Despite what was looking to be a top-10 finish, the "Lady in Black" left her mark on Ricky Carmichael and the No. 4 Monster Energy Chevrolet in the Too Tough to Tame 200 at Darlington Raceway after an on-track incident ended the team's strong run,...
Despite what was looking to be a top-10 finish, the "Lady in Black" left her mark on Ricky Carmichael and the No. 4 Monster Energy Chevrolet in the Too Tough to Tame 200 at Darlington Raceway after an on-track incident ended the team's strong run, relegating Carmichael to a 24th-place finish.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returned to the historic Darlington Raceway for the first time since 2004 and most of the drivers in the field were "rookies" once again -- visiting a track they had never raced at before. That didn't hinder the Monster Energy team's determination to quickly master the 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval. After two productive practice sessions, Carmichael took the track and laid down two solid qualifying laps and prepared to begin the race in the 16th-position.
The track known to be "too tough to tame" lived up to its name as the field was slowed to a caution twice within the first eight laps of the race. On lap 2, Carmichael received his first "Darlington stripe" when he brushed against the wall. Fearing he had a right rear tire go down, he slowed his pace but, once his crew was certain he was clear, he began to make his way through the field.
By lap 18, Carmichael had made his way into the 11th-position and was running lap times consistent with the leader.
The third caution of the race was displayed on lap 45 with Carmichael still scored in 11th-place. He radioed to his crew that he was "just a little bit tight." Crew chief Doug Randolph called the No. 4 down pit road for four tires, fuel and one round down on the right rear jack screw. The crew worked quickly to make the necessary adjustments and gained two positions on pit road.
The field took the green flag on lap 50 and Carmichael quickly moved up a spot into the eighth-position, but only eight laps later was slowed for the fourth caution of the race. He told his crew that his truck was "not cutting in the center of three and four," and when he tried to put more wheel into it to get it to turn, it just got tighter. Randolph opted to keep Carmichael out and allow the truck time to come to him. He re-started the race on lap 62 in the eighth-position.
By lap 66, Carmichael had run his fastest lap of the race with a lap time of 29.65 but felt it was "good for the first three laps, then starts to get tight." Only four laps later, he had moved into seventh-place -- his highest position of the night.
The caution flag was displayed for the fifth time of the evening on lap 74. Carmichael brought his truck to the attention of his Monster Energy team for four tires and fuel. Four laps after the re-start, Carmichael made a hard brush with the wall and took a spin. He maintained exceptional control of his truck and was able to avoid further contact with the wall or any of his competitors.
While running in the 19th-position, he was able to catch a break when the caution flag flew shortly after his spin, allowing him to come down pit road for four tires and fuel. He was very positive about the feel of his truck and radioed to his Monster Energy team "we're going to be alright -- we can come back from this." Randolph agreed and let the crew know they were set on fuel to the end of the race.
Unfortunately, bad luck struck on lap 96, only two laps after re-starting the race, when Carmichael was caught up in a fellow competitor's wreck and was sent home early for the night. Carmichael was sent to the infield care center for evaluation following the hit, but was quickly released without injury.
Todd Bodine took the checkered flag at Darlington. Timothy Peters, Ron Hornaday, Johnny Sauter and Austin Dillon rounded out the top-five.
RICKY CARMICHAEL: "Man, what a bummer. We had such a good truck and I was having a really good time driving out there. It's my first time to Darlington and I was having so much fun on the track. We were running really strong and I knew we were going to have at least a top-10 finish even after my spin. Once again, we just got hit with some bad luck. It stinks for me and for these guys -- they work so hard -- but I feel really good about the run we had and I'm ready to take that momentum into Bristol."
-source: turner motorsports