Ickler Nets Seventh-Place Effort at Las Vegas M&M's Driver Earns Fifth Top-10 of 2010 in Final Scheduled Start for Kyle Busch Motorsports Brian Ickler didn't get the finish he had hoped for in Saturday night's Smith's 350 NASCAR Camping World...
Ickler Nets Seventh-Place Effort at Las Vegas
M&M's Driver Earns Fifth Top-10 of 2010 in Final Scheduled Start for Kyle Busch Motorsports
Brian Ickler didn't get the finish he had hoped for in Saturday night's Smith's 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but with his seventh-place effort, he kept the No. 18 M&M's Toyota within reach of the series owner's championship. It was Ickler's fifth top-10 finish of the 2010 season in his seventh and final scheduled start for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
"We fought a lack of grip all night and we struggled on restarts," said Ickler, who will turn over the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota Tundra to team owner Kyle Busch for the final five races of the 2010 season. "I don't think it was a horrible day for points for Kyle in the 18 truck, so we have one thing to look forward to.
"Kyle and everyone at KBM have been great to me. We've had good runs. Coming here to Vegas with this being Kyle's home track and having M&M's on the truck and being the last race for me with KBM, we definitely wanted to run better, but the truck is in one piece. It's definitely not what we wanted today, but it's alright."
While Ickler is not running the full Camping World Truck Series schedule, the No. 18 Toyota is competing for the owner's title and it remained second in the championship standings, 39 points behind the first-place No. 30 truck of Germain Racing.
"In the big picture, we had a pretty good night," said Rick Ren, director of competition. "We lost a few points to the '30' truck (Todd Bodine), but we didn't lose very many. Late in the race, Brian got sideways up off turn four and it looked like he hit the fence just a little bit with the right rear, but he was able to salvage us a good run.
"I have to give thanks to all the guys on this Kyle Busch Motorsports team and thank M&M's for helping us out this week. The owner's championship is pretty big to us because we can't race for the driver's championship with all the different drivers we've had in our No. 18 Tundra this year. We want to win races, but if we could come in and win the owner's championship in our first season, that would be a big tip of the hat to us if we could pull it off. That's what it's all about."
Ickler qualified ninth for the Smith's 350 and he was a fixture in the top 10-for much of the 146-lap race around the 1.5-mile oval. Early in the race, Ickler told crew chief Eric Phillips that his truck was too free through turns three and four. The team opted to pit for the first time at lap 22 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment in hopes of tightening up Ickler's racetruck.
Because of the variety of pit strategies that were playing out on pit road, Ickler restarted in 13th-place on lap 26. Within 10 laps, Ickler had reclaimed his spot among the top-10. Once there, he told Phillips that the adjustments to the No. 18 Tundra had definitely improved his loose-handling condition, however, his truck was still a little too free and lacking grip.
By the team's second pit stop on lap 61, Ickler was running in sixth-place and battling for a spot in the top-five. The crew rapidly changed four tires, added fuel and made track bar and air pressure adjustments. Despite the quick pit work, Ickler returned to the track in 10th as other teams opted for two tires over four.
Ickler moved up to as high as eighth before the caution flag waved on lap 94. He told his team that the biggest issue he was dealing with was a lack of grip. The crew pitted for the final time on lap 97 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Once again, Ickler's crew ripped off a super-quick stop that gained him four spots in the pits, which returned Ickler to the track in fourth-place.
There, he engaged in a heated battle to keep his spot in the top-five, but his No. 18 machine became too tight as the laps wound down. After narrowly avoiding a scrape with the turn four wall in the closing laps, Ickler brought his M&M's Toyota Tundra home in seventh.
Rookie Austin Dillon won the Smith's 350 to score his second career Camping World Truck Series victory in 22 starts and his first at Las Vegas.
Johnny Sauter finished 5.588 seconds behind Dillon in the runner-up spot, while James Buescher, championship point leader Todd Bodine and Matt Crafton took spots three through five. The rest of the top-10 consisted of Aric Almirola, Ickler, Justin Lofton, Ricky Carmichael and Ken Schrader.
The race featured seven caution periods for 30 laps, with 10 drivers failing to finish.
The Camping World Truck Series will take the next three weeks off before returning to action Oct. 23 for the Kroger 200 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.