MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 29, 2008) – Racing against aggressive veterans at a short track can be daunting for a young rookie, but Colin Braun rose to the challenge Saturday at Martinsville Speedway. He endured a few close calls, and one spin but rallied for a 14th-place finish in the Kroger 250.
Braun had been fastest in both practice sessions on Friday, but was the first to go out in qualifying on Saturday morning after rain and a 30-degree temperature drop changed the track conditions. His first lap was fast, and good enough for a seventh-place starting spot on the grid.
Braun held his ground early on despite the No. 6 Con-way Freight Ford F-150 being tight through the center of the corners. It seemed to get better the longer he ran, and he remained in the top 10 until lap 73 when he made contact with Todd Bodine while racing for position. The contact forced him up the track where he was trapped on the outside and fell back to 15th place.
When the fourth caution came on lap 80, crew chief Mike Beam called Braun to pit road for new tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. The team had a good stop, but several teams that previously pitted stayed out, which put Braun back in 20th for the restart on lap 92.
He began to work his way towards the front again and was up to 14th by the halfway point at lap 125. Now the truck was free off the corners, but Braun thought that was caused by still being tight through the center. He pitted under caution again on lap 130 for new tires, fuel and a spring rubber added to the right rear to help the handling. Again with varying pit strategies not everyone pitted and Braun restarted in 24th place on lap 135.
Two more cautions and a red flag slowed the next 30 laps, but Braun said the truck was pretty good and was up to 17th by lap 170. He continued to show patience and work his way through traffic. By lap 200 he was in 15th place and racing with Ron Hornaday. Braun passed him, but as Hornaday came back up on his bumper he hit Braun which sent him spinning. Luckily the truck only incurred minor damage, but he fell from 15th place back to 29th. He pitted for right-side tires since there was not enough time to take four tires and remain on the lead lap.
The race resumed with 41 laps to go with the Con-way Freight team in 28th place. Never one to give up, Braun worked his way around several trucks and avoided the accidents which brought out four more cautions and another red flag in the closing laps. He gained one more position during the final two-lap shootout to bring home the 14th-place finish.
“We had a great truck today, I thought,” Braun said. “Everybody did a really good job on this Con-way Freight Ford F-150 team. I’m just real proud of those guys. They all did a good job coming here and me being a rookie, I was just trying to get all the laps under my belt there. I got hung out to dry a couple times by Bodine and those guys. They race pretty rough and unfortunately we kind of got back in the mix there and we started racing with Hornaday a little bit. I guess he was having brake problems and he got in the back of us and spun us around. That put us way back in the field, so it was at least good to get back up to where we finished.
“It’s hard to be aggressive and really not hurt yourself. That’s the biggest thing. Guys like Bodine and them are really good at messing somebody else up without really screwing themselves up and that’s what I’m learning. These veteran guys are definitely teaching me things and we’ll see. Hopefully, I can use that back on them sometime here in the future.”
The No. 6 Con-way Freight team moved up three positions to 20th in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point standings. The next race will be on Saturday, April 26 at Kansas Speedway. It will be televised live on SPEED at 6:00 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, Kvapil and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.