Coming off an eighth place finish at Daytona (FL) Int’l Speedway, Eric McClure and the Hefty®/Reynolds® team headed to Phoenix (AZ) Int’l Raceway (PIR) looking for another solid finish to help jumpstart the 2013 season. After posting the 20thfastest qualifying time and running inside the top-20 for the majority of the 200-lap race, an engine failure on lap 187 caused the team to finish the Dollar General 200 as follows:
29th-Eric McClure, No. 14 Hefty®/Reynolds® Toyota Camry
Taking the green flag from the 20th position, McClure quickly slipped to the 24th spot as a result of using too much brake in the center of the turns. A multi-car accident on lap two, however, allowed McClure to regain his composure and resume racing on lap 14 from the 19th position.
Over the next 20 laps, the car’s handling became loose on entry and tight in the center and on exit of the turns. During the lap 38 caution, the team changed four tires, added fuel, and made multiple adjustments to help pacify the car’s handling. Following the service, McClure was scored in the 21st position when the race resumed on lap 43.
Despite slipping to the 24th position on the restart, the Virginia driver had worked his way back up to the 21st position when the caution flag waved once again on lap 50. Having just visited pit road, crew chief John Monsam instructed the driver to remain on track during the caution period and, as a result, the 34-year-old driver was scored in the 20th position on the lap 55 restart.
Two laps later, McClure advanced to the 19th position where he remained until the caution flag waved on lap 101. It was during this period that McClure was granted the “lucky dog” award, placing him back on the lead lap when the race resumed on lap 108.
Over the next 30 laps, McClure was able to maintain his position in the running order, despite battling a loose-handling car, and on lap 144, he lost a lap to race leader Kyle Busch.
Six laps later, the caution flag waved once again, yet the orange and blue Camry wasn’t in the “lucky dog” position. To help alleviate the car’s loose-handling condition, the team changed four tires, added fuel, and made an air-pressure and wedge adjustment. When the race resumed on lap 156, McClure was scored in the 18th position, one lap down to the race leader.
With 28 laps remaining in the event, the caution flag waved for the final time and McClure was in position to receive the “lucky dog” award. When the race resumed on lap 176, the TriStar Motorsports team was scored in the 18th position.
After advancing one position on lap 181, it looked as though the 34-year-old driver was on-track to earning a track-best finish at PIR. However, on lap 187, oil began to pour from the No. 14 Camry and smoke began to fill the cockpit, ultimately ending the team’s day unexpectedly early with a disappointing 29th-place finish.
Driver, Eric McClure Quotes: “Obviously, I am really disappointed but I can’t say enough about my team and all of the hard work they put into these race cars. We had a great run going today and unfortunately the results don’t reflect that. Today was by far the best I have ever run at Phoenix and if how well we ran today is any indication on how the rest of the season is going to go for us, I am looking forward to it. What happened today isn’t something I can control; I just have to run the best I can and hope for the best.”