Fort Worth, TX (June 11, 2011)-Racing under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) on Friday night presented several challenges for Eddie Sharp Racing driver Craig Goess, with obstacles on the track to avoid as well as heavy traffic and competition throughout all 400 kilometers. Though The WinStar World Casino 400k developed into a classic NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) battle as big as the Texas venue that housed it, Goess managed to steer clear of trouble all night and captured an 18th place finish in the No. 46 Greenville Toyota of North Carolina Tundra.
Similar to the racing conditions at TMS sister track Charlotte a few weeks prior, the 167-lap event was littered with 10 caution flags; eight of which stemmed from damaged trucks involved in on-track incidents. The first round of pit stops came for the No. 46 crew under the second caution period on Lap 23 when crew chief Trip Bruce brought his driver down pit road for four tires and a track bar adjustment. Craig had only mentioned the truck was a little loose, but not bad in the high line.
Restarting 24th in the running order, Craig began to maneuver his way through traffic on the high line, but found his Tundra was twitching loose, especially around other trucks. He continued to hold onto his ill-handling truck and was able to catch a break on the lap 52 caution, when he was granted the “lucky dog” and returned to the lead lap after falling one lap down to the leaders shortly before. Goess came to the attention of his Greenville Toyota crew for four new tires and several adjustments to tighten the truck up in traffic.
Craig pushed up further into the field after making his next stop under the fifth caution period on lap 68, taking fuel only and track bar adjustments that helped him gain six spots to 18th. Shortly following the adjustments, Craig ran his fastest lap of the race on the 75th circuit and shortly after moved into the top 15. For the next 50 laps, he continued to battle through a tough group of traffic that had raced together all night and was able hang tight in the top-20 through the final stages of the event.
Team owner Eddie Sharp filled the role of spotter all weekend, and guided Goess through each of the accidents, including the melee after the drop of the checkered flag. Sharp encouraged his driver to stay focused through the long runs as well as the caution laps.
“Just try to stay focused on the track and keep your eyes peeled; We have a good truck and as long as we stay out of all the accidents that are happening tonight, we’ll come home with a good solid finish,” Sharp radioed his driver with 50 laps remaining.
The final caution of the evening came with just five laps remaining, bunching the field up for a green, white, checkered finish. Caught back in 20th following the longer green flag runs in the closing laps, Craig was able to get a good restart with two to go and gained two spots to finish 18th.
“There was a lot of chaos happening around us tonight at the track, but I’m glad we were able to get away clean here and finish solidly in the top 20. We’re continuing to log laps and make things a little better each week,” Goess commented. “We’ll have a long break now to catch up on some things we’d like to work on with the trucks and regroup before we head to Kentucky.”
Next Event: The NCWTS takes a three-week vacation from racing, leading up to the UNOH 225 at Kentucky Speedway on Thursday, July 7th. Craig will enter the 1.5-mile asphalt oval 21st in the series driver point standings. The NCWTS will kick off the weekend at Kentucky Speedway for the track’s first weekend with all three major series on board simultaneously, hitting the track first for their practice session on Wednesday afternoon. Qualifying for the UNOH 225 is set for 3:05 pm EST on Thursday, with the 150-lap race following at 8:00 pm EST.
For more information on Eddie Sharp Racing, Craig Goess and the No. 46 Greenville Toyota of NC Tundra, visit TeamESR.com and CraigGoess.com. Follow us on Twitter (@TeamESR) and find Eddie Sharp Racing on Facebook.