Ickler Recovers from Early Incident to Finish Fourth
Brian Ickler waited patiently all season for an opportunity to get behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota Tundra. After finally getting his chance, his patience was tested early in the WinStar World Casino 400k when an early-race incident with Todd Bodine, while battling for the fifth position, resulted in four flat tires and cosmetic damage to his No. 18 Toyota Tundra. The incident also set the young driver back a lap to the leaders.
Ickler made an impressive recovery, getting back on the lead lap via the "The Lucky Dog", and then slowly working his way back through the field on two separate occasions. Aided by solid pit strategy from veteran crew chief Eric Phillips, the 25-year-old used an array of impressive passes to maneuver his way from the 19th position with 25 laps remaining to register a solid fourth-place finish in his first start of 2011.
"Unfortunately we got into an incident with Todd (Bodine) that put us a lap down early -- but the guys on this team never gave up and we fought our way back to a top-five finish," said Ickler. "The Toyota Tundra was really loose at times but Eric made great calls all night and we ended up with a strong run. I'm looking forward to getting back behind the wheel at Iowa next month."
"Brian did a heck of a job tonight -- it has to be hard when you've waited all year to get your first start, your running strong and then something happens early in the race," said Phillips. "He kept his composure after the incident and never gave up. He provided us with the feedback that what he needed to make the truck faster and drove hard all night."
After starting the race from the seventh position, Ickler made his first appearance in the top five on lap 28. That's where he was running when Todd Bodine got loose as he pulled to the inside of the No. 18 heading into turn two and sent both trucks spinning. Ickler made contact with the inside wall but was able to drive away.
Ickler limped around the 1.5-mile track with four flat tires but managed to get his No. 18 Toyota back to pit road where the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) crew went to work. The team assessed the damage and after two visits to pit road were able to make repairs to the right rear fender and spoiler and put four scuff tires on.
The San Diego native would not remain a lap down for long. On lap 59 Ryan Sieg spun off Turn two, bringing out the fourth caution of the night. Ickler was "The Lucky Dog" recipient and was back on the lead lap. When pit road opened, Ickler brought his Tundra down pit road for four fresh tires, a trackbar adjustment and a full tank of fuel.
A two car accident on lap 67 brought out the fifth caution of the race. Ickler communicated to Phillips that the damage did not seem to be affecting the handling of his Tundra and that the truck actually drove the best it had been all night during the run. Several of the leaders pitted leaving the No. 18 scored in the seventh position when the race restarted on lap 73.
A two-car accident involving Matt Crafton and Austin Dillon brought out the sixth caution of the race. When pit road opened, Ickler brought his Tundra down pit road where the KBM crew put on for four fresh tires, made a trackbar adjustment, filled it with fuel, cleaned the grill and returned their driver to the track scored in the 17th position.
The race went back to green flag conditions on lap 96 and Ickler quickly made his way back through the field. In ten laps the young driver made his way from 17th to sixth. When fluid on the track brought out the seventh caution of the race on lap 111, Phillips brought his driver down pit road for fuel and a trackbar adjustment.
Ickler restarted the race from the second position on lap 117 but slowly lost positions to competitors with fresher tires as he communicated to Phillips that his Toyota was extremely free. Austin Dillon and Steve Arpin went sliding through the grass on the frontstretch on lap 137 slowing the race for the ninth time.
While the majority of leaders remained on the track, Phillips once again brought his driver down pit road for four fresh tires and a full tank of fuel. When the race restarted on lap 143, the No. 18 was scored in the 19th position.
With fresher tires on his Toyota Tundra, Ickler quickly maneuvered his way in and out of competitors and within three laps was back in the top 10. The young driver continued to make his way toward the front of the field, advancing into the sixth spot on lap 150. He had closed in on the third through fifth-place drivers when the final caution of the race occurred with six laps remaining.
Ickler started the green-white-checker finish from the sixth position. He made his way up to the fourth spot as the field took the checkered flag, collecting his third top-five finish in eight career starts for KBM.
Ron Hornaday Jr. won the race after Johnny Sauter was black-flagged for jumping the restart. Parker Kligerman was second, followed by David Mayhew. Joey Coulter was fifth and Ricky Carmichael, Ryan Sieg, Miguel Paludo, James Buescher and Justin Lofton rounded out the top 10.
The race featured 10 cautions totaling 46 laps. There were 19 lead changes among 11 drivers. Nine drivers were not running at the finish.
The No. 18 KBM Tundra has finished in the top 10 of all nine races this season and continues to lead the owners' point standings by 48 points over KHI's No. 2.
Kyle Busch Motorsports PR