Brian Ickler overcame a spin on lap 11 to earn a hard-fought 14th-place finish in the Coca-Cola 200 at Iowa Speedway Saturday night. Ickler rallied back into the top 10, where he was running with 50 laps remaining in the 200-lap race, but a loose handling Tundra in the late stages caused him to lose several spots during the final green-flag run. Kyle Busch Motorsports' (KBM) No. 18 Toyota Tundra continues to lead the owners' point standings by 44 points over Kevin Harvick Inc.'s No. 2 truck.
"The Toyota Tundra was a little edgy getting into the corners and I chased it all night," said Ickler. "We battled our way back from an early spin to run in the top 10, but we lost some track position after I got loose late in the race and weren't able to recover."
Ickler, who started the race from the seventh spot, was running sixth on lap 11 when he got sideways exiting turn 2. The rear of his truck slid up the track but avoided contact with the outside of the wall or any competitors. When pit road opened, Ickler brought the No. 18 Tundra down pit road where the KBM crew put on four fresh tires, filled the truck with fuel, made trackbar and wedge adjustments and returned their driver to the track scored in the 28th position.
Ricky Carmichael spun on lap 17 and as Jack Smith quickly applied the brakes to miss him, Ickler got into the back of Smith causing minor damage to the nose of the No.18 Tundra. When pit road opened, Ickler made his way down pit road where the crew to surveyed the damage. After finding a hole in the front of the grill, the crew quickly fixed the damage with bear bond tape and returned Ickler to the track still on the lead lap.
As the race progressed, the California native slowly made his way through the field and was scored in the 15th position when the third caution of the race occurred on lap 64. Ickler communicated to crew chief Eric Phillips that the adjustments had made his Tundra "a little snug". He brought the No. 18 down pit road for four fresh tires with an air pressure adjustment and a full tank of fuel.
Ickler was scored in the 13th position when the race went back to green flag conditions on lap 71. He quickly picked up two spots before a Ron Hornaday spin brought out the caution on lap 77. When the race went back green on lap 81, the 25-year-old did his best impersonation of his boss, Kyle Busch, picking up three spots on the restart before settling into the eighth spot.
As the race moved into the second half, Ickler continued to run just inside the top 10. On lap 145 Phillips communicated to his young driver that his lap times were improving and he was one of the two fastest trucks on the track.
Ricky Carmichael brought out the final caution of the race on lap 153. Ickler described his Tundra as "a little edgy into the corners" as he brought it down pit road for the final time. The KBM crew put on four fresh tires with an air pressure adjustment, filled it with fuel and returned their driver to the track scored in the 12th position.
The race restarted on lap 161 and proceeded caution free to the checkered flag. Ickler lost two spots shortly after the restart and settled into the 14th spot for the final 35 laps of the race.
Matt Crafton, who won the battle off pit road after the final caution, and was able to hold off Austin Dillon down the stretch to pick up the second win of his career. David Mayhew finished third, while Johnny Sauter and Joey Coulter completed the top five. Cole Whitt finished sixth, James Buescher, Nelson Piquet Jr., David Starr and Todd Bodine rounded out the top 10.
The race featured six cautions for a total of 32 laps. Six trucks were not running at the finish.
Kyle Busch Motorsports PR