After a long Wednesday evening and part of the night having to go from gate change to gate change in the Atlanta Airport, I finally made it home early Thursday morning from Florida. Glad to be back home safely, and looking forward to seeing some racing tonight. This week the Sprint Cup and the Nationwide series take the week off before getting it fired back up in Bristol next week. Fear not though, we are not without racing this weekend. The Camping World Truck series is at The Lady in Black (Darlington, S.C.) to taken on the track known as “Too Tough to Tame”.
Cole Whitt in his fourth start in the series will lead the field to the green flag today, but will be flanked by Sprint Cup regular Kasey Kahne. Kahne is driving a truck put together by Kyle Busch’s truck team. Many of the drivers participating in the race today have never competed at Darlington. This can usually spell doom for many a driver at this track. The Lady in Black has a way of making sure all rookies generally get their rookie Darlington stripe.
As a quick note as the trucks finish their pace laps before the race starts, the Sprint Cup series will visit Darlington on the Saturday night prior to Mother’s day. Always a great race when the Sprint Cup heads to Darlington, so that will be one to look forward to in May.
The green flag is out and the field does not make it through the second turn as we have a www.troubleinturntwo.com caution displayed. Kahne had beat Whitt into the first turn and had taken the lead by about a half a truck length. The trucks in the middle of the pack stacked up when a truck further up in line was bumped and got squirrelly. Behind the loose truck about five or six trucks spun or got the Darlington Stripe put on their truck. It appeared that all the trucks would be able to continue on after visiting pit lane for repairs.
The green flag comes back out and Whitt and Kane battle almost all the way around the track. Whitt gets the advantage off of turn four and drives into the lead. Lap seven and Chase Mattioli spins his truck off of turn two, but no caution comes. Kahne is starting to catch Whitt at the head of the pack. With Whitt leading, these are the first career laps he has led in the Truck series.
Lap 13 and the caution is displayed for Brad Sweet as he gets into the wall in turns three and four. The announcers said it looked like sweet got loose and into the wall, but by the replay it almost looked like he lost a tire. Sweet’s truck may be able to rejoin the race, but he will be relegated to riding out the laps hoping others fall out of the race. Norm Benning is the lucky dog recipient for this caution. Sweet has now taken the truck to garage for repairs.
Lap 25 and Brendon Gaughan brings out the third caution of the night as he spins down the backstretch. No damage to the truck and he avoids the wall. Gaughan drifted up the track a bit coming off of turn two and another truck was high. Gaughan barely touched the other truck and overcorrected the wheel and spun. Pit crews are on the wall ready for lead lap cars to come in for service. Whitt loses the lead as his pit crew was stuck in molasses. Whitt goes from first to 12th after pit stops. Elliot Sadler takes two tires and is now leading the race. Mattioli is the luck dog for this caution.
Green flag is back out and Sadler is out in the lead over Austin Dillon. Kasey Kahne moves up to third place with a truck that makes other trucks appear to be standing still. Rowdy must have left some of his NOS in the truck for Kahne.
Lap 35 and caution is displayed as Justin Johnson pounds the inside wall of the backstretch. Johnson lost the truck coming off of turn two and was not able to recover. The front end of the truck is wadded up and the truck is headed for behind the wall.
Green flag comes back out with Sadler leading them down to the green. Out of turn two, Kahne jumps to the lead and begins to pull away.
Lap 52 and Mattioli is back in the news by slamming his truck into the wall off of turn 2. A bunch of debris appeared to have come of the truck, but NASCAR does not throw the caution. Caution is now displayed as NASCAR finds the debris on the track. Leaders are on pit road for service. Whitt finds his way back to the front of the pack with a two tire stop. Kahne is next off of pit road with four tires and fuel.
Green flag is back out and Whitt loses the lead with the old tires to Kahne with the new tires. Back to the start finish line and James Buescher now leads over Kahne.
Lap 70 and Kahne rallies back over Buescher to retake the lead.
Lap 73 and the caution is out on the raceway. Nelson Piquet Jr. started this one by bumping along the wall and destroying the right side of truck. Behind Piquet, Jason White and Joey Coulter get together in the aftermath of Piquet getting into the wall. Leaders stay out on this caution. David Starr gets the luck dog wave around for this caution.
Green flag comes back out and Kahne leads them down and retains the lead of the race.
Lap 88, Cole Whitt who sat on the pole sees his day get worse now. After losing the lead not much has gone right for the rookie making his fourth start in the series. Whitt has dropped a cylinder in the engine. The caution is now displayed and this should be the last one for this driver tonight. Mattioli brings out his third caution of the night, he must have been watching Travis Kvapil the last couple of races, as something broke on the truck and he went right into the wall coming off of turn two. The only thing Mattioli did not hit tonight was the pace car. Leaders should be making their last stop of the night during this caution. Stops should be for four tires and fuel. Elliot Sadler gambles again with two tires and gets the lead off of pit road. Kahne is now in second place taking four tires. Johanna Long is the luck dog recipient for this caution.
Green flag is back out and Kahne with the fresher tires easily takes the lead. Kahne just gets back to the start finish line and the caution is out. Ricky Carmichael loses his truck off of turn four and destroys the front end of the truck. Behind Carmichael, Piquet Jr. had hammered the wall as well. Piquet Jr. caused Long to cut a tire and not be able to steer her truck. Carmichael came back down the track on the front stretch and Long could not avoid him. She destroyed the front end of her truck and Carmichael’s truck. The broadcast showed the replay from the flag stand and even the flag woman jumped back in the stand when Long hit Carmichael near the start finish line. To clarify, Long caught the side of Piquet Jr.’s car after he had hit the wall with a flat tire. This caused her to wreck the front end of her car, which kept her from being able to turn to avoid Carmichael. The red flag was displayed during this caution period to clean up the front stretch.
Speed misses the restart of the race, but no change in the lead with Kahne still hauling the mail out front.
With 38 laps to go, Whitt has had his truck fixed and it is back up to eight cylinders. The problem with the truck was not mentioned on the broadcast, but if the cylinder is fixed it was probably a loose spark plug wire. Kahne is still leading at this point. Well, I guess I was wrong about the spark plug wire. The problem was now reported as a problem with the throttle stop.
Around lap 115, broadcast was at commercial, caution is out for debris on the track. A couple of top ten trucks are going to stop for a fresh set of tires. This will be interesting strategy to see if these trucks can make it back to the front before the laps run out.
Green flag is back out and Kahne continues to lead. Off of turn four Todd Bodine is now up to second by passing Ron Hornaday. It is now go time and the give and take for this race is over.
With 18 laps to go, Cole Whitt has raced his way back to the top five. The rookie has overcome adversity to this point and has himself in position for a good finish to the race.
With 15 laps to go Kahne is now opening a bigger lead on Bodine. The lead is roughly one second.
Lap 139 and the caution comes out for Jeffrey Earnhardt slapping the wall with the right side of the truck. Earnhardt hit the backstretch wall fairly hard, and the caution was warranted to check for any debris that might have fallen off the truck. This is the 10th caution of the race, which ties the most cautions for the event.
With three laps to go the green flag comes out and Kahne leads the field into turn one. Bodine gets loose off turn two and Kahne shoots out to a 10 truck lead. Hornaday into second with the Bodine wiggle.
With a total of four starts in his career in the Camping World Truck series, Kasey Kahne wins his third career race in the series. Hornaday brings it home second, with Bodine finishing third.
An interesting race to see a lot of rookies and some experienced drivers on a track that can bite those with and without experience. Kahne showed why he is a great race car, or in this case truck, driver. I also need to take a second to talk about the crowd at the race tonight. First, no one expects all the seats at the track to be filled for the truck series. All the seats were not, but it was a huge crowd that filled 95% of the main grandstand at Darlington along the front stretch. The fans who came out to support the Truck series tonight, saw an entertaining 200 miles of racing.