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Tracking the Trucks: UNOH 200

Tracking the Trucks: UNOH 200

Timothy Peters led flag to flag and absolutely dominated the UNOH 200 Wednesday night.

*In a Nutshell:* Timothy Peters trounced the field and took the checkered flag 0.465 seconds ahead of teammate Parker Kligerman to win with UNOH 200 Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. Peters took the lead before completing the first lap and never relinquished the top spot all night long. Ross Chastain, Joey Coulter and Brendan Gaughan rounded out the top 5.

*Who Should Have Won:* Timothy Peters. What more is there to say really? Despite several attempts by his competitors, Peters’ No. 17 Toyota was unbeatable Wednesday night. Add in that he and his crew were flawless on every visit to pit road and there’s no reason to believe anyone else should have won the race.

*Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:*

*1. How did Ryan Blaney fare in his Truck Series debut?*

Just under four months removed from his Nationwide debut at Richmond where he finished a solid seventh, Ryan Blaney made his Truck Series debut behind the wheel of the No. 19 Cooper Standard Dodge. After qualifying fifth, Blaney dropped outside of the top 10 pretty quickly at the beginning. But under the first caution, crew chief Doug Randolph made a major wedge adjustment to go with the usual four tires and fuel. A second stop with just over 50 laps remaining cost the driver of the No. 19 Dodge considerable track position, but the four fresh tires allowed him to work his way through the field to a sixth-place finish.

“Tonight was a good run in our Cooper Standard RAM. We just needed track position and some breaks to go our way,” Blaney said. “Overall, it was a great start, and I’m excited to be involved with this team and series. I’m looking forward to getting back to work with BKR in Atlanta next weekend.”

Much like his Nationwide debut, Blaney impressed once again. While he was never really in the mix for a trip to victory lane–and for that matter, no other driver could have touched Timothy Peters–Blaney did manage to communicate the changes needed to his truck, and as a result, he snagged a top-10 finish in his first time out. Plenty sang the praises of the 19-year-old following his Nationwide debut at Richmond, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he excelled once again. Blaney is definitely a driver worth keeping an eye on as the season winds down.

*2. Should NASCAR have thrown the caution when Ty Dillon stopped on the track?*

In last week’s Tracking the Trucks, I took NASCAR to task for being too quick to throw the yellow flag, but this week it was the opposite. When the field came back around to take the green flag for the final time Wednesday night, Brad Keselowski and Ty Dillon both ran out of fuel. And while Keselowski knew in enough time to make it safely to pit road, Dillon wasn’t so lucky, causing the rest of the field to scramble around him.

Had that been the end of it and he’d managed to make it to pit road, there wouldn’t have been an issue, but the 20-year-old stopped on the track near the start / finish line and sat there as the field raced by him to the white and then checkered flag.

My problem comes in NASCAR allowing Dillon’s disabled truck to sit stalled on the racing surface–though out of the racing groove–while the field raced by him not once, but twice. There’s absolutely no reason the race should have stayed green at that point. After all, didn’t the sanctioning body prohibit racing back to the yellow when a caution comes out in the name of driver safety if they’re sitting idle on the track?

Thankfully, it wasn’t an issue, however as everyone made it by without an incident; however, Cale Gale’s hard wreck earlier in the race happened in nearly the same spot the driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet sat. What if one of the trucks had lost the handling and spun out? Of course Twitter blew up following the checkered flag with opinions on which decision NASCAR should have made, and while there were some people supporting the sanctioning body’s non-call, most were appalled and shocked the yellow failed to fly over the field.

One of the Twitter opinions came from “Darrell Waltrip,”:http://www.twitter.com/allwaltrip who said “you can’t race in the ‘what if’ world.” And while you his statement is in fact true, with the recent Cup Series issues with oil on the track at Watkins Glen and Mark Martin’s scary crash at Michigan last weekend, it’s simply impossible to _not_ race in a “‘what if’ world” when you have to be prepared for the worst–even if it seems unlikely.

In the end, it’s NASCAR’s responsibility to ensure the safety of the competitors on the track to the best of their ability and they failed to do so.

*Truck Rookie Report*
*2012 Rookie of the Year Candidates:*
*Dakoda Armstrong* (No. 98)
*Ty Dillon* (No. 3)
*Dusty Davis* (No. 15)
*T.J. Duke* (No. 07)
*Ross Chastain* (No. 08)
*Cale Gale* (No. 33)
*Max Gresham *(No. 24–released from ride)
*Paulie Harraka* (No. 5)
*Caleb Holman* (No. 75)
*John King* (No. 7–team suspended)
*Bryan Silas* (No. 99)
*John Wes Townley* (No. 09)

*No. of Rookies in the Race:* 12 (add Tyler Young, Russ Dugger, Jake Crum, Jeff Agnew and a debuting Ryan Blaney)

*No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10:* 1; Ross Chastain, finished third

*Rookie of the Race:* Ross Chastain

*Rookie Quotes:*

“That was awesome–this is Bristol baby and they knew we were here. They saw the watermelon truck. Couldn’t pick any better people to get to finish behind than the Red Horse guys–they’ve got an awesome team and an awesome program. Our SS Greenlight Melon 1 Toyota Tundra was here. I can’t say enough for Melon 1 and all the trucks out there hauling watermelons across the country with 15 million watermelons annually going out to customers and consumers. We’re here in Bristol and we came out with third place–I can’t believe it. _Ross Chastain_

“It’s really disappointing to have such a fast Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet and run out of fuel at the end of the race. I thought we could have contended for the win there at the end, but when the green flag waved and I hit the gas, there wasn’t anything there. I hate it for these guys. They worked really hard all day.” _Ty Dillon, finished 21st_

“We had a good Zaxby’s Toyota Tundra in practice. It’s a frustrating finish because we were so good here in the heat of the day, even a bit tight. I was really surprised by how much the truck freed up at night and it got us into a bad position. I was stuck where I was. Fortunately, we came out in one piece and it will be something to build on and apply this experience to the Nationwide Series race Friday night. I am really proud of my RAB Racing team. They do a great job bringing quality trucks to the track every weekend and I look forward to racing at my home track of Atlanta next weekend.” _Jon Wes Townley, finished 24th_

“[Wednesday] was a wild day. I’m so proud of my Rheem team for all their hard work and getting the pole; but I’m so disappointed in how everything ended. We’ve had such great trucks from Eddie Sharp Racing all season, but it just seems like we haven’t had any luck. I can’t thank Jerry (Baxter, Crew Chief) and the guys enough for all their hard work and standing by me all season; we had a strong truck and we were definitely coming for a top-5 finish. I feel like our team has really bonded and that we’re on the right track. Hopefully we’ll be able to carry the momentum of the pole award and strong run into the race at Atlanta next week.” _Joey Coulter, finished 28th_

*Worth Noting / Points Shuffle:*

All eyes were on the Truck Series Wednesday night as they were the first to run Goodyear tires on the newly configured track. But the catch was that there was little change to the racing despite shaving a couple of degrees off of the top side of the track. Sure, the top lane was quite slick, however there were times when drivers had no troubles running three wide. In the end, unless something changes with the Nationwide and Cup Series races over the weekend, I’d say it was a waste of money. But that’s not to say the race was bad–no it wasn’t a wreckfest, but there was constant side-by-side racing despite Peters’ trouncing of the field.

Team orders just plain don’t belong in NASCAR. As the field lined up for a green-white-checkered finish, Timothy Peters’ crew chief Butch Hylton radioed to tell his driver, “They’ve talked to Parker and he’s going to help you here.” Huh? I don’t have a problem with teammates working together on track, but when it comes down to the final laps of the race, it’s every man for himself. Granted, Peters likely would have won based on the speed his No. 17 Toyota showed all night, but there’s no reason for one driver to give way to another on his team, especially when it comes to a shot at victory lane.

Timothy Peters maintains his stronghold on the standings, now holding a 17-point lead over James Buescher, who moved up a spot. Ty Dillon, who dropped to third as a result of running out of fuel on the green-white-checkered finish, sits 25 markers back. Justin Lofton and Parker Kligerman find themselves in a tie for fourth and round out the top 5.

Matt Crafton remains sixth followed by Joey Coulter in seventh. Ron Hornaday, Jr. capitalized on Nelson Piquet, Jr.’s late-race struggled and moved up one spot to eighth. Jason White rounds out the top 10.

*Quotable:*

“It’s an awesome feeling to go out there and lead every lap like that. These races are so hard to win anyway, and to do it in that fashion is just unbelievable. This win is a great birthday present to our owner Tom DeLoach, who gave me an awesome opportunity back in 2009 to drive for this team and the sky has been the limit ever since.” _Timothy Peters_

“We did everything we could to get rid of track position there at the beginning–or at least I did. I stalled it coming out of pit road and we had driven all the way up to fifth or fourth there on that first run. We had a great stop and I messed up. None of these guys quit here on this No. 7 Red Horse team. I’m just proud of them and proud to get a one-two (finish) for Tom DeLoach (team owner) on his birthday. Man, I wish I had a better restart there. I think we would look better up there in victory lane. The entire organization is one whole team. They promised me I’d have the best equipment they could put together and it showed at Michigan and again here tonight. To come out of Bristol in second with a chance to win just makes me that much more excited and ready for Atlanta.” _Parker Kligerman_

“The guys on the No. 22 team work hard each and every weekend, and I couldn’t be more proud of their effort [Wednesday night] with the Steak-Umm Chevrolet. It’s finishes like these that are going to keep us in contention for the championship.” _Joey Coulter, finished fourth_

“This was a great finish for the South Point Hotel & Casino team tonight. We started out with a really loose truck and went a little too far with our adjustment, and I had to fight a tight handling truck during the second half of the race. I’m really proud of the whole RCR organization and the great equipment they bring to the track each week; it’s such an honor to be a part of this team.” _Brendan Gaughan, finished fifth_

“Timothy (Peters) drove his guts out [Wednesday night]. He was absolutely flawless on restarts and that really sealed the deal for us. I know how hard he’s worked on that and on improving on everything this year. He’s really done his homework and we’ve really started to come into our own as an organization. I just feel blessed to have a race like that and work for a team like this.” _Butch Hylton, winning crew chief_

*Up Next:* The Camping World Truck Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway next Friday for the Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 200. The race will be broadcast live on SPEED beginning at 7:30 PM EDT; it can also be heard on your “local MRN affiliate”:http://www.motorracingnetwork.com/Affiliates/Affiliates.aspx#showFindStations or SiriusXM Channel 90.

*Connect with Beth!*

“Contact Beth Lunkenheimer”:http://www.frontstretch.com/contact/14353/

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