June 4th, 2011

After a very good qualifying effort (career best 20th), the team was hopeful for a top 15 finish on the lead lap on race day. With the weather looking very much rain, the crew immediately started thinking about pit strategy to be prepared for the likelihood that the race would be shortened due to rain.

Just before the pre-race ceremony, Bill Gerhart stopped by to recruit someone to replace his rear tire carrier. I told him that John Traphagen had the most experience on our team, so Billy drafted him to be the rear tire carrier for the famous Lucas Oil No. 5. With John heading out to play with the "big boys", we drafted Kevin Warren to fill in for him. This filled out our crew as follows:

Bob Thurston, Jr as acting crew chief for Chuck Miller who was unable to make this race Aaron Cross, car chief and jackman Wade Camenga, front tire changer Kevin Warren, front tire carrier Todd Caufield, rear tire changer Bob Cincotta, rear tire carrier Eric Bomboy, gasman Dana Camenga, catch can Duane Canfield, spotter Grant Cross, pit sign

Once the green flag flew, we were able to move up some position to about 15th. The race ran under green conditions until about lap 20. At that point, we had just been lapped and missed the lucky dog award by 1 spot. So when the leaders pitted and Maryeve Dafualt got the waive around, we were left in front of the pack as the last car on the lead lap. Because the weather was looking so threatening, we only had one caution lap to make the decision to come in for gas, or stay out and hope for another caution to get the lucky dog award (remember our goal was to finish on lead lap). When I came around the 4th turn, the consensus was to stay out, so I did. We had the next 17 laps of caution to agonize about whether we had made the right decision.

Finally on lap 37, ARCA put out the red flag and held the field on pit road until the weather conditions improved. After several minutes of waiting, we finally went back to green flag racing, with us hoping for a quick caution. At lap 40 (halfway official completion), there was no caution to be seen and we ran until lap 46 when I called on the radio "coming in next lap...oh wait a minute, I am out now". This happened just as I drove past the pit entrance, so I had to try to coast all the way around back to the pits for gas...which did not work and i ended up stopping at the exit of turn 3 and causing a caution. Unfortunately we lost several laps getting pushed into the pits and getting gas to rejoin the field.

On the restart, it became obvious that the fog was too thick to safely continue and ARCA was forced to throw the checker flag a lap 51. We end up in 23rd position, well short of our goal, but we were not discouraged by our attempt to beat the weather. Unfortunately, the weather came about 5 laps too late for our strategy to succeed. Oh well, we all had fun trying.

I want to thank the whole crew as well as the following supporters:

Cummings Auto Machine Bestdeck Quadraflex Mojophotos and D2K Graphics

We are looking forward to our chance to do it all again in Pocono in August.

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