Mexico City, Mexico (April 20, 2008) – Rookie driver Colin Braun handily took the pole for this season’s annual NASCAR Nationwide Series trip to Mexico in the No. 16 Ford Fusion. With two second-place finishes and a pole in the Rolex Sports Car Series at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez, Braun had nearly as much experience and more success than some of the veteran NASCAR professionals he was up against in Sunday’s race. After leading the field to the green flag Braun remained a top-five contender until a penalty for a stray tire during a pit stop on lap 48 sent him to the rear of the field.
Braun began an immediate charge to the front and was running 19th 13 laps later when a cut tire sent him to the pits for fresh tires and repair to the arm that holds the sway bar in place. When Braun returned to the track, he was in the 33rd position and three laps down. He remained in front of the leaders for the rest of the race often with the best lap times on the track. The damage had been done however and the deficit could not be overcome. Braun and the 3M team were credited with a 33rd-place finish.
Early in the race Braun had reported that the 3M Ford Fusion was a little tight so the team made a minor air pressure adjustment during the first pit stop on lap 18. This seemed to loosen the car up beyond Braun’s liking so the team opted for a track bar adjustment in addition to another air pressure adjustment during the next stop. Braun was running third when he came in for the green flag stop but as the left front tire left the pit box during the stop, he and the team were penalized by being sent to the rear of the field. A caution had come out just after the pit stop so NASCAR instructed Braun to restart in the rear of the field on lap 51.
This penalty put Braun in the 31st position but by lap 61 he had driven the 3M Ford Fusion up to the 19th position. Some of the bumping and banging he endured on his way to 19th, however, resulted in a cut tire and an impromptu trip to pit road for four fresh tires. While on pit road, the team discovered that the arm that holds the sway bar had been worn down during Braun’s trip to the pits with a flat tire. The necessary repairs were made and Braun returned to the racetrack on lap 67 in front of then-leader Scott Pruett. He remained ahead of the leaders for the closing 13 laps. Despite running some of the fastest laps on the track, it would not be possible for Braun to make up the laps lost and he was credited with a 33rd place finish.
“I think at the end there the 3M Ford Fusion was the fastest car on the race track,” said Braun. “I think we had a car that definitely could have won the race. Right there in the middle of the race, we were just sitting there, biding our time taking care of our stuff. I’m trying to figure out where our car needed to be right at the end. I came in for that pit stop and that wheel got away from us for a little bit, but we made some adjustments on the car though. We were real fast right at the back and got caught up and spun out there by the 33 [Hornaday Jr.]. I guess that’s racing. After that, we kind of came back in and changed that tire and fixed the front bar because we drug it off having the flat tire. When we came back out, we were ahead of the leaders and I just basically pulled away from there. I had a real fast car. It’s unfortunate the way the events turned out. We certainly had a fast car.”
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR’s largest team operating 13 motorsports teams. Five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 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; and three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun, Kvapil, John Wes Townley and Bobby East; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.