SPARTA, KY. (July 14, 2001) - Fresh off his first-career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win a week ago at Kansas Speedway, Ricky Hendrick scored a hard fought sixth-place finish in the Kroger 225 at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night. "We...
SPARTA, KY. (July 14, 2001) - Fresh off his first-career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win a week ago at Kansas Speedway, Ricky Hendrick scored a hard fought sixth-place finish in the Kroger 225 at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night.
"We took a horrible day and turned it into a decent day," said Hendrick, driver of the No. 17 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series entry. "That's amazing. After that early spin, it seemed like we couldn't get a break. We had radio trouble and then we went a lap down. After being so lucky last week, it seemed like we must have used it all up for this week. I've never worked so hard for a sixth-place finish."
Hendrick started from the outside pole for the fourth time this season. The early laps were anything but easy for the 21-year-old driver after his crew had to install a new engine in his red, white and blue Silverado just hours before the race. That all seemed to be a minor annoyance when Hendrick suddenly found himself going in the wrong direction after a Lap 11 spin as he exited Turn 4.
"There isn't really much you can do when you have to start with a new motor," said Hendrick. "We had to change it and we did. You can't worry about something like that, but it's always in the back of your mind. Then, we were so loose in the early laps that I did a 360-degree turn right on the front stretch. I saved it, but I knew we were in for a ride today."
Now well back in the field, Hendrick's luck went from bad to worse when he was lapped by the leaders one circuit before the caution flag waved on Lap 51. Back under green, Hendrick was one of the fastest trucks on the track, but had to play the waiting game until he could race back past the leaders.
"We just had to get that lap back," said Hendrick. " It's a tough deal when you are running with the leaders, but you are a lap down. You are just waiting and hoping for your break. I knew we were fast and I wanted the leader board to prove it."
Hendrick's break came on the 129th-circuit when Coy Gibbs pasted the Turn 2 wall bringing out another caution flag. With the gas pedal mashed to the floor, Hendrick was able to race past the leaders and get back on the lead laps with just over 20 laps remaining.
Back under green, Hendrick proved his mettle racing from 10th to sixth over the final laps to salvage a top finish from a very tough outing.
"It was a really rough day," said Hendrick, who earned $18,000 in prize money. "If this is a bad day, we'll take it. We had some tough breaks today, but this team and these guys made the most of it."
Hendrick also jumped a spot - from fifth to fourth - in the season standings, just 136 points out of the top spot. The Charlotte, NC native also remains the leader for the NCTS Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award.
The No. 17 GMAC Financial Services Silverado NCTS entry will next compete in the New England 200 at New Hampshire International Speedway, Saturday, July 21 at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The 14th race of the 24-event NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series tour will be broadcast live ESPN and MRN radio network.