Pit Road Melee Relegates Tayler Malsam to a 24th-Place Finish at California FONTANA, Calif. (February 23, 2009) -- Tayler Malsam had never raced at Auto Club Speedway until he arrived in Southern California for the second round of the 2009 ...
Pit Road Melee Relegates Tayler Malsam to a 24th-Place Finish at California
FONTANA, Calif. (February 23, 2009) -- Tayler Malsam had never raced at Auto Club Speedway until he arrived in Southern California for the second round of the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season. The Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender quickly learned how to get around the 2.0-mile D-shaped oval, posting solid lap times in both practice sessions. Malsam used the experience he had gained in practice to race in the top-15 with other veteran drivers, but under the first caution, Malsam and another rookie competitor made contact on pit road, causing front-end damage to the No. 81 One Eighty Toyota Tundra. After Malsam's Randy Moss Motorsports (RMM) team had repaired the damage, a tire rub caused the right front tire to blow out, relegating Malsam to a 24th-place finish in the San Bernardino County 200 on Saturday afternoon.
Malsam qualified in the 11th position to start the 100-lap race and fought a loose condition in the entry and center of the corners. By lap 20, the 20-year-old rookie had found his groove in the California track and was posting lap times faster than the second-place truck. On lap 25, the first caution came out as Malsam's RMM teammate Mike Skinner and another competitor made contact on the track. The entire field took the opportunity to come on pit road and take four tires on lap 26 and come back in the following lap for fuel. As Malsam was exiting his pit stall on lap 27 for his fuel pit stop, the No. 81 One Eighty Toyota received contact from another rookie who was entering his pit stall. This contact caused front-end damage to the Tundra, forcing Malsam to sit on pit road while the truck was repaired. The Seattle, Wash. native returned to the track in the 23rd position to restart the race on lap 31.
Carefully racing around the west coast track and running solid lap times despite the damage, Malsam passed numerous trucks to move into the 17th position, until the right-front fender damage caused a tire rub, forcing the One Eighty Toyota to come down pit road under green for right side tires. As the second and final caution came out on lap 44, crew chief Doug Wolcott called Malsam to pit road for left side tires and fuel on the following lap. The rookie restarted the race in the 24th position, two laps down as the field finished the race under green-flag conditions. Wolcott took a chance to see if Malsam could make it to the end of the race without stopping again, but on lap 96, with four laps to go, the No. 81 Tundra ran out of gas and had to come down pit road to get a quick splash of Sunoco fuel. After an eventful 100-lap event, Malsam finished the race in a disappointing 24th position, three laps down.
"We got caught up in that new pit rule," said Malsam, after the race. "I don't know if I like it or not. My No. 81 One Eighty Toyota was good. The truck was probably a top-five truck easily. After we got a lap down, I was just hanging out and didn't even want to run because that right-front blew once, I was afraid it was going to blow it again. Doug Wolcott (crew chief) and this One Eighty Toyota team did a great job. All these guys killed it out there and Randy Moss Motorsports put another fantastic truck under us. It was just not meant to be today for us."
Malsam is currently tied for third in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings, nine points behind leader J.R. Fitzpatrick. Also, Malsam dropped to the 16th position in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship point standings, 37 points out of 10th-place and 145 points behind leader Kyle Busch.
After a well-deserved one week break, Tayler Malsam and the No. 81 Randy Moss Motorsports Toyota Tundra team will returned to action at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 7, 2009.