Slow Tire Leak Leaves Marc Davis Wondering What Might Have Been; 18-Year-Old Still Scores Top-25 Finish in Nationwide Debut at Memphis Marc Davis, driver of the No. 18 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), closed out his NASCAR ...
Slow Tire Leak Leaves Marc Davis Wondering What Might Have Been; 18-Year-Old Still Scores Top-25 Finish in Nationwide Debut at Memphis
Marc Davis, driver of the No. 18 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), closed out his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut in Saturday's Kroger On Track for the Cure 250 at Memphis Motorsports Park in Millington, Tenn., with a 23rd-place finish after starting the day with a solid, second-row qualifying effort.
The 18-year-old African-American from Silver Spring, Md., who has campaigned a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the NASCAR Camping World Series East the past two seasons, qualified fourth for the event and felt he had a race-winning car. But a slow leak in his right-front tire during a 97-lap green-flag run -- an uncharacteristically long green-flag run for this event around the wicked, .75-mile oval situated just north of downtown Memphis -- dropped Davis from the top-10 to 25th place between lap 27 and when he brought the No. 18 DLP HDTV Toyota onto pit lane for fuel and a new set of tires under green on lap 113. He resumed in 32nd, but four laps down to the leaders.
Davis never dropped another lap from that point, and he picked up nine positions by the time the checkered flag flew on a day when passes for position were few and far between throughout the entire 43-car field.
"We practiced really well, and I thought we had a really good race car," Davis said. "We qualified up at the front, and it looked like we were going to have a really good day. Then, all of a sudden, something felt wrong with the car, and it kept getting worse and worse. I kept adding rear brake to it but it didn't make any difference. I guess we ended up having a right-front tire go down on us during that long, green-flag run. There wasn't much we could do about it there. After the tire change, we were good. We just lost too many laps in the process. I kind of thought it was the tire, but it wasn't going down very quickly, so I didn't want to say something and have it not be a tire problem. I still feel bad for these guys, but for me, it was a learning experience.
"I learned a lot racing out there with these guys. This race has been pretty crazy in the past, but today was not nearly as bad as it has been in previous years. I think we earned a lot of respect. I ran up front at the start, but then we fell back and I realized we didn't have a winning car, so I let guys go when our car wasn't doing well. Then, at the end, when our car was running pretty well, the same guys were letting me by. I guess that's what it's all about -- give-and-take. I definitely learned a lot. We'll just pack it up and take it on with us for the next time."
With the 23rd-place finish, the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing entry, which has won nine times already this season, remained 24th in the series' owner standings with 2,977 points.
Carl Edwards won the Kroger On Track for The Cure 250 to score his 18th career Nationwide Series victory, his fifth of the season and his first at Memphis. Edwards beat runner-up David Reutimann by 0.147 of a second, followed in the top-five by Kenny Wallace, Austin Dillon and Davis' JGR teammate Joey Logano in the No. 20 GameStop Toyota. Chase Miller, Mike Bliss, David Ragan, Steve Wallace and David Stremme comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were eight caution periods for 39 laps, with 12 drivers failing to finish the 253-lap race, extended three laps beyond the scheduled 250-lap distance by a green-white-checkered finish.