Accident Ends Ickler's Day Early at Memphis Motorsports Park MILLINGTON, Tenn. (October 26, 2009) -- Brian Ickler returned to the driver's seat of the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota this weekend when the Nationwide Series traveled to Memphis ...
Accident Ends Ickler's Day Early at Memphis Motorsports Park
MILLINGTON, Tenn. (October 26, 2009) -- Brian Ickler returned to the driver's seat of the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota this weekend when the Nationwide Series traveled to Memphis Motorsports Park. While some had BBQ and blues on their mind, Ickler and his team had only one thing on theirs: hoisting the Elvis trophy in victory lane. Unfortunately, the No. 32 Camry was caught up in a late race accident that resulted in a damaged radiator and an early exit from the Kroger on Track for the Cure 250. Ickler and the Dollar General team were scored with a 26th-place finish.
An early draw in qualifying proved costly on Saturday morning as the track was still very cold from the night's low temperatures. The Dollar General team went out fourth and as the track warmed up, subsequent lap times continued to get faster and faster. The No. 32 was relegated to a 33rd-place starting position. As Ickler tugged at his belts and prepared to start the race, crew chief, Trent Owens, reminded him that "patience over the 250 laps and some strategy towards the end would get them to the front." As the green flag dropped, Ickler immediately went to work. Within the first lap, he had moved the Dollar General Toyota into the 20th spot.
When the first caution of the day came out on lap 7, Ickler was already up to the 17th position. He reported on the car's handling to Owens. "So far it is rolling the center pretty good," he said. "I've been backing up my corners a little and it seems to help a lot." The race resumed on lap 22.
The second caution of the day came three laps later when a multi-car accident occurred in turn four. Owens called his driver to pit road for service. The Dollar General team quickly put four sticker tires on the car and packed the Camry with fuel. Ickler restarted the race from the 24th position on lap 32.
The side-by-side racing was exciting as the No. 32 engaged in three-wide battles for position. By lap 35, Ickler had moved back into the top-20. A spinning car in turn one brought out the next caution flag on lap 38. As cars lined up for the restart, Ickler was placed in the 12th position and on the outside line. As the race returned to green-flag conditions on lap 43, he asked his spotter, "Just get me down as soon as you can, please."
On lap 53, the No. 32 broke into the top-10. As he circled the ¾-mile track, Ickler reported that the car's handling had suddenly changed. "It got really tight in the center all of a sudden." When the fourth caution came on lap 63 for an accident in turn three, Ickler had slipped back to the 12th position.
As the cars slowed on the track, he elaborated on the tight condition. "It was a sudden tightness and felt almost as if I had a right front tire going down." Owens called to his crew to get a set of scuffed tires ready on the wall. Ickler brought the No. 32 down pit road on lap 64. The team quickly changed the four tires, added fuel and made air pressure adjustments. The race resumed on lap 67 with the No. 32 in the 14th position.
Ickler remained on the track for the next 59 laps, despite a series of cautions. During this time he reported that he continued to battle a tight condition in the center and a free condition as he exited the corners. "We lost the front end grip that we had at the beginning of the race."
Owens reassured him that they would make some adjustments on the next visit to pit road. "Just do what you can until the next pit stop. If possible, focus on not using up the right front tire."
As the seventh caution flag of the afternoon flew on lap 122, Ickler was running in the 20th position. Owens told his driver and team to be prepared for a pit stop when pit road was opened. On lap 126, Ickler brought the No. 32 Toyota to his pit stall for service. The Dollar General team changed the four tires, added fuel, went one round up on the track bar, added one round of wedge and made an air pressure adjustment. Ickler returned to the track and restarted the race on lap 129 in the 19th position.
As Ickler moved the Dollar General Toyota through the field, Owens continued to encourage his driver. "Nice job. Just pick them off one at a time."
The next caution of the day occurred on lap 155. Ickler told Owens that the car's handling was starting to get tight in the center once again. Owens considered having him remain on the track, but instead called him to pit road on lap 158. The team put on a set of four scuffed tires, filled the car with fuel and removed a windshield tear-off.
"If for some reason this stays green, which I doubt it will, we are good on fuel now. Also, we have one set of sticker tires here in the pit for you," Owens told Ickler.
"Sounds good to me!" Ickler replied.
The Dollar General Toyota restarted the race on lap 163 from the 17th position. Ickler immediately went to work and moved up to 12th when the next caution came only three laps later.
"Man, I love new tires!" Ickler said with obvious satisfaction in his voice.
Due to the extensive debris on the race track from a hard hit by the No. 24 in the outside wall, NASCAR displayed the red flag and brought the cars to a stop. Ten minutes later, the yellow flag was displayed and the cars circled the track behind the pace car. Green-flag racing resumed on lap 171.
On lap 174, the No. 12 and No. 33 connected and spun right in front of Ickler. He quickly slid the No. 32 to the outside of the wrecking cars and avoided damage. He restarted in the 11th spot on lap 180. The race remained under green-flag conditions for 48 laps. Ickler remained silent on the radio as it was evident he had his hands full on the race track. By the time the 11th caution flag of the day came out on lap 228 for debris on the race track, he had slipped to the 17th position.
Ickler brought the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota to pit road on lap 230 for the final pit stop of the day. The team put on four sticker tires and added fuel. The race resumed on lap 233. Armed with the advantage of fresh tires, Ickler was ready to return to the front.
Unfortunately, the anticipation was short-lived. Less than one lap later, the No. 60 was spun on the back stretch. As the car shot across traffic, the No. 32 received front end damage. Ickler brought the car to pit road immediately. As the team assessed the damage, it was discovered that the radiator had been punctured in the accident. With only 17 laps remaining in the race, the team was forced to pack up and call it a day. The No. 32 Dollar General Toyota was relegated to a 26th-place finish.
"This was not the end that we expected today," said Ickler. "We unloaded a solid Dollar General Toyota here at Memphis Motorsports Park. Our practice sessions went well on Friday and I really thought we were on our way to a good weekend. Qualifying was a little rough. That early draw killed us. But I never doubted that we could work our way back to the front. Trent and the guys did a great job this weekend. We battled a tight condition in the center and towards the second half of the race. With those fresh tires, I think we had what we needed to get up to the top-10 in those last laps. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time when the No. 60 got hit. I want to thank this Dollar General team. They do a great job every week!"
Brian Vickers will make his final 2009 appearance behind the wheel of the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota in two weeks at Texas Motor Speedway.
Next Stop: The NASCAR Nationwide Series will enjoy a weekend off before travelling to Fort Worth, Texas for the O'Reilly Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway. The Saturday afternoon race will be broadcast LIVE on ESPN2 and on PRN Radio starting at 12:00 p.m. EST. The green flag is scheduled to drop at 12:45 p.m. EST.