Ricky Carmichael began his week with one goal: finish at Talladega Superspeedway. With three career starts at the storied track, he had yet to finish a race. And under the sun-filled skies that set the stage for the Mountain Dew 250 fueled by ...
Ricky Carmichael began his week with one goal: finish at Talladega Superspeedway. With three career starts at the storied track, he had yet to finish a race. And under the sun-filled skies that set the stage for the Mountain Dew 250 fueled by Fred's, Carmichael not only finished, but secured his third top-five of the season by taking the checkered flag in the fifth position.
The Monster Energy team had only one practice session to tune on the No. 4 Chevrolet before Carmichael was set to qualify. He ran in the top-five for a good portion of the practice session and secured a seventh-place starting position for the race.
With the extremely high speeds that drivers encounter at Talladega, Carmichael was quiet over his radio for the majority of the race -- taking his time to focus on the competition, and the draft, to be sure he was in the right place to avoid "the big one," that teams fear at superspeedways.
Carmichael first came to the attention of his Monster Energy team when the first caution flag of the race was displayed on lap 22. He got four tires, fuel and an adjustment on his truck. He re-started the race on lap 32 in the sixth-position.
For the next 25 laps, Carmichael spent most of his time in the top-10 and came down pit road for a green flag stop on lap 57 for four tires and fuel. Only two laps later, the second caution flag of the race was displayed and crew chief Doug Randolph instructed his driver to stay out.
In perfect timing for the No. 4 team, the third caution of the race came on lap 73. Given the importance of good track position, Carmichael's crew took one round out of the left rear track bar and fuel.
Pleased with his truck's performance, he radioed to his crew, "when I'm in the middle groove, this thing comes off of the corner like a rocket ship."
He continued to make his way up through the field, hovering near the 13th-position, when the dreaded "big one" occurred.
Carmichael made it through the mayhem unscathed and, after a brief red flag period was set to make his first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish from the eighth-position. With the re-start, he quickly moved to the bottom of the track and crossed the finish line in fifth-place.
Kyle Busch was the race winner at Talladega. Aric Almirola, Johnny Sauter, and Matt Crafton joined Carmichael to round out the top-five.
In addition to earning his third top-five of the season, Carmichael's strong finish at Talladega moved him one position higher in the points standings to 11th.
Next weekend brings a whole new challenge for Carmichael as he will do "double duty" for the first time in his career as he runs both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series races at Texas Motor Speedway.
"Man, what a great feeling to have the finish that we did here at Talladega. This place is tricky -- in three starts I've run in the front, middle and back and each time been caught up in a wreck. My goal was just to finish the race, but with the strong Monster Energy Chevrolet that my team brought to the track, and a little bit of luck, I was able to avoid the mess this time and get another top-five. I'm really excited about the strong run we've had over the last couple of weeks and I'm just hoping we can keep this momentum going and keep getting these solid finishes like we have lately -- it's a great feeling to have when you're running well like this, and I know it means a lot to all of the guys who work on this team."