Daytona: Ken Butler III race report

Butler, III Has Fast Car and Bad Luck at Daytona Brings No. 22 Aaron's Toyota Home 19th in ARCA 200 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 9, 2008) -- Ken Butler, III and his Eddie Sharp Racing teammates came to Daytona knowing they had a strong car...

Butler, III Has Fast Car and Bad Luck at Daytona
Brings No. 22 Aaron's Toyota Home 19th in ARCA 200

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 9, 2008) -- Ken Butler, III and his Eddie Sharp Racing teammates came to Daytona knowing they had a strong car for Saturday's ARCA 200. Suffering damage in the multi-car pile-up on lap 30, the No. 22 team worked feverishly in the pits and the garage, losing only 7 laps. Returning to the track, KBIII drove the wheels off of his Aaron's Toyota, at times running faster than the leaders. When the checkered flag was waved, KBIII and the No. 22 team came home in the 19th position, nowhere near the potential of the car.

"It is just so frustrating," Butler commented, shaking his head. "We had such a fast car. I was on the brake at the beginning just trying to stay off the bumper ahead of me. Nineteenth is definitely not where this car and this team belonged today."

Butler ripped off a 49.814 second qualifying lap that put him 5th fastest in the field. However, following inspection the No. 22 Aaron's Toyota was required to start in provisional-land. Rolling to the green flag in the 34th position, Crew Chief Wayne Carroll reminded his driver to "be careful out there. You'll have a lot around you until you can move to the front."

The first ten laps of the race quickly produced two cautions. Riding around under the yellow flag during the caution laps, Butler reported on the No. 22 Toyota.

"My care is awesome, guys!" Butler reported with excitement in his voice. "I'm always off the gas trying not to run up on them [the cars in front of him]." Butler also radioed to the team that "it feels like everyone is just everywhere. These cars are all over the place back here."

Carroll once again reminded his driver to "just be careful. Listen closely to the spotter."

Moving up through the field, Butler climbed to the 14th position by lap 20. On lap 23, the caution flag came out once again. Butler came down to his pit stall on lap 24 for four fresh tires and fuel. The race resumed on lap 27 with KBIII restarting in the 25th position.

On lap 30, two cars ahead of the No. 22 bounced off of each other and caused a multi-car pile-up. Butler maneuvered quickly past one mess, only to be caught by another car sliding down the track in front of him. With nowhere to go, the right front of the Aaron's Dream Machine was damaged in the impact. Once the red flag was lifted, Butler was able to drive the car to the pits for the team's assessment and work. The quick reaction and hard work of the team put Butler back out on the track on the lead lap. Unfortunately, as soon as Butler made a lap in his Toyota, he radioed in that he was feeling a "really bad vibration."

[IMAGE]"Guys, it feels like the right front is going to fall off," Butler reported. "It's not too bad on the straightaways, but in the corners it just feels like it's going to come right off. I'm bringing it back in."

With the car in the garage and up on the jack, Crew Chief Wayne Carroll reassured his driver that he made the right call. The impact to the front right had indeed bent the tie rod and broke the nut loose.

"Don't worry, KB," Carroll radioed. "You're tire was about to fall off. It wouldn't have lasted much longer out there. Good job buddy."

The No. 22 Eddie Sharp Racing crew quickly repaired the damage and returned Butler and his Dream Machine back to the track on lap 48, only seven laps down to the leader. Returning in the 26th position, Butler worked with many of the lead-lap cars to climb to the 19th position by the closing lap. Running faster than the leaders at times, Butler pulled a stout finish despite lost laps.

"So frustrating, but what a great race," Butler commented after the race. "I had so much fun out there. I just know we had a top-notch car. I think we really had something there that was worthy of victory lane. If only we could have missed that wreck. My guys did a fantastic job, both getting this car ready and getting it fixed and back to the track during the race. I can't begin to thank them enough."

Butler added, "This race is such a tease. We won't be back on-track until Salem in April. We do test some, but not until mid-March. This is the worst part -- getting to drive at Daytona and then have to wait. I can't wait to get back behind the wheel!"

-credit: esr

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Series ARCA