The Frontstretch: Tracking the Trucks: American Ethanol 200 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Monday July 16, 2012

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Tracking the Trucks: American Ethanol 200

Beth Lunkenheimer · Monday July 16, 2012

 

In a Nutshell: Timothy Peters took the checkered flag 1.586 seconds ahead of Ron Hornaday, Jr. to score his first win of the season in the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway. Peters took the lead on an uncharacteristically bad restart for Hornaday and never looked back. Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter, and Justin Lofton rounded out the top 5.

Timothy Peters earned his first win of the season this weekend in the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway.

Who Should Have Won: Timothy Peters. James Buescher once again appeared to have the truck to beat as he led twice for 91 laps, the most of any driver. But when a right front tire failure sent the No. 31 Accudoc Chevrolet into the outside wall just as the fourth caution flew for a Jon Wes Townley spin, that left the other strong truck in the race with little competition. Peters, who started on the pole joined Buescher as the only driver to run down the leader during green flag conditions. And while there were some tense moments for the driver of the No. 17 Red Horse Racing Toyota when Ron Hornaday, Jr. took the field three-wide on the second to last restart, he managed to hang onto that top spot when it counted. He led four times for a total of 87 laps en route to his fourth career win.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:

1. How did the debuting drivers fare Saturday night?

Three different drivers made their first career Camping World Truck Series starts Saturday night at Iowas Speedway. Jeff Choquette joined Justin Jennings and Travis Miller as the trio attempted to make their mark on a series that has seen so many young drivers succeed.

Choquette fared the best of the three in qualifying when he posted a 17th-quickest lap behind the wheel of the No. 97 Adrian Carriers Racing Chevrolet. Although he was never a threat for the top 10 until the late stages of the race, Choquette managed to keep his nose clean despite a little contact with Dakoda Armstrong early on and drove home to a solid 11th-place lead lap finish.

Jennings started 31st behind the wheel of the No. 65 Mittler Brothers Ford and remained outside the top 20 for much of the race. Although he gained positions throughout, those spots were grabbed after drivers either parked their rides thanks to damage or mechanical problems. But despite hanging out in the top 30 all night, Jennings still finished 23rd, four laps off the pace.

Miller became the first driver to run the full distance since Jeb Burton was bumped from the Hillman Racing No. 27 HotTorque.com Chevrolet. He started 26th but struggled mightily, heading to and from the garage multiple times throughout the race. However, though he only completed 132 laps, Miller was running at the finish and brought home a 31st-place result.

All three drivers managed to finish the race even if it wasn’t on the lead lap. And although none of them were even close to threatening for the win, they didn’t bring a lot of attention upon themselves; that, in itself, can be considered successful since they weren’t involved in any major incidents.

2. What happened between Cale Gale and Dakoda Armstrong?

With about 20 laps to go, rookies Ty Dillon, Dakoda Armstrong, and Cale Gale found themselves in a three-wide battle for position inside the top 10. But as most three-wide battles go at short tracks, Armstrong got loose in the middle and wiggled up into Gale. Then in the following turn, Armstrong appeared to drive straight into the left rear corner of Gale’s No. 33 Chevrolet sending him spinning and both drivers into the outside wall. When Gale’s truck came to a rest facing the wrong direction against the outside wall, he was none too pleased with the driver of the No. 98 Toyota.

“He took us out,” Gale said on the radio. Things got tight and he took us out.”

Not so fast. I’ll admit there was some question in my mind as to whether the move may have been intentional following the initial contact, but that wasn’t the case.

“The restarts were pretty crazy tonight and we got three wide. We all got together there and ti gave us some damage,” Armstrong said after the race. “I thought the right front tire was just going down and I was going to be able to hand on to it, but it just blew going in to the next corner and I had no control over it at that point.”

“I have to apologize to Cale Gale because I definitely didn’t mean to run into him,” he continued. “It stinks for both of us because we had a great night going.”

While it’s easy to assume malicious intent, especially since there was previous contact, Armstrong’s claims were clearly true. First, you had the obvious indication that something was amiss with the right front of Armstrong’s truck when sparks flew from it following the first contact. Plus, Armstrong’s reputation thus far in his young career precedes him. Having run cleanly around his competitors since debuting in this race last year, it’s easy to assume the move wasn’t intentional.

Although the contact ultimately ruined strong top-10 runs by two rookies that have progressed throughout the year, and there was some initial doubt — not only on Gale’s part, but also team owner Eddie Sharp’s part — it was an accident that wasn’t necessarily avoidable.

Truck Rookie Report
2012 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Dakoda Armstrong (No. 98)
Ty Dillon (No. 3)
Dusty Davis (No. 15—not entered at Iowa)
T.J. Duke (No. 07—not entered at Iowa)
Ross Chastain (No. 08)
Cale Gale (No. 33) *Max Gresham *(No. 24—released from ride)
Paulie Harraka (No. 5)
Caleb Holman (No. 75)
John King (No. 7—team suspended)
Bryan Silas (No. 99)
John Wes Townley (No. 09)

No. of Rookies in the Race: 14 (add Jeff Agnew, Todd Shafer, Brennan Newberry, and debuting drivers Jeff Choquette, Travis Miller, and Justin Jennings)

No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 1; Ty Dillon, finished seventh

Rookie of the Race: Ty Dillon

In a weekend where it appeared the nearly invincible No. 3 team would struggle, they managed to pull off their ninth consecutive top-10 finish. Despite running poorly in the second practice session (20th) and qualifying 15th, crew chief Marcus Richmond pitted Dillon early under a lap five caution to insert a sprint rubber and continued to adjust the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet throughout the race while the 20-year-old worked his way to a solid seventh-place finish.

Worth Noting / Points Shuffle:

After completing just 25 laps across three races (Charlotte, Dover, and Kentucky) while parking within the first 20 laps, Dennis Setzer ran the American Ethanol 200 to completion Saturday night. Though he didn’t manage to finish on the lead lap, Setzer scored his first top-20 finish (19th) since bringing his No. 92 Ricky Benton Racing Chevrolet him 18th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September, 2010.

Timothy Peters’ first win of the season helped to expand his lead to 12 points over Justin Lofton. Ty Dillon sits third, just two points behind Lofton. Following his first DNF of the season, James Buescher lost some ground on the leader and now sits 40 markers behind in fourth. Parker Kligerman rounds out the top 5.

Matt Crafton sits sixth, one point outside the top 5 while veteran Ron Hornaday, Jr., who moved up one position, sits seventh. Joey Coulter sits eighth, 61 markers out of the lead. Turner Motorsports teammates Nelson Piquet, Jr. and Miguel Paludo round out the top 10.

Quotable:

“Thank the Lord. I love Iowa and I love going to places where our results are OK and turning them into a best finish. [Saturday] was definitely a milestone in my career, I feel like, because I’ve never sat on the pole and never led like we did to win the race. The testament goes to this team right here — Butch Hylton (crew chief), all the guys back in the shop — you work your butts off. Thank you so much. This right here is for my dad. It will be 11 years Tuesday that I lost my dad, so this was for him. Man, I’m going to be a dad — that’s kind of scary in itself too.” Timothy Peters

“We made some adjustments in the race. We made it tight. It was just not good enough. That was a big leap and gain for the racing team and the new truck we just build. It shows a good sign we’re on our track.” Ron Hornaday, Jr., finished second

“It was a blast to drive. We had really, really good restarts. Lost a little track position on that last stop. Never can complain about what they do because they do such an awesome job usually. These guys brought an awesome Menards Toyota Tundra to the race track. Can’t thank these guys enough for how hard they’ve been working and making these trucks fast each and every week.” Matt Crafton, finished third

“The Hot Honeys / Curb Record Toyota was loose in all night and a little bit tight off. I don’t know what the deal was on the restarts — we just get killed. I can’t anticipate it any better. We’ve got to work on something and make sure we get up through the gears better. I don’t know if it’s horsepower or what. Great race; just my truck wouldn’t go on-and-on-and-on on restarts. It took about five laps for it to come in. I felt like I could run faster lap times than those guys in front of me.” Johnny Sauter, finished fourth

Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series heads to Chicagoland Speedway next weekend for the American Ethanol 225 Saturday night. Last year, the series visited the 1.5-mile oval in September where a two-tire stop with 22 laps remaining allowed Austin Dillon to get off pit road ahead of Cup drivers Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick to grab his second and final win of the season. The race will be broadcast live on SPEED beginning at 7:30 PM EDT; it can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

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Stephen Hood
07/16/2012 07:30 AM
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I was at the race and it sure looked like Peters jumped the last two restarts. I know Hornady said he spun his tires but I still thought the rule was you couodn’t beat the leader to he start/finish line. The same issue cost Edwards a win earlier in Cup, so I wonder if the officials blew the call?

john
07/16/2012 09:15 AM
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Just an awesome race, as usual from the Trucks, and especially at such an awesome track. Crazy 2 and 3-wide action for the win for the entire second half.

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