East Closes 2007 Busch Series Season with 12th in Ford 300 Pilots ...
East Closes 2007 Busch Series Season with 12th in Ford 300
Pilots #27 Kleenex Ford Fusion to career best finish
Homestead, FL (November 17, 2007) ... What do you get when you combine teamwork, determination, pit strategy, and a little luck? Bobby East and the #27 Kleenex Racing Team used all four to earn a 12th-place finish in the season-ending Ford 300 on Saturday evening at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. The final race of the 2007 NASCAR Busch Series was also the final race for series sponsor Anheuser-Busch. The Ford 300 brought to a close the 26-year relationship between NASCAR and Anheuser-Busch as the sponsor of the Busch Series. In 2008, Nationwide will become the series sponsor.
East was making his tenth start of the season in a Brewco Motorsports Ford and his first ever career race in the Busch Series at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway. Driving the #27 Kleenex Ford under the direction of Crew Chief Newt Moore, East took advantage of three practice sessions on Friday to log as many laps as possible on the multi-groove Homestead track.
On Saturday, East was the ninth driver to make his qualifying run, and responded with a fast lap of 32.864 seconds / 164.314 mph. East would start the 200-lap, 300-mile Ford 300 from the 40th position.
During the early stages of the race, East reported to Moore that his Kleenex Ford was "a little free". When caution waved on lap 15 for a spin by Patrick Carpentier, East brought the Kleenex Ford to pit road for service. A quick stop by the Kleenex crew gained East three positions on the track for the restart. On lap 20, East radioed to the crew that his Ford was "better everywhere, but still tight off". Two quick caution periods on lap 21 and 27 brought the leaders to pit road for the first time.
Since it had been less than twenty laps since East pitted, Moore instructed the young Indiana driver to stay out and gain track position. East would restart 6th on lap 31. However, the tight handling condition resulted in East dropping back to 18th by lap 40. On lap 47, East would pit under caution for tires, fuel, and trackbar adjustments. He would restart 25th on lap 50. On lap 82, the leader, Dave Blaney, would pass East to put the Kleenex Ford one lap down. However, East would maintain his position, and, when caution waved on lap 93, East would receive the "lucky dog award" and be placed back on the lead lap. At the midway point of the race, lap 100, East was running 23rd.
East would make his next pit stop on lap 107 for tires, fuel, and another trackbar adjustment. Four laps after the restart, another caution waved for debris and East came back to the pits for more adjustments. East was running in the 28th position at the lap 150 mark.
As the long green-flag stretch of racing continued, many of the leaders would be forced to make their final pit stops under green. East, taking advantage of pit strategy used by Crew Chief Newt Moore, could remain on the track and gain valuable positions during this stretch of stops. By lap 170, East has moved up to the 14th position. Then, the Kleenex Racing Team got the "lucky break" they needed. On lap 171, David Ragan spun entering pit road, and the caution waved for the 12th and final time. East was able to make his final stop during this caution and maintain his position in the top fifteen. During the final 24 laps of green-flag racing, East gained two additional positions to earn a hard-fought 12th-place finish.
"My hat's off to Newt (Crew Chief Moore) and the entire Kleenex Racing Team," East commented after the race. "We didn't have the best car in this race, but the guys kept making adjustments and we hung in there to finish 12th. This is my career best Busch finish, and I'm extremely happy about finishing the 2007 season on a positive note. Obviously, we all wanted a better season, but it was a learning period for me in the Busch cars. I want to thank Brewco for the opportunity to race their Ford Fusions this season. The track time I had will pay dividends down the road I'm sure. To come out of the Ford 300 with a 12th (place finish) was quite a feat, and it took a total team effort to get us there."
The Ford 300 closes the curtain on the 2007 NASCAR Busch Series season. The #27 Kleenex Ford Fusion Racing Team finished 23rd in owner points with eight different drivers during the season. Their best finish was 5th by Jason Keller at Milwaukee in June, and the best start was 4th by Keller at Gateway in July and Jorge Goeters in Mexico City in March. In 35 races, the #27 Kleenex Ford posted one top five and three top ten finishes.