Bristol, TN (August 22, 2014)-After a one-week hiatus, Eric McClure returned to Nationwide Series competition Friday night at his hometown track, Bristol Motor Speedway. Despite qualifying 31st, McClure was able to rebound to post a track-best finish of 20th in Friday night’s Food City 300. As a result, McClure remains 19th in the NASCAR Points Standings.
Early in the race, McClure battled a car that lacked front grip in the center of the turns, especially when running in the preferred high groove around the half-mile track. When the first caution flag waved on lap 42, McClure gave up the 28th spot in the running order to visit pit road for four scuffed tires and a chassis adjustment. When the race resumed on lap 48, the Hefty®/Reynolds Wrap® team was scored in the 29th spot. Over the next 12 laps, the adjustments previously made didn’t seem to help the car’s tight-handling condition in the center of the turns. A scheduled competition caution on lap 60 allowed McClure to return to pit road for a full tank of Sunoco fuel and a track-bar adjustment. Once the stop was complete, McClure returned to the track in the 26th position for the lap 67 restart.
As the race continued, the adjustments previously made didn’t seem to help the car turn better in the center as McClure still lacked overall grip in the front end of the car in the center of the turns. Under the third caution period on lap 84, McClure informed the crew chief that the front end of his No. 14 Camry still lacked grip, so he returned to pit road once again for fuel, a wedge adjustment, and to remove a spring rubber from the left rear spring. When the race resumed on lap 91, McClure was scored in the 29th position.
Two laps later, the caution flag waved once again. Since the adjustments made seemed to have helped the car’s handling, McClure remained on track and restarted 29th. Over the next 20 laps, the car’s handling once again became tight in the center of the turns, as well as lacked rear grip on entry. When the event’s fifth caution flag waved on lap 111, McClure visited pit road for a chassis adjustment and fuel and when he returned to the track, he was scored in the 26th position where he remained through the halfway point of the race.
Over the next 30 laps, the car’s handling quickly “went away” and by the time the event’s sixth caution flag waved, the No. 14 Hefty®/Reynolds Wrap® Camry had lost all rear grip on the exit of the turns. McClure visited pit road for four sticker tires, fuel, and air-pressure and wedge adjustments. After quick work by the team, McClure was able to restart 23rd.
In the final 100 laps, the caution flag waved three additional times with McClure visiting pit road once on lap 264 for four two-lap scuffed tires, fuel, and additional chassis adjustments. When the race resumed on lap 267, McClure restarted 24th and, by lap 275, he was scored in the 23rd position. Nearing the completion of Friday night’s Food City 300, McClure was able to advance three spots to post a track-best finish of 20th at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Eric McClure Quotes:
“Our team has been improving for awhile, and we finally have a solid result to show for it. We had a decent car for most of the race, but it seemed like the racetrack kept changing, so we had to determine whether to keep working on the car, keep track position, or gamble with a wave around. We kept working on the car and ended up with our best finish in awhile.”