THE DESERT PROVED TO BE TOO HOT TO HANDLE FOR JOHN WES TOWNLEY AND RAB RACING Avondale, AZ (4/18/09) -- NASCAR Nationwide Series Raybestos Rookie of the year contender John Wes Townley saw a solid run slip away with less than 50 laps remaining...
THE DESERT PROVED TO BE TOO HOT TO HANDLE FOR JOHN WES TOWNLEY AND RAB RACING
Avondale, AZ (4/18/09) -- NASCAR Nationwide Series Raybestos Rookie of the year contender John Wes Townley saw a solid run slip away with less than 50 laps remaining during Friday evening's Bashas' Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. Tight-handling conditions, combined with a late-race incident with Michael Annett, were the key contributors to a 36th-place finish.
The No. 09 Zaxby's Ford was the 32nd of 47 cars to take time during Friday afternoon's qualifying session. His quick lap of 28.210 seconds (127.614 mph) was good enough to lock the Watkinsville, GA native into the field with a 32nd-place starting position, placing Townley on the outside of row 16.
The 43-car field took the green flag just past 9:30 p.m. ET before an estimated crowd of 28,000. Townley made quick work of the cars in front of him and was sitting in the 26th position when the evening's first caution flag was displayed on lap 23 for an accident in turn 2.
Crew chief Brad Parrott brought the Zaxby's Ford down pit road for four fresh Goodyear tires and fuel. Due to excellent work by the Zaxby's Racing pit crew, Townley would restart 24th on lap 26.
By lap 36 Townley was up to his highest position of the race, 21st. However, Townley was struggling with extremely tight conditions and began losing laps one by one on a long green flag run. When the third caution fell on lap 97 for debris Townley was scored in the 27th-position two laps down to leader, Carl Edwards.
To help aid the Zaxby's Ford, four tires, fuel, a track bar adjustment and a spring rubber out of the left rear were in order for the No. 09 machine as he made his way down pit road on lap 98. The quick yellow had Townley sitting in the 28th position on the restart at lap 100.
The theme of a tight handling race car continued for the No. 09 machine over the next 50 laps despite a pair of stops to pit road. However, on lap 151, scored in the 28th position three laps down to race leader Greg Biffle, Townley tagged the wall on the frontstretch following contact with Annett.
Extensive damage to the right front and nose of the Zaxby's Ford Fusion forced Townley behind the wall for 28 laps to repair the damage. Townley would return to the 1-mile tri-oval with 17 laps remaining in the 200-lap event 31 laps down.
Unfortunately, on lap 197 Townley lost control of the beaten No. 09 machine in turn 4. The 19-year-old rookie would be scored in the 36th position 40 laps down to race winner Greg Biffle.
The undesired results would drop the No. 09 team one position in the 2009 owners point standings to 35th with 480 points; 64 markers outside the top-30.
A double header is on order for John Wes Townley and RAB Racing next weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. The seasoned ARCA RE/MAX Series team will return to their roots in the Talladega ARCA RE/MAX 250 on Friday evening, April 24th and Townley will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at the 2.66-mile superspeedway on Saturday April 25th in the Aaron's 312.