Indianapolis Raceway Park offers highs and lows to Ashton Lewis, Jr. Clermont, IN - After a day filled with many highs and lows, the No. 46 Civil Air Patrol Chevrolet team ended up with a 37th place finish at the .686 mile Indianapolis Raceway...
Indianapolis Raceway Park offers highs and lows to Ashton Lewis, Jr.
Clermont, IN - After a day filled with many highs and lows, the No. 46 Civil Air Patrol Chevrolet team ended up with a 37th place finish at the .686 mile Indianapolis Raceway Park.
IRP offers a series of challenges that the competitors do not normally face at events. The first big difference is that the Kroger 200 is a one-day event. This means that the schedule consists of a two-hour practice, qualifying and then the main event all in the same day. There is no happy hour, and the teams have to qualify in "race trim" as opposed to the normal "qualifying trim". Once qualifying is over, the cars are impounded by NASCAR so that none of the teams can do any further work.
The next big obstacle is that the haulers (which is where all of the extra supplies for the team are kept) have to leave the infield area and are parked in a lot just outside of turns one and two. This is done so that the officials, spectators, and television cameras have an unobstructed view of the backstretch. If anything is left behind on the hauler it is a long hike to get it.
On Saturday the CAP crew arrived at the track at 7:30 am to take the car through inspection. Since there is no garage area, the crews all set up on pit road and operated there all day. Many of the crews put up canopies to give at least a little protection against the nearly 100-degree heat. At 11:30 am the only practice session of the day began, and the CAP team was not getting the results that they wanted.
The No. 46 was one of the slower cars on the track until about the last 15 minutes of practice. It was at that point that the team discovered what it took to make their car handle the way they wanted and to pick up speed.
At 3:30 pm qualifying began and the Civil Air Patrol Chevrolet was the ninth car out on the track. Ashton Lewis, Jr. turned in a blazing speed of 22.728, which was not beat until Jason Keller set the pole at 22.596. Lewis ended up starting the race in the fourth position, which is his second best qualifying effort this year. When qualifying ended the crew chiefs were allowed to select their pits for the race, and all of the teams had to move all of their equipment to their race pit locations.
As the pre race ceremonies began, 11 sweltering and exhausting hours after the CAP crew first arrived at the track, they felt confident their car would be a front-runner.
On the first lap of the race the No. 92 driven by Todd Bodine was turned sideways on the front stretch, but no caution flag was thrown. The first caution flag did come out on lap 37 for debris on the track. Ashton radioed to his crew that his car was very tight through the center of the turns and that it would definitely need to be adjusted. No other cars came in during the first caution so the CAP crew elected to stay on the track. On lap 61, the race was red flagged when six cars were involved in a crash in turns one and two. No drivers were injured, and the safety crew quickly had the track "race ready".
As the red flag was changed to yellow, most of the cars elected to pit on lap 63. The CAP crew made some air pressure and track bar adjustments, but had an extended pit stop when the rear tire changer fell. After the pit stop Ashton was in 22nd place.
When the green flag flew on lap 75, Ashton told crew chief Charlie Lewis that the car felt much better and that he would be able to start working his way through traffic. Four brief laps later, the No. 19 of Tim Sawyer made contact with one of his brothers, the No. 21 of Jay Sauter, causing both cars to pin the No. 46 CAP Chevrolet to the wall.
When asked about the race Lewis said, "It is just so frustrating to get caught up in incidents that are not your fault. We really had a good car that we just got dialed in, and once again we find ourselves cutting up a car to load it."
The team is heading to Michigan to test this week for the upcoming Cabela's 250. The Cabela's 250 will be held Saturday, August 17th and will be aired live on TNT at 1:30 pm ET. The event will also be broadcast live on MRN.