Top-10 Run by Ickler and Dollar General Team Spoiled by Late-Race Crash Newton, Iowa (August 3, 2009) -- Brian Ickler and the No. 32 Dollar General team traveled to Newton, Iowa for the Nationwide Series' inaugural event at Iowa Speedway....
Top-10 Run by Ickler and Dollar General Team Spoiled by Late-Race Crash
Newton, Iowa (August 3, 2009) -- Brian Ickler and the No. 32 Dollar General team traveled to Newton, Iowa for the Nationwide Series' inaugural event at Iowa Speedway. Ickler, no stranger to the 0.875-mile track, was excited to return to the site of his 2008 win in the Camping World Series' East-West showdown. He qualified the No. 32 Toyota in the 29th position and immediately charged towards the front. Ickler's day ended early when he was involved in a crash, relegating him to a 32nd-place finish.
The No. 32 Dollar General team welcomed Ickler into the car this week at Iowa Speedway. Ickler, who had assisted the team with practice duties last weekend at O'Reilly Raceway Park, made the first of two appearances in the No. 32 Toyota Camry. The team unloaded at the speedway on Thursday morning and prepared for the six-hour test session that NASCAR scheduled. Ickler, who was 10th in the test session, was very happy with the handling of the car. Unfortunately, in the closing laps, the No. 32 suddenly slid up the track and made contact with the outside wall. The damage was cosmetic and the team worked diligently to repair the right side of the car. Returning to practice on Friday, the No. 32 acted like an entirely different race car. Ickler and the team worked all afternoon to adjust the tight-handling condition. The hard work paid off as they steadily made progress and ended final practice seventh on the charts.
During qualifying on Saturday afternoon, Ickler still battled a slightly tight condition. The 23.683-second lap earned the 23-year old a 29th-place starting spot for the afternoon's race. Despite starting deep in the field, Ickler and the Dollar General team had confidence that the black and yellow No.32 would quickly move forward. When the green flag flew, that is precisely what occurred.
On lap one, Ickler immediately began his charge. Running three-wide, he advanced four positions in the first lap. Continuing to move forward, he was already in the 23rd spot when the first caution of the day came out on lap three. By lap eight, he had advanced into the top-20 and was running 19th when the second caution came out on lap 10. Crew chief, Trent Owens, asked the young driver how the car was handling.
"It's still a little tight in the center," replied Ickler. "I'm trying to work through so much traffic right now, that I wouldn't worry too much yet."
When the next caution came out on lap 39, the No. 32 was running in the 18th position. Ickler confirmed that the car had remained tight in the center of the turns. Owens made the call to come to pit road for four tires and adjustments. When the No. 32 came to pit road, the Dollar General crew quickly changed four tires and removed two spring rubbers from the left-side. Despite a stellar stop, some teams only changed two tires, and the No. 32 restarted in the 19th spot.
Ickler quickly moved into the top-15, running 13th when the No. 40 brought out the next caution of the day on lap 73. He reported to Owens that the car was still a little tight in the center. "It feels good, but I just can't roll through the center fast enough," said Ickler.
Owens called Ickler to pit road where the team made a two-tire pit stop, changing the right-side tires, made an air pressure adjustment and put a spring rubber in on the right-side. The two-tire stop gained the team valuable track position, as Ickler restarted in the seventh position.
"Man, I'm free in!" exclaimed Ickler on the radio shortly after the race resumed. He held on to the loose-handling car for the next 16 laps but slipped back to the 14th position. As soon as the next caution came out on lap 92, Ickler came to pit road. Owens called for four fresh tires and to remove one of the right-side spring rubbers. The No. 32 restarted in the 22nd position.
With fresh tires, Ickler quickly picked his way through traffic and was running in the 15h spot on lap 108 when a multi-car accident brought out the afternoon's sixth caution. Ickler and Owens discussed the pit strategy on the radio. Spotter, Eddie Masencup confirmed that the tires and fenders looked good on the right-side of the Camry. The skirt was the only recipient of damage from slight contact as the field slowed for the caution. Ickler confirmed that the car remained tight but felt good. They agreed to remain on the track and restarted in 14th place.
Debris on the track brought out the caution flag on lap 146 and the next opportunity for the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota to come to pit road. The crew quickly changed four tires and made an air pressure adjustment for the continued tight-handling condition. Restarting in the 13th position, Ickler moved into the top-10 with his new Goodyears.
On lap 153, Ickler dove low to miss spinning cars in turn four. When the race resumed on lap 157, the No. 32 was in the eighth position. He continued to move forward, into the sixth spot by lap 160. Focused on the top-five, Ickler was caught by surprise on lap 165 when the No. 20 of Brad Coleman snapped loose on the inside of the No. 32. As the No. 20 spun around, it collected Ickler, sending him hard into the outside wall of turn two and ending the day early for the No. 32 Dollar General team. When the race concluded, the No. 32 was scored in the 32nd position.
"I thought we were going to get Dollar General a good finish here this weekend," said Ickler. "The team worked really hard on adjusting the car's handling and we definitely had a top-five finish in our sights. Unfortunately, when the No. 20 got loose, he took us with him and ended our day early. It was fun to race out here at Iowa Speedway. What a great fan turn-out! I just wish we could have been there at the end."
Brian Vickers will return to the wheel of the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota next weekend at Watkins Glen International.