For the fourth time in 2017 and the fallout of teammates, Christopher Bell won the Overton’s 150 after a late race battle for the lead.
“My guys do the best. They do a good job taking care of me. I just can’t say enough to be able to drive for Kyle Busch Motorsports. I am glad to be able to get SiriusXM into victory lane,” said Bell.
Despite a late race charge and a strong run at Pocono after a few disappointing weeks, Ben Rhodes will finished second.
“Pretty mellow about it. I guess that has been the story of the day. There were several situations out that we could have put ourselves in a bad place. I let a couple guys go early on in the race. I knew we had a fast Safelight Tundra,” said Rhodes.
Running up front for majority of the day, Ryan Truex finished in the third position.
John Hunter Nemchek, Johnny Suater, Matt Crafton, Austin Cindric, Cody Coughlin, Chase Briscoe, and Justin Haley round out the top-10.
There were five lead changes among five different drivers. The caution flew four times for XX laps. The average speed was 119.210 mph. The time of race was one hour, 17 minutes, 37 seconds.
Next up for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is a trip to Michigan International Raceway on August 12th for the LTI Printing 200. The race will be broadcasted on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network at 1:00 p.m. ET.
The 2014 season was a year of new beginnings for BK Racing as it signed two rookie drivers in Alex Bowman and Ryan Truex. With two new faces on the team, both were eligible for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, in what was a rather larger rookie class in recent seasons.
Although the season officially kicked off with the Daytona 500, both drivers didn’t get the opportunity to begin their year with the Great American race. Bowman managed to qualify for his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut. Meanwhile, Truex missed to make the field during the Budweiser Duel 150 race. He didn’t get to start his first race with the No. 83 team until the following week at Phoenix.
As the season progressed, both Truex and Bowman received a new teammate in Cole Whitt, who joined the team after the closure of Swan Racing. With the addition of a third full-time Toyota Camry, BK Racing increased its opportunity to compete for Rookie of the Year honors as Whitt was also eligible.
All together, the three rookies had minimal highlights to their season. Truex made his debut at tracks such as Pocono Raceway – a track he had never raced before—and finished inside the top 20. Bowman captured his best results in the superspeedway races.
The team also saw some results that hurt them as well. At the end of the year, Bowman finished with six DNFs, Whitt had four DNFs and Truex had eight DNFs.
The year for Truex featured a lot of inconsistency, as his results throughout the season didn’t had him inside of the top 30 just twice at Martinsville and the August Pocono race. Along with the Daytona 500, he also failed to qualify for the races at Texas and Michigan. For the second race at Michigan, BK Racing replaced him with J.J. Yeley after a wreck in practice, where Truex suffered a concussion.
In September, following the race at Chicagoland Speedway, Truex was once again replaced in the No. 83 car – this time by Travis Kvapil. The race at Chicago was the last time Truex was drove the No. 83 after a 42nd-place finish. Although no explanation had been given at the time, it was later confirmed that Truex was no longer with BK Racing.
Despite the short year, Truex did manage to improve some of his results from his few starts in 2013. He captured a career-best finish of 20th at Pocono. His best qualifying effort was at the Richmond spring race, where he qualified eighth.
In 2014, Truex averaged a 35.6 finish and a 35.3 start.
Meanwhile, Bowman, one of the two original drivers in the BK racing line-up did finish out the year with the team. By the year’s end, he went on to finish in 35th-place within the standings. He captured a career-best finish at the Coke Zero 400 with a 13th-place finish.
Bowman also found some consistency during the races at Darlington, RIchmond and Talladega in the spring, finishing inside the top 30. In qualifying, Bowman's best starting effort came in the second Talladega race of the year, where he qualified in 14th.
As for his year end results, Bowman averaged a 32.5 finish and a 32.9 start in his rookie season in the Cup Series.
Whitt, the third BK Racing driver, fared a bit better than his teammates. Along with Bowman, he made all 36 starts (eight with Swan Racing) and averaged a 33.4 start and a 29.3 finish. He did, however, improve his average finish, as he averaged a 33.9 result in seven starts during the 2013 season.
The year didn't feature any of the BK Racing drivers finishing among the top-30 in the points. Whitt finished the highest of the three drivers. Truex’s season ended earlier than Bowman’s, but only finished four spots behind him in the final standings, in 39th.
As for the race for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, Whitt finished ahead of both Bowman and Truex, as he finished in fourth. Bowman finished in sixth and Truex finished seventh.
Heading into 2015, BK Racing has not made any announcements on what their driver line-up will look like, but one thing is for sure – Truex will not be returning. Truex’s future plans have yet to be announced, but he still has a developmental contract with Richard Petty Motorsports.
BK Racing team owner Ron Devine clarified with Speedway Digest that Bowman will be returning to the organization as they look to resign Dr. Pepper.
As for Whitt, his name has been connected with Front Row Motorsports in some off season rumors. In an e-mail to Speedway Digest several weeks ago, the Ford organization denied rumors that they have signed Whitt. However, Devine and co-owner Anthony Marlowe have confirmed that he will not return to the Toyota team.
With the off-season coming to a close soon, the organization is looking to continue fielding two-three full-time cars, with one part-time car. In the rumor mill to replace Truex include Kvapil, Yeley and Clay Rogers, who missed a race for Beard Motorsports after being out-run in qualifying by BK Racing’s start-and-park car, and eventually ran two events for BKR.
Richard Petty Motorsports is still finalizing the team’s plans for the 2015 season. Dakoda Armstrong has been piloting the No. 43 Ford Mustang for the team this year, but has yet to finish inside of the top-10.
Last year, RPM signed two young drivers – Ryan Truex and Corey LaJoie to developmental deals within the organization. Truex has yet to race for the Ford organization, and LaJoie has run just one event with them (Homestead of 2013). But even though they haven’t done much with the team, the organization’s co-owner, Richard Petty, is attempting to put together a package for both drivers.
“We’re working on a couple of deals to try to get them running this year in Nationwide. We are trying to set up some stuff in Nationwide next year. So far, we are gaining on it – we just haven’t got there,” Petty said on Friday morning.
Currently, Truex is a Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender for BK Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Notably – the 22-year-old is racing for a Toyota team, albeit he is still under contract with RPM. After missing three events this year, Truex is 37th in points with a best finish of 30th at Martinsville Speedway.
LaJoie, however, has run just one event in 2014. He raced at Kentucky Speedway with Biagi DenBeste Racing.
Being a rookie in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series might be one of, if not the most challenging part of some racer’s lives. This year, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year class is abundant. Even though one rookie has lost his ride due to funding issues, the rest of the rookie class appears to be secure in their seats – at least for the remainder for the season.
Alex Bowman, 21, is one of those rookies. Bowman is racing for the underfunded BK Racing organization. After releasing both of their primary drivers from the 2013 season, BK Racing opted to go with two rookie drivers at the helm of their Toyota Camry’s with Bowman as well as Ryan Truex. Together, the pair has had their struggles, but there is light at the end of the tunnel in Bowman’s eyes.
“The transition to the Cup Series has been a challenging one. Having a crew chief in Dave Winston and a great team around me, it has made that transition easier,” Bowman said.
After racing for RAB Racing in 2013, Bowman proved to BK Racing’s owner, Ron Devine, that he was capable of racing in NASCAR’s highest rank. Bowman tested for the organization over the off-season at Charlotte and also appeared at the Daytona test.
However, with the jump to the Sprint Cup Series, the No. 23 team has experienced adversity 12 races into the season. In his lone Nationwide Series season, Bowman had six top-10 finishes, and also had two pole awards. This year has been anything but successful though. His best finish was 22nd at the Auto Club Speedway, yet he has had seven finishes of 32nd or worse.
“The longer races have been the biggest transition for me. When you add the extra 100 or 200 miles or laps it takes time to get used to it,” he said to Speedway Digest. “We need to continue to get better each and every week and I feel that we will continue to become more competitive. We need to continue to get better each and every week and I feel that we will continue to become more competitive.”
What has been Bowman’s culprit this year? It is simple – bad luck. At Martinsville, he was on his way to a solid run, but wrecked multiple times and was relegated to a 36th place finish.
As an underfunded team, BK Racing utilizes Race Engines Plus, owned by Joey Arrington. Besides BK Racing, Joe Nemechek’s Identity Ventures Racing. Entering this season, expectations were not set high for Bowman, and he understood that. Moreover, the team has sporadically performed well this year, but their results don’t show it. Having three consecutive top-30 finishes at Darlington, Richmond and Talladega was a step in the right direction for this small team, even though it does not sound like the greatest of achievements.
“Probably my feedback to Dave and the crew guys. I continue to get use to the way these Sprint Cup Series cars drive compared to a Nationwide car,” Bowman said on what he needs to improve on.
Meanwhile, as Bowman continues to look for success, his teammate, the younger brother of Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr., has had some struggles. Truex has more experience in NASCAR competition than Bowman, but has not finished better than 30th this season after missing the Daytona 500 and the race at Texas. Currently, the No. 23 team with Bowman sits 34th in owner points and is relatively safe from missing races. Meanwhile, Truex's No. 83 team is 42nd in owner points, and is not guaranteed into each event.
Amidst their struggles, the two have developed a close bond, closer than just teammates. With such a small team, they are able to work with each other in multiple ways, on and off the race track. Besides developing a friendship, their crews led by Winston and Doug Richert, are now working better, and results are on their way.
“Ryan and I try to work together and compared notes and driving styles. Dave has been great to work with. Him brings a ton of knowledge from the team’s that he has worked with in the past. Dave is certainly a calming voice on the radio each weekend.”
As he continues to adjust to the higher level of competition, expect the Arizona native to run closer to the top half of the field. It is going to be a long, tough road, but Bowman believes he is up for the challenge. The new qualifying format which NASCAR implemented at Phoenix has also helped him gain extra experience, something extremely valuable for a driver looking to find a home for multiple years at a young organization.
“(The) Biggest adjustment is that these guys never take a lap off. Each and every lap they go as hard as they can.”