HAMPTON, Ga. (March 7, 2009) – With great fuel mileage and a smart pit strategy it looked as though Colin Braun was going to get a strong finish Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Unfortunately a chain-reaction accident on the final restart with 12 laps to go sent Braun for a scary ride head-on into the wall. Luckily Braun was not injured, but the team was left with a 26th-place finish.
After qualifying ninth earlier in the day, Braun quickly moved into the fourth position on the first lap of the race. As the race progressed the Con-way Freight Ford F-150 became tight in the center of the turns. By the first caution on lap 30 Braun was in ninth place. He pitted on lap 30 for four tires and a track bar adjustment, and returned to the pits on lap 31 for fuel and a wedge adjustment. Quick work in the pits gave Braun the lead when the race resumed on lap 34.
Braun led for three laps before being passed by Todd Bodine on lap 35. The truck was still tight and he eventually fell back to ninth place by the next caution on lap 68. This time he was not able to gain track position in the pits as a lug nut fell off the right-rear tire which slowed the stop. With four new tires, fuel and another wedge adjustment Braun returned to the race in 11th place.
A few laps after the restart another caution came out when Braun tapped the bumper of Ricky Carmichael which spun Carmichael and collected a few trucks on the way. Braun apologized over the radio saying he did not intend for that to happen. The race resumed on lap 79 with Braun in ninth place.
He told crew chief Mike Beam that the truck still needed to turn better through the center and dropped back to 11th with 20 laps to go. A caution for debris on lap 115 was just what the team needed. Braun was able to pit for four tires and one last wedge adjustment. Knowing they could make it to the end of the race on fuel, the team did not pit a second time which put Braun in third place with 12 laps to go.
On the restart second-place Terry Cook and Braun got a run on leader Kyle Busch on the outside. Coming out of turn two Cook unexpectedly slowed and Braun ran into the back of him. At the same time, Mike Skinner ran into the back of Brian Scott who rear-ended Braun. The hit sent Braun head-on into the backstretch wall and his day was done. Busch went on to win the race.
“When we didn’t have to pit for fuel on the last stop and came out third I thought we were going to have a top-five finish,” Braun said. “On the restart I had a good run on the outside, but the No. 25 just sort of stopped and I got into the back of him, and Brian Scott got into the back of me. It ended up being a chain-reaction deal. That was a pretty hard hit, but I’m okay. I just feel bad for this Con-way Freight team. We kept working on the truck all day and we could have held on for the final 12 laps to get a top five.”
The No. 6 Con-way Freight team fell to 16th in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series point standings. The next race will be on Saturday, March 28 at Martinsville Speedway. It will be live on FOX at 2:00 p.m. (ET).