KANSAS CITY, Kan. (April 26, 2008) – Bobby East experienced a day of highs and lows at Kansas Speedway on Saturday afternoon. The driver of the No. 09 Zaxby’s Ford F-150 made his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start since November of 2006, and appeared early to have a shot at a strong finish. However, a combination of events would eliminate East from contending for the win, and ultimately from the race.
East started Saturday’s race in the fourth position but quickly began to give up spots, reporting at lap nine that he was fighting a loose in, tight off condition. When the first caution of the event was displayed at lap 25 for a spin involving the No. 15 truck, East got the break he needed to come to pit road for tires, fuel, wedge and track bar adjustments. Quick work allowed the No. 09 truck to gain three spots for the restart, but one of the Zaxby’s crew members made the wrong adjustment to the track bar on the stop. East restarted in the eighth position, but began backsliding as the error compounded his handling issues.
East dropped back to the 16th position before catching another break at lap 50 when the caution was displayed for a spin involving the No. 10 truck. Crew chief Chad Norris elected to bring East to pit road under the caution period to top off with fuel and correct the track bar adjustment and make an additional adjustment to help East fight his loose condition. The Zaxby’s crew got East off pit road in the ninth position for the lap 55 restart, but problems continued as the No. 09 continued to slide backwards on the green-flag run. When the No. 20 truck wrecked and brought out the caution once again at lap 84, Norris and East agreed to come back to pit road for service. East came to pit road to take on four tires, fuel and an additional track bar adjustment to tighten up the Zaxby’s Ford. NASCAR officials informed Norris following the stop that the No. 09 team would be penalized one lap for pitting outside the box. Norris argued his case that the team had not violated any rules on their stop, but came to pit road to serve their penalty. East found himself in the 26th position for the restart, one lap down to the leaders.
Norris continued to plead his case to the officials once the race resumed, and his persistence was rewarded when NASCAR gave East his lap back at the next caution period. Although the driver of the Zaxby’s Ford would have to start at the end of the lead lap trucks, it took little time for East to show that he was ready to work his way back to the front. East advanced from 26th to 22nd shortly after green-flag racing resumed, and continued to work his way towards the front as the laps clicked off. East’s rapid progress was stopped seemingly as quickly as it started when he and the No. 18 truck got together, causing damage to the No. 09 F-150. East came to pit road three times under the ensuing caution period for repairs, and knew he would be forced to ride along for the rest of the day, out of contention for the race win.
East rode at the back of the pack, doing all he could to nurse the Zaxby’s Ford home to the finish of the race. As the leaders began to run him down, East moved to the high side of the track to give them the inside groove. Several of the leaders worked their way around him with no problem, but as the No. 30 truck of Todd Bodine attempted to overtake East at lap 156, Bodine got loose and spun into the Zaxby’s Ford, eliminating both trucks from the race some 11 laps before the checkered flag dropped. East was forced to settle for a 24th-place finish.
“That was a pretty disappointing finish for a race with such a promising start,” East said. “Chad and the Zaxby’s team gave me a great truck, but we just couldn’t seem to catch a break. I hate that we didn’t get the finish we deserved, but hopefully I’ll have some better luck in my next race at Texas in June.”
The Craftsman Truck Series races next at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Friday, May 16, 2008. Travis Kvapil will resume driving duties of the No. 09 Zaxby’s Ford for the North Carolina Education Lottery 250.
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About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing operates 13 full-time motorsports teams, five in NASCAR Sprint Cup with drivers Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; four in the Nationwide Series with Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, McMurray, Ragan, Erik Darnell and Colin Braun; three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun, Kvapil, Bobby East and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.