BENT BUT NOT BROKEN; TOWNLEY PREVAILS TO FINISH 21ST AT GATEWAY Madison, IL (7-20-09) -- Despite setbacks which cost him a top-15 finish, John Wes Townley driver of the No. 09 Zaxby's Ford Fusion, held on for a 21st place finish in the ...
BENT BUT NOT BROKEN; TOWNLEY PREVAILS TO FINISH 21ST AT GATEWAY
Madison, IL (7-20-09) -- Despite setbacks which cost him a top-15 finish, John Wes Townley driver of the No. 09 Zaxby's Ford Fusion, held on for a 21st place finish in the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 this weekend at Gateway International Raceway.
Trouble on lap 74 of the 200-lap event handicapped the Watkinsville, GA native but smart driving and savvy pit strategy allowed Townley to bring home his seventh top-25 finish of the 2009 season. Due to the efforts of the Raybestos rookie the No. 09 Zaxby's Racing team remain 34th in the season long point standings with 1,211 points; 271 points outside the top-30.
Townley toured the 1.25-mile oval during Saturday afternoon's time trials in 33.835 seconds (132.998 mph) posting the 25th best time of the session and locking the 19-year-old rookie into the field.
Rolling off the starting grid on the inside of row 13, Townley raced comfortably inside the top-30 battling tight conditions on the No. 09 machine for the opening circuits. As the leaders began to pit on lap 59 for fuel during the long green flag run, crew chief Brad Parrott opted to keep the No. 09 machine out on the track. Townley was up to the 10th position when the evening's first of seven cautions flags was displayed on lap 69.
Parrott brought the yellow and blue Zaxby's Ford down pit road under caution for four fresh tires, fuel and a major track bar adjustment. When green flag racing resumed on lap 73 there were 15 cars on the lead lap, Townley would be scored 14th.
On the restart, Townley hit the wall coming off turn-4 and crashed into the No. 99 machine of Trevor Bayne bringing out the second caution flag of the evening. Townley was forced to bring the No. 09 machine down pit road twice during the four-lap caution period to fix the damage on the left front of the Zaxby's Ford. Due to excellent work by the Zaxby's crew Townley would restart 16th on the lead lap when racing resumed on lap 79.
Three yellow flags and four trips down pit road to repair left front damage and to make chassis adjustments were in order for the No. 09 team over the next 23 laps.
Townley raced comfortably inside the top-20 but went one lap down to race leader, Kyle Busch on lap 119 due to extremely loose handling conditions. At lap 123 the sixth caution flag was displayed when the No. 16 and 62 machines of Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Brendan Gaughan crashed in turn-1. Townley would become the recipient of the "Lucky Dog" award.
Brad Parrott would take advantage of the award and come down pit road for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. However, when the over-the-wall crew was servicing the No. 09 machine they noticed there was a broken sway bar link. Parrott called for another major chassis adjustment in the left rear to help aid the machine. When racing resumed on lap 129 Townley would be scored 15th.
Over the next 70 circuits Townley would suffer from loose handling conditions due to the broken sway bar and although he would finish the 250-mile contest in the 21st position the No. 09 Zaxby's Ford would be scored three laps down to race winner, Kyle Busch when the field took the checkered flag on lap 200.
Next up for John Wes Townley and the No. 09 Zaxby's team is the Kroger 200 benefitting Riley Hospital for Children at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis. Townley will be making his debut at the .686-mile oval.