TALLADEGA, Ala. (October 31, 2010) – Ken Schrader broke his streak of six top-10 finishes in the No. 2 truck after fender damage received in “the big one” ended his chances of earning a Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) victory in 2010. After leading his first lap in a KHI truck, heavy fender damage sustained in a multi-truck wreck on lap 93 brought Schrader down pit road for repairs before the green-white-checkered restart, affecting the truck’s aerodynamics and costing him track position. Schrader crossed the finish line 11th in the Moore’s Marinade Chevrolet Silverado, but was assessed a post-race penalty for passing before the restart and was ultimately scored in the 14th position.
With KHI teammate Ron Hornaday on the pole, Schrader started the Mountain Dew 250 fueled by Fred’s in the fourth position. Losing several positions on the initial start, Schrader was scored in 15th by lap three. Working his way back toward the front, Schrader drafted back into fifth before the first caution of the day waved on lap 24 for a two-truck incident.
Crew chief Ernie Cope called Schrader down pit road for four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment to improve the handling of the Moore’s Marinade machine. The No. 2 restarted seventh on lap 33, and with the best drafting line constantly changing, Schrader slid back to 13th on lap 34, but surged to sixth on lap 47 while Hornaday led. As the lead pack of trucks ran single file, Schrader darted to the outside and attempted to start a second drafting pack on the high side, but few trucks followed initially, preventing the line from making much progress. However, on lap 53, Schrader’s persistence in the outside line paid off, and the group charged ahead, allowing Schrader to take the lead for the first time in a KHI truck.
Hornaday reclaimed the lead a lap later, and Schrader moved around the top 10 as the leaders began green-flag pit stops on lap 57. Cope called Schrader into the pits on lap 58 while in the seventh position, but Schrader was unable to maneuver past the train of trucks inside him and remained on track. Cope warned that if he did not pit on the next lap he would run out of fuel, but the caution waved for an accident in the trioval before Schrader could come to pit road.
With Cope relaying that he would have to pit immediately regardless of whether the pits were open, Schrader brought the No. 2 down pit road while it was still closed, and the crew provided him with four tires and fuel. Returning to the racetrack, Schrader informed Cope that he had acquired a bad vibration. Cope called Schrader back to pit road with the intention of tightening all the lug nuts, but decided not to risk the chance that the vibration was a tire problem, ordering the team to change all four tires and top the truck off with fuel before the restart.
Penalized for pitting before the pits were opened, Schrader was sent to the end of the lead lap and restarted 13th on lap 65. Schrader worked his way back into the top 10 on lap 70, and the yellow flag waved again on lap 75 for a two-truck accident. With several leaders choosing to top off with fuel one final time, Schrader and the team chose to do the same, and he restarted 11th on lap 78. Schrader moved into 10th before the caution waved for a stopped truck on lap 87, and he remained on the track before restarting on lap 89.
Schrader once again tried to use the high line to his advantage and work his way to the front, but his efforts were thwarted on lap 93 when rookie Grant Enfinger bump drafted too aggressively with points leader Todd Bodine, sending him into Mike Skinner and initiating “the big one.” While Hornaday went airborne and tumbled down the apron, Bodine swerved and bounced off of Enfinger, careening into Schrader’s right-front fender. Following a brief red flag, Schrader drove into the pits and the team quickly attempted to repair the fender and reshape the hood. One of several drivers rushing back onto the track for the restart, Schrader was 15th when the green flag waved for a green-white-checkered restart.
With a damaged truck and a jumble of competitors around him, Schrader skillfully navigated the No. 2 into the 10th position before the white flag. Schrader lost one position on the final lap and was initially scored in the 11th position. However, after video playback, it was determined that Schrader and Skinner had made passes before the start/finish line on the restart, and both were assessed post-race penalties and scored at the tail end of the longest line, ultimately putting Schrader in 14th.
“It’s a shame,” said Schrader following the race. “We had a shot until we lost the right-front fender in the wreck, and we were still competitive until the final lap. I thought that I was going to be able to follow the No. 3 and get that top-10 finish, but we got separated and everybody spread out at the start/finish line. I’m really disappointed that I didn’t get to take the No. 2 truck to victory lane this season, but I can’t thank Kevin and DeLana [Harvick] enough for the opportunity, and I’ve got to thank all the guys at KHI for all their hard work.”
Kyle Busch took the checkered flag in the closest Truck Series finish (.002 second margin of victory) since the implementation of electronic scoring, followed by Aric Almirola, Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton and Ricky Carmichael rounding out the top five. The No. 2 remains fifth in the Owner’s Point Standings, 405 points out of first place.
The Truck Series hits the track again on Friday, November 5th for the WinStar World Casino 350 at Texas Motor Speedway where Elliott Sadler will be behind the wheel of the No. 2 truck. The race can be seen live on SPEED at 8:30 p.m. ET.