Houston Survives Saturday Night Shootout In St.Louis Team ASE/Carquest Dodge Driver Involved In Late Race Crash Madison, IL (July 11, 2004) - Saturday night's Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race ended up with a...
Houston Survives Saturday Night Shootout In St.Louis
Team ASE/Carquest Dodge Driver Involved In Late Race Crash
Madison, IL (July 11, 2004) - Saturday night's Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race ended up with a wild finish, or to be more precise it ended up with several wild finishes. The event was forced into NASCAR's version of overtime, a green-white-checker run to the finish, on four separate occasions. Andy Houston was able to keep his Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge out of the ensuing fracas during the first three extended runs but was squarely involved in the fourth overtime incident. Houston and fellow NCTS competitor Rick Crawford were battling for the seventh position exiting turn two on lap 170 when the two trucks hooked together, slamming both vehicles into the outside retaining wall. Crawford's Ford climbed the outside barrier and ended up on its side, while Houston was able to limp along in his damaged Dodge. The race was red flagged for eight minutes while NASCAR clean-up crews attended to the debris. Once the race was restarted Houston dived onto pit road to repair the damage and replace a flattened right rear tire, salvaging a 13th place finish in the process.
"I had a good run on the restart and I got up underneath Crawford going into one and he ran me almost all the way down into the grass" Houston said after the incident. "Coming off of turn two he was just pinching me low and I was chasing it for all I had and we got together. It was a racing deal, he's mad and he's going to be mad and I would be mad too if I ended up on my side. It is just one of those things that can happen when two people are racing hard for position late in the race."
Houston qualified his Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge in the 10th position but struggled early on. Crew Chief Trip Bruce called for a series of adjustments during the first caution period on lap 29. Houston's Ultra Motorsports entry responded favorably and his Dodge made a charge to the front. By the halfway mark, Houston was running solidly in the third position. He remained in the top-five until he was forced to pit under green flag conditions on lap 104 for fuel. Two laps later the caution flag fell and Houston was caught one lap down. Houston was able to regain his lost lap when Steve Park brought out the caution on lap 127. That set up the run to the finish and the eventual high jinx at the end of the race.
"We struggled early on and gave up quite a few spots," Houston said. "After the first set of adjustments the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge really came around. We ran in the top-five for a good part of the race. Our truck was really good even when some of the other guys had fresher tires. The longer we ran on tires the better we were. Some of the other trucks just fell off and we were able to keep the pressure on. I am really encouraged by the progress this team has made over the last three weeks. We have trucks that can qualify well and that can run good in the race. I think that says a lot about the type of guys that work on these trucks. Trip and all these guys have done a great job. I just hate to give up a top-ten late in the race like we did tonight. It was just a case of too many green-white-checker finishes. That last one just got us. We finished 13th and now we will just get ready for Michigan in two weeks and see what we can do there."
David Starr was the ultimate beneficiary of all the late race incidents, scoring his second career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win in 102 starts. Shane Hmiel and Bobby Hamilton crashed hard while running for the win during the second green-white-checker period. In total there were 9 caution flags during the course of the event with 36 laps being run under yellow flag conditions. Dennis Setzer continues to lead the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points standings followed by Hamilton and Carl Edwards.