DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 13, 2009) – After only completing 24 laps last year in the Daytona truck race, Colin Braun was determined to turn his luck around to start the 2009 season. He did just that by capturing his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series pole. Then he proved just how strong his No. 6 Con-way Freight Ford F-150 was by leading three times for 15 laps en route to a ninth-place finish.
After turning a lap of 177.441 mph on Thursday evening in qualifying, Braun led the field to the green flag Friday night at Daytona International Speedway for the 100-lap season opener. He led the first 10 laps of the race until a restart on lap 11. During the restart Todd Bodine passed Braun below the yellow line, which ultimately resulted in a penalty for Bodine, but not before Braun fell out of line and back to 15th place. With such a strong truck he was back up to third place within four laps.
As the race progressed Braun told crew chief Mike Beam that the truck was pretty loose. He was back in 13th place by lap 25, and the team prepared for a green-flag pit stop for fuel within the next 10 laps. As luck would have it, a caution came just before the team planned to pit on lap 33. With NASCAR’s new rule which does not allow a team to change tires and add fuel during the same stop, Braun brought his F-150 down pit road first for four new tires on lap 33. He then returned on lap 34 for fuel and a track bar adjustment to tighten up the truck. The team had two quick stops which helped Braun gain seven positions in the pits. He was fourth when the race resumed on lap 38.
The truck was better and Braun ran in the lead draft for the next 11 laps before avoiding a multi-truck accident that began right in front of him. The spotter was not able to see through the smoke, but Braun navigated his way through the melee unscathed. He pitted twice under caution for tires and fuel on laps 52 and 53, and was fifth for the restart on lap 56.
Braun quickly moved into third place and ran single file behind Bodine and Ron Hornaday for several laps. A caution on lap 85 brought Braun to pit road for his final two stops of the night. The truck was handling well so the team made no adjustments, only tires and fuel. He was once again third with 25 laps to go.
Two more cautions slowed the final 25 laps, but Braun felt confident he had a truck capable of winning the race. He moved into second with 10 to go, but fell back to sixth when a caution for debris came on lap 93. He was in fifth when a few trucks behind him made it three wide. With Braun in the middle he was shuffled back as far as 10th with three laps to go. He never gave up trying to improve his track position and in the end crossed the finish line in ninth place.
Despite the early penalty, Bodine came back to win the race.
“Overall it was a really good night for us, but at the same time I’m disappointed because we had a truck capable of winning,” Braun said. “We were too free early on, but the guys worked on it in the pits and made that better. I tried to run the high side late in the race since it worked for some of the other drivers, but I guess it didn’t work for me since nobody drafted with me up there. That cost us a lot of track position late in the race, but in the end walking away with a top-10 finish and a truck in one piece is a victory in itself. My Con-way Freight team built me a great truck for Daytona and I can’t thank them enough. I really feel this is going to be a great season for us.”
The No. 6 Con-way Freight team is ninth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series point standings. The next race will be on Saturday, February 21 at Auto Club Speedway in California. It will be live on SPEED at 3:00 p.m. (ET).