CONCORD, N.C. (May 16, 2008) – It was the first time rookie driver Colin Braun had raced at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, but inexperience did not keep him from running with the leaders all night. Braun even led three laps and had a truck fast enough to win until damage from a late-race accident dashed his shot at victory.
Braun qualified the No. 6 Con-way Freight Ford F-150 sixth earlier in the afternoon after posting the second-fastest time in practice that morning. When the green flag dropped the truck was a bit tight through the center of the corner in turns three and four. With two early cautions, crew chief Mike Beam called Braun to pit road for new tires and adjustments on lap 22. Despite a quick stop, Braun lost some track position since some teams opted for a fuel-only stop. He was 13th when the race resumed on lap 29.
It did not take long for Braun to work his way to the front with a fast truck and fresh tires. He was up to seventh within five laps and took over third place by lap 49. The truck was starting to tighten up again by lap 64 and he fell back to fourth place. Without a caution for nearly 50 laps, teams began to cycle through green-flag pit stops. Braun assumed the lead, and five bonus points, on lap 78 and led for three laps before ducking into the pits himself for new tires and a quick adjustment. The team had a great 15.8-second stop which put him back in third place by the time everyone had pitted.
A caution for debris on lap 100 was just what the team needed to make one last adjustment and get new tires for the final 34 laps of the race. Braun returned to the track in sixth place for the restart on lap 104. Two of the three trucks in front of him did not have new tires, and one had only two new tires so Braun knew to be cautious on the restart.
Kyle Busch had dominated the race and was just ahead of Braun with new tires. Ron Hornaday, also with new tires, moved to the inside of Busch which made his truck snap loose. Hornaday spun on lap 105 which sent Busch into the outside wall. The Con-way Freight team thought Braun had made it through the wreck, but when the smoke cleared the damage to the right front and nose was obvious as Braun came through the grass on the frontstretch.
Braun pitted so the team could tape the right-front fender and try to replace the missing splitter on the nose. He was able to remain on the lead lap, but fell to the end of the lead-lap trucks. Braun was able to finish the race in 15th place, and was the highest-finishing rookie. Matt Crafton won the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.
“The Con-Way Freight Ford F-150 was great,” Braun said. “We had a really fast truck. I thought we had a truck to win the race. We made our last pit stop there and got some great final adjustments in the truck. Mike Beam did a really good job. I think that pit call was absolutely the right thing to do. It put us back there a little bit, but on fresh tires our truck was so fast that it was the right thing to do. Busch and Hornaday both did it and I thought we were a little bit faster than those guys, so I think that was the right thing to do. It’s just unfortunate that they all had to wreck up there. It’s a little disappointing when there’s 30-something laps to go and there’s a wreck for 10th place, but that’s the way racing goes and, unfortunately, we got caught up in it.”
The No. 6 Con-way Freight team maintained 16th place in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point standings. The next race will be on Saturday, May 24 at Mansfield (OH) Motorsports Park. It will be televised live on SPEED at 1:00 p.m. (EDT).
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, Travis Kvapil and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.