Saturday, February 13, 2010

Peters Wins Wreck-filled Thrill Ride

The wrecking began before the drop of the green flag and it didn’t stop until after the checkered flag had fallen. When the flag flew, it was young Timothy Peters that was at the front of the pack to score his second career win and first at the World Center of Racing.

“I’m going to Disneyworld,” Peters said with a beaming smile in victory lane.

In one of the most thrilling races all Speedweeks, the battle for the win came down to a last lap pass and a side-by-side finish with the lead pack crossing the line pushing and shoving.

Running behind Todd Bodine for the closing laps, Peters jumped to the outside down the backstretch to take advantage of the same move made behind him by pole-sitter Jason White. As second and third shot to the outside, Bodine moved up to throw the block. Timing it just right, Peters dove under Bodine’s No. 30 Toyota as the rest of the field stacked up behind them.

Coming off the final corner, Bodine crowded Peters on the bottom, but the young driver refused to give. Going into the tri-oval, Bodine got a push from Dennis Setzer on the outside, but it was not enough as Peters crossed the finish line first.

“That was very cool,” Peters said. “And knowing that Todd is out there and I knew he was going to try to stall us out by hanging on the quarter panel and get that side draft.  As far as I'm concerned, I had the drag racing visor on and I didn't see him out there, and that yellow line was my best friend, and I wasn't moving, so it worked out.”

Getting pushed by Setzer, Bodine slid down into another truck and nearly saved it from wrecking, but as they exited the tri-oval the No. 30 spun down the track, collecting Johnny Benson.

“Out there in the lead you’re pretty much a sitting duck,” Bodine said. One of the best at the restrictor plate track, Bodine was a mere 0.068 seconds from his third-straight season opening win. Obviously upset he was unable to win, Bodine explained he didn’t feel as bad because it was Peters that got the best of him.
“I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for Timothy,” Bodine said.

“A kid like Timothy, he's got such a future in our sport,” he went on to say. “He's one of those kids that, with the right break, would be sitting over in a Cup garage right now.  He's that good, that good a kid.  That's how much I respect him.  To get beat by him, that takes a little of the edge off.”

While the race came down to a thrilling finish, the majority of the trucks in Saturday night’s 250-mile race were caught up in one wreck or another. The trouble started before the green flag even dropped, when Sean Murphy spun warming his tires. As many laughed about the incident, few could have guessed it would be an omen for things to come.

The much anticipated debut of Austin Dillon in the black No. 3 truck did not last long as the young driver got stuck three-wide on the first lap. Stuck in the middle, Dillon made contact with Aric Almirola and lost control of his Chevrolet, shooting up the track and into Johnny Sauter. When the smoke cleared, nine trucks were involved, including one of the favorites Kyle Busch.

As the pack got back to racing, the intensity picked up – and so did the bump-drafting. Unfortunately for these guys, the nose on the trucks do not line up with the rear bumper. That was clearly illustrated when Ricky Carmichael barely touched the rear bumper of Ron Hornaday on Lap 33. Hornaday shot into the outside wall, triggering another massive pile-up. This time ten trucks were collected.

After the race, Bodine explained the new shock package NASCAR implemented for 2010 was one of the reasons trucks were all over the place.

“They changed the rear shocks and I don’t think the guys really adapted to them,” Bodine said of Saturday night’s wild racing. “You had to do some different things with your truck to make them work and that’s one thing why they were all over the place. It’s a shame to see some of the things that happened, because a lot of what happened was just – let’s call it what it was, it was stupid, it was ignorant.”

Peters agreed the new package had a major influence in the race, but explained his crew worked hard in Thursday’s practice to find the perfect balance in the truck and in the draft.

“We ended final practice Thursday morning where I could just pull on the wheel comfortable and still run really well in the pack,” Peters said. “You know, obviously all that changes once you get 20 deep side by side.

“The bump drafting deal was kind of crazy,” he added. “The new bumpers that we can run now, they line up a little bit, but not as well as we'd like.  I pushed the 5 (Mike Skinner) down the back straightaway and kind of got him a little out of whack.  I'll take credit for that.  But, you know, it's Daytona.  Everybody wants to win.  I'm glad that we're sitting here, though.”

While he had harsh words for some of the actions drivers took tonight on the track, Bodine was quick to point out the stars of the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series also make avoidable mistakes. 

“You put a driver in a box and he’s going to do what he’s got to do to get out of that box, and the trucks are no different,” Bodine added. “Don’t just look at these drivers and say wrong, because your superstars in the Cup Series are doing the same thing.”

Saturday’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 saw 23 lead changes among 12 different drivers and was slowed seven times for a total of 33 laps. Only 14 trucks finished on the lead lap, while 19 of the 36 starters were involved in some kind of on-track incident. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series takes the next few weeks off and will return to action at the Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 6th.

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