Tuttle captures top-five at Pensacola. PENSACOLA, Fla. (May 5, 2002) - Russ Tuttle, driving the No. 16 Conseco Pontiac, survived the blistering hot Florida sun to score a top-five finish in yesterday's ASARacing.com 300 held at Five Flags...
Tuttle captures top-five at Pensacola.
PENSACOLA, Fla. (May 5, 2002) - Russ Tuttle, driving the No. 16 Conseco Pontiac, survived the blistering hot Florida sun to score a top-five finish in yesterday's ASARacing.com 300 held at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.
Tuttle cut a super-quick lap time in Saturday's qualifying session giving the No. 16 the third spot in the line up. Yesterday's starting position tied Tuttle's career best. In 1999, Russ Tuttle qualified third at Dover (Del.) Downs International Raceway. Following post race inspection, Tuttle moved into the front row to start the 300-lap event after the No. 53's qualifying time was disallowed.
At the drop of the green flag, Tuttle quickly settled into his racing groove in an attempt to conserve his tires on the harsh surface. Running in the fifth position, the rough track got the best of the No. 16's left front, forcing Tuttle to head onto pit road to fix the flat. Just as the No. 16 began to enter pit road, ASA officials flew the second caution flag of the day for an accident. Fortunately, Tuttle was able to pit under yellow, allowing him to stay in close range of the leaders. However, because the caution flag flew just as Tuttle was entering the pits, ASA rules forced the No. 16 to restart the event at the end of the longest line on the lead lap. Once back on the track, the No. 16 Conseco machine was relegated to the 15th spot.
Determined not to let the flat tire ruin his efforts, Tuttle set his sights on moving back to the front of the field. His efforts were slowed by a lap 70 accident that caused minor damage to the No. 16. Crew chief Glenn Allen Jr. made the call for Tuttle to bring the car down pit road so he and his crew could assess the damage. Upon inspection, the team determined that the car suffered only minor cosmetic damage to the hood.
Once back on the track, Tuttle kept the No. 16 in contention staying within the top-10 while waiting to make his move. In the closing laps of the race, the No. 16 Conseco Pontiac and the No. 86 of Wayne Anderson began to battle for track position. On lap 299, running in the sixth position, Tuttle made his move. The two competitors raced into turns three and four side by side. Turning onto the frontstretch the contest looked more like a drag race than a stock car race. As the two passed the line, Tuttle edged out his competition, claiming the fifth spot in the final rundown.
While many of his competitors had competed on the Florida track, best known as the home of the famed late model Snowball Derby, Five Flags Speedway was a new venue for the Indiana native. The ASA Series last visited the half-mile abrasive oval in 1997, prior to Tuttle joining the short track circuit.
With the top-five finish, the No. 16 team sits ninth in the driver points standings, just 11 points out of the eighth position. The Conseco team will have a week off before heading to Cedar Rapids, Iowa for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300. The event, which will be held Sunday, May 19, will be broadcast live on The National Network (TNN) from Hawkeye Downs Speedway beginning at 2:00 p.m. EDT