Coming off a disappointing finish at Michigan Int’l Speedway, Eric McClure and the No. 14 TriStar Motorsports team headed to Road America looking to improve on last year’s 21st-place finish. Despite qualifying 35th, the team utilized pit strategy to put themselves in a situation during the closing laps to race several cars for position. Unfortunately, during the second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, McClure was involved in an accident that started when another competitor tagged the No. 14 Camry from behind, sending it spinning into another car. Although the front-end damage was severe, McClure continued around the 14-turn course, slipping to the 30th position as a result of the altercation. The Virginia native was able to advance three positions in the final two laps to post a 27th-place finish. With this finish, the TriStar Motorsports team advanced one position to 23rdin the NASCAR Owner Standings.
Fuel strategy immediately came into play at the drop of the green flag as several cars hit pit road on lap one for service. The Hefty®/Reynolds® Race team, however, stuck to their original game plan and visited pit road on lap eight, under green-flag conditions. During this stop, the team changed four tires, added fuel, and made an air-pressure and slight chassis adjustment to help the car’s drivability on the right-handed turns. When McClure returned to the track, he was scored in the 36th position.
Six laps later, the yellow flag waved once again giving the team another opportunity to service the car with fuel. When the race resumed on lap 18, McClure was scored in the 29th position. Despite battling a car that was snappy-loose on the right-handed turns, the Virginia native had worked his way up to the 27th position by the halfway point of the race.
When the event’s third caution flag waved on lap 29, crew chief Todd Myers called the driver into the pits where the team changed four tires, added fuel, and made another chassis adjustment to help the car’s handling in the right-handed turns. Lined up in the 26th position for the restart, Myers again called McClure to pit road for fuel just as the race went back to green on lap 33. Once the fuel was added, McClure returned to the track where he was scored in the 30th position.
Four laps later, the caution flag waved once again. At first the team was going to keep the No. 14 Camry on track but as the race went back to green on lap 39, McClure gave up the 26th position and hit pit road for four tires and fuel. Just as McClure reentered the track, the caution flag waved once again, allowing him to catch-up with the rest of the field. When the race resumed on lap 42, the orange and blue Camry was scored in the 29th position.
As the laps began winding down, McClure reported that the car was the best it had been and, as a result, he was able to work his way up to the 24th position by lap 46. One lap later, two cars spun in front of him and as McClure was trying to avoid the cars, he was tagged from the inside, causing minor left side damage. Escaping without major damage, the call was made for McClure to remain on track for the overtime situation.
When the race resumed on lap 50, another incident occurred on the track, causing the yellow flag to be displayed once again and forcing the second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. Lined up in the 25th position for the restart, McClure was looking to gain more positions in the final two laps. However, when he entered turn one on the restart, he was tagged from behind and sent spinning into another competitor, resulting in severe front-end damage. Although the 34-year-old driver was able to drive away from the scene of the accident, he slipped to the 30th position in the running order. However, coming to the checkered flag, three cars ahead of him spun in turn 12, allowing McClure to post a 27th-place finish.
Driver, Eric McClure Quotes:
“It was a long day for us. We ran off sequence most of the race, but we put ourselves in position to race during the last restarts. We gained some spots on one and on the last restart we got spun out by a dark car and that cost us several positions. It wasn’t a good day for us and one of our teammates but happy for the 44 car; they had a good day.”