TALLADEGA, Ala. (October 4, 2008) -- Talladega Superspeedway is known for its wild finishes and action-packed racing. John Wes Townley got a taste of that in his first NASCAR start at the 2.66-mile track. Townley ran up front much of the day, but got shuffled back in the closing laps to finish 18th.
With Roush Fenway Racing Fords taking the top-three spots in qualifying on Friday, Townley lined up second between his teammates Erik Darnell and Colin Braun. When the green flag dropped on the 94-lap event, Townley fell back to eighth until a caution on lap 20 for debris brought him down pit road for right-side tires. A quick stop by the Zaxby’s team put him in fourth place for the restart on lap 23.
By lap 37 he had worked his way back up to third place and formed a single-file line behind Darnell and Braun. The teammates stayed in line until the field began to cycle through the pits for green-flag pit stops on lap 50. The trio pitted together in order to keep their drafting help, but as Townley entered pit road, he was spun by Todd Bodine. Luckily Townley was able to keep from hitting anything and continued down pit road for four tires and fuel. The extra time on pit road cost him his drafting help and he was 20th when he returned to the track.
Townley was in 18th place when the next caution came on lap 68. Crew chief Chad Norris called him to pit road for fuel only hoping to make up some track position. After the stop they were still at the end of the lead pack since most teams only took fuel, so he brought Townley back to the pits for four tires on lap 69. He lined up 17th for the restart on lap 77.
Townley was able to find the drafting help he needed on the restart and worked his way up to seventh place by lap 82. A caution on lap 85 when Braun cut a left-rear tire and spun in front of the field moved him up to sixth. With only seven laps remaining when the race resumed, it was going to be an exciting finish.
The green flag waived on lap 88 with Townley in sixth place. He jumped to the outside and tried to pull Darnell with him to the front. The pair made progress, but eventually Darnell tried to get around Townley. Without drafting help, he fell back in the field. By the time the checkered flag fell, Townley was 18th. Bodine won the race with help from Ron Hornaday.
“We had a pretty good starting spot today and when we got sorted out we were able to ride up front for a little bit,” Townley said. “All in all, it was a pretty good day and I feel confident for my next race. I’ve got to thank Zaxby’s and Roush Yates for the horsepower and Roush Fenway for a great truck. Bodine ran into the back of us there coming into the pits and I think he might have just had a little bit too much steam there because I was pretty tucked up on the guy in front of me. I don’t know, I guess he may have miscalculated it a little bit. It got pretty exciting there at the end of the race and I’ve been in situations that were similar to that, but racing is racing and that’s the way it is sometimes.”
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series returns to action at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday, October 18. Travis Kvapil will pilot the No. 09 Zaxby’s Ford F-150 at Martinsville.
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, Travis Kvapil, John Wes Townley and Bobby East; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.