Tony Roper, driver of the No. 61 IWX Motor Freight Pontiac, slammed the steering wheel of his car in disgust. He had just qualified for the Coca-Cola 300, his second career NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division event. ...
Tony Roper, driver of the No. 61 IWX Motor Freight Pontiac, slammed the steering wheel of his car in disgust. He had just qualified for the Coca-Cola 300, his second career NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division event.
"My foot fell off the gas pedal," explained Roper, very disappointed in his lap of 30.115 seconds (179.075 miles per hour) around the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway. "I was going into turn one, concentrating on my line and my foot slid off the top of the pedal. I ran the complete lap using my heel to hit the gas."
The disappointment for Roper turned to a waiting game as one-by-one other drivers bumped him back in the qualifying rundown. Roper was the 12th of nearly 60 drivers to qualify and slowly, but surely, he got bumped backwards. Roper was a disappointing 47th-fastest after morning practice sessions.
The top 25 spots would be locked in for Saturday's race and Roper was in the 25th-spot when Johnny Benson, the final car, took to the track. Benson, a Winston Cup driver and former NASCAR Busch Series Champion, completed his lap and it was a tie - a lap of 30.115 just as Roper had scored earlier in the day.
NASCAR rules state that in cases of a tie, the driver with more car owners points gets the spot. Stephen Coulter, Roper's owner, has 341 points (29th- positions), while Brian Bumgardner, Benson's owner, has 337 markers. That difference of four points has Roper secure in the field.
That security in itself if very important, but equally important is the practice time the result allows the young team. The schedule for Friday calls for two hours and 35 minutes of practice for the NASCAR Busch Series teams. One hour and 35 minutes are before the second-round of qualifying, the final hour after the field is set.
For Roper and the Xpress Motorsports team, the extra time will come in very handy in preparing for Saturday's race instead of having to worry about re- qualifying.