Fike, #43 Curb Records Dodge Qualify Sixth at Talladega, Then Can't Find a 'Dance Partner' on Race Day, Finish 23rd
TALLADEGA, Ala. (Saturday, April 29, 2006) -- Aaron Fike and the #43 Curb Records Dodge of the Curb Agajanian Performance Group (CAPG) qualified sixth for today's NASCAR Busch Series Aaron's 312 at Talladega Superspeedway but couldn't find enough drafting help to take advantage of a superior race car during today's 117-lap main event and had to settle for a 23rd-place finish.
Fike, the 23-year-old out of Galesburg, Ill., backed up his impressive front-row qualifying effort at this season's opener on the superspeedway at Daytona by claiming the outside-third-row starting spot for today's race.
Come race time, the team's strategy was for Fike and the #43 CAPG racing machine to settle back into a comfortable spot among the lead pack of cars until some 25 laps were left around the mammoth 2.66-mile superspeedway tri-oval, which typically yields tight, high-speed racing but more than its fair share of dramatic, multi-car accidents. None occurred today as Fike, driving in only his third career race on a superspeedway, had no trouble staying with the lead pack throughout the day.
With a little more than 20 laps left, cruising in 21st place, he radioed to the CAPG pits that he was ready to march to the front. But seemingly none of the seasoned veterans who also were working a similar strategy would offer drafting support, leaving him back in the pack. Fike did record the fifth-fastest lap of the race in the early going -- a 191.368-mph tour of the tri-oval on Lap 10.
Next up for the NASCAR Busch Series competitors is next Friday night's event on the three-quarter-mile tri-oval at Richmond International Raceway.
"We had better than a 23rd-place car today, for sure. The Curb Agajanian crew did a great job giving me a great car for qualifying and the race. The problem with these restrictor-plate races is that you just can't do it alone. Maybe I'm too new at this for anyone to have enough confidence in me to work with me. We can always second-guess ourselves for sliding back into the pack and cruising around until the end. I think it was the right thing to do, even though the 'big one' never happened. You can never count on anything around here. Maybe if we would've tried to stay up front and show everybody what a great car we had, they would've been more inclined to work with us. Oh well. That's the way it goes. This was the most laps I've ever run in a restrictor-plate race, so it was a huge learning experience. So we can bank on that for down the road. We'll just need to find a few friends the next time."