Pole sitter KYLE BUSCH/No.51 Miccosukee Resort Toyota won the NASCAR Camping World c Series San Bernardino County 200 Race Saturday afternoon at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. The race wasn’t up to its reputation of being rough, tough and exciting. Rowdy, as he likes to be called, led for 95 of the 100-lap race, swapping the lead twice for a lap to CHAD McCUMBEE/No.07 The GPSstore.com Chevrolet and COLIN BRAUN/No.6 Con-Way Freight Ford.
The race had two cautions for eight laps. The first was for the spin and crash of BRIAN SCOTT/No.16 Albertson’s Toyota after he was nudged; and oil. No one was hurt.
Runner-up was TODD BODINE/No.30 Germain.com Toyota, who won last week’s Daytona race. As he is still unsponsored, Bodine hopes to make the next race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in two weeks.
Third through fifth were McCumbee, DAVID STARR/No.24 Zachary Toyota; T.J. BELL/No.11 Home4theHolidays.org Toyota.
The top Rookie was RICKY CARMICHAEL/No.4 Monster Energy Chevrolet, who finished eighth overall on the lead lap. He was pleased after the race, as was his team owner, KEVIN HARVICK. Carmichael said he exceeded Harvick’s goals for the race – to finish in one piece in the top fifteen. Carmichael blamed himself for the problem with the right-front air problem which heated up and exploded. This cost him time in the pits which put him down from seventh to nineteenth. Had that not occurred, Carmichael felt he could have finished even higher, and said if he could rerun the race right now he’d do so much better.
Carmichael had been running the NASCAR Camping World East Series last year and Harvick saw him at the Loudon spring race. Three weeks later Harvick called Carmichael and the dialogue opened for the truck ride. Harvick said he liked what he saw – how Carmichael worked his way through traffic, stayed out of the way and didn’t get into trouble.
Carmichael and the KHI team have been a good fit. Harvick said the only problem is learning to speak ‘motorcycle.’ It’s a whole different lingo in the motorcycle world compared to NASCAR. There are no licensed interpreters for this and it has been interesting getting everyone on the same track. Carmichael has been working on learning how to give accurate feedback to his crew, and it helps that his crew chief, BILLY WILBURN, has a short track background. And the Car Chief, MIKE FRITTS, worked last year with KEN SCHRADER’S team, for whom Carmichael raced. Fritts knows what Carmichael is saying. One example is that “wedge” has a completely different meaning in cars and motorcycles. Motorcycles don’t ‘push,’ and the suspension is stiffer. Carmichael said it wasn’t hard to learn the car talk, but it is hard to translate his feedback into language his crew understood. His feedback was good but it was difficult to tell the crew what he was feeling with the car. Everyone is learning new vocabulary.
Carmichael said he is always asking questions. NASCAR racing is a lot harder than anyone one thinks. He has to learn new tracks and circuits, how to do pit stops, racing a solid vehicle with four wheels – which means twice as many things can go wrong.
Carmichael said KHI General Manager, RICK CARELLI, has been very helpful to Carmichael with advice based on his long racing history and technical expertise. ‘He’s the Go To Guy.”
Harvick also pointed out that all he has to teach Carmichael is racing. There’s none of the learning curve for usual Rookies such as how to travel, act in public, work with the PR folks and the media, what to pack, etc. The legendary motorcycle rider, thought to be the most successful AMA Supercross/Motocross rider, retired in 2007 after ten years of racing.
Racing in NASCAR has been a dream and fills his need for his ‘competitiveness fix’ that he can’t get in motorcycles any more . Carmichael and Harvick have been impressed with how many motorcycle fans have crossed over to the NASCAR Truck Series, just to follow Carmichael.
GABI DICARLO/No.90 Great Clips Toyota finished nineteenth, one lap down, gaining four positions from the start. She met her goals which was to finish in the top twenty, run all the laps and bring the truck home in one piece. Dicarlo went a lap down on a bad call for a pit stop, but is otherwise very pleased with her debut and can’t wait to her next race at Atlanta. One need for keeping the truck in good condition is that it is a good truck and will be raced in Georgia.
Dicarlo has the same crew she had in ARCA so they are all working together well and are on the same page. One thing changed for the Truck race – she had to find a spotter. For this race she had TONY STEWART’s Sprint Cup spotter.
Another road racer making the transition to NASCAR is MAX PAPIS of Italy, who has raced nearly all forms of open wheel and sports cars cars including Formula One, CART, ALMS and Grand-Am. He said he’s focusing on NASCAR now and won’t be attending the Indy Racing League Spring Training in Florida next week. “I’m dedicating myself completely to NASCAR.”
Papis started tenth and finished ninth, on the lead lap. He said this was his first real race in the truck and he was in the groove. Papis said it has been difficult to learn how to restart, and learning how to judge new situations in a quick time window, such as going into a large hole of air going into a corner faster than expected. But, it keeps getting better and better. Racing in NASCAR is not as impossible for him as some have predicted. “I can make it happen!”
Among the races on his schedule is the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Infineon Raceway. He plans on six truck races and 20 Cup races, he’s not sure of the complete schedule, but knows he will be at Atlanta in two weeks running the truck and Cup car.
After two races, Busch is leading the Unofficial standings with 370 points. The top ten are: Busch; Bodine-365; MATT CRAFTON-293; TIMOTHY PETERS-288; RON HORNADAY-285; T.J. BELL-285; MIKE SKINNER-281; CHAD McCUMBEE-276; DAVID STARR-272; and Rookie J.R. FITZPATRICK-262.
The crowd was generously estimated at 10,000. Maybe wishful thinking. One of the garage rumors has the truck teams wanting to drop the Auto Club Speedway venue and race instead at nearby Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, a twin paved oval race track (banked 1/2 and 1/3 mile) with 6,000 seats, and sound and lighting systems for night racing.
The next race for the NCWTS is the American Commercial Lines 200 at AMS on Saturday 7 March 2009.