TALLADEGA, Ala. — Ricky Carmichael looked forward to returning to the superspeedway where he made his first start for Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) in an Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) car back in 2008. Anxious to spend time racing competitors versus learning a new track, Carmichael took to the track with aggression. Showing promise for a top-10 finish, the No. 4 Monster Energy Chevrolet couldn’t avoid a late-race crash finishing the event in the 20th position.
Teams were unsure whether this race would occur due to scattered thunderstorms in the area most of the day of the event. However with a dry track and storm clouds evading Carmichael and the No. 4 Monster team started the race from a 15th place qualifying effort. Carmichael felt the truck was strong as he ran in line behind KHI teammate Ron Hornaday, the No. 4 team held a top-10 position in the lead pack. “Anyone who wants to pass me, they can go ahead,” stated Carmichael. “I’m staying right where I’m at.” Upon the first early-race caution, crew chief John Monsam brought the No. 4 truck down pit road for fuel and the team pulled a tear-off from the windshield.
Looking forward to more lead-pack action, Carmichael restarted the race in the sixth position, but learned quickly the consequences of being pushed to the high line. Dropping back as low as 17th Carmichael calmly started working his way back toward the front, remembering to stay with the lead pack in the inside line. Another caution brought the opportunity for the No. 4 team to make two pit stops, first for new tires and a second for fuel. Carmichael felt good about the truck, stating “the truck is perfect in the middle.” Having taken the opportunity for both tires and fuel, the No. 4 truck worked its way to the front from the rear of the field.
Running with another competitor who had fallen back, Carmichael and the No. 4 team discovered two trucks can be faster than the lead pack of trucks. Drafting together, the two worked their way back to the lead pack and Carmichael started advancing through the field. With lap times one second faster than the leaders, the previous stop for fresh tires on the No. 4 truck began to pay off.
Through the middle of the race event, Carmichael worked with spotter Andy Houston to hone his drafting skills. Even though Carmichael had competed at Talladega Superspeedway in an ARCA car it was the first time he had tackled the 2.66-mile monster in a truck, air shifts were challenging to the rookie driver. A mid-race caution on lap 38 brought the team down pit road again, this time for right side tires only and a trackbar adjustment. Carmichael had started to experience tightness with the truck, so the team was hopeful these adjustments would help. The team’s pit strategy of taking only two tires, while most of the field took four tires, allowed Carmichael to gain some valuable track position.
Carmichael and the 4 team bounced around in the middle of the pack for the later part of the race event. Lap 65 brought another caution where the team came into the pits from the 18th position for more fuel and another window tear-off change. The team was confident Carmichael could continue to work through the field until an accident with three laps remaining in the event collected both Carmichael and KHI teammate Ron Hornaday. The No. 4 Monster truck sustained a good amount of damage. The team would have to change tires, bond sheet metal and straighten the truck through adjustments, but it became clear to the team that their race effort was over. With only a green-white-checkered flag scenario at hand to complete the race event, the No. 4 team brought the damaged truck to the garage, ultimately ending the day in the 20th position.
Carmichael will return again with the No. 4 Monster Energy team next week at Texas Motor Speedway.
October 31, 2009
Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway
Mountain Dew 250
Race: 22 of 25
Driver: Ricky Carmichael
Race length: 94 Laps/ 250.04 Miles
Banking/Turns: 12-degrees turns; 0-degree straight-a-ways
Track layout: 2.66 mile paved
Number of Race Cautions: 7 for 28 Laps
Next on the Truck Series Schedule:
Date: November 6, 2009
Track: Texas Motor Speedway
Event Name: Winstar World Casino 350K
Driver: Ricky Carmichael
Broadcast Time: SPEED 8:30pm EST