Although winning the Sam Bass-designed Gibson guitar is on most drivers’ minds when heading to Nashville Superspeedway, Eric McClure and his TriStar Motorsports team were simply looking to overcome the misfortune that has plagued the team in the past two weeks . Unfortunately, a series of issues left the team with a disappointing 32nd-place finish. As a result, the team slipped two positions in NASCAR owner standings and is currently tied with the No. 39 car in the 27th position.
“I really just want to forget this weekend. There were a couple of different reasons why we struggled today and we will all just work on them before coming back here in July; we actually got in the right direction the last third of the race, despite the engine skipping, so that’s positive.. I’ll be better than I was this weekend as well so it’s just a blip in the season hopefully. This was the worst we have been all year in a race, but really the first time we just had an overall bad day, so we’ll take the positive things from it and go from there. I just hate it for the Hefty® brand and all of TriStar Motorsports. We are better than this and will get back in the direction we were going soon.”
With temperatures in the mid to upper 80s, Eric McClure took the green flag from the 34th position and was able to advance three positions by the time the first caution flag was displayed on lap 49, despite being “tight through the center and snappy loose off of the turns.” The team took this opportunity to bring the Hefty® BlackOut™/Reynolds™ impala to pit road for four tires with a small air-pressure adjustment, fuel, and a wedge adjustment. Upon completion of the service, McClure returned to the track in the 31st position.
As the race progressed, the No. 14 impala was able to maintain its position despite no improvement in the handling as the Virginia driver was still battling the car in the center of the turns resulting in valuable time lost to the race leaders. Green flag pit stops began shortly before the halfway mark of the event on lap 111 with McClure bringing the car to pit road on lap 119 for four tires, fuel, and a wedge adjustment. Once the service was complete, the team returned to the track and was scored in the 32nd position.
Over the next 15 laps McClure was able to advance one position when the event’s second caution flag was displayed on lap 134. Crew Chief Gary Cogswell took this opportunity to once again bring the Hefty® BlackOut™/Reynolds™ impala to pit road for four tires, fuel, and a track-bar adjustment. Following the service, the TriStar Motorsports team was scored in the 32nd position on the lap 138 restart. One lap later the event’s third caution flag was displayed. Although McClure had just visited pit road for service, he hit pit road once again, but this time it was for additional water bottles as he was fighting heat buildup in the car. Once the race resumed on lap144, he was scored in the 32nd position.
Throughout the remainder of the event McClure visited pit road two additional times, both of which were under yellow conditions. One stop was to check under the hood for the cause of a “miss” that had developed in the No. 14 Impala. The diagnosis was an electrical problem, but as the team couldn’t determine the source of the problem McClure was sent back on track to ride out the race where he was able to finish the 300-mile event in the 32nd position. As a result, TriStar Motorsports owner Mark Smith is tied for 27th in NASCAR Owner Standings.
TriStar Motorsports/Eric McClue PR