FORT WORTH, TX- (October 12, 2003) -By his own account Andy Houston had a tough day at Texas Motor Speedway. Untimely caution flags, uncooperative lap traffic and a wild spin coming off Turn Two combined to make Houston's day less than perfect by...
FORT WORTH, TX- (October 12, 2003) -By his own account Andy Houston had a tough day at Texas Motor Speedway. Untimely caution flags, uncooperative lap traffic and a wild spin coming off Turn Two combined to make Houston's day less than perfect by NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standards. But the end result was an impressive top-five finish that came the old fashioned way - he earned it. Houston passed several trucks in the waning laps of the Silverado 350, despite the fact his Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge was damaged in the earlier spin, and fought his way to a fifth place finish.
"It was a good finish but it took a heck of a lot of work to get there," Houston said following the event. "We went through a lot of adversity today. The fact that we were able to take a truck that was somewhat badly damaged and come back and race with those guys says a lot about the quality of this team. It is made up of a bunch of great guys that just don't give up. With this team, you know that if you have problems or if you struggle during the course of the race, you can still fight back and have a top-five finish like we did today. You really can't complain about that. My hat's off to crew chief Dennis Connor and all the guys on this Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge."
The weekend kicked off in grand fashion for the 32 year-old Hickory, NC native. Houston snared his fourth career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series pole by blistering Texas Motor Speedway's 1.5-mile quad-oval layout in 29.74 seconds (181.953 mph). That lap marked the fourth pole of the season for the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge and represented the third different driver to win a pole this year under the direction of crew chief Connor.
"The truck was close to perfect in qualifying," Houston said. " It stuck like glue in the corners. Dennis Connor has proven that he can put these things up front, and it is pretty impressive that he has won races with two different drivers and won poles with three different guys behind the wheel of this truck this year."
Houston led the first 15 laps of the race but gave way to his teammate Ted Musgrave on lap 16. After an extended green flag run, the Ultra Motorsports team brought Houston down pit road on lap 66 for four tires and gas. Two laps later the caution flag fell, catching the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge and a plethora of other top teams one lap down to the trucks who had not yet come to pit road. Thanks to NASCAR's new caution rule that permits the first truck one lap down to regain their lost lap, when the yellow flag came out for Stan Boyd's spin off of turn four on lap 79, Houston was given his lap back. A handful of laps later it was Houston's turn to visit the spin cycle.
"I was just following Bobby Hamilton and his truck was really pushing water out," Houston said. "I don't know if he was running hot or what. My truck was loose and I think it was a combination of the two that conspired to bite us, and the truck just got away from me coming off of turn two. I spun for a long time and didn't hit anything until the very end. I tore up the left rear on the inside wall. I was able to get it cranked back up and come on around to the pits."
Houston made several stops to allow his crew to repair his damaged Dodge. He ran conservatively at the back of the pack of lead lap trucks until caution once again fell on lap 122. Houston's crew brought him in one last time and remounted his first set of Goodyear tires. Over the final 20 laps, Houston's truck regained life and he made a spirited run toward the top five, passing Dennis Setzer, Terry Cook and Jon Wood to claim his fifth place finish.
"The guys reassured me that everything on the back of the truck was okay," Houston said. "So I went back out there and got after it and they were right. The truck was really good on that last run. We came in on that last caution and put tires on, and the truck really took off and we were able to make up some spots at the end. We salvaged a top five finish out of what was potentially a pretty dismal day."