After posting a 24th-place finish in last weekend's event at Kentucky Speedway, Eric McClure and the No. 14 Hefty®/Reynolds Wrap® team headed to Daytona International Speedway looking to post a season-best finish on our nation's birthday. Unfortunately, they faced an uphill battle that began in the day's qualifying session and continued throughout. Nevertheless, the team worked hard, never gave up, and was able to salvage a 22nd-place finish. With this finish, McClure sits 19th in the driver point standings.
Prior to the start of Friday night's Subway Firecracker 250, McClure, along with several other cars were involved in a freak accident during round one of knockout qualifying when rain showers quickly soaked the backstretch. The team worked diligently during the four-hour break between qualifying and the command to start the engines and replaced the right-front fender, part of the nose, and the duct work. This allowed McClure to use his primary car later that evening for the 100-lap event rather than having to use his back-up which was slated to run a differed type of track.
Starting from the rear of the field, McClure used the first part of the 100-lap event to get a feel for the car since it had just received major repairs a few hours prior to the start of the race. Running 32nd by lap 10, McClure found himself in a four-car pack about 25 car lengths back from the main pack. Just as they were catching the lead draft, the first two cars in line decided to attempt a tandem draft which caused the group to lose a lot of ground to the big pack of cars. NASCAR eventually penalized the front two cars leaving McClure and another competitor with too much ground to make up prior to green flag pit stops that began on lap 36. As a result, McClure was scored one lap down to the race leader when he returned to the track after making a two-tire and fuel pit stop on 38. At the halfway point the team was scored in the 30th position.
On lap 51 the event's first caution flag waved. Having just visited pit road, the team decided to take a gamble and remain on track to receive the wave around. When the race resumed on lap 57, McClure began utilizing all lanes around the 2.5-mile track and found that the middle lane was his most preferred line. By lap 77, the Hefty®/Reynolds Wrap® team was scored in the 22nd position. Unfortunately the gamble didn't pay dividends and the team was forced to pit for fuel on lap 82. Once McClure returned to the track, he was scored in the 28th position, one lap down to the race leader.
On lap 97, the event's third and final caution flag waved. It not only forced a green-white-checkered finish, it also allowed McClure to receive the lucky dog award which placed him back on the lead lap. Restarting 26th, McClure used whatever line was available around the 2.5-mile track and was able to advance four positions in the final three laps to post a 22nd-place finish in the Subway Firecracker 200.
Eric McClure Quotes:
"Great perseverance today by our team. The qualifying damage, plus the circumstances that cost us a lap really set us back. We were able to overcome the lost lap in time for a green-white-checkered finish and we gained a few spots. After the way our day went, we will take it."