Kentucky: Andy Houston race notes

SPARTA, KY (July 11, 2004) - Andy Houston now has a keen appreciation of a top-ten finish. At the end of the 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season, Houston posted six consecutive top-tens in only six races in the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge. It ...

SPARTA, KY (July 11, 2004) - Andy Houston now has a keen appreciation of a top-ten finish. At the end of the 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season, Houston posted six consecutive top-tens in only six races in the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge. It seemed as if good finishes were falling from the sky. At the start of the 2004 NCTS campaign, misfortune has struck early and often for the 33-year-old Hickory, NC native, and top-ten finishes proved to be as elusive as a winning Powerball ticket. Coming into Saturday night's Built Ford Tough 225 at Kentucky Speedway, Houston had posted only two top-tens in 10 starts. Thanks to an inspired effort by his newly revamped Ultra Motorsports team and a steady and smooth driving performance, Houston put an end to his string of unsatisfactory finishes with a solid eighth place showing.

"This was a legitimate top-ten finish," Houston said following the event. "We earned it on the racetrack. We raced hard for it. I can't say enough about the job that crew chief Trip Bruce and all the guys on this Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge did tonight. We have battled some adversity over the past couple of weeks and these new guys have pulled together. It really showed tonight. We are only going to get better."

Qualifying for the Built Ford Tough 225 was cancelled due to the spate of thunderstorms that raked across Northern Kentucky on Friday afternoon. Houston started the event in the 18th position based upon 2004 NCTS owners points. The start was delayed 55 minutes for rain and the first 11 laps of the event were run under caution because of the damp conditions. When the field finally got the green flag, Houston swiftly worked his way through the middle of the pack and was running just outside the top-ten for the first half of the race. The Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge crew made good use of the infrequent caution flags, pitting after Shane Hmiel's crash on lap 52 and pitting once gain when Kelly Sutton spun on lap 98. On both occasions, Houston's Ultra Motorsports team bolted on four fresh Goodyear tires and filled his Dodge with 22 gallons of racing fuel. Houston restarted the event on lap 103 in the 13th position. He was able to maneuver his way to the eighth spot with 20 laps to go and withstood several challenges during two late restarts, including a green-white-checker finish that prolonged the event for three additional laps.

"It was tough to pass because it was so aero tight when you got up behind somebody," Houston said. "I ran a strange line tonight and it worked pretty good. I ran real high on the racetrack and when somebody tried to get underneath you, they couldn't get a run at you. It would just bog them down off the corner. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is so competitive that if you bog someone down just a little bit and he can't really get a run at you, then you can keep them there almost all night. That line worked really well tonight but it isn't going to work everywhere. We didn't win the race. We have a lot more work to do. This is a team that wants a win week in and week out and we are going to work really hard to make that happen."

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Andy Houston , Shane Hmiel , Kelly Sutton