FONTANA, Calif. (February 21, 2009) – Coming off a top-10 finish at Daytona last weekend, Colin Braun and the No. 6 Con-way Freight team were hoping for another strong run at California. It looked promising after a sixth-place qualifying effort on Friday, but once the race got underway Braun developed a vibration and lost third gear before halfway ultimately resulting in a 20th-place finish.
When the 100-lap race began Braun jumped up to third place, but it was not long before he told crew chief Mike Beam that the truck was free in the middle of the turns and tight off. By lap 10 he was back in ninth place. He tried to change the line he was running on the track, but running the high side made him too loose.
A caution on lap 26 brought Braun to pit road for four tires, and on the next lap he pitted for fuel along with track bar and wedge adjustments. With quick work in the pits, he gained four positions and restarted the race fourth on lap 31.
Shortly after the restart Braun told the team he felt the same vibration he had felt during practice on Thursday. He also began to fall back in the field saying the truck lacked overall grip. During a caution on lap 46 he pitted again for fuel and more adjustments. This time he gained three positions in the pits and was seventh when the race resumed on lap 49, but also said that third gear was broken.
Little did the team know the last caution would be the final one of the race. During the long green-flag run Braun fell back to 12th place by lap 74. He said it was tight in the center and off. The team planned its next set of adjustments, but never had the chance to make them. By lap 82 the team could see smoke coming from under the truck and Braun said it was also inside the truck. Everyone hoped for a caution, but never got that wish. Beam told Braun to conserve gas and figured their best shot at a good finish would be to try to make it to the end of the race without pitting for fuel.
As the leaders pitted, Braun took the lead with eight laps to go. He led for two laps before he was passed by Kyle Busch with six laps to go. With three laps remaining Braun said he was out of gas and headed to pit road. The team gave him enough gas to finish the race, but he had trouble getting the truck fired to leave the pits without fuel in the carburetor. He lost a lap in the pits and finished the race in 20th place. Busch dominated the race leading 95 of 100 laps to win his first truck race of the season.
“That was pretty disappointing,” Braun said. “We had a vibration in practice on Thursday, but the guys took everything apart and looked at it but couldn’t find anything wrong. The handling wasn’t where we needed it to be early in the race, and then the vibration came back shortly after that first restart. Eventually I lost third gear and we knew once it started smoking that we might be in trouble. We decided to take a chance on fuel mileage since that was our best shot at a decent finish. We were in second place with three laps to go, but didn’t have enough fuel for the last six miles. We’ve got some work to do before Atlanta, but I feel this team will figure out what happened and we’ll come back stronger.”
The No. 6 Con-way Freight team fell to 12th in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series point standings, but is only 11 points out of 10th place. The next race will be on Saturday, March 7 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It will be live on SPEED at 2:00 p.m. (ET).