East Pilots Cub Cadet / Kleenex Ford Fusion to 16th in Busch 250 Overcomes brakes, handling, scrape with wall for top-twenty finish Madison, IL (July 21, 2007) ...Bobby East made his NASCAR Busch Series debut at the Gateway International Raceway...
East Pilots Cub Cadet / Kleenex Ford Fusion to 16th in Busch 250
Overcomes brakes, handling, scrape with wall for top-twenty finish
Madison, IL (July 21, 2007) ...Bobby East made his NASCAR Busch Series debut at the Gateway International Raceway on Saturday evening in the Busch 250. It will, no doubt, be a race that he will long remember.
Making his third career start for Brewco Motorsports in the Busch Series, East and the #37 Cub Cadet / Kleenex Team led by Crew Chief Stewart Cooper worked primarily on race setup during the two practice sessions on Friday. With the Busch 250 another "impound" race for the Busch Series, East and Cooper knew that their qualifying setup must also work for the race. East would be the 41st driver to make his qualifying run on Saturday afternoon, and the Busch rookie responded with a first lap of 33.696 seconds -- good enough for the 6th position. East's second lap was faster, 33.651 seconds / 133.726 mph, and moved him to fourth. When the qualifying session was complete, East would have the fifth fastest speed during the session. It was the best qualifying run in his brief Busch Series career.
During the early laps of the 200-lap event, East would "fall in line" and maintain his fifth running position. When his Cub Cadet / Kleenex Ford Fusion began to get tight in the center, the #22 of Mike Bliss worked in way inside of East in turn one. Now caught in the outside lane, several additional cars moved passed. On lap 32, East reported to Crew Chief Stewart Cooper that his brakes were "hot" as he dropped back to 15th.
The race continued under green flag condition and East made his first pit stop of the race on lap 68. The Cub Cadet / Kleenex crew changed four tires, added fuel, and made air pressure and wedge adjustments. They also took some tape off the front to allow more air to the brake areas. During the round of green-flag pit stops, East lost a lap to the leaders and was running 23rd on lap 75.
When caution waved on lap 94 for debris, East would pit for tires, fuel, and more adjustments. However, as East was coming down pit road, he made contact with another car pushing the hood up on his Ford. The damage appeared minimal, but soon after the restart the water temperature rose to over 260. On lap 100, the third caution of the race waved for a multi-car wreck in turn two. East came back to pit road so that the team could work on the hood damage and remove additional front end tape. Three laps after the restart, another multi-car wreck occurred right in front of East in turn three. For the second time in ten laps, the young driver made a great move to avoid being involved in the accident.
East would restart 20th on lap 119. Four laps later, the caution waved again for an accident, and Cooper called East back to pit road. Restarting 21st on lap 127, Cooper urged East to be "very conservative on that gas pedal" as they were looking to stretch fuel and gain track position. Those plans quickly went for naught as three more cautions waved before lap 160. When the 8th caution of the race waved on lap 155, East was in position to receive the "lucky dog" and move back on the lead lap. Restarting in 15th, East and the Cub Cadet / Kleenex Team now had visions of a top ten finish. However, the brake issues began to surface again, as well as the loose condition in the turns. After the final caution waved on lap 179, East restarted in the 11th position.
On the restart, East drifted high in turn one and "scraped" the turn two wall. While the damage didn't force him to pit road, it did severely hamper the handling of his Ford Fusion. East was able to continue in the race, but lost several positions in the final stages of the race. At the checkered flag, East would bring the Cub Cadet / Kleenex Ford Fusion home in the 16th position.
"We really had a good car early-on," East commented. "The brakes became an issue, then the handling made it a long night. The guys really did a great job in the pits making changes, but it was a tough race throughout. I really hit the wall hard there in two at the end, but man I had a handful of steering wheel trying to keep it off the wall. I'm really looking forward to ORP next week, and I hope that I can give this Cub Cadet / Kleenex Ford crew the finish that they deserve."
Next week, the Busch Series travels to Clermont, Indiana and O'Reilly Raceway Park for the Kroger 200. Basically, a "one-day" show for the Series, practice begins at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 28th. Qualifying is set for 4:35 p.m., and the 200-lap, 137.2-mile race set for an 8:00 p.m. start. ESPN2 will provide live television coverage, with MRN handling the radio broadcast.