HOMESTEAD, Fla. (November 14, 2008) – Colin Braun and the Con-way Freight team achieved their biggest goal of the 2008 season Friday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway, winning the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year award. Braun became the sixth Roush Fenway Racing driver to win the title. He also nearly won his first Craftsman Truck Series pole, but had to settle for a second-place starting position and a 14th-place finish.
Braun started the Ford 200 from the front row in second place. He missed the pole by only four-thousandths of a second. His truck was free early in the run which caused him to fall back to 13th place before he could pit under caution on lap 42. The crew gave him four tires, track bar and air pressure adjustments, and gained a spot on pit road. Braun was 12th when the race resumed on lap 46.
The race stayed green for 44 laps before the next caution came on lap 90 for debris. Now the truck was tight off the corners and Braun remained in 12th place. The team changed four tires and made adjustments in a quick 14.8-second stop and sent him off pit road in 11th place.
The Con-way Freight Ford seemed to handle better and Braun moved up to ninth place by lap 100. With the laps winding down, he settled into 10th place until a caution came out with eight laps to go. Many of the leaders came to pit road, so Braun followed them into the pits. The team had another fast 14.6-second four-tire stop, but several teams only took two tires. The extra time on pit road left Braun in 16th place for the restart with four laps remaining.
He quickly moved up to 13th place within two laps, but another caution on lap 133 forced a green-white-checker finish. Several trucks slowed in front of him on the final restart, which caused him to fall back to 15th with one lap to go. He was able to gain one position and move up to 14th before taking the checkered flag for the final time in 2008. Todd Bodine won the Ford 200 while Johnny Benson claimed the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship.
“It was a good night,” Braun said. “We struggled a little bit being free and I think a lot of that is probably my inexperience here at this race track. Those guys did a really great job on pit road and certainly a really good job setting this truck up. We worked on it all night and that last caution we decided to come down and take four tires. I think it was the right call. We certainly were fast at the end, just that next caution that kind of messed up our whole plan there. It was unfortunate but still a good night for us. I'm definitely excited about winning the rookie title. That was the goal when we started the season. It's good to get that. I'm looking forward to build-up for next year and come back stronger.”
The No. 6 Con-way Freight team ended the season 13th in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point standings. Braun will return to the No. 6 Con-way Freight Ford F-150 with crew chief Mike Beam for the 2009 season which kicks off at Daytona in February.