Houston survives wild last lap in third By Dave Rodman DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 18, 2000) Andy Houston thought he had the other four drivers in the top-5 of the Daytona 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series inaugural right where he wanted them...
Houston survives wild last lap in third By Dave Rodman
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 18, 2000) Andy Houston thought he had the other four drivers in the top-5 of the Daytona 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series inaugural right where he wanted them Friday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway. Houston had gotten a big push in the draft from Kenny Martin coming off Turn 2 onto the 3,000-foot backstretch and had pulled out to a 100-yard lead from erstwhile leader Mike Wallace, Kurt Busch, Martin and Terry Cook.
But as virtually everyone had predicted, the draft pulled Wallace and Busch right back to Houston's rear bumper heading into Turn 3 on the 2.5-mile trioval. And when Wallace ran around the outside of Houston coming through Turn 4, Houston's fate was sealed.
Houston's No. 60 CAT Rental Store Chevrolet Silverado got loose, put two wheels onto the apron and Wallace sailed past to win his second Daytona victory, by .237 seconds. Houston, who battled mightily to maintain control of his Addington Racing truck, fell to third behind series rookie Busch.
After the race Houston found it hard to muster a smile.
"It definitely feels good to run in the top-3 but when you come that close it's really heartbreaking," Houston said. "It was pretty tough. The trucks didn't have a restrictor plate so you could get two or three stacked up and they would light back and they could really get a run on you."
The race's 31 lead changes -- a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series record -- among 12 drivers was proof of the competitive aspect of the 100-lap race. But the predicted drafting ability of the trucks ultimately spelled doom for Houston.
"I cleared Mike and got out front by about 100 yards, but that was probably the wrong thing to do," Houston said, shaking his head. "They got side by side behind me and got a run on me. Going through three and four I chose to stay on the bottom and I felt like it was the right choice.
"Then, I felt it get a little loose in four and that killed a little momentum and he drove around me. It's hard to be disappointed running third but I'm disappointed!"
Houston has been a man on a mission ever since he won his first NCTS race during the 1998 season. Even though he had his best finish in the point standings a year ago, he failed to win another race. He said he really thought Daytona, where his father, Tommy, is still the NASCAR Busch Series qualifying record holder, would be his place. Until Turn 4 of the last lap, that is.
"I didn't really come that close to losing it," Houston said. "It jumped a little sideways but it was not anything that scared me. I was just concentrating on getting back to the start/finish line and trying to keep the lead, but that broke my momentum ever so slightly. It would've been real close at the line -- I don't know.
"I didn't have a whole lot of help from behind."
Busch, for his part, said he had tried to help Houston, but to a degree he was burned by his experience yet again.
"Going into one on the last lap I was trying to stay close to Andy and give him some help in the draft," Busch said. "Terry Cook tucked in behind me and took the air off me. I had to chase it up the hill. I tried to help Andy but it actually ended up working well for me."
In the end, working with his older brother Marty early in the race was probably the only pleasant memory Andy Houston will have of this day.
"That was a lot of fun," Andy Houston said of his brother's two stints in the lead early in the race, when they worked a well-choreographed drafting duet. "He and I had talked about our strategy last night and even before we came down here. We planned on staying together pretty much all day, being with single truck teams like we were."