GNC Live Well Racing survives Daytona for 18th-place finish. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 7) - Hank Parker Jr. and the No. 36 GNC Live Well Racing team survived a late-race incident to claim an 18th-place finish in the Stacker2/GNC Live Well 250 ...
GNC Live Well Racing survives Daytona for 18th-place finish.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 7) - Hank Parker Jr. and the No. 36 GNC Live Well Racing team survived a late-race incident to claim an 18th-place finish in the Stacker2/GNC Live Well 250 NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) race at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) on Friday.
"I was really, really happy with the car tonight," Parker said. "Gary Cogswell and my crew did an awesome job of getting the car ready to race. We were really fast and got up there with the leaders early on. We made one small mistake that cost us a couple of spots, and then our car got damaged a little near the end. I'd like to have gotten a top-10 out of it, but we brought the car home in one piece and gained a spot in the points, so it's hard to be too upset."
The finish moved Parker up one spot to 14th in the NBS Drivers' Points Standings while team owner Wayne Jesel also gained a spot to 18th in the owners' standings.
Starting from the inside of the sixth row, Parker and his GNC Live Well Dodge Intrepid quickly powered into the top-five by lap 10. Several laps later, the 27-year old driver decided to test the waters by pulling his car alongside that of the race leader.
Slight contact between the two cars caused Parker's car to wiggle, allowing other competitors to close off the inside lane and shuffle the No. 36 back to 18th by lap 25.
Parker told his crew over the radio that he just wanted to test the waters to see if he could pass the leader. Parker explained that he wanted to try the move early in the race, so that any lost positions could be recovered before the end of the event.
Eight laps later, the first caution flag of the race appeared for a problem with the yellow caution lights that ring the 2.5-mile DIS facility. The lights, which let competitors know that a caution flag has been displayed, inexplicably came on by themselves. It took NASCAR and track officials three laps to correct the problem.
During that period, a number of drivers elected to come to pit road for service, including Parker. The team made a track bar and air pressure adjustment to the No. 36 entry to try to alleviate a tight handling condition. After bolting on four fresh tires and filling the fuel cell, the team sent Parker out in 16th for the lap 36 restart.
On lap 43, contact between the cars of Ron Hornaday and Tony Raines brought out the second caution of the night. A number of competitors elected to come back in for service, but Cogswell and Parker chose to stay out to advance in the running order.
"There was no way we could make it to the end on fuel even if we had pitted at that time," Cogswell said. "It seemed like a better move for us just to stay out and get back into the top-five."
After restarting the event in the third position on lap 47, Parker stayed nose to tail with the car of Randy LaJoie for the next 11 laps. Oil on the backstretch of DIS prompted the fourth caution of the event, allowing Parker the opportunity to come to pit road under the yellow flag.
Due to the length of the pit road at DIS, it's difficult for the team spotters, perched high atop the press box, to see whether the flagman posted at the entrance to pit road is signaling that pit road is open.
Thinking that pit road was open, Parker and three other competitors came in for service, only to find out that pit road was still closed. This meant that Parker and the other drivers would have to go to the end of the longest line, which put the No. 36 back to the 24th position on the lap 63 restart.
It didn't take Parker long to move his GNC Live Well entry back into the top-15, taking over the 12th position around lap 83.
One lap later, the caution flag came out again for an accident involving the cars of Randy LaJoie, Kerry Earnhardt, Scott Riggs and Bobby Hamilton Jr. Instant replays showed that Parker did an admirable job of avoiding the melee by mere inches.
A piece of debris from one of the entries hit the grill of the No. 36 and flew over Parker's machine during the incident. Parker told his crew that he felt like he had run over a piece of lead and he might need to pit for repairs. Spotter Dan Cagle used binoculars to survey the front of the car and reported to Parker and the team that no damage had been done.
Parker stayed out on the track and held the 12th position for the lap 91 restart. Just five laps later, Jack Sprague and Todd Bodine tangled on the backstretch. A total of 16 cars were involved in the resulting accident, including Parker's. Kasey Kahne's car came up on two wheels and climbed the side of Parker's machine, damaging the right front fender and flattening a couple of tires on the No. 36.
Parker limped the car to pit road, where the team changed four tires before NASCAR red-flagged the event to clean up the remnants of the accident. This meant that the team had to stop working on Parker's machine until the race resumed.
The No. 36 crew got everything together they would need to repair their entry and waited for NASCAR to give the signal that work on the car could continue.
As soon as the yellow flag was displayed, crewmen pulled the sheet metal away from the right front tire and put tape on the nose of the No. 36 for the final dash to the finish. The race was restarted on lap 99, with Parker holding on to the 18th position when the checkered flag was displayed.
Next up for the GNC Live Well crew is a trip to Chicagoland Speedway in Illinois. The Tropicana Twister 300 NBS race will air live on NBC and MRN at 3:30 p.m. EDT, Saturday, July 13.