Phoenix II: John Wes Townley race report

RESPECTABLE PERFORMANCE NETS TOWNLEY A 23RD-PLACE FINISH AT PHOENIX Avondale, AZ (11-14-09) -- A solid effort by Raybestos Rookie contender, John Wes Townley nets the No. 09 Zaxby's Racing team a 23rd-place finish in Saturday's Able Body Labor...

RESPECTABLE PERFORMANCE NETS TOWNLEY A 23RD-PLACE FINISH AT PHOENIX

Avondale, AZ (11-14-09) -- A solid effort by Raybestos Rookie contender, John Wes Townley nets the No. 09 Zaxby's Racing team a 23rd-place finish in Saturday's Able Body Labor 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.

The performance was the 19-year-old rookie's best start and finish at the 1-mile tri-oval and his 11th top-25 finish in 25 starts of 2009. Additionally, the Watkinsville, GA native closed the gap on a top-30 position in the 2009 championship owner point standings. The No. 09 entry remains 32nd in point's just 419 markers outside the top-30.

In Saturday morning's time trials Townley toured the "Valley of the Sun" in 27.653 seconds (130.185 mph) locking the No.09 machine into the field with a 27th-place starting position. The effort transcended his best starting position at PIR in three attempts by five spots.

When the green flag fell over the 43-car field signaling the start of the 200-mile event, Townley "set sail" into the top-20, but was sitting in the 25th-position when the afternoon's first caution flag was waved on lap nine. A chassis adjustment, four Goodyear tires and Sunoco fuel were in order for the rookie as he made his way down pit road. When racing resumed on lap 12, the No. 09 machine was scored 31st on the leader board.

Townley maintained his position in the top-30 throughout a long green-flag run. Two caution flags for debris allowed the Zaxby's Racing team to bring the yellow and blue machine down pit road for adjustments. At the day's half-way point Townley was scored in the 25th position two laps down.

The rookie teetered between the 25th and 26th positions over the next 50 circuits. The long green-flag run forced the No. 09 machine to go another lap down to race leader, Carl Edwards. However, when the fifth caution flag slowed down the field on lap 153, Townley took the opportunity to stay out and take the wave around allowing the Zaxby's Ford to gain back one of three laps. When racing resumed on lap 156 the Zaxby's Ford was sitting in the 23rd-position.

Racing just two other cars on his lap, Townley would battle over the closing 44 laps to bring home a 23rd-place finish and Carl Edwards would go on to win the Able Body Labor 200.

Up next is the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

-credit: rabr

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Carl Edwards , John Wes Townley