Phoenix II: Brian Scott race report

SCOTT EARNS HARD FOUGHT FOURTH AT PHOENIX Avondale, AZ (November 7, 2008) -- NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series rookie Brian Scott earned a career best fourth place finish in Friday night's Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway.


Avondale, AZ (November 7, 2008) -- NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series rookie Brian Scott earned a career best fourth place finish in Friday night's Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway. Scott utilized a stout fifth place qualifying lap to gain track position, dodged a lap one wreck that swept up both of the NCTS points leaders, and got the best of a couple of late race duels with Erik Darnell and Mike Skinner to capture the first top five finish of his truck series career.

Scott started the day off right with a strong qualifying run, touring Phoenix International Raceway's one-mile oval in 27.571 seconds, which translates into a 130.572 mph lap, and placing him fifth on the starting grid. At the start of the event, NCTS points leader Ron Hornaday Jr. was racing hard with Kyle Busch for the lead on lap one as they came off turn four and spun his Chevrolet touching off a multiple truck incident that swept up Johnny Benson, Jack Sprague and Mike Bliss among others. Scott ducked low to avoid Hornaday Jr. and ended up claiming the second position.

"It just looked like Ron got loose inside the 51," Scott said on pit road after the race. "I don't know if there was any contact; it didn't look like it from my point of view. It looked like they just went in and on the first lap, air pressures are low, and maybe the track was a little bit greasy or he didn't have any of that side force with somebody on the outside of him, and it just looked like it got away. I just kept digging. I mean, I saw him go sideways and start throwing up smoke and it looked like his momentum was carrying him up the track so I didn't want to go high. I aimed low, put it to the ground and hoped I'd make it through with no contact. I didn't end up in it so obviously it was the right move. I pulled my belts a little tighter after that first lap incident. You've got to have a little luck in racing and we were lucky that the 33 didn't spin the other way or that there wasn't an evasive maneuver in the top-three to get caught up in. We had a little luck and we had a great truck."

Scott held the second spot for the first third of the race trailing only Busch. Scott then made his only pit stop under caution on lap 64, taking on four fresh Goodyear tires and a full load of Sunoco fuel. He entered the pits in the third spot and exited the pits in fifth. Scott quickly moved his way into the fourth spot shortly after the ensuing restart and held his own there through a couple of green flag runs and a few cautions. When caution befell the speedway on lap 128 Busch ducked down pit road for tires placing Scott in third. After one more yellow flag for a crash involving Kenny Wallace and John Wes Townley the field was set for a 10 lap dash to the end. Scott lost third place to a hard charging Busch but held off spirited charges from veterans Darnell and Skinner over the last few laps to claim his first top-five finish in 31 NCTS starts.

"This fourth place finish is all thanks to my crew," Scott added. "All the guys on this Xpress Motorsports Albertsons Toyota are responsible because they worked their tails off this weekend. We unloaded here and we changed complete front end geometry and setup probably three times. Jeff Hensley, what a crew chief. He is so smart and he knows his way around these trucks so well. Even when we ended practice we put complete different setup on to go qualify. We were able to qualify top-five, run top-five all night and it's just really good. I mean, I can't say enough about these guys. I owe it to them. I am just trying to do what I can. Unfortunately that last set of tires right there at the end weren't quite as good as we wanted. Probably just a little bit freer and we were spinning the rear tires a little bit more consistently coming up out of the corner. We gave up a lot of rear grip and that's where we were hurting at the end compared to the faster guys and the guys behind us that were starting to catch us. I couldn't get my foot down and keep it down. It was starting to wiggle on me so I was having to come out of it. We had an awesome pit stop. It was just a team effort today. It was just the definition of team. Jeff Hensley has always made good decisions and really put the equipment under me and he said 'Don't worry about it. It's going to be just fine' and even though I was kind of guessing, I knew. I have all the confidence in the world in him. It was a great truck all night; just not quite good enough there at the end to pull up any more positions."

After the race Hensley indicated the driver did his part as well. The duo has been paired together for only and this is their fourth top ten in their last five starts.

"Brian did an excellent job and we had a pretty decent truck," Hensley said during post race inspection. "We were really pretty good there to start with. We made a little air pressure change there on the one stop. Then we got a set of tires, and they were a little freer set so we got loose there at the end. If this doesn't point out how important qualifying is, nothing does because track position was everything. The guys did an excellent job on pit road, got him in and got him out. We had a good four-tire stop, and Brian just did an excellent job. He had good feedback during the whole weekend, good feedback during the race. We just got him a little bit too free that last run."

Kevin Harvick claimed victory in Friday night's Lucas Oil 150 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. Kyle Busch, Todd Bodine, Scott and Mike Skinner rounded out the top five. With just one race to go in the NCTS season, Benson now leads Hornaday Jr. by a just 3 points.

-credit: em/xm

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Kevin Harvick , Kenny Wallace , Johnny Benson , Jack Sprague , Mike Bliss , Erik Darnell , Brian Scott , John Wes Townley , Kyle Busch