RESPECTABLE 21ST FOR JOHN WES TOWNLEY AT DAYTONA Daytona Beach, FL (2/15/09)-- Despite handling woes during Saturday afternoon's Camping World 300 at Daytona International Speedway, John Wes Townley and the No. 09 Zaxby's Racing team overcame ...
RESPECTABLE 21ST FOR JOHN WES TOWNLEY AT DAYTONA
Daytona Beach, FL (2/15/09)-- Despite handling woes during Saturday afternoon's Camping World 300 at Daytona International Speedway, John Wes Townley and the No. 09 Zaxby's Racing team overcame a 33rd-place qualifying effort to finish a respectable 21st in the Nationwide Series season-opener at the World Center of Racing.
Townley, who made his debut at the 2.5-mile superspeedway in the Nationwide Series on Saturday, was the third highest finishing Nationwide Series regular and also the third highest finishing Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender.
Warm weather and clear skies greeted the estimated 70,000 fans on hand to watch the Camping World 300, the season-opener for the NASCAR Nationwide Series. When the green flag feel on the 43-car field, signaling the start of the 300-mile event, Townley was sitting in the 32nd position.
Tight handling conditions caused the No. 09 Zaxby's Ford Fusion to lose positions early on and when the afternoon's first caution flag was waved at lap 28, Crew Chief Blake Bainbridge called the No. 09 machine down pit road for an air pressure adjustment to the four fresh Goodyear Eagles. Unfortunately, a lug nut was left loose on the left front and Townley would have to return to pit road, restarting in the 29th position when the field went back to green on lap 31.
Just prior to half-way, and still struggling with tight handling conditions, Townley brushed the wall in turn two, causing a tire rub and forcing the No. 09 machine down pit road under green for two right side tires. Due to pitting under green flag conditions, Townley was scored one lap down from the pace.
Over the next 51 laps, Townley visited pit road three times, for two cautions periods to pull the right side fenders out.
A strong, consistent effort on track awarded Townley the lucky dog on lap 82 when the afternoon's fourth caution flag was displayed for an accident in turn 1. The Zaxby's Racing team took advantage of the award and hit pit road for four tires and fuel only, restarting 32nd.
The team's last pit stop came on lap 93 during the afternoon's fifth caution. Bainbridge, instructed to put the last set of Goodyear tires on the No. 09 Ford Fusion and sent Townley back out in the 21st position with 27 laps remaining.
When the last caution flag was waved on lap 111 for an accident in turn two, Townley stayed out while most of the cars in front of him pit. The Watkinsville, GA native would restart 8th with six laps to go. Due to the lack of grip on older tires, and cars behind him on fresh tires, Townley would lose 13 spots in the closing laps to finish on the lead lap in the 21st position.
"We had a pretty decent run today," stated Townley. "We did what we came to do, raced smart, learned a lot and hopefully earned the respect from some of my fellow drivers. Most importantly we had a solid finish, and proved to NASCAR that they made the right decision letting me race this weekend."
Next up for John Wes Townley is the Stater Bros 300 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Saturday, February 21st. Townley will be making his debut at the 2-mile oval.