Monday, August 16, 2010

This Weekend's Most Exciting Race: Darlington

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returned to the Pee Dee area of South Carolina on Saturday night as the pick ups put on quite a show at Darlington Raceway. Living just outside of Charleston, less than two hours away, Darlington is my home track. Still, it's been four or five years since I saw some live racing here. The trucks did not disappoint. The action was hotter than the weather, and a crowd of 15,000+ didn't want to leave when it was over.

And, when it was over the #30 Germain Racing Toyota of Todd Bodine had stretched his gas mileage enough to stay ahead of second place, Timothy Peters, and Ron Hornaday in third. Only a handful of drivers had raced here before, with the Onion being the only one actually having a previous win at the Lady in Black.

Great racing was to be found all over the track. A lap after this picture was taken, Austin Dillon (3) got loose and caused the 23 of Jason White to wreck. Much later in the going, the 18 of Brian Ickler popped a right front tire and then popped the wall ending his night at lap 100.

Move over Danica! NASCAR has a real lady racing in the Truck Series. Jennifer Jo Cobb finished 14th, one lap down in her first time at Darlington. Everywhere she ventured before the race, the fans were mobbed around her.

Ken Schrader's night in the KHI #2 was not great, as the truck wouldn't fire, and finally joined the rest of the field on the second parade lap. Multiple pit stops, and losing a lap only added to the misery. Dozens of starts here helped Schrader to recover with a top-10 finish, on the lead lap.

Darlington first-timer, Brian Ickler had a wicked Darlington Stripe, from practice, when the race started.

Ryan Keller, pit support with Kyle Busch Motorsports places the tape in the pit box where the #18 will plant the left front tire each stop. Keller uses the jack to measure the correct distance from the pit wall. The KBM team has no set distance from the front line of the pit box back to the tape. The crew chief determines where that mark is by factors such as the length of the pit box itself, and whether, or not they have an opening or empty space ahead or behind them.

Austin Dillon's pit stop board. Cute, but how about a Union Jack themed one for Austin Powers?

Second place finisher, Timothy Peters had the prime pit box at the end of pit road by virtue of setting a new truck track record while winning the pole. This shot, and all the rest, was taken with the trusty BlackBerry. This one from the camera platform at the end of pit road.

Pit prep before the race included checking tire pressure, and placing the tape on tires to align the wheel on the studs for faster tire changes during pit stops. The pile of sheet metal (fiberglass actually) in the Justin Lofton pit was just spare parts. These parts, fenders and half clips, are salvaged from previously wrecked trucks. If the front end is damaged by a wreck, they can be slapped on quickly with an adhesive membrane called Bear Bond.

Aha! The timing and scoring camera at the end of pit road. It's the lavender colored box about halfway down the pole. There is even a NASCAR official sitting at a desk there also. For a point of reference, in the upper right hand corner, you can see the pink tape in Timothy Peters pit for his left front tire.


  1. Thanks Gene!

    I'm curious, where were you during the race? Press Box?

    I guess the rumors and so on will come out in your upcoming posts?

    BTW Congrats on the Trifecta...

  2. D-Man... I was in the pits and garage. Also in the infield media center, and on the observation/photo tower at the end of pit road. All access, it was sah-weet!

    Rumors? Come out? No, I'm not planning a Carl Edwards story...LOL

  3. Gene, great stuff! Excellent insights on your weekend at The Lady in Black.

  4. Thanks for the post Gene. Glad you were there. Did you ever get a chance to kiss the lady? lol

  5. btw, don't breath so hard into the camera lense! LOL

  6. Tez..... thanks for checking it out.

    Jon..... I have some info on obtaining KHI press kits that I'll forward to you.

    CR.... When I finally brought my binoculars out of the air conditioned media center they stayed fogged up for several minutes.

  7. Very cool stuff! It was great to see the trucks back at Darlington. Hope that continues in the future.

  8. Nice Gene! You had a great spot to watch the action it looks like. Saw on twitter that several media outlets were covering the truck race - too bad you didnt get to go toe to toe with my fav gal -- you couldda shown her how reporting is done!

  9. Hey Gene, you can forward that KH stuff to me as well. Thanks.

  10. JM... I have to admit, I was surprised at the show they put on. I hope they come back every year, 147 laps at Darlington is plenty of racing.

  11. Kristen.... I did not see her... nothing but hotties in the media center, so you know she wasn't there.

    I was shocked by the number of media reps that were at a truck race in Darlington. One hundred, at least!