INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 25, 2008) – Bobby East was off to a good start at O’Reilly Raceway Park this weekend. He kicked it off by winning the USAC Silver Crown race Thursday night, and followed that up with his first career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series pole. It looked as though it might be his night to put the Zaxby’s Ford F-150 in victory lane until an incident on lap 122 ended his shot at a win.
East was looking forward to his truck race at ORP since early in the season. He had five previous victories there, most in USAC competition and he hoped to put that experience to good use in the truck. His experience showed when he put the No. 09 Zaxby’s Ford F-150 on the pole to start the Power Stroke Diesel 200 Friday night.
He led the first four laps of the race until Ron Hornaday was able to get by him. East settled into fourth place as he told crew chief Chad Norris that the truck was loose in and off the corners. It was several laps before he could pit for adjustments, but East kept the truck in the top five. He brought the Zaxby’s truck down pit road on lap 86 for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. The team had a good stop and East returned to the track in fifth place for the restart on lap 91.
East was still in fifth place on lap 122 when his hopes for a win were cut short. Contact between Brendan Gaughan and Stacy Compton forced Compton to drive up the race track. East was on the outside and got pushed into the wall by Compton. The impact got East up on two wheels which caused significant damage to the alignment of the truck.
East pitted the next lap and the team fixed as much of the damage as they could without losing more than a lap. When the green flag flew on lap 127 East was 28th, one lap down. He never gave up and was determined to get his lap back. He fought his way up to being the first truck one lap down and when a caution came with 25 laps to go, East was awarded the “lucky dog.”
He pitted hoping the team could fix the alignment and his loose condition, but the caution did not last long enough. East returned to the track in 21st place on the lead lap with 21 laps to go. A caution on lap 188 brought him to the pits for the work he needed on the truck. He was still 21st with eight laps to go, but was able to work his way up to 19th by the time the race ended.
“I guess Brendan ran Stacy up the track, which put him into me,” East said. “I was already up the side of his door and he put me into the fence and ruined our night. We were running in the top five. We had a top-five run going and that little incident pretty much ruined our night. And I really hate the result for the Zaxby’s Ford F-150 team. They put a lot of hard work into tonight and for it to end the way it did, I feel real bad for them. I’m sure we could have had a top-five finish otherwise.”
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series returns to action at Nashville Superspeedway on Saturday, August 9. John Wes Townley will drive the No. 09 Zaxby’s Ford F-150 at Nashville.