Goess Earns First Top-15 Finish in Caution-Filled Strutmaster.com 150 Craig Goess and his Eddie Sharp Racing team experienced true "Saturday Night Short Track Racing" in the Strutmasters.com 150 at South Boston Speedway, complete with 15 ...
Goess Earns First Top-15 Finish in Caution-Filled Strutmaster.com 150
Craig Goess and his Eddie Sharp Racing team experienced true "Saturday Night Short Track Racing" in the Strutmasters.com 150 at South Boston Speedway, complete with 15 cautions for 77 caution laps. Goess fought hard to regain a lost lap and many positions following early contact from behind that spun the No. 2 Greenville-Toyota Toyota on the front stretch. Goess and the Greenville-Toyota team remained focused and despite the challenges, brought the No. 2 Toyota Camry home in the 13th position. Saturday marked Goess' career-best NASCAR Camping World Series start and finish.
"It sounds funny to be disappointed with our best finish yet, but we had a great car today that deserved to be up front." said Goess. "Unfortunately that early spin put us back in some scary territory. We fought hard to keep the car on the lead lap and out of trouble, which back there wasn't easy!"
The one-day show at the historic South Boston, Virginia short-track started early in the morning under torrential rains. As the storm subsided, the heat and humidity set in creating a balmy day of practice, qualifying, and a sunset start to the event. Goess had a solid first practice, sitting seventh on the speed chart with a best time of 16.363 seconds (88.003 mph). The team continued to work to make adjustments on the Camry. During final practice later that afternoon, the mock qualifying run was interrupted by slower cars on the track, forcing the No. 2 Greenville-Toyota team down to the 18th position on the speed chart.
"The team worked really hard improve the car's turning during the practice," said Goess. "Unfortunately our mock run was interrupted so we were unable to put a lap on the board that was comparable to those at the top of the charts. We knew we had a solid car for qualifying so we weren't worried about our final practice time."
Goess qualified the No. 2 Greenville-Toyota Toyota in the 10th position with a 16.179 second lap. Following qualifying, cars were impounded and the team turned its attention to their race strategy. As the sun was lowering in the sky, the green flag fell at 7:30 p.m. ET.
The No. 2 Greenville-Toyota Toyota worked quickly to get to the bottom of the track following the start of the Strutmasters.com 150. Team Owner Eddie Sharp took over spotting duties for the day. As Goess was tapped from behind and saved the car from going sideways on the front stretch, Sharp radioed to his driver "good job there!"
Goess held strong in the 11th position until lap 22 when an impatient car behind him spun the No. 2 Toyota on the front stretch. Unable to get the car turned around before the leaders drove past him, Goess lost a lap. The team quickly came to pit road to pull some tape off the grill and check the car for damage. Goess returned to the track and restarted the race in the back of the field.
The Greenville-Toyota Toyota regained its lap as the "lucky dog" at the next caution on lap 37. Many of the cars at the back of the field appeared loose and inconsistent on the track. Goess patiently picked them off one-by-one. Crew Chief Randy Nelson coached his driver as he moved through the field, "stay on the bottom and when they make a mistake, slip your nose in there. You'll get the pass."
At lap 66, Sharp radioed that the right front fender might be creased in. It was clear of the tire, but any contact would cause the fender to rub the tire. Goess remained on the track until the next caution at lap 78. The No. 2 Greenville-Toyota Toyota came down pit road twice so the team could pull the front fenders away from the tires. The strategy kept Goess on the lead lap, restarting in the 26th position.
Goess's increased confidence and comfort in the Camry was evident as he smoothly and patiently passed car after car. Sharp radioed from the spotter's stand, "very nice clean smooth passing! Good job! Let's go get the next one now."
During the caution on lap 125, Goess radioed that he had "figured out a little trick to work the high groove, snapping the car in the turns and getting on the gas quicker." The excitement and satisfaction echoed in his voice.
A multi-car pileup occurred on lap 121. The No. 2 Camry was not involved in the melee, but caught light contact from the No. 21 as it slid down the track and into the right side of Goess, who was passing the stopped car on the low side. The red flag was brought out so the damaged cars could be cleared. Goess keyed his radio and asked the team if they could "throw a bucket of water on him when we pit." Goess added with a chuckle that "between being hot and angry in here [about the unnecessary contact with the No. 21] the water would do me some good!"
When the red flag was lifted, the No. 2 came down pit road. The Greenville-Toyota team pulled the fenders out and secured them with Bera Bond tape. Returning to the track, the No. 2 restarted in the 22nd position.
The final laps of the race included three additional caution flags. The race was completed under caution with the No. 2 Greenville-Toyota Toyota in the 13th position.
"I just want to thank my guys for a great race tonight," said Goess. "We definitely did not get the finish that we were capable of with the car had. We'll go on to Watkins Glen next week and continue to build on our experience."