Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge Relegated to 19th after Getting Caught in Pits During First Caution HAMPTON, GA- (March 14, 2004) -What started as a promising day ended with Andy Houston singing the familiar country music refrain: "If it weren't for bad...
Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge Relegated to 19th after Getting Caught in Pits During First Caution
HAMPTON, GA- (March 14, 2004) -What started as a promising day ended with Andy Houston singing the familiar country music refrain: "If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all." Houston started the Easy Care 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the 23rd position but quickly maneuvered his Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge up to the 14th spot after only four laps. His good fortune didn't last long however as the Hickory, NC native was caught exiting pit road when the caution flag fell on lap 45 of the 130 lap NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event. Houston and his Ultra Motorsports crew had just executed a four tire and fuel stop under green flag conditions when a multi-truck accident involving Tina Gordon, Rick Crawford and Hank Parker Jr. brought out the ill-timed yellow flag. When it all shook out Houston was mired in the 22nd position, two laps down from leader Mike Skinner.
"The first caution flag sealed our fate," Houston said. "The Team ASE/CARQUEST crew did an awesome job today under some adverse circumstances. They threw the green flag, and we started marching toward the front. We had a really good truck. We got up to about 14th, came in for the first pit stop under green, and the caution flag came out. We're sitting there two laps down, and what is really frustrating is that we were pretty good. We were probably a top-10 truck but we weren't as strong as we would have liked today."
Despite the team's best efforts Houston was unable to make up significant ground to the leaders and ultimately could not regain the two laps lost during the first caution. When Houston pitted again on lap 89, crew chief Dennis Connor made air pressure and track bar adjustments that helped the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge substantially. Houston's lap times near the end of the race were consistent with top-10 times but his early problems relegated him to a 19th place finish.
"We were fairly quick at the end but we weren't quick enough to get our laps back," Houston said following the end of the event. "A couple of the trucks there were really dominant. That's what is frustrating - you can't get your laps back and then you have guys that are a lap ahead of you that you've outrun on the racetrack all day long. We ran in the top 10 or 8 all day as far as lap times go, but we were two laps down. Every now and then, things work against you, and this was one of those days for us. We'll rebound at Martinsville. We're going to go do some testing. I know Dennis Connor is fired up to rebound, and I am too. We'll keep our heads up and we'll be strong."
Bobby Hamilton passed Skinner on the last lap to capture his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race of the year. Houston moved up five positions in the NCTS points, from 29th to 24th after two races. The next stop for the NCTS competitors is at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday April 17th at 1:00 ET. The event will be broadcast live nationally on the Speed Channel, MRN Radio and XM Satellite Radio.