Not-So-Happy Birthday Weekend for Butler, III at Rockingham Rockingham, N.C. (May 4, 2008) -- Ken Butler, III had high hopes of a happy birthday weekend. KBII celebrated his 26th birthday on Friday with his family and teammates. The weekend...
Not-So-Happy Birthday Weekend for Butler, III at Rockingham
Rockingham, N.C. (May 4, 2008) -- Ken Butler, III had high hopes of a happy birthday weekend. KBII celebrated his 26th birthday on Friday with his family and teammates. The weekend started positive with a strong qualifying run on Saturday for KBIII, putting the No. 22 Aaron's Lucky Dog Dream Machine in the ninth position for Sunday's Carolina 500. Initially damaged in Sunday's multi-car wreck on lap 10, Butler, III continued to struggle for the remainder of the race. Hard contact on lap 120 ended the day for the Aaron's Dream Machine team and resulted in a 39th-place finish at Rockingham Speedway.
"What a disappointing way to finish such an exciting weekend," said Butler, III. "It was thrilling to race the 'Rock'. After our strong qualifying run yesterday, we were looking forward to a good finish today. It's such a shame because my team works so hard and Aaron's helps us out so much. I wanted to run well for them today so I just hate the way things turned out."
Butler, III turned a 143.954 mph lap on Saturday in the first round of qualifying, landing a ninth starting position for Sunday's return of stock car racing at Rockingham Speedway. Unfortunately, shortly after the green flag dropped for the Carolina 500, the streak of bad luck began for the No. 22 Aaron's Lucky Dog Dream Machine team.
Butler, III received front-end damage to the No. 22 Toyota in the day's first caution at lap 10. KBIII reported on the radio that the "nose is a bit crushed up." The team worked to fix the damage during the caution laps and keep their driver on the lead lap. The front-end damage caused a subsequent tire rub which required the No. 22 to come back to pit road for new tires and additional work. Miscommunication cost the team laps as the No. 22 failed to get back on the track ahead of the pace car during the caution laps.
Unable to secure the fender off of the front tires, the team quickly went to work in the pits to construct a new nose piece for the Toyota Camry while KBIII remained on the high-banked track turning laps. The car's handling continued to deteriorate and Butler, III reported that the car was "tight, tight, tight," and that the brakes were declining with each lap.
During the caution at lap 112, Crew Chief Wayne Carroll continued to tell his driver that "no we are not pitting. We're still building this nose down here. We'll get you in under the next caution, KB, just try to hold on."
Team owner Eddie Sharp keyed the radio and worked to encourage his driver and give him his priorities by stating, "KB, Superman couldn't keep that thing down on the line right now. Your job now is to keep the car in one piece and finish the race. Run laps, be patient, and just finish the race."
Unfortunately, the next caution on lap 120 involved the No. 22. This week the Aaron's Lucky Dog Dream Machine was not-so-lucky. KB reported to his team after the contact that "we're done." Butler, III limped the car back to the garage having completed 114 of the 312 laps and finishing in the 39th position. The finish placed KBIII in the tenth position in ARCA RE/MAX Series Championship points, 275 points behind the leader.
"I hate it for my guys," stated Butler, III following the race. "It is so heartbreaking to watch the car loading on the truck before the checkered flag has dropped. But we will put this behind us and focus on Kentucky. I like Kentucky a lot and am really looking forward to getting back there. The ESR cars are strong on the mile and a half tracks so we should have a very positive weekend."