SPARTA, Ky. (July 19, 2008) – Colin Braun may not have had the best truck at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night, but he drove a smart, patient race. He avoided one accident with 30 laps to go, but was not as lucky eight laps later. Despite suffering left-side damage to the truck, Braun and the Con-way Freight team never gave up and finished the race on the lead lap in 16th place.
The weekend started out great for Braun as he was fastest in the first practice on Friday, and then posted the third-fastest qualifying time on Saturday. He slipped to eighth place by the first caution on lap four and told the team the truck was tight. The team began discussing adjustments for the first pit stop which came under caution on lap 22. The crew gave him four tires, track bar and air pressure adjustments, but a slow stop cost him valuable track position. Braun was 22nd for the restart on lap 25.
It did not take him long to work his way forward through the field. Within 10 laps he was up to 16th and told the team the truck was tight on entry. By the time he was able to pit for more adjustments on lap 53 he was up to 11th place. The crew made another track bar adjustment along with four tires and with a quick stop was able to maintain his track position.
The race resumed on lap 60 with Braun in 11th place. He remained around the top 10, but the truck was becoming free in and tight in the center and off the turns. By lap 100 he was in 14th place and the team discussed when they would pit for the final time. Just a few laps before they were scheduled to pit under green, a caution for debris was just what they needed. Braun came to pit road for what was to be his final stop of the night. The Con-way Freight team gave him four tires and a wedge adjustment to help the handling. The team had a good stop, but since some teams only took two tires he restarted in 16th place with 31 laps to go.
Braun was able to successfully avoid an accident in front of him on the restart that involved his Roush Fenway teammate, Erik Darnell. He was 15th for the next restart on lap 128, but was not as lucky this time around. During the restart a chain-reaction accident left Braun with nowhere to go. Todd Bodine hit him in the left side and Braun was forced to pit for repairs. The team did a great job in the pits patching the damage without losing a lap. He was 16th when the race resumed on lap 132 and was able to hang on to finish the race there.
“We started out good there and we were just trying to stay out of trouble,” Braun said. “My guys did a great job tonight. We just got back in traffic and it’s hard to race in dirty air. This race track seems real hard to pass on. We really couldn’t pass anybody on the bottom, so we had to go to the topside. Everybody wanted to run on the topside, so it was difficult. It was definitely a two-lane race track. It would have been nice if it would have been three grooves and I thought we could have passed a lot more people. We tried to pass down low and we didn’t have enough power to pass on straightaways. We just kind of got pinned back there. Unfortunately, I don’t know what happened there, or who started what but we got caught up in that accident and that was that. It’s important to stay up near the front and not get back in traffic. All the wrecks usually start in the back.”
The No. 6 Con-way Freight team is now 15th in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point standings. Braun continues to lead the rookie standings. The next race will be on Friday, July 25 at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis. It will be live on SPEED at 8:00 p.m. (ET).