Eric McClure and his TriStar Motorsports team headed to Texas Motor Speedway hoping to continue his streak of four straight top-25 finishes. After posting the 41st fastest speed in time trials the team knew a tough road was ahead in order to finish in the top-25, but after advancing early in the event, and receiving a wave around the team was scored in the 25th position. However, just after the second caution flag waved on lap 88, the Hefty® BlackOut™/Reynolds™ Impala began smoking, not only from what looked to be the rear of the car, but also the cockpit of the car. McClure brought his car to pit road on lap 89 and then to the garage area where the team discovered a leaking fuel pump cable adapter. Additionally, the fumes inside the cockpit were so strong upon McClure’s arrival in the garage that he became sick and was forced to give his seat to teammate Jeff Green to finish the event. By returning to the race on lap 141, multiple laps down to the race leader, the TriStar Motorsports team was able to advance two positions to finish the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 in the 31st position. Despite the finish, McClure was able to advance to 17th in NASCAR driver standings.
“I‘m disappointed. We felt good in practice but, unfortunately, we were way too loose during our qualifying run which resulted in our worst starting position of the season. The race started off okay but we were still too loose in the center and it progressively worsened. We made adjustments during our first stop but it didn’t seem to help. We then took the wave around and it was going to work out great but our car started smoking and we were forced to the garage for repairs. I inhaled some of the smoke and some fumes and, for some reason, I got quite sick in the garage, so Jeff (Green) was good enough to finish the race once the repairs were complete. I just hate I wasn’t able to complete the race for the guys since they support me so much, but hate it even more we have had two part failures in six races. We will work hard to overcome it.”
Starting the race from the 41st position, McClure quickly advanced six positions by lap four despite being loose in the center and on exit of the turns. As the race progressed, the car’s handling worsened as the Hefty® BlackOut™/Reynolds™ Impala was now loose on entry. As a result, spotter Bill O’Dea reminded the 32-year-old driver to search for different lines around the track to help with the car’s handling until adjustments could be made. As a result, McClure searched all lines around the track and found that the middle-to-high line worked best which allowed him to advance to the 30th position by the time green flag pit stops began on lap 39. Hoping for a caution, the team decided to stay out as long as possible but was forced to give up the 15th position on lap 54 to bring the car to pit road for four tires with an air-pressure adjustment, a wedge adjustment, and fuel. Following the service, the No. 14 impala returned to the track and was scored in the 30th position, two laps down to the race leader.
On lap 68, the first caution flag waved and team crew chief, Gary Cogswell, played a different strategy. Taking a chance on a quick caution when the race resumed, the Hefty® Racing™ team decided to stay on track to receive the wave around. This allowed the Virginia driver to advance three positions to 25th and be scored one lap down to the race leader on the lap 73 restart.
Over the next several laps, the loose handling condition of the Hefty® BlackOut™/Reynolds™ Impala continued which forced the driver to back up his entry which resulted in time lost to the race leader. Just before McClure lost an additional lap to the leader, the event’s second caution flag waved on lap 87, which was good news for the TriStar Motorsports team. Unfortunately, smoke began pouring from the cockpit and rear of the car almost immediately when the field slowed behind the pace car. The car was immediately brought to the garage area on lap 89 for repairs and it was there that the team discovered the leaking fuel pump cable adapter. The subsequent sickness of McClure forced teammate Jeff Green to finish the event.
By returning to the event, the Hefty® Racing™ team was able to advance two positions to finish the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 in the 31st position. Despite the finish, McClure was able to advance to 17th in driver standings, while TriStar Motorsports owner Mark Smith remained 23rd in owner standings.
Tristar Motorsports PR