March 8, 2008 12:30 PM

Braun Had A Fast Truck, But Bad Luck At Atlanta

HAMPTON, Ga. (March 7, 2008) –  Colin Braun had a fast truck Friday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but two green-flag pit stops cost him a shot at a top-five finish.  The two extra stops put him four laps down which he was never able to recover.

Rain shortened morning practice so the Craftsman Truck teams only had about an hour of practice Friday morning.  The No. 6 Con-way Freight Ford F-150 was solid in practice, and Braun qualified ninth later that afternoon.

At the start of the race Braun was shuffled back to 16th place, but within a few laps he began working his way up to the front again.  He was back in 11th place by lap 13, and was up to 10th when the first caution of the race came on lap 20 when Johnny Benson blew a tire.  Braun’s Ford F-150 was fast so he came down pit road for four tires, fuel and no adjustments.  He gained one position in the pits and returned to the track in ninth place for the restart on lap 27.

On the restart Braun told crew chief Mike Beam that he thought he had a flat tire.  He ran one more lap to feel out the situation, but still felt sure something was wrong.  Rather than take a chance, Beam called him to the pits for new tires.  While trying to drop down on the track to come to pit road, Kyle Busch was racing down on the apron and made slight contact with Braun.  The contact in the right rear was enough to spin Braun, but he was able to control the truck and not incur any damage.  Unfortunately, he lost two laps pitting under green and the team did not find anything wrong with the tires.

Braun returned to the track in 29th place.  After the stop the truck was still quite fast and the team hoped they might be able to recover the laps they lost in the pits.  That was until the next restart on lap 46.  Braun told the team again that he thought he had a flat tire.  This time he was correct and was forced to pit for new tires.  The left-front tire was indeed flat, and he lost another two laps pitting under green.

By lap 80, Braun was still in 29th place but was running lap times faster than the leader.  He followed the seventh-place driver for several laps and could have easily passed him, but being four laps down he did not want to race lead lap trucks. 

The race was slowed several times for rain in the closing laps and when the checkered flag fell on lap 130 Braun was in 28th place.  Busch went on to win the race, his second of the three truck races so far this season.

“We had a solid truck there on the restart early in the race,” Braun said.  “I thought we had a flat tire and we didn't.  We kind of got stuck in that position where we were trying to get down to the bottom and it was one of those deals where I knew I couldn't stop in front of everybody.  At the same time, I knew I couldn’t go all the way down because Kyle Busch was there.  We were just an innocent bystander there and ended up spinning trying to get to pit road.  It was too bad, but I guess we'll move on and learn from that.

“Those guys had a heck of truck they built out there.  I thought we had a solid top-five truck and it's a shame we couldn't bring it home for everybody.  They worked real hard on it and it certainly was really good.”

The No. 6 Con-way Freight team slipped to 23rd in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point standings.  The next race will be on Saturday, March 29 at Martinsville Speedway.  It will be televised live on FOX at 3:00 p.m. (EDT).

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