Tough night yields 16th place finish for RTD Motorsports' Phil Dugan North Highlands, Calif. -- 21 year-old Drive for Diversity participant Phil Dugan of Boise, ID guided his ...
Tough night yields 16th place finish for RTD Motorsports' Phil Dugan
North Highlands, Calif. -- 21 year-old Drive for Diversity participant Phil Dugan of Boise, ID guided his #34 DJ Safety / RTD Motorsports, Inc. Chevrolet to a 16th place finish in Saturday night's "King Taco 200" at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, Calif.
Dugan's plans to test a Late Model on Friday night were nixed and he instead was focused on making the most of his Saturday afternoon practices. The NASCAR Camping World Series West rookie of the year candidate was making his first career appearance at the half-mile oval near Los Angeles.
After improving half a second between the first and second sessions, Dugan improved once again in qualifying but was still 20th overall.
"I've never ran up against the wall like and it took some courage to get used to driving it in so deep like that," Dugan said. "Overall it was a great experience."
Despite repeated efforts for help the handling of the race car, Dugan struggled a tight condition that quickly put him several laps off the pace.
"We fought a push all day and were just terrible in the middle of the corner," Dugan said. "We got into the corner as good as anyone it was just trouble getting off."
Dugan did his best to yield to the faster cars, earning congratulations and thank you's from the other spotters in the spotter's stand.
But on lap 170, he was caught up in a fierce battle for position, resulting in Dugan being spun into the turn one wall.
The former Meridian Speedway champion returned to action with damage to the rear bumper but was able to bring the car home in good condition.
Dugan will now turn his attention back towards road racing at Portland International Raceway on July 19.
"I've been told that Sonoma is the most challenging road course we'll face and now that I'm used to shifting I think Portland will be ok."
Dugan has his long-term view focused on the NASCAR Camping World Series West's September event at Iowa Speedway. In 2008, RTD Motorsports led 31 laps en route to a strong finish there.
"Our focus is keeping the car ready for Iowa," Dugan said. "Irwindale was a frustrating night for everyone on the team but we learned from it and we have to just keep finishing races."
The Irwindale race will be taped delayed on SPEED Channel on July 16. Check your local listings.
Race fans can learn more about RTD Motorsports, Inc. and its Drive for Diversity efforts at www.rtdmotorsportsinc.com