Following a five-race absence from NASCAR Nationwide Series competition due to injuries sustained in an accident at Talladega Superspeedway, Eric McClure returned to the seat of the No. 14 Hefty® Reynolds Wrap® Toyota this past weekend at the 14-turn Road America road course. After posting the 29th fastest speed during time trials, McClure overcame a lengthy pit stop to fix a broken battery box lid, which ultimately resulted in a lap lost to the race leader, to post his career-best road course finish. The 21st-place finish advanced the 33-year-old driver one position (21st) in NASCAR Driver standings and allowed TriStar Motorsports owner Mark Smith to advance to the 25th position in NASCAR Owner standings.
When the 50-lap race began, pit strategy immediately came into play as several cars came to pit road on lap two. Adhering to the game plan discussed prior to the race, McClure remained on track and was scored in the 17th position on lap nine. Battling a car that was extremely loose on the right-handed turns, crew chief Wes Ward called McClure to pit road on lap 11 for four tires, fuel, and a chassis adjustment. Just as McClure hit pit road, the event’s first full-course caution flag was displayed. With fuel normally playing a major role in the outcome of road course races, McClure returned to pit road on lap 13 to top off the fuel tank and to make an additional chassis adjustment to help the car’s -handling condition. When the race resumed on lap 15, the Hefty®/Reynolds Wrap® Racing™ team was scored in the 19th position.
The event’s second caution flag waved one lap later for debris which allowed McClure to once again visit pit road for fuel. It was then that the team discovered that the debris found on the racetrack came from the No. 14 Toyota. Needing to repair the broken battery box lid, McClure was called to pit road just as the race resumed on lap 18. Despite returning to the track in the 32nd position, McClure was able to advance to the 29th position by lap 25.
In spite of losing a lap to the race leader, McClure received the “lucky dog” award on lap 30 when the third caution flag waved. Following a routine pit stop, McClure returned to the track in the 26th position.
In the closing laps, McClure advanced as high as 19th before running off course with eight laps remaining in the event. Slipping to the 23rd position, he was able to overcome the mishap by advancing two positions in the final two laps to post his career-best road course finish.
Eric McClure Quotes:
“It was as solid day for us. We overcame some things and, although it wasn’t pretty, we almost scored a Top 20 finish at a road course. More importantly, it was a blessing to be able to work with Wes and the guys again. They rallied behind me and I had a lot of fun. I felt very comfortable in the car and look forward to building on this for the future.”
TriStar Motorsports PR