HOMESTEAD, FL- (November 15, 2003) -Andy Houston posted a fourth place finish in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season finale at the newly revamped Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday. Houston started the Ford 200 in the third position after a...
HOMESTEAD, FL- (November 15, 2003) -Andy Houston posted a fourth place finish in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season finale at the newly revamped Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday. Houston started the Ford 200 in the third position after a strong third place qualifying effort on Thursday.
"That was a really good qualifying run for the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge,' Houston said. "The track really changed between our first test here on Monday and the qualifying session. Most of the time when you go to a track with new pavement the groove starts on the bottom and you work your way to the top. Here we started running on the high side and worked our way to the bottom of the track. The lower groove was certainly the fastest way around in qualifying."
Houston moved his Dodge into the second position at the start of the race and kept the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge in the top five until a green flag pit stop on lap 55. His Ultra Motorsports pit crew, under the direction of crew chief Dennis Connor, gave Houston four fresh tires, fuel and a much needed chassis adjustment in just 16. 2 seconds. When pit stops cycled through by lap 65, Houston found himself in the third spot. When caution fell on the racetrack on lap 90, Houston discovered his truck was stuck in high gear.
"The transmission was stuck in fourth gear," Houston said after the event. "After the pit stop I just started working with the shifter and finally got it to free up. I figured out that if I wiggled it really easy I could get it to work. That is what I had to do to for the rest of the race, just be real gentle with it. Those last few cautions made me nervous because I didn't know if it was going to hold up."
On the ensuing pit stop the team lost two positions in the pits due to the transmission problem. Houston exited in sixth place and quickly moved back up to the top five. Three more caution flags fell over the last 30 laps of the event. Houston was able to nurse home his Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge in the fourth position.
"All in all it was a decent day for us," Houston claimed. "I am so excited about the potential of this team for 2004. We have the whole off-season to work together. Jim Smith gives us great equipment and Dennis Connor will have a couple of months to get these Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodges dialed in for next year. I can't wait to get to Daytona. I am really proud of these guys, they have worked really hard to provide me with good trucks each week and it has paid off."
Houston posted six top-ten finishes in six starts to close out the 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series campaign. His average finish over that period was sixth. Bobby Hamilton won the Ford 200 and Travis Kvapil captured the NCTS championship after leader Brendan Gaughan was swept up in a grinding crash and Ted Musgrave was penalized on the last restart. The 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series kicks off February 13 at Daytona International Speedway.