Ruppel One Point Back of Stock Truck Leader, Championship Will Go Down to the Wire
Chetek, WI (August 14, 2009) After back-to-back wins at Oshkosh, Eric Ruppel and his #837 Phil's Inc. Art Carr Trail Ready BFGoodrich Ford F-150 were looking to continue its streak of podium finishes at Bark River. The weekend didn't exactly go as planned, but the team was still in second place when everyone packed up and headed home.
During Friday's afternoon practice, Eric noticed an immediate loss of power. Quickly, he got back to the Hauler to find out what was the problem. Ruppel Motorsports crew of Kramer, Ewert, and Scott pulled a cylinder head and found a bad head gasket. Fortunately, the engine was turned off soon enough before serious damaged was done. The crew replaced both head gaskets, and had the truck ready to go before Saturday's opening ceremonies.
Saturday's land rush start saw the white and blue Ford F-150 line up on the front row, but second from the end of the row. It was not the best of starting positions. When the green flag fell, a fellow competitor slightly nudged the Art Carr equipped Ford-150. Quickly, Eric applied the pressure to the Centric brake pads and Stop-Tech brake rotors in order to avoid hitting the outside wall of the first turn. By the time Eric was able to get through the corner; he was back in seventh place.
Then a lap later, in the same turn, another race made contact and spun the #837 Ford. This put BFGoodrich Ford in the back of the sixteen truck field. Eric quickly got back on track, and made up a couple of spots when the mandatory yellow flag was waved.
After the field went back to green flag racing, Eric really put the truck through its paces. The #827 Ford F-150 passed several more trucks to finish in eighth place. In was not the finish the team was expecting, but it did salvage valuable championship points.
Sunday's Eric Ruppel has a much better start. He quickly moved into third place, and began challenging #817 Mitch Dorr for the runner-up spot. On lap three while Ruppel and Dorr were racing side by side in the rhythm section, Dorr's right front ball joint broke ending the battle. The rest of the race saw Eric gradually chasing down the leader, but ran out of laps before a serious challenge could be made. The second place finish definitely salvaged the weekend.
"We worked really hard Friday night replacing the head gaskets," noted Eric Ruppel. "On Saturday's run we were in the wrong place at the wrong time, twice. Somehow the truck finished in one piece. Then I had a great race going with Mitch, when his suspension broke. I really wanted the win so we could go to Crandon and have the points lead. The way it stands now, there are nine drivers in Stock Truck that still have a shot at the title. It's going to be a wild Labor Day weekend in
Now with only two rounds of race to go in the 2009 TORC Stock Truck Championship, Eric Ruppel is one point behind the leader, Don Demeny.
The final weekend of racing in the Traxxas TORC Series presented by AMSOIL SRT Stock Truck Championship is September 5-6 at the "Big House" in Crandon, WI.