The Frontstretch: Tracking the Trucks: O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Sunday June 5, 2011

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Tracking the Trucks: O'Reilly Auto Parts 250

Beth Lunkenheimer · Sunday June 5, 2011

 

In a Nutshell: Clint Bowyer took the checkered flag 1.695 seconds ahead of Johnny Sauter to win the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway Saturday afternoon. Bowyer took the lead for the final time with 46 laps remaining and checked out from the rest of the field on the way to his third career win in 11 starts. Todd Bodine, James Buescher and rookie Joey Coulter rounded out the top 5.

Who Should Have Won: Clint Bowyer Bowyer started on the outside pole and wasted little time taking the lead on the first lap. He managed to pull away from the field to as much as a three-second lead at times. Only giving up the top spot a few times thanks to pit road strategy and a couple of strong restarts from Johnny Sauter, Bowyer wasted no time after a four tire stop under the sixth caution that turned out to be the final visit to pit road for the driver of the No. 2 Chevrolet. Despite restarting 11th after that pit stop, Bowyer took the lead just six laps later and never looked back. He went on to lead a race high 124 of 167 laps for a dominant and emotional win.

What exactly happened between Kyle Busch and Richard Childress?

For the final ten laps of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250, Joey Coulter and Kyle Busch battled back and forth for the final spot inside the top 5. In the end, it was Coulter who came out on top with an aggressive last lap move to get in front of Busch and stay there. But once the checkered flag flew, Busch drove up alongside the driver of the No. 22 Chevrolet and side-swiped him to send the message he wasn’t happy with the pass Coulter made.

“According to his spotter, he was saying, ‘Congratulations,’” Coulter said when asked about the post race bump. “I hate we got together on the last lap. I had never gotten tight next to somebody, so I was underneath him expecting to get loose, and I get tight and we kind of got together.”

Then, about half an hour after the checkered flag flew, Busch walked out of the garage area and ended up in the middle of an altercation with Richard Childress, owner of Coulter’s No. 22 Chevrolet. Though details about the incident were sketchy, the Kansas City Star reported eyewitness accounts that Childress had Busch in a headlock and several punches were thrown. And despite being repeatedly hit, Busch didn’t attempt to fight back against the assault.

I’m not so sure what the big deal was with the move Coulter made, and frankly it was probably something he learned from Busch himself. It was a simple aggressive move that led an already upset Busch to overreact.

During Sunday’s pre-race show, Busch gave few details about what happened.

“As I was leaving the hauler after the truck race yesterday and walking out of the garage area to my motorhome, an altercation did happen. I wasn’t the aggressor or anything but it’s something that NASCAR is looking into and gathering all the details and working towards trying to come up with a decision,” he said. “I heard was Mr. (NASCAR President Mike) Helton had to say earlier today and I followed through what they’re doing. And I respect what they make a decision based on how they feel the sport needs to be.”

As it is, NASCAR already imposed a small penalty in not allowing Childress to be on pit road during the STP 400 Sunday afternoon, and it’s almost certain he’ll face a further penalty come Monday. NASCAR made it very clear in a statement following a meeting with both parties involved and Busch’s Cup Series owner Joe Gibbs that Childress’ actions in the garage area were unacceptable

“Richard Childress’ actions were not appropriate and fell far short of the standard we expect of owners in this sport. We have met with Childress this morning and made our position very clear to him. Further, we expect he will make it clear to all in his organization to ensure this situation does not escalate any further. We will announce our actions [in] regard [to] this incident Monday.”

Assuming reports that Busch didn’t start the altercation are true—and I fully believe he didn’t—then Childress should be ashamed of himself. I can understand that the little bump Busch gave Coulter after the checkered flag flew was just the straw the finally broke the camel’s back, but there’s a point where an owner needs to stand up and act like the leader he’s supposed to be.

“Kyle Busch remains on probation with NASCAR, and we continue to watch his actions carefully. However, we have determined that Kyle’s involvement in this incident does not violate his probation, and no further action is required,” NASCAR’s statement continued.

That being said, I expect NASCAR will try to make an example of Richard Childress since he had no business attacking the driver of the No. 18 Dollar General Toyota. If anything, he could have requested money to make the needed repairs to Coulter’s truck. And since Busch is on probation through mid-June, he had little ability to fight back and defend himself without the possibility of a further penalty from the sanctioning body.

But perhaps the funniest thing about the whole altercation is that Childress said after Darlington that he believes drivers should stand up for themselves and instead he stood up for Coulter after the post-race contact. Maybe the long-time owner should practice what he preaches.

Truck Rookie Report
2011 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Joey Coulter (No. 22)
Dusty Davis (No. 15)
Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 1)
Chris Eggleston (No. 27)
Craig Goess (No. 46)
Justin Johnson (No. 51)
Parker Kligerman (No. 29)
Johanna Long (No. 20)
Chase Mattioli (No. 99)
Miguel Paludo (No. 7)
Nelson Piquet, Jr. (No. 8)
Cole Whitt (No. 60)

No. of Rookies in the Race: 7

No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 2; Joey Coulter, finished fifth; Nelson Piquet, Jr., finished eighth

Rookie Of The Race: Joey Coulter, finished fifth

Rookie Quote

“That was really awesome racing him. That was a learning experience like no other. It’s amazing the kind of stuff I learned in running behind him and trying to get around him. It seemed like he knew where I was going before I did.” Joey Coulter on his ten lap battle with Kyle Busch

Points Shuffle:

Johnny Sauter moved up one spot and once again leads the standings by 12 points over rookie Cole Whitt who dropped a spot after struggling through a pit road speeding penalty and a shortage of fuel. Last year’s Rookie of the Year Austin Dillon moved up one spot to third while Matt Crafton dropped another spot this week to fourth. Timothy Peters, up one position rounds out the top 5.

Ron Hornaday, Jr. dropped one spot in the standings after an early blown tire caused him to spin and slide the driver’s side of the No. 33 Chevrolet along the outside wall. James Buescher remains in seventh followed by rookie Parker Kligerman, who moved up one spot. Todd Bodine and Brendan Gaughan each moved up two positions to round out the top 10.

Quotable:

“So happy to finally be in victory lane here. It meant so much to me. The fans are always awesome here and I’m so proud of this speedway and everything that’s become of it. I always dreamed of being able to race here let along being able to win here. It’s just a dream come true. Hats off to these guys here.” Clint Bowyer

“I thought we had something for him there in that middle run and then that last 50 we elected to take fuel only. But he got through traffic better than we did. But nonetheless a great day for us, proud of Joe (Shear, Jr., crew chief) and proud of all the guys. I knew we had a shot coming into this race. I don’t know where the 2 truck (Bowyer) came from, but kudos to those guys—dominant performance. I feel very very good about going to Texas next week.” Runner-Up Johnny Sauter

“It’s a band new Tundra and these guys worked to build a great truck. But as with all new things, you gotta work out the bugs and we gotta work out the heat. It fried my rear end and under my arm. To come out of this slump—we wanted to win there’s no doubt—but we had the third best truck. We were running Johnny (Sauter) down there at the end.” Todd Bodine, finished third

Up Next:
The Camping World Truck Series heads south to Texas Motor Speedway for the WinStar World Casino 400K next Friday night. Coverage begins at 9:00 PM ET on SPEED; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

Contact Beth Lunkenheimer

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