After starting from the 18th position in Friday’s Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway, Germán Quiroga was running solidly in the top 10 before being involved in a three-truck accident with just over 40 laps remaining. Quiroga drove his No. 51 NET10 Wireless Tundra deep into turn 1 and made contact with rear end of the No. 62 truck of Brendan Gaughan, sending both trucks into the outside wall of turn 2. The accident, which also collected the No. 3 truck of Ty Dillon, caused extensive damage to all three trucks and ended the night for the No. 51 Tundra team, which was relegated to a disappointing 24th-place finish.
“I think I braked too late and he (Brendan Gaughan) brake too early and that’s what took us out there,” said Quiroga, who was making his fifth career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start. “I want to apologize first of all. I did not want to wreck anybody here. I’m learning. I just saw the replay and I could not avoid him — I tried. I’m very disappointed for my sponsorship — for Net10 Wireless — they have been supporting me for these four races. We’ll catch up next time.”
Quiroga turned his first laps around the 1-mile oval during two practice sessions Thursday evening. After getting a feel for his line around the track and the braking patterns entering the corners in the first session, the three-time NASCAR Mexico Series champion produced improved lap times in the final session, which gave him increased confidence heading into Friday’s qualifying session.
The 32-year-old driver turned a lap of 27.136 seconds at 132.665 mph in qualifying, which earned him the 18th starting spot for the 150-lap race. Once the green flag dropped on Friday evening, Quiroga slid back into the 20th position for the first 25 laps of the race as he communicated to veteran crew chief Rick Ren that his NET10 Wireless Tundra was “too tight.”
After the first caution of the race occurred on lap 36, Ren summoned his driver to pit road for their first scheduled stop. The Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) over-the-wall crew put fresh left-side tires on the No. 51 Toyota, filled it with fuel and returned their driver to the track scored in the 12th position for the lap-41 restart.
Quiroga advanced into the top 10 for the first time on lap 54 and by lap 65 had maneuvered his way up to the seventh position. He remained in the seventh spot until lap 73, when the 33 truck of Cale Gale got loose and slammed the outside wall just in front of his No. 51 Tundra. Quiroga had to slam the brakes and steer left to avoid being involved in the incident, sliding his tires in the process. When pit road opened, the Mexico City native brought his truck to the KBM over-the-wall crew, who put for four fresh tires on it and a filled it with fuel.
With several teams electing to take just two tires, the No. 51 NET10 Wireless Tundra was scored in the 18th position for the ensuing restart. From there, Quiroga began his march back towards the top 10. On lap 80, he had made his way back into the top 15 and when the sixth caution of the race slowed the field on lap 103 he had advanced into the 11th position.
Three trucks pitted under caution, moving Quiroga up to the eighth position for the restart on lap 108. The NET10 Wireless Tundra had a strong restart, advancing two positions by the time the field had made their way back to the start-finish line. On the next lap, the three-time NASCAR Mexico Series champion set his sights on a spot inside the top five and drove deep into turn 1, looking to make his way underneath Gaughan. The two trucks made contact with each other and then the outside wall, ending both of their nights with just over 40 laps remaining.
Brian Scott, Quiroga’s teammate, became the 15th different winner in the Truck Series this season, which is a new record. Kyle Larson finished 0.666 seconds behind Scott in the runner-up position. Future KBM driver Joey Coulter finished third, while Timothy Peters and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-five finishers.
There were nine caution periods for 46 laps. Seven different drivers led, exchanging the lead 10 times. Quiroga was one of 14 drivers that failed to finish the 153-lap race, which ended with a green-white-checkered finish.
Quiroga returns to drive the No. 51 Tundra in the Truck Series finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway with sponsorship from NET10 Wireless, headquartered in nearby Miami, Nov. 16. The race begins at 8 p.m. ET, with SPEED’s live coverage commencing with the NCWTS Setup Show at 7:30 p.m. ET.