Craig Goess | No. 46 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Tundra
Craig Goess finished 23rd in his first trip to Phoenix International Speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event Friday night.
The rookie, piloting the No. 46 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Tundra, started his second event of the 2011 season and his first NCWTS event at a track shorter than 1.5 miles.
The green flag waved on the Lucas Oil 150, and Goess drove the one-mile Arizona oval with the help of veteran crew chief Trip Bruce and spotter David Green.
Taking time to gain experience on the track and a feel for the surface, Goess raced in the 32nd position on lap 17. “Keep working on it,” said Bruce. “Get a feel for the track, and keep working with it. Your lap times look good, so just race smart.”
Race leader Clint Bowyer caught the No. 46 on lap 19, putting the Tundra one lap down. Without cautions to slow the field in the early portion of the race, the leaders caught Goess again on lap 31 and put him two laps down.
The first caution of the night flew on lap 43 for debris on the track, and the No. 46 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Tundra came down pit road for his first pit stop. The Eddie Sharp Racing crew put on four tires and fuel, and made an air pressure and track bar adjustment. The quick pit stop put the No. 46 in the 29th position to restart the race on lap 48.
The yellow fell again on lap 57 for a spin in turn two with the No. 5 truck of Travis Kvapil. Goess brought the No. 46 down pit road to top the truck off with fuel. The team experienced miscommunication with the officials and pitted a lap too soon, resulting in a penalty from NASCAR. When the green flag waved on lap 62, the No. 46 had to restart from the back of the pack.
With 50 laps to go, Goess worked his way into the 25th position. A caution involving Kvapil in turn three slowed the field again, allowing Goess to come down pit road on lap 103 to make adjustments to help the tight front-end of the truck. The crew put on four Goodyear tires and added Sunoco fuel to the Tundra, and the quick pit stop by the ESR crew put the No. 46 in the 27th position to restart the race on lap 106.
“That was the perfect time to have a great pit stop boys,” applauded Bruce. “Great job getting in and out of there, Craig. You are in a great position now to go out there and compete for the last 40+ laps.”
A string of cautions flew on laps 108, 112, 122, 127 and 132 but Goess was calm and patient to avoid the wrecks.
For the final 20 laps, Goess was able to remain steady in the the top-25. Kyle Busch took the checkered flag for his first victory of the 2011 season. Goess finished in the 23rd position, two laps down.
“I really had to take the time throughout practice and the race to get a feel of the track,” said Goess. “I’m disappointed in the 23rd-place finish, but the handling of the truck just wasn’t there. I’m excited to get more tracks under my belt and continue to improve throughout the season. We are going to go to Darlington in two weeks to continue the learning process of the series and compete for the win.”
“We have good equipment and the right people, and we all know that the driver can get it done,” said team owner Eddie Sharp. “This weekend we received experience at a short track, so we are going to go back to the shop and evaluate our progress. In two weeks, we will head to Darlington ready to compete for a top spot. Thanks to Craig for his patience and willingness to learn this first season in the NCWTS, to all of the help from Toyota in getting our program off the ground and to Greenville Toyota for all of their support.”
The No. 46 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Tundra will be back on the track for the Too Tough to Tame 200 at Darlington Raceway on Sat. March 12, 2011 at 5 p.m. ET.
Mike Skinner | No. 45 Cushman / Paytas Homes Toyota Tundra
Mike Skinner finished 24th in at the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday night in his 12th NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) start at the one-mile track.
Skinner started from the 36th position in the No. 45 Cushman / Paytas Homes Toyota Tundra after using a past-champions provisional to get into the main event. “We have a lot of work to do boys to get up to the front this race, but I appreciate all of your hard work up until now,” Skinner said on the radio to the team.
The green flag waved on the event, and Skinner quickly jumped up to the 29th position by the end of the first lap. He continued to gain spots and held steady in the 27th position. On lap 22, the race leader Clint Bowyer passed him and put him one lap down. With no early cautions, the leaders were able to catch the No. 45 again on lap 32 to put the Tundra two laps down.
The first caution of the night flew on lap 43 for debris on the track. Running in the 26th position, the No. 45 Cushman / Paytas Homes Tundra came down pit road for four tires, fuel, and track bar and air pressure adjustments.
The green flag waved on lap 48, and Skinner battled from the 27th position as the sun set on the Avondale, Ariz., track.
The field slowed again on lap 57 when the No. 5 of Travis Kvapil spun in turn 2. The No. 45 came down pit road to top off with fuel. Unfortunately, the Tundra pitted before pit road was open for cars a lap down. The No. 45 was served with a penalty from NASCAR and had to start from the tail end of the field when the green flag waved on lap 62.
Skinner quickly moved up from the 32nd position to 30th by lap 63. Working with a tight truck, he battled his way through the field and found his way to the 28th position by lap 28.
The caution flew on lap 102 for an accident involving Kvapil in turn 3. When pit road was open on lap 103, the No. 45 crew put on four tires and fuel and made adjustments to help with the tight truck.
The yellow flag dropped again on lap 108 for a two-car incident involving the No. 7 of Miguel Paludo and the No. 07 of BJ McLeod. Crew chief Jefferson Hodges called for Skinner to stay out, and he took the restart on lap 110 in the 27th position.
The field was slowed for a three-car accident on lap 112 with Skinner in the 27th position. When the green flag waved on lap 119, Skinner worked hard to get into the 23rd position.
“The truck is tight, but we are definitely going to learn something this race,” said Skinner.
The No. 45 came into the pits for a final change on lap 134 with the field under caution, and the crew put on four tires and filled the Tundra with fuel. Skinner tried to battle his way up through the field in the final laps but would cross the finish line in the 24th position.
“This is a new team, and there are a lot of growing pains,” said Skinner. “These guys are learning the NCWTS. It takes time, and it is a learning curve. I have to thank Cushman and Paytas Homes for supporting us over these past few races. Thanks to Eddie Sharp for working with me, and we are going to have to put our heads together to figure out future plans, sponsorship and strategy.”
Sharp, who enters his first complete season as a truck owner with ESR in the NCWTS, took time to reflect on the race. “It has been a huge learning experience over the first two races of the season,” said Sharp. “I shoulder the blame for the problems that we had over these past two races with Skinner, and I know that we are better than what we have shown over the past two weeks. I truly appreciate everyones support in our first season in the NCWTS, and our team is working hard and learning from our mistakes. I have to thank Mike Skinner for working with us and sharing his veteran experience with our young team, Toyota, who has been so supportive with helping to build our program from the ground up and to the sponsors of the No. 45, Cushman and Paytas Homes, for sticking with us. I am excited to have a week to focus on working on things at the shop, and we will go forward on a high note.”