Ricky Carmichael made his first trip to the famed Bristol Motor Speedway for the O'Reilly 200 and, after a caution-filled night full of beating and banging around the world's fastest half-mile, the 15-time AMA champion came home with his Monster...
Ricky Carmichael made his first trip to the famed Bristol Motor Speedway for the O'Reilly 200 and, after a caution-filled night full of beating and banging around the world's fastest half-mile, the 15-time AMA champion came home with his Monster Energy Chevrolet in one piece and a top-20 finish.
Carmichael took to the high-banking of Bristol rather quickly in his practice sessions and used the time to get a feel for the track and gain speed before making two qualifying laps. He was poised to begin the race in 22nd-place and felt confident in his truck's drivability and was ready to fight his way through the field.
After only 11 green flag laps, the first of 12 caution flags was displayed. Carmichael had gained one position during this time and reported to his crew that he couldn't "roll entry to center" and was "loose in." With only a few laps on his tires, crew chief Doug Randolph opted to keep Carmichael out on the track.
The second caution was displayed on lap 19, only two laps after the re-start. Randolph called Carmichael to pit road for a major adjustment to his truck: four new tires, three rounds down on the left rear track bar and a tank full of Sunoco fuel. He re-started the race on lap 26 in the 28th-position.
Again, after only two green laps, the third caution of the evening was displayed. Carmichael had gained two positions and was running in 26th when he radioed that his truck felt "way better."
The caution flag flew three times more in the next 17 laps -- once on lap 35 with Carmichael running in 15th-position, again on lap 42 with Carmichael in 11th and once more on lap 52 with the No. 4 in the 16th-position. He kept his Monster Energy Chevrolet out on the track during these caution laps and was conserving fuel.
After eight green flag laps, the field was once again slowed to a caution pace on lap 62. Carmichael was running in the 20th-position and felt his truck was "free on entry."
He was able to get 16 more green-flag laps before the caution was displayed for the eighth time of the night. Carmichael was once again brought down pit road to the attention of his Monster Energy crew for a big change: four new tires, four rounds down on the right track bar, one and a half rounds down on the left rear jack screw and a full tank of fuel, which would leave him good on fuel for the duration of the race.
Carmichael continued to battle the competition, floating between 22nd and 20th-place. After a solid fight with eventual race-winner Kyle Busch, he lost a lap to the leader while running in 19th on lap 120.
Shortly thereafter, the caution flag was displayed for the ninth time. He felt his truck was "a lot better. 10 times better up top and only a little on the tight side." Randolph made a last-minute call to bring Carmichael down pit road for four new tires.
After a 27-lap green flag run, the field was slowed to a caution for the 10th time of the night on lap 163. Carmichael, now two laps down, was running in the 22nd-position.
By lap 184, he had gained three positions and was scored in 19th but was, once again slowed to a caution pace. Only four laps after the re-start, the caution was displayed for the 12th time on lap 198. Unfortunately, Carmichael's Chevrolet was involved in another competitor's on-track incident, leaving his truck wounded, but fixable. Following a brief red-flag condition, Carmichael brought his Monster Energy Chevrolet to his crew with his exhaust pipes dragging against the half-mile concrete at Bristol. They jacked the truck up on the right side, secured the exhaust pipes and gave Carmichael two new right-side tires so he could nurse his truck to the finish.
While running in the 20th-position, the field made its attempt at the first green-white-checkered finish of the race. On the final lap, Carmichael was again caught up in the calamity of another competitor, but managed to finish the race in 19th-place.
Kyle Busch was the race winner at Bristol. Aric Almirola, Ron Hornaday, Mike Skinner and Justin Lofton rounded out the top-five.
After a very short break between Darlington and Bristol, the entire No. 4 Turner Motorsports team will enjoy nearly a week before getting back on track at Chicagoland Speedway.
RICKY CARMICHAEL: "This definitely isn't the finish that I thought we were going to have for my first race at Bristol. I knew we had a really good truck -- it felt comfortable immediately in practice -- but this place is tough. Once you lose track position, it's hard to make it up. I think if we had been able to actually have longer green-flag runs, we could have really contended for a top-10 at least, but that wasn't in the cards for us. It's just hard because this is two weeks in a row that we've been caught up in someone else's wrecks. But, we're going to put that behind us, enjoy a couple of days off, then get back to it at Chicago."
-source: turner motorsports