Talladega, AL (May 4, 2013)—Following a successful outing during the series’ first plate rate of the 2013 season, Eric McClure headed to Talladega Superspeedway looking for another top-10 finish. Taking the green flag from the 23rd position, the Virginia native ran as high as sixth before being caught-up in an accident on lap 94. As a result, the Hefty®/Reynolds® Team finished the Aaron’s 312 as follows:
23rd-Eric McClure, No. 14 Hefty®/Reynolds® Toyota Camry
Three hours after the scheduled start time, 40 cars took the green flag to commence the Aaron’s 312 at Talladega Superspeedway. McClure started the 117-lap event from the 23rd position and quickly found himself in the top-15 by lap ten.
A caution on lap 13 allowed McClure to bring his orange and blue Toyota Camry to pit road for fuel only. When the race resumed on lap 17, McClure was scored in the eighth position as some teams decided to take tires and fuel during this period.
McClure didn’t stay there long, however, as he was shuffled out of the draft on the restart back to the 24th position. Two laps later, McClure had once again cracked the top-20, where he remained until a two-car accident occurred in front of him bringing out the yellow flag on lap 35.
Uncertain whether or not he ran over debris or slid his tires while avoiding the spinning cars, crew chief John Monsam called the driver to pit road. The team changed four tires and added fuel to the No. 14 Camry. When the race resumed on lap 40, McClure was scored in the 21st position.
Over the next 30 laps, McClure worked inside the top-30 as the positions lost and gained changed with each lap as a byproduct of the draft. When the event’s third caution flag waved, McClure informed the crew that the car was “bound up with wheel into it, especially on the bottom lane.” Consequently, the team used this opportunity to change four tires, add fuel, and make a wedge adjustment in hopes of improving the car’s handling. Although McClure was scored in the 21st position when the race resumed on lap 78, he quickly found himself in the top -15 by lap 80.
As the race continued, it seemed as though the No. 14 Camry was handling to McClure’s liking; so when the event’s fourth caution flag waved on lap 88, the team decided to stay on track and not visit pit road. As a result, McClure was scored in the 13th position when the race resumed on lap 91.
One lap later, McClure was scored in the sixth position. He didn’t stay there long though, as he was once again shuffled out of the draft and was stuck in the middle lane without a drafting partner.
McClure was patiently waiting for help when Sam Hornish, Jr. made an abrupt move to the middle groove from the outside lane. Unfortunately, his car wasn’t clear of McClure’s and it sent both cars spinning, collecting nine others in the process.
After getting the mangled Toyota unstuck from the infield grass, McClure drove to pit road where the team discovered not only a busted radiator, but also a broken oil pan. Determined not to give up, the team pushed the car behind the wall where they quickly went to work on repairing the car. Once in the garage, NASCAR informed all teams that the race would be shortened because of the looming darkness.
Just as the team was about to give up with repairs, an accident happened on the track with two laps remaining in the shortened Aaron’s 312. The team then decided to go ahead and send McClure back on track to complete the two laps needed to advance one position in the running order. In the end, McClure was credited with a 23rd-place finish.
Driver, Eric McClure Quotes: “I’m really bummed about our finish today because after we made the chassis adjustment, the car came to life and we were running well. It was tough to get a drafting partner today, but finally in position for a run to the end, until the 12 cut across our nose. It’s just a shame that a move like that was made especially when there was a lot of racing left. I can’t say enough about my guys though. They worked their tails off to get me back out there and by doing so, we were able to advance a position. Points are critical for us right now so we need all the points we can get.”