East 25th in Emerson Radio 250 in Kleenex Racing Ford Rookie completes first Busch race at Richmond Richmond, VA (September 7, 2007) . Bobby East raced at the .75-mile Richmond International Raceway earlier this year in USAC competition. He ...
East 25th in Emerson Radio 250 in Kleenex Racing Ford
Rookie completes first Busch race at Richmond
Richmond, VA (September 7, 2007) . Bobby East raced at the .75-mile Richmond International Raceway earlier this year in USAC competition. He visited victory lane that afternoon in a 30-lap dash. Friday night, East raced at RIR in the Emerson Radio 250 NASCAR Busch Series event. It marked the first time that East has raced at RIR in a Busch car, and the competition was much tougher than his earlier USAC event. However, the young Indiana driver fought his way to a 25th-place finish.
The Emerson Radio 250 was essentially a "one-day show" for the Busch Series with practice, qualifying, and the 250-lap race all held on Friday. With two regular practice sessions, plus one rookie practice, East got lots of laps on the .75-mile track prior to qualifying. East was the 30th driver to make his qualifying run in the late afternoon heat, and responded with a fast lap of 21.803 seconds / 123.836 mph to place 29th in the 43-car starting grid.
Competing in his first-ever Busch race at Richmond with a star-studded field that included 18 Nextel Cup drivers, East and the Kleenex Racing Team had modest goals entering the event. Certainly, East wanted to complete all of the 250 laps, plus finish on the lead lap. And, if the cards fell their way, a strong top ten finish.
During the early stages of the race, East radioed to Crew Chief Newt Moore that his Kleenex Ford Fusion was "tight in center off". East made his first pit stop of the race under caution on lap 12 for fuel and adjustments to help with the handling. With very few cars pitting this early, East restarted 37th. When caution waved again on lap 36, East came to pit road for tires, fuel, and a track bar adjustment. After the restart, East moved up to 31st by lap fifty; however his brakes were "fiery red" and Moore advised East to "be easy on those brakes as much as you can". On lap 68, leader Kyle Busch passed East to put the Kleenex Ford one lap down in 31st position.
On lap 101, East nearly has a premature ending to his night when the #42 car driven by A.J. Allmendinger made contact and literally shoved East high in turn one. For several laps, East thought that he might have a flat tire, but fortunately did not. However, East reported to Moore that his car was now "loose in and off the turns". East would pit under caution on lap 123 for tires, fuel, air pressure, and track bar adjustments. An outstanding pit stop by the Kleenex crew enabled East to gain three positions on pit road and restart 28th on lap 126.
When East was battling leader Matt Kenseth on lap 158 entering turn one, Kenseth and Paul Menard spun. East was ahead of Kenseth when the caution came out and remained one lap down. However, with pit road opened, East pitted with the lead-lap cars instead of the lap down cars and was forced to restart at the tail end of the longest line by NASCAR rules. Therefore, East restarted 26th on lap 167.
East worked his way up to 22nd by lap 195, but got "trapped" in the outside lane behind slower cars on a restart at lap 210 and dropped to 24th position. East drove back to 23rd when Kyle Busch passed him on lap 231 to put the Indiana driver two laps down. During the final laps, East had a tight battle with several other lapped cars for position, and when Kevin Harvick passed him during the "green-white-checker" finishing laps, East would bring the Kleenex Ford Fusion home in 25th position.
"Tonight was certainly another learning experience for me," East commented. "Newt (Crew Chief Moore) and the Kleenex Team worked very hard all day and night to give me a good car for this race. After starting tight, my Ford Fusion got loose in and off during the middle stages. Adjustments on pit stops helped for a while, then I got tight in the center and loose off again. This was a very competitive race, and I gained a lot of experience here this weekend."