caution at lap 20. After Allgaier reported he was really struggling with side bite on lap 14, crew chief Scott Zipadelli called for Allgaier to bring his No. 31 AccuDoc Solutions/Nationwide Children's Hospital Camaro down pit road for Sunoco fuel, four Goodyear tires and adjustments. Allgaier restarted in the 16th position on lap 23, and on lap 27 Allgaier reported he was struggling for grip when the second caution of the race came out for an accident in Turn 5. Allgaier stayed out on the track during the caution, while competitors on different pit strategies came down pit road. Allgaier restarted in the 11th position on lap 29 and while racing side-by-side with Marcos Ambrose, contact from Ambrose sent Allgaier off the track and down into the sand trap causing a caution. Luckily, Allgaier was able to power through the sand trap and get back on the track. Allgaier brought his No. 31 AccuDoc Solutions Camaro down pit road for fuel, four tires and a quick repair to the nose with barebond. After Allgaier visited pit road, he restarted in the 36th position on lap 32. On lap 36, Allgaier was in the 33rd position and reported he was really struggling for rear grip.
On lap 38, the fourth caution of the race came out and Allgaier came down pit road for fuel only and an adjustment. He restarted 27th on lap 40 and worked his way to the 19th position by lap 42. After the fifth caution at lap 45, Allgaier restarted 18th on lap 48. Allgaier continued to work his way up through the field and was in the 14th position by lap 51. During a green-flag pit stop cycle, Allgaier was able to lead two laps until he came down pit road at lap 62. Allgaier was back on the track at lap 63 when the sixth caution came out after a competitor made contact with Allgaier and sent him off of the track for the second time during the race. After getting back on the track, Allgaier and Zipadelli made the decision for Allgaier to stay out on the track to keep from losing valuable track position. On lap 66, Allgaier restarted in the 13th position and by lap 73 he had advanced to the eighth position. Allgaier continued to maintain the eighth position and reported on lap 84 that his car didn't have any forward bite. He was in the 11th position on lap 89 when the seventh caution came out for a car off of the track in Turn 11. The late-race caution sent the regularly scheduled 90-lap race into overtime and brought out the first attempt at a green/white/checkered finish. Allgaier restarted in the ninth position on lap 92 after some competitors had to make pit stops for fuel. During the first and only attempt at the green/white/checkered finish, Allgaier was able to make his way up to the eighth position, where he ultimately finished in his No. 31 AccuDoc Solutuion/Nationwide Children's Hospital Chevrolet. With Saturday's eighth-place finish, Allgaier is currently sixth in the NNS Driver Point Standings.
"We came away with a decent finish from Mid-Ohio [Sports Car Course]," said Allgaier. "We had a good test Thursday, and my guys worked really hard on preparing this car for the road course. It's an interesting track, because a lot of the track is narrow which makes it difficult to pass. There were a ton of fans at the track this weekend and I'm really glad we were able to walk away with a top-10 finish, especially considering we were off the track a couple of times today. Luckily, we were able to have a nice recovery. I can't thank my guys at Turner Scott Motorsports enough, they've been working really hard."
RAB Racing and the No. 99 Children's Hospital Toyota Camry driven by Alex Bowman came into the inaugural Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with two objectives, keep it on the race track, and finish the race. In just his third NASCAR Nationwide start, Bowman did just that and finished in the 11th position. Even with the finish, sometimes its not always about the on-track activity that matters most, RAB Racing and Bowman had a very special passenger on the hood and in the pits, Janet Gregory a Patient Champion from The Nationwide Children's Hospital.
The teams had two full days of practice to get orientated with the new NASCAR track at Mid-Ohio, a track that no competitor had ever seen before except for the small number of road course specialists in the field. Thursday was all about getting Bowman experience around the 2.4 mile course, and Friday was reserved for fine tuning of the car in preparation for the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200. Bowman qualified the No. 99 in the 17th position, and although the driver and car didn't show outright speed for one lap, the team knew they could contend during a long green flag run.
At the start of the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 Bowman began to get into a rhythm and immediately started to save his equipment for the long day ahead of him. Crew chief Chris Rice coached him throughout the race to save his brakes and save fuel so he had something to race with at the end of the 200 miles. By the time the 94 lap event was half way through the No. 99 was solidly in the top 10 thanks to pit strategy by crew chief Chris Rice and fast pit stops by the RAB Racing pit crew. Bowman's good run was almost derailed by a speeding penalty in the pits which relegated him back to the 23rd position, but Bowman and the team never gave up. While under caution with three laps to go Chris Rice rolled the dice and came into the pits to get four new tires and gas to ensure the No. 99 could make it to the finish. Bowman restarted in the 22nd position after the pit stop but in amazing fashion came through the field to finish in the 11th position, the team's best finish on a road course this season. With the 11th place finish and the Sunoco Rookie of the Race, Janet Gregory came on the radio after the race to congratulate Alex on his run. Janet Gregory and her family were only supposed to stay for the driver introductions, but she wanted to watch he race from the No. 99 pit area and stayed until the very end, a good luck charm for Bowman and RAB Racing, and a true Patient Champion.
Alex Bowman: "If you would have told me on Thursday that we would have come home in the 11th position with barely a scratch on the car I wouldn't have believed it. Especially if you would have told me we would restart the race with three laps to go in 22nd, and almost get to the top 10, that just goes to show the level of dedication and fight that my team has. I'm definitely no road course driver and we had a lot of great competition this week, so I'm elated to get that kind of finish and move back onto ovals for the remainder of the 2013 race season. With all that said it doesn't equal up to having Janet Gregory in our pit stall for this entire race, I got the chance to hang out with her and her family a lot before the race and she has such a great story of never giving up in life, and that's kinda what we did today...if anything she was our team's inspiration for this race, and I can't thank her enough for being there with us."
Bowman's 11th place finish was the team's seventh top 15 finish in the last ten races, and the 13th of the 22 race season. The finish allowed Bowman to stay in the 11th place in driver point standings, and owner Robby Benton maintained the 15th position in owner point standings. The next race on the NASCAR Nationwide schedule is in "Thunder Valley" at the Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday, August 23rd which will be televised live on ESPN.
RAB Racing PR
An afternoon of solid, steady driving earned Kevin Lepage a 20th-place finish in Saturday’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 Nationwide Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Lepage drove the JD Motorsports with Gary Keller No. 4 Chevrolet for the first time this season.
Lepage started 39th and rolled forward throughout the 94-lap chase, finishing a strong run on the lead lap.
“It was a good day for us with the 4 car,” said team owner Johnny Davis. “Kevin did a nice job, stayed out of trouble and brought it home clean. It was a fun day to have Gary Keller represented so prominently on the car and to have a good run with it.”
AJ Allmendinger won the race, surviving a green-white-checkered finish to outrun Michael McDowell.
The series moves on to Bristol Motor Speedway for an Aug. 23 race.
JD Motorsports PR
Mike Wallace was rolling along early in Saturday’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200, picking his way through the field with a good finish in sight. Then, in a heartbeat, his run stalled.
The transmission in Wallace’s Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over Chevrolet exploded, sending Wallace onto pit road with smoke escaping from his car and repairs necessary.
“We were running around 15th at the time,” Wallace said. “We were going to have a decent day. But we can’t find any luck. We did get back out.”
Wallace returned to the track and managed a 33rd-place finish.
The race was the first Nationwide Series event on the 2.25-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
AJ Allmendinger emerged as the winner after a green-white-checkered finish extended the 90-lap race to 94 laps.
The series moves on to Bristol Motor Speedway for an Aug. 23 race.
JD Motorsports PR
SOME EARLY PIT STOPS, BUT THEN APPARENTLY AN ENGINE PROBLEM WHAT HAPPENED?
“Yeah, we were just putting ourselves in position for later in the race with those early stops. Then we had an issue there with the engine as I came out of the pits and got back up to speed dropped a couple of cylinders. We were trying to get it figured out and see what would happen. On my way into the pits it finally locked up and that’s the end of it. Unfortunate day, but I’m happy that we have had such a strong opening part of the season and we have points on our side and some wins on side so we are not in jeopardy of anything going into the Chase.”
DO YOU EVER JUST SHAKE YOUR HEAD AND WONDER IF THIS PLACE HAS IT IN FOR YOU?
“It does. It’s going to make it all the sweeter when we are able to win.”
ONCE AGAIN AT MICHIGAN YOUR DAY IS OVER EARLY. I SAW YOU TALKING TO THE ENGINEERS, WHAT DID THEY SAY WENT WRONG?
“The engine broke there. I guess when we came in for a green flag pit stop something started then and made it a few more laps and didn’t really notice anything off. Then it finally dropped a cylinder or two down the backstretch. Definitely an unfortunate thing but we had plenty of speed in the car and I think we were going to be a factor with this Kobalt Tools Chevrolet.”
WERE YOU GUYS MAYBE TRYING SOMETHING NEW FOR THE CHASE?
“Not that I am aware of. You know, this track is hard on engines and these guys will figure out what went on there. Days like today, I am thankful for the big point’s lead that we have and the bonus points we have been able to accumulate to get us to this position for the Chase. It happens and I hope to get all this stuff out of the way now although I hate losing momentum going into the Chase. It’s nice to roll in there hot and I think we had a chance to win today. We will dust ourselves off and go again next week.”
CAN YOU TALK US THROUGH WHAT HAPPENED? WHAT DID YOU FEEL?
“Coming down the back straightaway I felt it drop a couple of cylinders and knew we were in trouble. So brought it to pit road and unfortunately it finally broke all the way and locked up. It would be nice to have salvaged something and maybe pulled the down cylinder parts out you know the valve train parts out and get back out on the track, but the engine didn’t live long enough once it broke. These things break pretty quick and that was the end of it.”
IS THAT THE ENGINE THAT YOU HAD IN THE PRIMARY CAR?
“I am not 100 percent sure, but Jamie Little (ESPN Anchor) just said that it was a new engine and it wasn’t the one in the primary, but I don’t know for sure.”
ARE YOU AT ALL WORRIED THAT AS GOOD AS A SEASON YOU ARE HAVING LIKE WEIRD THINGS KEEP HAPPENING TO YOU EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE THAT COULD CARRY OVER INTO THE CHASE AT ALL?
“When I look back most of it is self-inflicted. Even though it’s an engine failure we will be able to trace back why and what. Human hands are on these things assembling them and it could be in that or it could have been a simple part failure. The bulk of the stuff has been human error. I’m not overly concerned. I hate having momentum not work in our favor late in the regular season. I think we would have had a very strong race today if not a win. That momentum is key rolling into the Chase. That is the biggest downfall to me.”
Team Chevy Racing PR
Despite having no road-course experience prior to this season, Larson came to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Mid-Ohio) for the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 looking for a solid finish in his No. 32 McDonald's Chevrolet Camaro. After doing well in Thursday's test sessions and finishing 12th and seventh in Friday's two practice sessions, Larson earned his best qualifying effort of the season, starting the 90-lap race from the fourth position. An incident on lap one left Larson three laps down, but the rookie got back onto the lead lap and worked his way up to the top five before a wild last lap left him with a 14th-place finish.
After taking the green flag from the fourth spot, contact from a competitor sent Larson spinning into the wall on the first lap. He brought his No. 32 Chevy to the pits and his No. 32 McDonald's team began to work feverishly to get Larson back on track. Larson's spin did not bring out the caution flag, so the Turner Scott Motorsports team was forced to work under green-flag conditions, and the 21-year-old returned to the track three laps down, in 40th position. By the time the first caution flag was displayed on lap 20, Larson was in the 38th position. Despite running lap times as quick as the top-five cars, Larson was still caught three laps down. Most of the lead-lap cars pitted, but two remained on track, so Larson was not able to utilize the wave around. Instead, he came back to pit road for four tires and fuel.
When the caution flag was displayed again on laps 27 and 30, Larson was unable to utilize the wave around or receive the free pass from NASCAR, so crew chief Trent Owens called his driver to the pits under both cautions for fuel and continued repairs to his McDonald's machine. On lap 33, Larson restarted in the 37th position and was still scored three laps down. The field returned to yellow five laps later, and Larson received the free pass. After pitting for fuel, Larson restarted in 35th position, two laps down, on lap 41. Four laps later, the caution was again displayed, and Larson again was scored in the free-pass position. After getting a second lap back, Larson restarted in the 35th position on lap 49.
The 40-car field enjoyed a long green-flag run, and Larson was able to stay on track longer than most of his competitors, having pitted for fuel several times. Being scored in the 32nd position, Larson drove himself back onto the lead lap on lap 61 after the majority of the leaders had come to pit road for green-flag pit stops. Just before coming onto pit road himself, the field returned to caution on lap 63. Larson pitted for four tires and fuel, restarting in the 26th position on lap 67. Finally being back on the same lap as the majority of the field, Larson quickly went to work, earning six spots on the first lap back under green and entering the top 15 on lap 69. After continuing to hit his marks and run solid lap times, Larson took over the 10th spot on lap 78.
On lap 88, Owens radioed his young driver to report that the No. 32 McDonald's Chevy was the fastest car on the track. As Larson raced in the ninth position, the caution flag was again displayed just before the scheduled last lap of the race, setting the field up for a green/white/checkered finish. With more fuel than the rest of the field, Larson took the green from the eighth position ready to earn a solid finish for his McDonald's team. As the field received the white flag, Larson was scored in the sixth position. Larson continued to battle for a top-five spot on the last lap, but contact from two other cars forced him to lose his position and spin, relegating the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender to a 14th-place finish.
"Man, I'm not sure what to say about today," commented Larson after the race. "I know this much. My Turner Scott Motorsports team was awesome today. They brought a great car for me, and when we got spun on the first lap, they worked really hard to repair my McDonald's Chevy and get me back on track quickly. All day Trent [Owens, crew chief] made great calls and when we finally got back on the lead lap, we went to the front. I hate that we didn't get the finish that we deserved today, but I guess you never know what you'll get on a road course. Despite everything that happened, I had a lot of fun at Mid-Ohio and it was really cool to qualify fourth. I'm ready to move on to Bristol and see what we can do there after finishing second earlier this year."
Coming off a difficult finish last week at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, where they overcame a lap-one crash to finish 24th, the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) team was hopeful to end this week’s inaugural NASCAR Nationwide Series event at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington with a better result. Unfortunately, what they ended up with was an unexpected last-lap incident that would force them to a final 23rd-place finishing position. The disappointing result also cost the JGR team its points lead in the season’s Owner’s Championship battle, moving them into second place behind Saturday’s race winners, the No. 22 Penske Racing team.
The race weekend started well with a second-row qualifying effort made when Kelly recorded an 84.551 second lap at 96.141 mph, placing the team in the third starting spot for the afternoon Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 event. As officials parked the team back in the garage area, however, it was discovered the No. 54’s right-front tire was going flat. It picked up a large metal piece, about two inches wide, which hindered the tire’s air pressure. NASCAR officials allowed the team to change the tire without penalty and they continued to take the green flag in third.
The event’s green-flag waved at the start of the 2.258-mile road-course event on what was scheduled to be a 90-lap event. Crew Chief Adam Stevens was immediately heard over the radio reporting to his driver, “You are the quickest, an 86.15 second lap.” Kelly was still positioned in third place as the Ohio race track is not one that could easily be passed on, so the team bided their time.
At lap 16, the No. 54 lost one position to the No. 12 of Sam Hornish Jr. and was now scored in fourth place. Kelly reported to the team a few laps later, under the first event caution, “The car isn’t bad. I’m trying not to spin the tires. We were tight earlier but good now. I don’t need any adjustments.” The team pitted on lap 21 for four fresh tires and gas. They returned to the racetrack in sixth place as two competitors did not visit pit road, leaving them at the front of the field to occupy those spots.
The race went back to green on lap 23 with a subsequent yellow again on lap 26, “Save fuel,” Stevens exclaimed. A message that would be heard many times through the race day, signifying fuel-strategy would be important at the end of the race.
Another event caution occurred at lap 29 and the No. 54 team remained on track, while the earlier two competitors who didn’t pit the previous event caution visited pit road, placing the Monster Energy machine back into fourth place on restart at lap 31. A subsequent caution period on lap 38 and Stevens reminded his rookie driver once more, “Save fuel.” Kelly responded, “The car is well balanced still. I’m tight driving into turn one, then loose in the middle of the turn, so I’m having to back up the entry. Where they are really beating me is the last turn. I’m trying to find the best line there. I’m able to keep the tires under me so I think we’ll be good on the long runs.”
Lap 41 saw the green flag wave and Kelly made an aggressive move to pass two cars and move into the second-place spot. Another yellow-flag period on lap 44 waved and the JGR No. 54 team remained on the racetrack to maintain position. After the lap 48 restart, however, the No. 54 moved off track too far in one of the turns and dropped to the fifth position. Under green conditions the team visited pit road for fuel, then leaving the pit area the No. 54 car stalled and Kelly delayed exiting pit road. The Monster Energy team would resume in the 23rd position.
The field was jumbled up at this point, due to some competitors pitting under green and some who remained on track. Another event caution at lap 62 and Stevens reminded his driver, “Save fuel and watch for debris.” Once all the competitors cycled through pit road and the positions stabilized, the No. 54 Monster Energy machine was recorded in the ninth position on lap 66. Kelly turned on the ‘burners’ and improved five positions over the next eight laps to fourth, where he settled in and prepared for the final laps of the race.
On lap 88 another yellow-flag period occurred. Stevens reported once more, “Save all the fuel you can. This thing is going to get ugly.” What Stevens didn’t know was that he foreshadowed his own team’s event finish. Originally set to be a 90-lap race event, would become an extended race when a green-white-checkered flag restart would be implemented after track cleanup. After the field took the green flag for the last time, Kelly immediately pursued the third-place position and achieved the spot with a clean pass on the No. 12 of Hornish Jr. Kelly then took the white flag with the rest of the field before making his last lap around the inaugural road-course event. Unfortunately what would have been a successful top-five finish, was thwarted, when the No. 12 car aggressively hit Kelly’s No. 54 machine in order to regain position, and sent it spinning into the gravel pit halfway through the final race lap.
The Monster Energy machine re-fired and completed the race event, but not before the majority of the field had passed them. The race event concluded at 94 total event laps, 212.252 miles and the No. 54 JGR team accepted a disappointing 23rd-place.
Kelly remarked post-race, “It was great to be competing with those guys at the head of the field. I think we showed we had the pace to be genuinely in the top three. It’s extremely disappointing the race ended the way in which it did, but overall we are happy with the weekend.”
The Monster Energy driver continued, “The pace we had on board the Monster Energy Toyota was strong from the time that we pulled the car off the truck at Mid-Ohio and that continued right through the weekend. To finish qualifying in third despite the slow puncture in our tire was a great outcome. It has been an amazing couple of weeks and I couldn’t be more thankful to the Joe Gibbs Racing operation, Toyota and Monster Energy for their support.”
The car owned by J.D. Gibbs dropped to second place in the Owner’s Point standings, now 22 points behind the No. 22 Roger Penske Ford.
Allmendinger and the No. 22 Ford won the event, his second victory in 10 career Nationwide Series starts. Michael McDowell followed in second while Hornish Jr., Max Papis and Brian Vickers rounded out the top-five finishers. There were seven caution periods for 18 laps of the race along with eight lead changes across seven drivers.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series competes again on August 23 in the Food City 250 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway with television broadcast starting at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. Kyle Busch will make his 17th start of the year behind the wheel of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54 Monster Energy Camry.
Max Gresham started fourth in Saturday's Michigan National Guard 200 at the Michigan International Speedway, a personal best in his young NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) career. Gresham piloted the No.8 Sharp-Gallaher Racing Chevrolet to the fourth-fastest lap in qualifying at 39.293 seconds (183.239 mph). His previous best starting position was ninth.
While an 18th-place finish in the Michigan National Guard 200 was neither what he nor his Sharp-Gallaher Racing team had expected, the 20-year-old driver came away from the race with a positive outlook for the rest of the season.
"We are heading in the right direction. Our Sharp-Gallaher Racing team had a very fast AmWINS Group Chevrolet Silverado," Gresham said. "I messed up today and we had a little bad luck when we blew a tire during a caution period, but everyone on this Sharp-Gallaher Racing team kept working to get everything we could."
Gresham maintained his spot among the top five in the No. 8 AmWINS Group Chevrolet during the first 20 laps before he spun on Lap 26 coming off of Turn 4 and collected two other trucks. However, he sustained minor left-side damage and was able to get repairs and stay in contention in the top 15.
A few laps later under the yellow flag, a left-rear tire blew while he was running behind the pace car for a debris caution.
"We are making gains," crew chief Chris Showalter said. "Today was rough, but we take from this race a career-best qualifying effort for Max, as well as the way we fine-tuned it before the race, and the way we ran up front with the leaders.
"It is a learning process. We may have been 18th, but we have a lot of confidence and momentum."
The next NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race is the UNOH 200 at the Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday, August 21.
The UNOH 200 will be Gresham's first start at the iconic half-mile short track.
"Bristol is the coliseum for stock car racing," Gresham said. "I can't wait. We keep setting personal bests just about every week. We can't go much higher unless we win a pole award or win a race. As long as we keep improving every week, a pole and a win will come. We just need to keep doing what we're doing."
Jeb Burton put on an impressive show in his first visit to Michigan International Speedway, breaking the track's qualifying record en route to his fourth pole of the season. After dominating the first half of the Michigan National Guard 200 and leading the most laps of the race, Burton's went on to finish 10th, his seventh top-10 finish of 2013.
After honing in on the setup of the No. 4 Arrowhead Silverado in the weekend's two practice session, Burton set a record-breaking 38.760-second lap in qualifying, earning his fourth pole of the season and laying down the fourth-fastest pole-winning speed in the history of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS). Once the green flag waved, Burton demonstrated the dominance of his truck, pulling out to a multi-truck length lead until a caution on lap 17 tightened the pack. Crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. called his 21-year-old driver onto pit road for their first pit stop of the day, making a strategic call for fuel only. Burton returned to the track with the lead, and once the green flag waved on lap 32, he once again pulled away from the trucks behind him.
Burton battled against veteran driver Kyle Busch on the restart, but maintained the point position. The rookie relayed to his crew chief that he may need more rear security center off on a long run, and Hillman Jr. promised that they'd take care of that on their next visit to pit road. Burton's lead waned over the course of the next 10 laps, and he surrendered the top position on 45. Burton radioed that his truck was coming back to him, but he was scored in the fourth position when the third caution flag of the day waved on lap 51. The No. 4 team performed a four-tire stop with fuel and an air-pressure adjustment, and the Arrowhead Chevrolet returned to the track in the sixth spot.
Once the field got back up to speed, Burton explained to his crew that he was still too tight in traffic, and he slipped all the way to the 12th position before the caution flag was displayed on lap 76. With nothing to lose and handling to gain, Hillman Jr. called Burton onto pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment to loosen up the No. 4 Chevrolet. With most of the leaders choosing to stay out under yellow, Burton returned to the track in 13th with 11 laps remaining.
Despite the adjustments and fresh tires, Burton expressed that he was still extremely tight. A caution flag bunched up the field for the final time on lap 92, and when the flagger signaled the final restart, Burton battled hard through four-wide racing. The young driver was able to pick up three spots in the closing laps, crossing the start/finish line in the 10th position, his seventh top 10 of the season.
"This definitely wasn't the finish we came for," said Burton. "We had a really fast truck that was very capable of winning the race, but some things just fell off at the end. I had a pit stop where I probably could have gotten off pit road a little faster, and combined with how tight we got at the end, we just couldn't get there. A top 10 is still good for us in the points and I'm proud of my guys for how hard they worked all weekend. Winning the pole with a speed four-tenths faster than second was extremely cool, and I have to thank a great team for giving me a truck that fast. I don't have a lot of time to dwell since Bristol is right around the corner, so hopefully we'll be able to redeem ourselves with a win there."