BUSCH: Texas II: Brad Baker race report

Long Afternoon in Lone Star State for Baker, Cottonelle Racing Team Early accident results in 35th-place finish Fort Worth, TX (November 3, 2007) ... The 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway can be a very difficult, even treacherous track, to drive...

Long Afternoon in Lone Star State for Baker, Cottonelle Racing Team
Early accident results in 35th-place finish

Fort Worth, TX (November 3, 2007) ... The 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway can be a very difficult, even treacherous track, to drive for even the veteran drivers on the NASCAR Busch and Nextel Cup Series. Imagine how difficult the challenge would be making your first ever start at the high-banked Fort Worth, Texas speedway. That's the challenge that faced Brad Baker this weekend in the O'Reilly Challenge.

Making his second career start in the #27 Cottonelle / Brookshire's Ford Fusion for Brewco Motorsports, Baker was ready for the challenge that Texas Motor Speedway and 42 other competitors represented. After two practice sessions on Friday morning, Baker was the 31st driver to make his qualifying run late Friday afternoon. Anyone watching Baker attack the 1.5-mile speedway during qualifying would never have known this was his first race at TMS. Baker posted a fast lap of 28.828 seconds / 187.513 mph to earn the 23rd starting position for the 200-lap, 300-mile race.

With a crowd estimated at over 90,000 in attendance and a beautiful, sunny day for racing, the O'Reilly Challenge took the green flag Saturday afternoon. It didn't take long for the action on the track to "heat up" as the #22 car of Mike Bliss spun in turn four on lap four and made hard contact into the outside safer barrier. Brad Baker, in an attempt to avoid the wrecked car of Bliss, made a sharp turn to the left and spun the #27 Cottonelle / Brookshire's Ford Fusion. Baker also made hard contact with the wall, heavily damaging the rear of his car. He was able to drive to pit road to the attention of Crew Chief Newt Moore and the Cottonelle / Brookshire's crew. Baker would make three pit stops during this caution so the crew could repair heavy damage to the rear of his Ford, plus damage on the left front as well. He was restart 41st on lap nine on the lead lap.

After reporting that his battered Cottonelle / Brookshire's Ford was driving OK during the first few laps, Baker soon told Crew Chief Moore that his Ford was "very, very loose". At this point, Baker's spotter suggested that he change his driving lane on the track to a higher line to hopefully tighten up his car. Unfortunately, that didn't work and Baker went a lap down to leader Tony Stewart on lap 17.

The Cottonelle / Brookshire's crew kept making repairs and adjustments to their Ford as Baker made five additional pit stops before the midway mark, lap 100, of the O'Reilly Challenge. At the halfway point, Baker was running 37th, one lap down to the leader. On lap 117, Baker "scraped" the wall in turn four and was forced to pit on lap 120 for tires and more adjustments. After rejoining the race, Baker reported that his Cottonelle / Brookshire's Ford was now "pushing very hard". On lap 135, Baker got caught up in an accident when Stanton Barrett spun in turn four. The rear bumper cover was torn off the car during this incident, but Baker was able to continue racing. However, the major issue now was maintaining the minimum speed as set by NASCAR for cars on the track. Baker would do his best driving an ill-handling car to maintain speed, and the Cottonelle / Brookshire's crew made repeated changes to the wedge and track bar to assist Baker in his quest for speed.

After making six pit stops in the final one-quarter of the race, Crew Chief Newt Moore directed Baker to the garage area on lap 193. At that point in the race, Baker could gain no additional positions, and the condition of the car was not conducive to maintaining a safe, minimum speed. The result was a 35th-place finish, completing 171 laps.

"I want to thank Newt (Crew Chief Moore) and the entire Cottonelle / Brookshire's Team for all their efforts this weekend," Baker commented after the race. "After a decent qualifying run, I had high hopes for the race, but those got dashed early. When I saw the 22 car spin in (turn) four in front of me, I steered to the bottom of the track to avoid his car. The rear came around and sent me back up into the wall. I really hate that it messed our car up so badly, I felt like I could run competitive laps and earn a good finish today. Unfortunately, with all the damage, the Cottonelle / Brookshire's Ford just wouldn't handle after the wreck. The guys made one adjustment after another during all our stops, but it was just a handful to drive. It was a disappointing end to a promising day."

-credit: brewco

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Drivers Tony Stewart , Brad Baker , Mike Bliss , Stanton Barrett