Houston's California comeback yields 6th place finish at Fontana Team Ase/Carquest Dodge overcomes lap one incident to post top-10 FONTANA, CA- (September 20, 2003) -Andy Houston's return to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series was filled with...
Houston's California comeback yields 6th place finish at Fontana
Team Ase/Carquest Dodge overcomes lap one incident to post top-10
FONTANA, CA- (September 20, 2003) -Andy Houston's return to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series was filled with drama Saturday afternoon at California Speedway. Houston qualified his Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge in the eighth position but was forced to start at the rear of the field due to NASCAR mandated rules pertaining to an engine change. At the drop of the green flag Houston was making a charge through the field on lap one when Jason Small's Chevrolet spun directly into the path of Houston's Dodge coming off of turn four.
"We started in the back because of the engine change," Houston said following the event. "I was coming through the field and I was charging pretty hard. We had made up a lot of ground even though it was still only the first lap. I was inside the 39 truck of Jason Small and he spun right in front of me. I went to the inside as far as I could but I couldn't get away from him and he hit me in the right front fender. It pushed it in pretty good. It wounded our truck just enough to keep us from winning the race."
Houston stayed on the track with his damaged Dodge until a fortuitous caution flag fell on lap 9. He brought his Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge down pit road and his Ultra Motorsports crew made extensive repairs on the crumpled right front fender. When the race was restarted on lap 15, Houston was mired in the rear of the field once again only to make an impressive dash to the front. Houston charged from 27th to 9th in only four laps and cracked the top-five by lap 38. He took over the lead on lap 55 and was called to the pits on the next lap by crew chief Dennis Connor. His crew performed a flawless four-tire and fuel stop and returned their driver to the fray in the sixth spot. The caution flag fell a few laps later on lap 64 and the remaining leaders elected to pit, putting Houston at the front of the field and setting up a duel to the finish among the leaders. It was not to be Houston's day however. After leading for eight laps, his previously repaired fender could not withstand the aerodynamic demands of California Speedway's two mile oval and once again pushed in causing Houston's Dodge to develop a tight condition. He fell back into the clutches of the field and finished in the sixth position. Houston's teammate Ted Musgrave won the event to post his third consecutive California Speedway win.
"The Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge was really good after we fixed the fender that first time," Houston said. "I really think we were the class of the field at that point. It seemed as if the race went on we weren't quite as good. After that last restart the truck just got really tight and I had to just hang on and hold off as many guys as I could. All in all it was a good day but the damage from the fender took away any chance we had to win. We know that we have a great truck for next week at Las Vegas and hopefully we can go out there and pick up a win. I can't say enough about Dennis Connor and the whole crew, they gave me a great truck today."
The next stop for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is Las Vegas 350K at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday September 27th. Andy Houston will make his second start in the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge. The event will be broadcast live by the Speed Channel and MRN Radio at 10:00pm ET.