Three-time reigning NASCAR Mexico Series champion Germán Quiroga, making his second career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start, experienced some early misfortunes that lead to a 26th-place finish in the rain-shortened Ford 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Quiroga, who started the race from the 27th position, had advanced to the 20th spot on lap 30 when Max Gresham got loose off of Turn 4 and slid up the track into the No. 51 Telcel Tundra. The contact sent Quiroga sliding sideways towards the inside wall along the frontstretch. The veteran driver held the brakes as the truck harpooned along the slippery apron until the front end responded. Once the front end responded, he was able to right the path of the truck and pulled away having avoided contact with the wall.
With two flat tires on the No. 51 Telcel Tundra, the 31-year-old driver proceeded slowly around the track to avoid further damage before bringing the truck down pit road. The over-the-wall crew put four fresh tires on the truck, examined it for further damage, filled it with fuel and returned their driver to the track still on the lead lap.
Unfortunately, Quiroga's bad luck continued as the crew had sent their driver back on the track before securing all of the lug nuts and were issued a penalty from the NASCAR officials. Quiroga was forced to return to pit road to serve the penalty and by the time the No. 51 Telcel Tundra returned to the track, it was scored one lap down in the 31st position.
"It was a very tough race," said Quiroga of his first start at the 1.5-mile oval. "We had a very nice No. 51 Telcel Toyota at the beginning of the race and I was just trying to come from the back part of the grid -- where all of the accidents happen -- but they hit us and the problems started. I felt like if we could have avoided the trouble at the beginning, we had a truck that was capable of my first top 10. I am thankful for the effort the team made and hope to be here next year for the full season."
When the race restarted on lap 35, the Mexico City native was in the "Lucky Dog" position, where he ran for several laps, but as the race proceeded caution free for over 60 laps, the leaders began lapping other drivers. Eventually, the leaders once again worked their way around the No. 51 Tundra, putting Quiroga two laps down.
A single car spin brought out the fourth caution of the race on lap 98. With all of the lead-lap cars in front of Quiroga electing to pit, veteran crew chief Rick Ren kept his driver on the track in order to receive the wave around.
When the race restarted on lap 102, Quiroga was scored one lap down in the 27th position. The No. 51 Telcel Tundra was in the 26th position when the caution came out for precipitation on lap 119. Shortly after the field parked on pit road, the rain strengthened and the race was ruled official with 119 of the scheduled 134 laps complete.
"After seeing the poise German showed tonight, you can tell why he is a three-time champion in the NASCAR Mexico series" said Ren, the all-time winningest crew chief in the history of the Truck Series. "Unfortunately, because it rained late in practice, we weren't able to complete both laps of our mock-qualifying run and we had to start the race near the back of the field. German ended up getting spun early in the race, but showed impressive truck control in avoiding the wall. Then, our guys made a costly mistake on pit road and we went a lap down. I think if that error didn't occur, he would've had a top-15 finish. Instead of getting frustrated after the mistake, he maintained his composure and just took advantage of gaining valuable seat time. I've been very impressed with German during the two races that he drove for us this season. Hopefully, we can get things worked out for him to run full-time next season."
Johnny Sauter picked up his second win of the season. Quiroga's teammate, Denny Hamlin, finished second and Kevin Harvick third. Rookies Nelson Piquet Jr. and Joey Coulter finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Ty Dillon, Elliott Sadler, Timothy Peters, Jason White and Austin Dillon, who became the youngest driver to win a Truck Series championship, rounded out the top-10 finishers.