Leavine Family Racing Driver Finishes 36th in Coca-Cola 600
CONCORD, N.C. (May 31, 2011) — Last Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 was like night and day for David Starr and the Leavine Family Racing (LFR) team – literally.
Starr, driver of the No. 95 Jordan Truck Sales Ford, seemed poised to grab a solid finish in the marathon NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, but was a victim of a late-race incident that resulted in 36th-place finish at Charlotte (N.C.) Speedway.
The race began in the sweltering heat of the day and finished in the coolness of the summer night. As a result of qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600 – one of the most prestigious Cup Series races – Starr and the LFR team started with confidence and enthusiasm, but they left with the disappointment of being a victim of somebody else’s mistake.
“I love racing so much; it hurts when I fall,” Starr said. “It is hard to be disappointed about the race, because we were in the Coca-Cola 600. We made the race and that was a big honor and a dream come true for all of us. So, that was pretty awesome. I have mixed emotions about a finish like that, but I hate to sit here frustrated. We raced respectfully. I’m just disappointed we did not get to the end.”
Starr started NASCAR’s longest race at 32nd, but struggled to find a line that worked for him in the sunshine. At each pit stop crew chief, Wally Rogers, worked on Starr’s machine, making a variety of adjustments in hopes of finding the right combination to improve performance in the 600-mile/400 lap event. Not until the No.95 Ford Fusion went under the lights did the adjustments click and the No. 95 begin to gain track position.
“The No.95 Jordan Truck Sales car went into the corners well, it came off the corners well, it was a little bit tight in the center,” Starr said. “Wally Rogers and all of the guys on our team making adjustments were making the car better and better throughout the night.”
At Lap 45, Starr gave up the 18th-spot to pit under green for four tires, fuel and to clean the grill. The varying pit strategies forced the LFR team to return to the track in 35th place. He moved up the field four spots 32 laps later.
“We got about one truck race about done,” Wally Rogers, crew chief, radioed to Starr 150 miles into the race.
Once under the lights, Starr’s Jordan Truck Sales Ford Fusion took off. Although Starr said his car was still a little tight in the center, he continued to mirror the lap times of the race leaders.
Lap 241 saw a three-car wreck in Turn 2 bring out the yellow flag. A close call for the No.95, but the veteran NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver came out unscathed.
Under a caution for debris in Turn 3 on Lap 283, Starr took on four tires, and fuel. The Houston native returned to the track in 30th-place for the restart at lap 286.
As Starr was maneuvering the 1.5-mile quad-oval, he found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was the victim of a three-wide racing on Lap 286. He initially brought his car down pit road, but when the team was able to assess the damage up close, the team had no choice but to park their Ford Fusion for the rest of the event.
The incident resulted in a disappointing 36th finish for Starr.
“You are on such a high, and then something like that happens, and then you hit the bottom,” Starr reflected. “But that is why we are competitors, warriors, fighters and racers. That’s why when you win and run well it is so joyful. But you just keep fighting, and I am going to keep fighting and I know everyone on this Leavine Family Racing team is.”
The next event on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule for Starr and Leavine Family Racing is the July 9 Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. with live coverage provided by TNT.