Harrisburg, North Carolina - Innovative Motorsports encountered yet another up and down weekend in their roller coaster season at Richmond International Raceway qualifying 3rd, but having to pull out the back-up car and start from the rear of the...
Harrisburg, North Carolina - Innovative Motorsports encountered yet another up and down weekend in their roller coaster season at Richmond International Raceway qualifying 3rd, but having to pull out the back-up car and start from the rear of the field. A late race accident collected the #47 MONRO Muffler Brake Chevrolet and relegated the team to a 32nd place finish in the Autolite Platinum 250 at Richmond International Raceway on Friday, September 10, 1999.
The MONRO racing team knew they would be strong at Richmond as they were the defending Bud Pole setters at the fall race and had scored their first top-10 finish as a team at the .75-mile track.
After practicing decent, Ward Burton, the interim driver of the #47 MONRO Chevrolet, qualified a strong 3rd. The crew was assured a prime starting position and had an entire day to practice race set-up.
Friday morning dawned the perfect day for racing. The MONRO Racing crew sent Burton out in race trim. He spent 17 laps working the car out and was getting ready to follow his brother, Jeff Burton, when the two touched and the #47 backed hard into the outside retaining wall. The car was destroyed and the back-up car would have to be pulled out of the trailer and prepared for the race.
The crew worked hard and managed to get the car ready for happy hour. Burton was 2nd quick in the practice. They felt were ready for the race.
Due to the fact they had to pull out the back-up car, Burton was forced to forfeit his starting position and go to the rear of the field.
The green flag dropped and Burton began his drive to the front. Burton raced as high as 27th from his 43rd starting position. The car was sliding up the track and Burton needed a chassis adjustment. The team pitted and took on four tires at lap 32.
The car was real good on new tires, but in a long run it would start to slide all over the race track. Burton found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time on lap 82 when an accident in front of him caused him to flat spot the tires trying to avoid it. Again, the team was forced to pit at lap-84, change four tires and make a chassis adjustment.
The Busch Series limits the number of tires each team can use during a given race and the MONRO Racing team had only one set left for over 170 laps of racing.
Burton continued to charge through the field and raced as high as 16th before the final caution period at lap 214. Burton and the crew were out of tires so they stayed on the racetrack to gain valuable track position. Burton restarted the field in the 5th position.
"We were out of pit sequence," crew chief, Mike Greci, said after the event. "We were the victim of an earlier accident and that put us in that position."
Burton restarted the event with 31 laps remaining. When the field crossed the stripe he slowed up to avoid running over a car in front of him and was hit from behind. Burton went sideways in front of the field and hit the outside wall with the right front of the car. He came back across the track and was aiming toward the inside wall when Randy Lajoie hit him and straightened him out, saving him from a second hard hit.
Burton limped around the track and pitted. The crew called the race after seeing the right front of the car was destroyed. The MONRO Muffler Chevrolet finished the event in the 32nd position after running in 5th when the accident occurred.
"We had track position." Greci confirmed. "We may not have finished in the top-5, but we would have had a decent finish. Now we have two wrecked race cars."
The MONRO Racing crew will enjoy a weekend off before heading to Dover Downs International Speedway.