After two weeks of mechanical failures that sent Eric McClure on a downward slide in the NASCAR Owner standings, he headed to his hometown track of Bristol Motor Speedway looking for redemption. Despite a bad start to the weekend that forced the Hefty®/Reynolds® team to change the entire set-up of the NO. 14 Camry prior to qualifying, the 34-year-old driver was able to overcome his 24thstarting position to finish the Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 300 as follows:
21st-Eric McClure, No. 14 Hefty®/Reynolds® Toyota Camry
Starting the 300-lap race from the 24th position, McClure quickly advanced one position before sliding back to the 25th spot on lap 25 where he remained until the second caution flag flew on lap 59. The team used this opportunity to bring the No. 14 Camry to pit road for four scuffed tires, fuel, an air-pressure and track-bar adjustments to help pacify the car’s handling. McClure advanced three positions in the running order because of the quick service.
On the restart, several cars in front of McClure began stacking up and as a result, the Virginia driver slipped one position where he remained until the third caution flag waved on lap 104. Unable to take the wave around during this period, coupled with a car that was tight in the center of the turns, the team decided to once again bring the orange and blue Camry to pit road for four tires, fuel, air-pressure and track-bar adjustments in hopes of helping the car turn better in the center of the turns. When the race resumed on lap 117, McClure was scored in the 23rd position where he remained for the next 30 laps.
A multicar accident on lap 160 allowed McClure to remain on track while the leaders visited pit road to receive the wave around, which not only placed him one lap down to the race leader, but also in the 22nd position when the race resumed on lap 171.
Another caution on lap 198 allowed McClure to again bring his car to pit road for tires, fuel, and adjustments. During the pit stop, the team noticed the heim joint of the sway bar was broken. Since this would only affect the car’s drivability, the decision was made not to inform the driver, as he was still running competitive lap times.
Although the car’s handling became freer with each lap, McClure was still able to advance one position in the running to finish the Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 300 in the 21st position. This marks a career-best finish for the hometown driver at the “World’s Fastest Half Mile.”
Driver, Eric McClure Quotes: Driver, Eric McClure Quotes: “The weekend was definitely interesting. We were not good in practice on Friday so the guys changed just about everything on the car prior to qualifying. The changes definitely helped. We had a decent car during the race but with about 100 laps to go, the handling just went away suddenly. After the race that the team informed me that the sway bar arm had broken. I guess I’m just glad to come out of Bristol with the car in one piece and I’m thankful we were able to regain some of the points we lost over the past two weeks."